Just because someone calls himself a Christian, that does not mean he is truly following Christ (1 John 1:6; 2:4), and just because a church claims to be a Biblical church, that does not mean they are truly following Christ. In fact, they may have never even done what God commanded to be added to Christ’s church in the first place (Acts 2:36-41, 47).
Christ promised to build only one church, and it belongs to Him: “…I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:18). There were already divisions and false religious groups being created by alleged followers of Christ (such as the Nicolaitans) before the Bible was completed, and these divisive groups were consistently condemned by God (Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Rev. 2:2, 6, 15). Is it possible that you could be in a religious group that is different from the one church Jesus built?
Regarding the church of which you are a member:
- Was it founded by Jesus Christ? (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28)
- Was it founded during the days of the Roman kings? (A.D. 33 – Dan. 2:44)
- Was it founded in Jerusalem? (Isa. 2:1-3; Luke 24:49; Acts 2:5)
- Does it use a Scriptural name for the church? (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 16:16; Col. 3:17; 1 Pet. 4:11)
- Does it use a Scriptural name for the members? (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:11, 16)
- Does it teach people to love God foremost and to love neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all men? (Matt. 22:36-40; Gal. 6:10)
- Is it organized the way the Biblical church was organized? (1) Christ is the Head of the body (Col. 1:18); 2) a plurality of qualified male elders overseeing only one local, autonomous congregation – Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5-11, 1 Pet. 5:1-4; 3) male deacons/servants serving under the eldership – 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 4) male evangelists preaching and teaching – 1 Tim. 2:11-15; 2 Tim. 4:2-5).
- Does it teach the same plan of salvation Peter taught on the day Christ’s church was established? (Requiring repentance and immersion of the penitent believer in water to be forgiven/saved – Acts 2:36-40; cf. 8:35-39; 22:16; Matt. 10:32; 1 Pet. 3:20, 21)
- Does it worship the same way the Biblical church did? (Praying to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ – John 16:23; preaching the Truth – 2 Tim. 4:2; singing without musical instruments added – Eph. 5:19; giving as prospered on the first day or every week – 1 Cor. 16:2; taking the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week – Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20; 16:2).
- Does it teach the truth that people are no longer under the Law of Moses, but under the Law of Christ? (Rom. 7:4-7; 1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 5:3, 4; 6:2; Col. 2:14-17; 3:17)
- Does it promote religious divisions or oppose them? (John 17:21-23; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Eph. 5:11)
- Does it adhere to sound doctrine? (Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:15-18; 2 John 9-11)
- Does it adhere to the “seven ones” of unity, including the fact that there is only one body, only one faith, and only one baptism? (“the washing of water” for sanctification and spiritual cleansing, Eph. 4:3-6; 5:26)
- Does it “speak as the Bible speaks” in all matters, glorifying God through Christ? (1 Pet. 4:11; cf. 2 Tim. 1:13)
- Does it use the Holy Bible as its sole authority for all things? (Col. 3:17; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17)
- If two men on a deserted island who knew nothing about religion were given Bibles and they read and obeyed the Bible only, would they claim to be in the same church as you? They would not be in any denomination, but simply in Christ’s church He promised to build. Should we not be like them? If we simply follow the Bible without man-made doctrines and names, we will be like them, and we can all be united as Christians without denominational divisions! This is clearly God’s will, and it is very much possible if we love God enough to put His will first (Matt. 7:21-23; John 17:21-23; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Php. 3:16; 1 John 5:3).
The Bible teaches that Christ’s kingdom/church established in the first century A.D. would never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 16:18, 19, 28). It began on Pentecost after the ascension of Christ, and it still exists today. Christ commands men to seek the kingdom first (Matt. 6:33), and the true Biblical church can be found by comparing churches today with the church of the Bible. To say that the Scriptural requirements above do not matter is to say that the Scriptures themselves do not matter!
Some say every “church-going” believer today is in a denomination (a man-made religious group), and nobody can be in that one true, pre-denominational church, but if nobody could be in that church, nobody could be saved! Christ is the Savior of that one Biblical body, and only that body (Eph. 1:22, 23; 4:4; 5:23). Religious divisions called “denominations” are not authorized by God; rather they are condemned by God, just as the Nicolaitans were (1 Cor. 1:10-13; Rom. 16:17; Rev. 2). Denominations are smaller than the universal church and larger than the local congregation, and there is no such entity authorized in the New Testament.
Friends, we encourage you to investigate the church of which you are a member and see if it meets the Scriptural requirements mentioned above to be the true church “of” Christ, which simply means the church that belongs to Christ. The “church” of Christ is just another way to describe the “body” of Christ, the “house” of Christ, the “flock” of Christ, etc. We also encourage you to visit and investigate the church of Christ in your area, using the Holy Scriptures as your only guide! (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess. 5:21). “The churches of Christ salute you” (Rom. 16:16).