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Book of Faiths

Christian - Church of Christ
A Concise Statement of the Faith and Beliefs of the Churches of Christ
"No creed but Christ. No name but Christian"
by Richard E. Cowles

Introduction:
The Churches of Christ / Independent Christian Churches are a Christian brotherhood that grew out of the religious reform of Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone in the 1800's. The basis of their reform was to turn away from denominationalism and tradition; in order to restore the church to it's organization and simple doctrine as found in the pages of the New Testament. It is because of this that the churches do not endorse the use of written creeds or denominational names. They prefer rather to say that they are simply members of the Christian church as founded in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

This brotherhood has split into two main groups known mainly by their beliefs governing the use of instrumental music in their worship services. The smaller group does not utilize any instrumental music during worship and is known as the Acapella or Non-Instrumental Churches of Christ. Other than this difference the main doctrines of the groups are identical as discussed in this statement.

Organization:
The Churches of Christ are not a denomination. Rather, each congregation is autonomous and independent of each other. They act as an association of congregations working together to support schools, colleges, and missionaries among other things. They also recognize the ministers ordained by other congregations. However, the instrumental and non-instrumental groups maintain their own colleges and seminaries; with the non-instrumental group generally not recognizing the credentials of the ministers of the instrumental congregations.

As they are not a denomination, there is no central headquarters and no president. The brotherhood believes itself to be organized, as was the church during the time of the writers of the New Testament, with Christ as the only head of the church.

Each congregation is under the spiritual oversight of elders who are members of the congregation and are appointed by the evangelist (minister). Other positions within the church are deacons and teachers, although the evangelist is normally the only one to be paid a salary. The office of apostle is not recognized as it is generally believed that the requirement in the New Testament to become an apostle was to have seen the resurrected Christ.

It is the policy of the churches that all elders, evangelists, deacons, worship leaders are male (1 Cor 14:34). Women may teach classes for women and children.

Doctrine:
The Churches of Christ strive to follow only the Bible with regards to doctrine. They are quite conservative and literal in their interpretation of scripture, avoiding traditions and doctrines coming from outside sources such as the medieval church or more liberal interpretations as found in some of the larger denominations.

The churches believe that there is a Triune God consisting of the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus came to earth as a man, yet fully God; and taking the sins of mankind upon Himself, died on a cross as the perfect sacrifice. This fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament as well as the law of Moses. Thus began the Christian Dispensation.

It is the belief of these churches that Christ will return, and on that day all people will be judged. Those who have accepted Christ as their savior and placed their faith in Him as set forth in scripture will be swept up to an eternity of paradise in heaven. Those who have not put on Christ will be damned to an eternity of misery and grief in an eternal lake of fire commonly referred to as hell.

Worship Service:
The worship service of this brotherhood is comparable to most Christian services in that it includes singing, prayer, the giving of an offering, and preaching. The service is non-liturgical in an effort to avoid the vain repetitions warned against in the Bible. The service differs from many of today in the fact that communion is served every Lord's day to honor the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is done as the Lord instructed us to "do this often"; as well as the fact that almost every time worship is mentioned in the Book of Acts, the Lord's table is mentioned as the main activity of worship. It is indeed the focal point of the service in the Churches of Christ.

Doctrine of Salvation:
It is the belief of the Churches of Christ that a person can only be saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This requires more than a "sinners prayer" however, as nowhere in scripture is this shown to be the way to come to Christ. Rather, a study of the scriptures will reveal that several steps were involved in order to act in obedience to the gospel. While some detractors of this plan (sometimes known as the five finger exercise) claim that this is basing salvation on works, it is actually based on faith. A study of the book of Hebrews will show beyond a doubt that faith is an action word, and that true faith requires action on our part. Acting in faith is in no means comparable to doing good works. With that in mind, the plan of salvation as taught by the Churches of Christ consists of the steps outlined as follows.

  1. Repentence (Luke 13:3): A person must see the errors of their way of life in not living according to the commandments of God. While many unsaved people are self righteous and will claim to be a good person, an examination of scripture will show that we are guilty before God (Romans 3:23) as we have all lied, many have at least snatched a pen or pencil from work (which makes them a thief), and all are guilty of greed at least one time in their life. A person must not only be sorry, but must set it in their mind that with the help of the Holy Spirit they will change their behavior and lifestyle.

