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David's Deliberations . . .

Finding and Becoming the Lord's Church

The apostle Paul encouraged the members of the church at Thessalonica to: "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). To the Corinthian church he wrote: "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Christians have the obligation to look to the Bible to find the truth. The Bereans were commended for hearing what Paul had to preach, and then examining the Scriptures to determine the truth (Acts 17:11). Jesus consistently pointed his followers and opponents to the word of God (see John 5:39; Matthew 4:4; 5:18; 24:35; 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31 and others).

We need to look to the written word of God, the Bible, because "many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Paul urged Timothy to "instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith" (1 Timothy 1:3-4). These false teachers with their false doctrine can lead us away from the truth and therefore, away from God's will for us.

As we endeavor to be the Lord's church, looking to the Scriptures as our only guide, it is good to keep in mind that the church that Jesus built:

  1. Wears the right name. Jesus said, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). Any name that the church wears should show His ownership. (see Acts 20:28; Romans 16:16; Revelation 2:13; 3:18)

  2. Has no creed but Christ. When Jesus asked, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16). Paul said, "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2 see also 1 Corinthians 1:17, 23; 2 Corinthians 4:5). Jesus taught that men make the word of God empty by means of their traditions (Matthew 15:3-9).

  3. Like the early church follows the apostles' teaching. "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42).

  4. Is organized according to the Scriptures. Christ is the head of the church Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Col. 1:18) which is his body. Each congregation is to have qualified elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Acts 20:17; 14:23; 1 Peter 5:5), and deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13; Phil. 1:1).

  5. Teaches God's plan of salvation.

    1. Hear - Romans 10:13
    2. Believe - Heb. 11:6; John 8:24; Mark 16:16
    3. Repent - Acts 3:38; Acts 17:30; Luke 13:3-5
    4. Confess Christ - Acts 8:37; Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10
    5. Be Baptized (immersed in water) in order to receive remission of sins- Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-5

  6. Meets upon the first day of every week.

    1. To take the Lord's supper - Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-30
    2. To sing and make melody in our hearts - Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16-17
    3. To pray - 1 Timothy 2:1-6
    4. To study the word of God; to hear preaching - Acts 20:7
    5. And to give of our means - 1 Cor. 16:1-2

  7. Preaches to save the lost. Jesus commanded, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20)

In short, the Lord's church is not a denomination. Rather, it holds to the New Testament in name, origin and practice. Its members are charged to preach nothing but truth (Eph. 1:3; John 8:32; John 17:17; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 4:1-4). Its plea is to return to the Bible, New Testament teaching.

—David Carl Swanson