The Church of Christ

Who are the Members of the Church of Christ?The church of christ skewed 1
The Church of Christ is made up of members who have obeyed the gospel plan of salvation and as such have been “added to the church, those that have been saved” (Acts 2:27). This opportunity is available to all people everywhere. The Bible tells us that “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” ( II Peter 3:9). Nowhere in the New Testament does the Bible ever mention a multitude of different churches. Instead, the New Testament describes for us a single church meeting in different locations but unified in their doctrine and faith. I Corinthians 12:12-13 says “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we are baptized into one body….and have been all made to drink into one Spirit”. Jesus said that he would build “His church” <singular> (Matthew 16:18). The church is also called the “Family of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19) and the “Kingdom of Christ” (Colossians 1:13).
What is a “Church?”
The word “church” is never used in the Bible to describe a building or a place of worship.  In fact, the Greek word used by the New testament writers means “the called out”.  The word “church” always refers to “people”.  When Jesus prayed, in John 17: 20-21, for “oneness” He was praying for His people to be unified, or together, in their beliefs and  their faith.  Paul tells us that there is
“one faith and one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).  So we can conclude that when a person is added to the church, they are added to a singular institution which is spiritual, not earthly, and is headed by Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, Jesus intends for this institution to be unified in faith and belief.  When added to this institution, such a person is called a Christian and, no matter where they live, they are a member of the one church.  The name used most often in the Bible to refer to a group of Christians meeting to worship in a certain location is “Church of Christ” (for instance-Romans 16:16).   It is also important to understand that church membership is not the choice of a “membership committee” or any similar church group.  Acts 2:47 says “… And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  Thus, the Bible teaches that it is God who adds a person to the membership of the church.  This is done when a person obeys His commands and allows his or her conscience to be led to an active faith culminating in baptismBaptism does not allow entrance into a denomination.  In fact, the concept of a denomination is foreign to the teaching of the Gospel.  God intended that there be only one church, made up of the saved of the mankind.
Again, it is important to notice that God adds an individual to the church, not men.  The preacher, teacher, or minister can help lead a person to Christ and can even assist in their baptism but cannot themselves add an individual to the church. In fact, baptism is not done to a person but rather is an action done between a person and God.
What About Grace?
A popular saying in Christianity is “We are saved by grace.”  This is absolutely true and amplified by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:8.  While this is true, the concept of grace is frequently misapplied to mean that we as humans need to do nothing except wait around until God decides to save us.  People often refer to “being saved” to mean that they have experienced some event or feeling indicating that God has bestowed salvation upon them.  Prayer or confession is usually all that is taught being necessary for God’s grace to act.
The truth is that God’s grace has already acted…a long time ago.  In the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, God promised a savior that would overcome sin.  This was the first indication of God’s grace.  God’s grace is the death and resurrection of His son providing a plan of salvation.  This is done out of love of God for us…it is not earned or merited.  In fact, mankind could do nothing to cause God to be graceful.
However, grace does not mean that the recipient has nothing to do. Grace means “freely offered” but does not mean that a person has no obligation or part to play in justification.  If this were the case, then on the Day of Pentecost, when asked “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Peter would have responded “Go home and do nothing and wait for God to act.”  But Peter did not say this.  What Peter did say was to “repent and be baptized.”  (Acts 2:38)  Grace is indeed God’s part of salvation and is freely offered by God…but faith is man’s part and faith leads a man to act. Remember Jesus warned His listeners that  “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  Later on, Jesus also said  “Whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved…whoever believes not shall be damned.”  God has already provided the opportunity…man must act on faith by obeying God ordained commandments in order for grace to cover his sins.

So are only members of the Church of Christ going to Heaven?

This is a “weighted” question usually asked out some pre-conceived notion. The church is not a denomination so the question is not whether one group of worshippers or another will or will not be saved.  The Church is described in the Bible as “The Bride of Christ”, “The Body of Christ”, “The Kingdom of God”, and “Those who shall be saved”.  The question is whether or not an individual has obeyed God and followed what He has required of us; that is, to follow the steps that lead to Him adding a persons name to the church and then for that person to live a life faithful to God. 

If a Christian is sincere in his or her desire to please God then they will want to enjoy the fellowship of other Christians and will want to come together for worship and praise of His name.  If a person does these things then they are part of His church and as such have been promised a home in Heaven with Christ, following a faithful life upon this earth. 
So you see it is not a matter of “my group” against “your group” but a matter of an individual’s preference to save his or her soul.  God’s son is head of the church and members of the church are part of God’s family.  God has chosen that His family will be saved.

How does one become a member of the Church of Christ?

We have no conditions of membership in the Lord’s church other than that given to us by Jesus Christ himself and His apostles.  Since Christ is the head of the church, we do not have the power, nor the desire, to try to change what He has said.  The steps for Christ “adding” a person to His church are simple-so simple that men have tried to abrogate them for centuries.  Paul recognized that some men would consider the Gospel as “foolishness” (I Corinthians 1:21) but actually this is an indication of a “hardened heart” The question of what to do was asked by the crowd on the day of Pentecost listening to the first sermons preached by Peter and the other Apostles.  In Acts 2:37, when those in the assembled crowd awakened to the seriousness of putting the Son of God to death, they asked “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  Peter’s answer is simply put and in the next verse; “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” Notice these individuals had heard and believed what they heard but there was something more that they had to do…namely repent and be baptized.  As they did they would have confessed the name of Christ as the Son of God, as did the Ethiopian in Acts 8:37.  If all a person has to do to be saved is to believe then Peter would have said “since you believe then there is nothing more you have to do…you are saved”.  But Peter did not respond this way.  Peter answered their question and explained that there is something more than just belief needed on the part of the believer.  This goes against common denominational preaching but reading from the scriptures is always the surest way to learn the truth.  From the instances of conversion found in the scriptures, we can see the simple truth…those that are added to the church are those that:

  1. Hear the Gospel preached
  2. Believe what they hear
  3. Repent from their sins because of their belief
  4. Confess the name of Christ as the Son of God
  5. and have been baptized, for the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ, and
  6. Continue in the fellowship of Christ’s Church and live a life consistent to His teachings.

This is the plan that God intended all along.  It was divinely given to us through the Bible.  Those who heed His word and do the things written have their names added to “The Lambs Book of Life” and are added to the church.