The Church of Christ Lesson 3
Many people will tell you that there is no significance in the name of the church you attend, but this is false. In Acts 2, the Church was established, and it had a given name--the Church of Christ. Lesson number 3 will focus on the importance of the name of the Church of Christ, how the Bible is the only guide for the Church, and how the Church is undenominational.
1.) Where does the Church of Christ gets its name?
The Church of Christ goes by this name because it has scriptural backing behind it. God always has significance to the names He gives. This provides a common understanding of names and designations where people can understand each other better. In Genesis 5:2, God Himself specifically named Adam and Eve. He did not allow them to choose their own names. Also, we see that God sees a significance in names because He changed Abram's name to Abraham and his wife's name from Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17:5-17). In Genesis 32:27-28, God changed Jacob's name to Israel, making his descendants Israelites (the Nation of Israel that was chosen to bring the Messiah--Jesus). Daniel 9:19 states, "... Your people are called by Your name." Daniel's only concern is that the Glory of God is to be upheld, not man's. If the people of God wore His name, why would He not insist that we wear the name He chose for us today?
The name of the Church of Christ was also prophesied (divinely foretold before its beginning). Isaiah 56:5, "To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off." By Isaiah 56:5, we see that a new name would be given within God's house, and this name would be everlasting. Isaiah 65:15, "You will leave your name for a curse to My chosen ones, And the Lord GOD will slay you. But My servants will be called by another name." Isaiah 62:2, "The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will designate." By Isaiah 65:15 and Isaiah 62:2, the name would be given to both Jews and Gentiles, and the Lord was to provide the Church with its name.
After analyzing these Old Testament Prophecies, we can apply them to the New Testament and see the name of the Church that Christ instituted. Acts 9:15 states, "But the Lord said to him, 'Go for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.'" We see that Jesus says that He chose the Apostle Paul to bear His own name to the Gentiles and the sons of Israel (Isaiah 65:15; 62:2).
If the Apostle Paul bears a name in the house of God, or the Church, to the Gentiles and Israelites, then we have found the name given by God. In Acts chapters 10 and 11, we see that Cornelius and his family were the first Gentiles to be converted. This means that after chapter 10 of the book of Acts, we now have both Jews and Gentiles within the Church.
In Acts 11:25-26, "And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." The divine name that was given was "Christian." Paul also continued to preach this name. The Apostle Paul had been trying to convert Agrippa to the truth as shown in Acts 26:28, "Agrippa replied to Paul, 'In a short time, you will persuade me to become a Christian.'" Also, 1 Peter 4:16, "But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name." This is the name given, and it is the name we are to glorify God in. In previous lessons, we have covered Matthew 16:18, where Jesus promised to build the Church. He referred to it as "My Church." The Church of Christ belongs to Christ, and we call ourselves Christians after Him whom our doctrine and teaching comes from. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, the Apostle Paul is telling the Christians who live in Corinth that they are to be unified in the name. They were saying they were of "Paul," "Apollos," and "Cephas," but Paul then states, "Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" Paul was asking a rhetorical question here. He stated the answer, that they were only to be called by the name the Lord gave to them.
As a member of the Church of Christ, we are called the body of believers, which we can see in Ephesians 1:22-23, "And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all." Also, in Colossians 1:18, "He is also the head of the body, the church..." Now with the understanding that the Church can also be called the body, we can see the exclusivity of the Church. Ephesians 4:4 states, "There is one body and one spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling." If there is one body, then there is one Church. As you have studied this lesson, you have seen where the Church gets its name and why we carry the title Christian. Christ named His people under the Old Testament as the Israelites, and He has selected a name--Christians--for those who live under the New Testament.
2.) The Bible is the guide for the Church of Christ.
Would you agree the Bible is the only guide for religious matters? Most people would say, "Yes," until the Bible opposes their pre-conceived ideas. One's conscience is not necessarily a safe guide. Many say, "Do what feels right," or "Do what makes you happy," but the Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" People will tell you to follow your heart even if the Bible contradicts those things. They will also say when it comes to salvation, "If you feel you are saved, nothing else matters." But in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you, DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" In Matthew 7:21-23, we see that these people did their best and did what they thought was the will of God. However, they will be told, "Depart, I never knew you." This verse says nothing about murderers or rapists, but rather people who were trying to do their best. This is why the Church of Christ only uses the Bible as its guideline, not any man-made creed, doctrine, disciplines, or anything other than the Bible. This means we cannot add to the Bible, take away from the Bible, or have anything that differs from the Bible (Deuteronomy 4:2).
In 2 Peter 1:3, "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." 2 Peter 1:3 says that within the Bible, we have been given "all things," so there is no need for anything to be added. The Bible is referred to as being perfect in 1 Corinthians 13:10. If the Bible is perfect, we do not need to add anything.
2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequately equipped for every good work." If the Bible gives us all good works, there is nothing further to add to it.
The Bible is the "seed of the kingdom." In Luke 8:11, "Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God." The kingdom is the Church (Revelation 1:5-6; Matthew 16:18). Like any seed, whether human, animal, or plant, it can reproduce. The seed is specific to what it is (Genesis 1:24)--corn seed produces corn only; okra seed produces okra only; and so the seed of the kingdom produces Christians only. Many people will say, "What about all of these other Churches?" The answer is simple, the Bible did not produce them. In The Church of Christ Lesson 4, you will understand how the Church of Christ is undenominational, how you can be added to it, and what are its guidelines for worship.