Identity Of The Church Of Christ
Marks of Worship and Work
To have an identity, most people look at certain marks. In our physical appearance, people note our features, coloring, dress, and behavior. Then when they meet us again, we are known by them. To identify the marks of the church, we do much the same thing as with the physical identification. Features, dress, and behavior are also elements of our worship and work.
Many gather on Sundays around the world to worship God. But our understanding of the Bible leads us to believe their worship is in vain. Why? Because they do not follow the pattern of sound words and teaching found in God's word, the Bible (2 Timothy 1:13). What do the Scriptures teach as to our identifying marks in worship?
Singing in worship has Divine approval, and we have Biblical instructions of such (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Praying in worship has Divine approval and examples. (Acts 4:24ff). Preaching has Divine approval and examples (Acts 2; Acts 20). The observance of the Lord's Supper was one of the primary reasons they gathered together on the first day of the week. This has Divine approval, example, and command (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Although our giving in the worship service has examples that were limited in scope, the Scriptures do give us a pattern for any collections for whatever needs there are (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15). The building and maintenance of a place of worship; the preaching of the Gospel, local or abroad; and benevolence which is the least done thing with the Lord's money, and in the Biblical pattern, it was the only thing that required contributions.
We have already touched a little on the work of the church by looking at what things the early church did by way of example and pattern. The work can be described best by understanding the work of the Holy Spirit. To speak those things that have been heard (those things taught to us in the Bible). The work of the Holy Spirit is to proclaim and advance the cause of Christ. That cause is the salvation of souls. So anything that promotes the salvation of souls can be a work of the church. It can also be said, that if the church is involved in something that does not contribute to the salvation of souls, it is not following the pattern.
We look at many congregations that get involved in various social programs and allow things in it's building for which they have no authority. And an honest view of these things would suggest that they are good works of themselves, and should be promoted and encouraged. However, even though they do these good works, many of these churches do so without authority. There is where the problem is for us. Actually, we see them do many things that we should be doing ourselves (as individuals), but we also note that they have no authority to do so. When we reject such things as a work of the church, we are called "anti's" and people who oppose good works. There just simply is no authority for the church as a collective to do them.
It should also be pointed out that if your congregation is not involved in matters of promoting the gospel or providing benevolence in one form or another; it is failing in it's duty to God. So many preachers need support and so many Christians need financial aid. Yet many churches stockpile their money for a rainy day. Well, the rain is falling.
Until next month, may God bless you exceedingly and abundantly.
By Carey Scott
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