Why "Church of Christ?"
James E. Farley
Why is it that we call ourselves the “church of Christ” or “the churches of Christ?” It is not our proper name, for the church of the New Testament has no proper name. It is most often referred to in the New Testament simply as “the church.” There are other designations that inspiration has given for the church. These include “house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Colossians 1:13), “flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2; Cf. Acts 20:28), “church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 20:28), “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16), etc. Any and all of these designations can and should be used to refer to the church.
Did you notice that each of these designations that I have listed is possessive? They all suggest that the church belongs to someone. We typically use “churches of Christ,” but we need to be careful not to use it as a proper name. It is simply who and what we are. We are His, for He purchased us with a great price. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). That price was Himself. He gave Himself for the church. (Ephesians 5:25). Acts 20:28 says, “…feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” The word he in this passage is a pronoun, and a pronoun must refer back to the last given antecedent. Who is the he in this passage? It is God. The Greek word here is theos. The passage says that God purchased the church with “his own blood.” Did God, the Father, shed His blood? No. Did God, the Holy Spirit, shed His blood? No. It was God, the Son, Jesus Christ, who shed His blood. Therefore, the “church of God” in Acts 20:28 is the “church of Christ.”
We call the church that because it is, indeed, “his church” (Matthew 16:16-18). He purchased it and built it. As I type this short article on my computer keyboard I notice that the proper name of this computer is “DELL.” However, I purchased it, and it is, therefore, my computer. It can rightfully be referred to as “Jim’s computer,” or “the computer of Jim.” That is what we mean when we use the term “church of Christ,” or “church of God,” or “house of God,” etc.
We need to do a better job in getting this across to our friends and neighbors among the various denominational churches. Too often they do not comprehend us. Sometimes, because of their denominational mindset, and maybe our vagueness, they perceive that we are saying, “You need to quit your church and join ours.” We need to do a better job in helping them to understand clearly that we are not a denomination, but that we are, indeed, the church of Christ. We are not asking them to simply join a different denominational group from the one in which they are now members. We are indeed “…the people of God…” (1 Peter 2:9-10), for we have obtained mercy and have been bought with a great price. We are pleading with folks to leave denominational division and to unite upon God’s Word in His church.
It is not an arrogant, nor a haughty thing to say we are the church of Christ. It actually is a very humble and submissive thing to say. (Compare Romans 10:1-3 and James 1:21-25). We are simply a people who have “gladly received his word” and have been “baptized into Christ.” (Acts 2:41; Romans 6:3-5). We are a people who are continuing “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.” (Acts 2:42). We have meekly received the engrafted Word and obeyed. (James 1:21-25). We have submitted unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:1-3). Therefore, like those in the First Century, we have been added to the church – His church, the church of Christ. (Acts 2:42). -1179 Mark Wayne Dr., Louisa, KY 41230. firstname.lastname@example.org
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