  2. Belief (John 3:16) : A person must believe that Jesus is the savior promised to us all throughout the scriptures, and that only He can save them from eternal damnation. They must place their life in His hands and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

  3. Confess Christ (Matthew 10:32, John 6:69) : A person must confess Jesus publicly before other men. This is plain to see in the scriptures by the statements of our Lord. The one commonly heard is, "I believe that Jesus is the Christ (messiah), the Son of God".

  4. Baptism by immersion : While many people today teach that baptism is not essential to salvation, the Churches of Christ maintain that to be an unscriptual stance. To quote other scriptures in defense of repentence, belief, and confession while ignoring the scriptures about immersion is piece meal (or buffet style) theology. It would be considered ridiculous to use only the scripture about repentence without including belief, yet the same people who would find this to be ridiculous are guilty of ignoring scripture about immersion in order fit their own preconcieved notions.

      Scripture shows us three things about baptism.

    1. That it is by immersion, for that is the meaning of the Greek words baptizo and baptisma that are always used by the writers of the New Testament. Had they wanted to convey sprinkling, pouring, or simply getting wet they could have done this as there are specific Greek words to convey this thought. However, they were very specific as to the mode of baptism.

    2. That it is only for those who believe (Acts 8:36-37, Acts 18:8), which rules out infant baptism which was begun by the medieval church and is found nowhere in scripture.

    3. That it is indeed a necessary step of faith in order to be saved (Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:27, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 22:16).

    Striving to live a faithful life (Hebrews 10:39, Luke 9:62, Galatians 6:9, Revelation 3:11) : Once you have accepted Christ as your savior as set forth above, you must try and live a sinless life after His example. To willingly go back to a life of sin shows that you do not have faith, and it is faith that saves us. The book of James is very specific that faith without any outward signs is a dead faith. Jesus himself stated that we would know His people by the fruit that they yield. Some people argue that once you are saved, you can not lose your salvation; however this is a misunderstanding of scripture. Scripture does indeed state that no one can tear us away from God's grasp, it does not however say that we can not walk away of our own accord.

Conclusion:
If you are a Christian seeking a conservative place of worship with a refreshingly simple approach to faith, or if you are not a Christian and would like a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I would invite you to explore the simple gospel of the Churches of Christ. There are no creeds, there are no classes before you can become a member, the only textbook is the Bible. It only takes a desire to know Jesus, learn His word, and put it into practice in your life.

May God richly bless your life. May you find the peace which comes from knowing Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

Christian - Church of Christ

A Concise Statement of the Faith and Beliefs of the Churches of Christ
"No creed but Christ. No name but Christian"

by Richard E. Cowles

Introduction:
The Churches of Christ / Independent Christian Churches are a Christian brotherhood that grew out of the religious reform of Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone in the 1800's. The basis of their reform was to turn away from denominationalism and tradition; in order to restore the church to it's organization and simple doctrine as found in the pages of the New Testament. It is because of this that the churches do not endorse the use of written creeds or denominational names. They prefer rather to say that they are simply members of the Christian church as founded in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

This brotherhood has split into two main groups known mainly by their beliefs governing the use of instrumental music in their worship services. The smaller group does not utilize any instrumental music during worship and is known as the Acapella or Non-Instrumental Churches of Christ. Other than this difference the main doctrines of the groups are identical as discussed in this statement.

Organization:
The Churches of Christ are not a denomination. Rather, each congregation is autonomous and independent of each other. They act as an association of congregations working together to support schools, colleges, and missionaries among other things. They also recognize the ministers ordained by other congregations. However, the instrumental and non-instrumental groups maintain their own colleges and seminaries; with the non-instrumental group generally not recognizing the credentials of the ministers of the instrumental congregations.

As they are not a denomination, there is no central headquarters and no president. The brotherhood believes itself to be organized, as was the church during the time of the writers of the New Testament, with Christ as the only head of the church.

Each congregation is under the spiritual oversight of elders who are members of the congregation and are appointed by the evangelist (minister). Other positions within the church are deacons and teachers, although the evangelist is normally the only one to be paid a salary. The office of apostle is not recognized as it is generally believed that the requirement in the New Testament to become an apostle was to have seen the resurrected Christ.

It is the policy of the churches that all elders, evangelists, deacons, worship leaders are male (1 Cor 14:34). Women may teach classes for women and children.

Doctrine:
The Churches of Christ strive to follow only the Bible with regards to doctrine. They are quite conservative and literal in their interpretation of scripture, avoiding traditions and doctrines coming from outside sources such as the medieval church or more liberal interpretations as found in some of the larger denominations.

