Hugh’s News & Views (A Biblical Concept . . .)

A BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF THE CHURCH

(Note: The following was posted on my FB page on May 10. With a few emendations, I send it out as this week’s edition of “Hugh’s News & Views.”)

When a person says he (or she) left the church of Christ (which they often will think/speak/write in terms of “Church of Christ”) to join the Baptist Church or the Catholic Church or the Episcopal Church or whatever the denomination might be so that they and their spouse “would be members of the same church” (or for some other “reason”), I immediately know that they do not have a biblical concept of the church of Christ, nor are they and I “on the same page” when speaking of the church of Christ. They have one concept in mind, and I have an entirely different concept in mind. (Note: Contrary to the thinking of some, “Church of Christ” is not “the fellowship’s name,” as the editor of one publication recently asserted. In reality, the church of the New Testament does not have an official, exclusive, patented “name,” but, instead, it is identified by a number of descriptors of which “church of Christ” is but one).

When a person says he (or she) does not think that the church of Christ is the only true church, I again know that they do not have a biblical concept of the church of Christ, nor do they have in mind what I have in mind when I speak of the church of Christ.

When a person says he (or she) does not think that one must be a member of the church of Christ in order to be saved, once more I know that they do not have a biblical concept of the church of Christ, nor do they have in mind what I have in mind when I speak of the church of Christ.

No one with a biblical concept of the church of Christ and a committed loyalty to the Lord could ever leave the church of Christ to join a denomination or a community church. No one with a biblical concept of the church of Christ would ever deny that it is the one church of which we read in the New Testament. No one with a biblical concept of the church of Christ would ever question whether one must be a member of it in order to be saved.

We must do a better job of teaching what the Bible teaches about the undenominational nature of the church of Christ and its essential place in the scheme of human redemption. When parents have a denominational view of the church of Christ and when that view gets passed along to the children for a generation or two, it is no surprise that people will leave the church to join a denomination with their spouse, will question whether there is any such thing as “the one true church of the Bible,” and will rebel at the idea that one must be a member of the church of Christ in order to be saved. Yet, it all arises from having a denominational view of the church of Christ rather than a biblical view of the church of Christ.

Lamentably, we have elders, preachers, professors in some of our Christian colleges and universities, and a host of members who do not have a biblical concept of the church of Christ, but, instead, a denominational view. In some places it is little wonder that the church is in the shape it is. Biblical illiteracy comes with a high cost! “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). It was true in Hosea’s day, and it is still true today.

My fellow preachers of the New Testament way, let me say it again: “We must do a better job of teaching the biblical concept of the church.” Sadly, however, even when we do our best, some still will not “get” it. Unfortunately, some did not “get” it to begin with!

At the same time, we must recognize that a church of Christ (a local congregation) can depart from the faith by adopting unscriptural practices and teaching false doctrine (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:28-31; Romans 16:17; II Timothy 4:1-5; I John 4:1). To bear the descriptor “church of Christ” is not positive proof that a church really is “of Christ” and His way. But the word of God is still the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11), and wherever that word is preached in its purity and simplicity and faithfully followed, one will have the undenominational church of the New Testament.

Hugh Fulford

May 29, 2018

#church, #hughfulford