The Disciples Of Christ/Christian Churches
This appears to be an odd title, no doubt. But I have a very good reason
for so referring to these groups. That reason is that there are several
groups who once were closely related, and have gone separate ways — at least
regarding their communion with each other. Yet, they are still very closely
related in that they exist without divine authority, and can easily be
identified among those "plants" which the Heavenly Father shall root up
(Matthew 15:13). These are the Christian Churches, also called the
Conservative Christian Churches, the Disciples of Christ, and the
Independent Christian Churches.
There are a multitude of differences between those denominations and the church of Christ. Now, for those who may read this and conclude, "Well, I am a member of the Church of Christ — the Instrumental Church of Christ," please read further, as I intend to show how such a thing called "the Instrumental Church of Christ" cannot/does not exist with divine authority.
It is the essence of denominationalism to speak of the "Instrumental Church of Christ." It is an unbiblical designation, and is comparable to speaking of the "Islamic Church of Christ," the "Methodist Church of Christ," the "Atheistic Church of Christ," etc. Where in all of God's Word do we find "brands," "strains," or "branches" of the Lord's church? There is no such thing!
Many "Christian Churches" and "Disciples of Christ Church-es" accept nearly anyone into their fellowship who claims to be a "Christian." Those within the ranks of these denominations are not, nor have they been, born again (John 3:5), washed of water with the Word (Eph.5:26), or obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7). Think on this: one cannot be taught wrongly and baptized correctly!
The following material was derived from three main sources: my own experience as a former member, interviews with pastors, elders, and members from the Christian Church denominations, and pamphlets and other materials published by "The Division of Christian Education, National Council of Christian Churches of Christ in the U.S.A." and other Christian Church/United Churches of Christ/Independent Christian Churches in America and Canada. Most people are generally ignorant of the vast differences between the New Testament church, and the denominations called "First Christian Church," "Independent Christian Church," "Conservative Christian Church" and "Disciples of Christ." Most people conclude that "the only difference is the music." Friend, the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship is but a small symptom of the real, underlying problems and differences between these groups and the Lord's church.
Since the use of mechanical instruments in worshipping God is not authorized, we see the real difference amounts to an attitude toward the authority of God's word. There is no respect for the Word nor its authority within the religions of men, and this necessarily includes the so-called "Christian Churches" in their various flavors.
These three groups have their "roots" in what is called "The American Restoration Movement" which had its beginning in the 18th century in this country. The church of Christ, however, has its beginning in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the first century. That is quite a gap spread in time and place!
I'm not speaking of the practice of restoring men and women to the Truth of God's word. "Restoration" is indeed an important — yes vital — work of the church. But the church of Christ, about which we read in the Bible, is not a part of any mere movement of men. Neither does it require "restoring" seeing as it has existed for nearly two thousand years. The restoring of the souls of lost men and women back to the fellowship of God through His Christ is truly the "mission" of the Lord's church. This is why I write this treatise.
Is their name from Heaven or from men? The word "Christian" is never used in the Bible as an adjective, and certainly not as a description of the Lord's church. It is the divine name given to those who follow Christ. Hence, to speak of "the Christian Church" — of any kind — is to speak where God has not. It does not come from Heaven, but from men.
Many of these denominations speak of "the universal Christian church" — a phrase borrowed from the Catholics. One will not find such a designation nor concept within the pages of the Bible. One of the more inane designations is found within some of the writings of this denomination. It was written by one of their scholars: "we are a part of the Universal Christian Church; the Disciples of Christ is a body within the Church Universal." That would amount to Christ's body being within His body. Nonsense!
These groups had their beginning in what was known as the Restoration Movement. Many of them proudly note such things as, "we were born and founded on American soil. We began in 1804... " Friends, the various forms of the Christian Church denominations are not from Heaven, but from men of this country from a mere 200 years ago. The Lord's church, the church of Christ, is nearly 2,000 years old!
Is their organization from Heaven or men? By their own writing and practice, one can find that they "elect a board of deacons, deaconesses, and elders. The preacher is many times the Pastor." They will then "send representatives to the regional and general assemblies." Now where do we find such in the Bible? We cannot.
