What We Believe
In a divided religious world, we believe that the Bible is the only possible common denominator upon which God-fearing people can unite. The church’s appeal is to go back to the Bible. It is a plea to speak where the Bible speaks and to remain silent where the Bible is silent in all matters. We further emphasize that in everything there must be a “Thus saith the Lord” criteria for all that is done. The objective is religious unity of all believers in Christ. The basis is the New Testament. The method is the restoration of New Testament Christianity.
The original authorship of the sixty-six books which make up the Bible we believe to be divinely inspired by God, by which we mean that they are infallible and authoritative. The basic textbook of the church and the basis for all preaching is the Bible. Within the scriptures lie the answers to every religious question. The scriptures are the final word. “You diligently study] the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” –John 5:39
The most recent estimate (2007) lists more than 15,000 individual churches of Christ. The “Christian Herald,” a publication which presents statistics concerning all the churches, estimates that the total membership of the churches of Christ is now 2,000,000. There are more than 7000 men who preach publicly. Membership of the church is heaviest in the southern United States, particularly Tennessee and Texas, though congregations exist in each of the fifty states and in more than eighty foreign countries. Missionary expansion has been most extensive since World War II in Europe, Asia and Africa. More than 450 full time workers are supported in foreign countries.
The word baptize comes from the Greek word “baptizo” and literally means, “to dip, to immerse, to plunge.” In addition to the literal meaning of the word, immersion is practiced because it was the practice of the church in apostolic times. Only immersion conforms to the description of baptisms as given by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:3-5 where he speaks of it as a burial and resurrection.
Following the plan of organization found in the New Testament, churches of Christ are autonomous. Our common faith in the Bible and adherence to its teachings are the chief ties which bind us together. There is no central headquarters or president, pope or single head authority other than Jesus Christ himself. Local congregations operate under the leadership of elders in each local congregation. Congregations do cooperate voluntarily in supporting various ministry outreaches for example, orphans, education and missionary work. Churches also fellowship together in gospel meetings, lectureships and other occasions.
Members of the church of Christ conduct forty colleges and secondary schools, as well as seventy-five orphanages and homes for seniors. There are approximately 40 magazines and other periodicals published by individual members of the church. A nationwide radio and television program, known as “The Herald of Truth” is sponsored by the Highland Avenue church in Abilene, Texas. Much of its annual budget of $1,200,000 is contributed on a free-will basis by other churches of Christ. The radio program is currently heard on more than 800 radio stations, while the television program is now appearing on more than 150 stations. Another extensive radio effort known as “World Radio” owns a network of 28 stations in Brazil alone, and is operating effectively in the United States and a number of other foreign countries, and is being produced in 14 languages. Many churches of Christ conduct local radio and television programs to spread the gospel.
Infant baptism is not practiced in the church of Christ. Only those who have reached the “age of accountability” are accepted for baptisms. The examples given in the New Testament are always of people who have heard the gospel preached and have believed it. Faith must always precede baptism, so only those old enough to understand and believe the gospel are baptized.
God the Father is the only one to whom our prayers may be addressed. The Bible, our one and only guide, further explains that Christ stands as a mediator between God and man (Heb. 7:25). All prayers are therefore offered through Christ, or in the name of Christ to God (John 16:23-26).
Members of the church of Christ assemble for worship on Sundays. A central part of the worship experienceeis the eating of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7). Unless providentially hindered, each member considers this weekly appointment as binding. In many instances, as in the case of illness, the Lord’s Supper is carried to those who are hindered from attending the worship.
As a result of the distinctive plea of the church – a return to New Testament faith and practice – a cappella singing is the only music used in the worship service. This singing, unaccompanied by mechanical instruments of music, conforms to the practices of the apostolic church and for several centuries thereafter (Ephesians 5:19). The churches of Christ are patterned after the New Testament Church which Jesus established. There is no authority for engaging in acts of worship not found in the New Testament. This principle eliminates the use of instrumental music and choirs, along with the use of candles, incense, and other similar elements.
Each Sunday, the members of the church give an offering to God as referenced in 1 Corinthians 16:2. The amount of any individual gift is generally known only to the one who gave it and to the Lord. This free-will offering is the only call which the church makes. NO assessments, fees, minimum requirements or other levies are made. Members look to the manner in which the Bible outlines as a guide to how to give.
Membership into the church of Christ means membership into the body of Christ and is by baptism only. No one votes or asks you to apply for membership. In the salvation of man’s soul there are two necessary parts: God’s part and man’s part.
God’s part is the big part, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift if God; not of works, that no man should glory” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The love which God felt for man led him to send Christ into the world to redeem man. The life and teaching of Jesus, the sacrifice on the cross, and the proclaiming of the gospel to men constitute God’s part in salvation.
Though God’s part is the big part, man’s part is also necessary. Man’s part is outlined in the Bible in the following steps:
Hear the Gospel. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14)
Believe. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Repent of past sins. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Acts 17:30).
Confess Jesus as Lord. “As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ The eunuch answered, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ ” (Acts 8:36-37)
Be Baptized.“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’.” (Acts 2:38).
Live a Christian life. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)