We all agree that the right church is the church that existed in the first century, the church of which Peter, John, James, and Paul were members. If we can find that same church existing in our day, it will still be the right church.
How do we know when we find it? We must ascertain its essential identifying features. We then need to search for the church today that has the same features. When we find it, we will have found the right church. As we open our New Testaments, what essential identifying features do we find?
The church was guided solely by the apostles’ doctrine, the church having no man-made creed, discipline, confession of faith, or catechism (Acts 2:42; Philippians 1:27; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Peter 1:3).
The church worshipped on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2), upon which day they sang a capella (Ephesians 5:19), gave of their means (1 Corinthians 16:2), observed the Lord’s supper weekly (Acts 20:7), prayed (1 Corinthians 14:15), and studied God’s word (Acts 2:42; 20:7).
The church was organized on a local, autonomous, congregational level (Acts 14:23), the church having elders, deacons, evangelists, and members (Philippians 1:1).
The church was designated “the church” (Colossians 1:18), “the church of Christ” (Romans 16:16), “the church of the Lord” (Acts 20:28 asv), and “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
The church was entered as a result of people becoming baptized, penitent believers (Acts 2:36–47).
This was the church as it existed in the first century, the church of which Peter, James, John, and Paul were members. The church of Christ in your community is the same church.
We have no man-made creed, discipline, confession of faith, or catechism. We are governed solely by the apostles’ doctrine, by the New Testament.
We worship on the first day of the week by engaging in a capella singing, praying, studying God’s word, giving of our means, and observing the Lord’s supper.
Each congregation is local, independent, autonomous or self-governing, having elders, deacons, evangelists, and members.
We are designated as “the church of Christ” or by an equivalent.
If you were to ask, “How do I become a member of the church of Christ today?” you would be kindly instructed that you must become a baptized, penitent believer.
We plead for the church now (this century) as then (first century). Such is pure, simple, and beautiful New Testament Christianity!
- Wendell Winkler