Is their mission from Heaven or from men? Again they will confess "we believe very much in ecumenism. We desire to bring Christians together through national and world councils of churches and consultations on church union." They preach and practice a social gospel. Some have subscribed to a "focus on worship, beliefs, action, education, campaigns, and correction of social disease... and to fight disease, ignorance, poverty, racism, war, oppression with self-help and development programs." One will not find these in the Bible as the church's mission.
When they say "the Christian Church needs you to participate in telling others about salvation," they fall woefully short. How will they accomplish this when it is clear that they do not hold to the name, organization, mission, nor worship practices of the New Testament church?
The Christian Church denominations are extremely subjective and contradictory, not only to the Bible, but also among themselves and their various branches, whether claiming to be Independent, Conservative, or Instrumental.
As previously noted, many conclude that the only difference between these Christian Church denominations and the church of Christ is the use of the instrument in worship to God. But there is another difference that ought to smack us right between the eyes. That is the question of "What must one know before he can be baptized scripturally?" The answer is simple. One must know and understand the Gospel. By this I do not mean the entirety of New Testament doctrine, but that which was preached to those who were baptized in the first century. To learn these things, we look to the book of Acts. If one can be taught all manner of additional things besides those found in the conversion accounts in Acts, then the Lord, the apostles, and other New Testament preachers erred in not including the various doctrines that men have added. It is either one way or the other. Do we believe and practice what we find in the Book, or what others simply claim? Honest and good hearted readers know the answer (Luke 8:15).
Some claim to teach the "plan of salvation," but whose plan? It may sound exactly like it came from the book, but when all is said and done, is that person a member of the Lord's church, or the church wherein he was being instructed? What do the teachers of this perverse "gospel" think? Do they think "Ah, this person is now a member of the church of Christ"? Or do they think "Good, this person is now one of us, a member of the______ Church"?
One is either a member of a denomination, or he has obeyed the truth. We cannot have it both ways. To come from something into the truth, there must be a change, and conversion. What does it take to be converted? When one answers this, he has answered the question at hand.
We have dealt with many, people over the years who have struggled over their "baptism" and have found it a very simple matter to show them what the Truth teaches. Most have responded biblically, some have not, choosing rather to go with what they were taught or felt instead of obeying a "thus saith the Lord." An important question is this: "Is it possible that a person can hear that he needs to be believe, repent, confess and be baptized to be saved, obey it and yet not be converted because it was taught in a denominational setting?" The short answer is that he will not be converted to the Lord by this manner. The setting is immaterial. One cannot be taught error and be obedient to the Lord by responding to that error. What is he believing? That there is one church, one way to worship? What is he confessing? Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God? No. He's answering 80 questions, adhering to a code, doctrine, manual, discipline, catechism, unity in diversity, "we're just like them only different", or some other doctrine of men like the Mormons, the so-called "Jehovah's Witnesses", Christian Churches, Primitive Baptists, and others teach.
Another question: If a person submits to a baptism alleging that it is "unto remission of sins," — which some denominations teach — is he an erring brother or an unconverted sinner? Short answer? He's an unconverted sinner. One cannot be taught error and obey the Lord. What baptism is it? How many baptisms are there? The Bible teaches that there is but one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Can one be new, walk in newness of life, be in Christ where old things are passed away, through baptism and be an erring brother? What did the Lord make of this person when he was baptized? Did He make him a saint or erring brother? Did He save him or condemn him at that moment? Can we truly conclude that God has a hand in such folly?
What must one know to become a Christian? Simple answer: Acts 8:12. We find four things:
Are the Christian Church denominations from Heaven or from men? We have only touched the hem of the garment. But this ought to be enough to at least get us to look more closely at those who "claim" to be the church of Christ with a different name, doctrine, practice, mission, and plan for men's souls.
A lamp is either on or off; it is either night or day; one is either a Christian or member of a denomination. The Christian Church denominations are not from heaven, but of men.
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