What do the following things from the Bible have in common?
– The body of Christ
– The flock of Christ
– The fold of Christ
– The kingdom of Christ
– The nation of Christ
– The church of Christ
– The nation of Christ
– The family of Christ
– The bride of Christ
They are all Biblical descriptions of the one group of people saved by Christ, the group purchased with the blood of Christ in the first century A.D. (Mt. 16:18, 19, 28; Acts 20:28). None of these descriptions refer to a man-made religious group. Whenever someone does exactly what the Bible says to become saved, the Lord adds him to that same group of saved people, His saved church (Acts 2:38-41, 47; Eph. 4:4; 5:23). Therefore, if I say I am a member of the church of Christ, that is the same as me saying I am in the body of Christ, the family of Christ, etc., which are not denominations.
Also notice that “church of Christ” is not the only way to describe the one body of the saved. In fact, if a sign outside the place of worship said, “The flock of Christ meets here,” that would be “speaking as the oracles of God,” and would thus be authorized by God (1 Pet. 4:11). Even so, that would not necessarily be the most expedient choice, with all of today’s religious confusion and so many man-made churches deviating from the Bible. It has become expedient to use the description “church of Christ,” because most who wear that description have done exactly what God said to be saved, and they are doing their best to ensure they have Biblical authority for everything done “in word or deed” (Col. 3:17). However, if Christians today bind the name “church of Christ” as the only way the body of the saved can ever be described, they are binding where God has not, and they themselves are behaving like a man-made denomination.
Furthermore, simply saying that I am a member of the church of Christ, or the one body of the saved, does not make the statement true. I must do what the Bible says a person must do to get into that one body, and the Bible says, “we are all baptized into one body” (by the instructions of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 12:13). Saying people are saved before baptism or without baptism is like saying people can be saved without being in the body of the saved, which makes no sense. If we are baptized into the one body of the saved, then a person is not saved until he is baptized. No, that is not Holy Spirit baptism, but the “one baptism” remaining by the time Paul wrote Ephesians, “the washing of water” for sanctification and spiritual cleansing (Eph. 4:5; 5:26). This washing away of sins for salvation (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:20, 21) is preceded by faith in Jesus (the sinless, resurrected Son of God), true repentance, and confession of faith to other people (Mt. 10:32; Jn. 8:24; Acts 2:38-41, 47; 8:37).
After we bury the dead sinner in water baptism, we are raised to walk in new life, as Christ was raised from the tomb with new life. Christ did not have new life until He was raised, and we do not have new life until raised from the grave of baptism, having been born of water by the instructions of the Spirit (Jn. 3:5; Rom. 6:3-5). Then, as Christians, we do our best to live like Christ by doing God’s will (1 Pet. 2:21, 22; 1 Jn. 1:6-2:6). This includes things such as loving God and all people, speaking the way God authorizes, remaining sober, abstaining from fleshly lusts, faithfully assembling with other Christians, worshiping God the way He instructed in the New Testament, helping others in need, studying, adhering to sound doctrine, and teaching others the Truth (Mt. 22:36-40; 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15, 16; Jn. 4:23, 24; Gal. 5:19-23; 6:10; Col. 3:16, 17; 1 Thess. 5:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:2, 15-18; Heb. 10:23-31).