The churches believe that there is a Triune God consisting of the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus came to earth as a man, yet fully God; and taking the sins of mankind upon Himself, died on a cross as the perfect sacrifice. This fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament as well as the law of Moses. Thus began the Christian Dispensation.

It is the belief of these churches that Christ will return, and on that day all people will be judged. Those who have accepted Christ as their savior and placed their faith in Him as set forth in scripture will be swept up to an eternity of paradise in heaven. Those who have not put on Christ will be damned to an eternity of misery and grief in an eternal lake of fire commonly referred to as hell.

Worship Service:
The worship service of this brotherhood is comparable to most Christian services in that it includes singing, prayer, the giving of an offering, and preaching. The service is non-liturgical in an effort to avoid the vain repetitions warned against in the Bible. The service differs from many of today in the fact that communion is served every Lord's day to honor the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is done as the Lord instructed us to "do this often"; as well as the fact that almost every time worship is mentioned in the Book of Acts, the Lord's table is mentioned as the main activity of worship. It is indeed the focal point of the service in the Churches of Christ.

Doctrine of Salvation:
It is the belief of the Churches of Christ that a person can only be saved through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This requires more than a "sinners prayer" however, as nowhere in scripture is this shown to be the way to come to Christ. Rather, a study of the scriptures will reveal that several steps were involved in order to act in obedience to the gospel. While some detractors of this plan (sometimes known as the five finger exercise) claim that this is basing salvation on works, it is actually based on faith. A study of the book of Hebrews will show beyond a doubt that faith is an action word, and that true faith requires action on our part. Acting in faith is in no means comparable to doing good works. With that in mind, the plan of salvation as taught by the Churches of Christ consists of the steps outlined as follows.

  1. Repentence (Luke 13:3): A person must see the errors of their way of life in not living according to the commandments of God. While many unsaved people are self righteous and will claim to be a good person, an examination of scripture will show that we are guilty before God (Romans 3:23) as we have all lied, many have at least snatched a pen or pencil from work (which makes them a thief), and all are guilty of greed at least one time in their life. A person must not only be sorry, but must set it in their mind that with the help of the Holy Spirit they will change their behavior and lifestyle.

  2. Belief (John 3:16) : A person must believe that Jesus is the savior promised to us all throughout the scriptures, and that only He can save them from eternal damnation. They must place their life in His hands and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

  3. Confess Christ (Matthew 10:32, John 6:69) : A person must confess Jesus publicly before other men. This is plain to see in the scriptures by the statements of our Lord. The one commonly heard is, "I believe that Jesus is the Christ (messiah), the Son of God".

  4. Baptism by immersion : While many people today teach that baptism is not essential to salvation, the Churches of Christ maintain that to be an unscriptual stance. To quote other scriptures in defense of repentence, belief, and confession while ignoring the scriptures about immersion is piece meal (or buffet style) theology. It would be considered ridiculous to use only the scripture about repentence without including belief, yet the same people who would find this to be ridiculous are guilty of ignoring scripture about immersion in order fit their own preconcieved notions.

      Scripture shows us three things about baptism.

    1. That it is by immersion, for that is the meaning of the Greek words baptizo and baptisma that are always used by the writers of the New Testament. Had they wanted to convey sprinkling, pouring, or simply getting wet they could have done this as there are specific Greek words to convey this thought. However, they were very specific as to the mode of baptism.

    2. That it is only for those who believe (Acts 8:36-37, Acts 18:8), which rules out infant baptism which was begun by the medieval church and is found nowhere in scripture.

    3. That it is indeed a necessary step of faith in order to be saved (Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:27, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 22:16).

    Striving to live a faithful life (Hebrews 10:39, Luke 9:62, Galatians 6:9, Revelation 3:11) : Once you have accepted Christ as your savior as set forth above, you must try and live a sinless life after His example. To willingly go back to a life of sin shows that you do not have faith, and it is faith that saves us. The book of James is very specific that faith without any outward signs is a dead faith. Jesus himself stated that we would know His people by the fruit that they yield. Some people argue that once you are saved, you can not lose your salvation; however this is a misunderstanding of scripture. Scripture does indeed state that no one can tear us away from God's grasp, it does not however say that we can not walk away of our own accord.

Conclusion:
If you are a Christian seeking a conservative place of worship with a refreshingly simple approach to faith, or if you are not a Christian and would like a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I would invite you to explore the simple gospel of the Churches of Christ. There are no creeds, there are no classes before you can become a member, the only textbook is the Bible. It only takes a desire to know Jesus, learn His word, and put it into practice in your life.

May God richly bless your life. May you find the peace which comes from knowing Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.


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