The Name Of The Church
The human race has many common identities. Yet some unique differences remain. Therefore, if a detective is to succeed in locating an individual, he must first learn the distinguishing characteristics.
Even so, presently there is a multiplicity of churches which have many common identities. Yet, they also possess some differences. Thus, if we are to find the one and only church we read about in the New Testament, we must first learn its distinguising points of doctrine.
What are the identifying marks of God's one church? What saith the scriptures?
I believe the scriptures presented in last week's article proves this church was established on the first pentecost after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Today's article will be devoted to a scriptural search for the God given name of His one church. "Ye are the body of Christ," said Paul unto the people of God in Corinth. Again, this same apostle teaches that the body of Christ is to be edified (Eph. 4:11-12); but what is the body of Christ? According to Eph. 1:20-23 and Col. 1:18, the body is the church, Hence the body of Christ is synonymous with the church of Christ.
God adds the saved to the church, says Acts 2:47; but Col 1:13 says he adds them to the kingdom of His dear Son. Who though, but Christ, is God's dear Son (Matt.17:1-5; Mark 1:11)? So, the expression the church is equivalent to the kingdom of Christ.
According to Heb 12:22-23, the Hebrew brethren had come unto the church of the firstborn. "Christ, says Paul inCol. 1:13-18, is the firstborn from the dead" That is, He was the first to be resurrected, never to die again. Hence, to say the church of the firstborn, is to say the church of Christ.
It is revealed, in Acts 20:17 and Acts 20:28, that Paul instructed the elders of the church in Ephesus to take heed unto all the flock over which they had been made overseers. Thus, the church in Ephesus was the flock. Yet, in (v.38) Paul referred to the flock as the church of God which He had purchased with His own blood. Now since we know that it was God the Son, and not God the Father who purchased the church with His own blood, we also know that when we read about the church, the flock, and the church of God, we are reading about the church of Christ.
The Holy Spirit, through Paul, declares that the house of God is the church of God. Therefore, to be a member of the house of God is to be a member of the church of God. However, on account of what Paul wrote in 1 Tim 3:16, we know he was not guided by the Spirit to write in 1 Tim 3:14-15, that the house of God the Father is the church of God the Father. Because that which is stated in 1 Tim 3:16 pertains to God the Son and not God the Father. Consequently, we may scripturally say that the house of God is synonymous with the church of Christ.
Finally, consider with me this scriptural statement of fact. The book of Romans was written to the people of God in Rome (Rom. 1:7); and this he wrote in Rom. 16:16; "Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you" Who were the churches of Christ which sent their salutations to the people of God in Rome? Were they people who were members of different churches, who had embraced uncommon teachings? No (Rom. 16:16-18). They were different congregations of God's one church (Eph. 4:1-6), who had embraced nothing more nor less than the teachings of Jesus.
So, my readers, what is the God given name of His one church? What saith the scriptures? I believe the above refenced ones say clearly, it is the church of Christ. I also believe that a search for even one New Testament scripture, which refers to the church, by any other name would be endless. Some of the passages which refer to it as the church of God, may say: "The church of God the Father;" but this is absolutely the only possible exception.
It has been said that a rose by any other name, smells the same. This may be true with roses; but it is not true with God given names. Why? Because His names make statements (Gen. 3:20; Gen. 32:28,30; Matt. 1:18-21, Luke 1:11-13, 57-63).
God in the beginning ordained that the wife was to take the name of her husband (Gen.5:2). According to John 3:25-29, Rom. 7:1-4 and Eph. 5:20-23 there is a relationship between Christ and the church comparable to that of a husband and wife. Since the church may be thought of as the wife of Christ and since God was the one who decided that the wife would take the name of her husband, I would be afraid to give it any other name. Would you Mr. B, tolerate your wife taking the name of Mr. W, X, Y, or Z? I am sure you would not. You would probably think that by her so doing, she would be dishonoring you. Then how do you think Christ would feel if the church, His wife, would take the name of Moses, Or Abraham, or Joshua, or David, or Isaiah, or Daniel, or John the Baptist, or Peter, or James, or Mr. A, B, C, D, E -Z? Tell me then, how do you think Christ would feel if the church, His wife were to take the name of some other person and thus bestow upon this person the honor, glory, and respect which rightfully belongs to Him?
Jesus built the church (Zech. 6:12-13, Matt. 16:18) so I have no right to say it is the house of Tommy Hodge or any other person.
Jesus declares that the church is His (Matt. 16:18, Luke 22:29-30). To anyone who owns a house, I ask, would you appreciate my saying this is my house? If not, well why do we think God will be pleased when he beholds a sign in front of a building which says: "The church of some man meets here?"
Christ, and not Mr. X or Z, died for the church (Eph. 5:25) so why should it wear any name but His? Christ pruchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Hence, what right do we have to change its God given name, "The Church of Christ", to the church of Mr. A?
Again, Jesus is the one and only teacher (Matt. 23:8), Lord (Eph. 4:1-6, Matt. 23:10), Shepherd (John 10:6), High Priest (Heb. 5:1-60, True Vine (John 15:1-5, Eph 1:15-23, Col. 1:18; Eph 5:22-23), and King (Matt. 21:5) of the one church we read about in the New Testament. Inasmuch as all these things are true and inasmuch as a church is know by what it teaches, then how ohow can God's one church be anything but "The Church of Christ"?
As in the Beginning, I now ask again, what are the identifying marks of the one church which we read about in the New Testament. Again, I also ask, what saith the scriptures?
I believe they say: Its date of birth was A.D.33; and its God given name was "The church of Christ".
By Tommy Hodge
[Note: Some people take issue with the phrase "church of Christ" as being taught that it is the only scriptural name, here is a link to a discussion about this topic: What Is The Scriptural Name Of The Church?]
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