You can be just a Christian! Does this sound strange? With about 300 religious
bodies in our country it might appear impossible to be a Christian without being
part of a denomination. It is not only possible, but there are actually millions
of “Christians only” in this and other nations.
The Churches of Christ
Who are these people who seek to be only Christians? The congregations of which
they are a part are usually known as “churches of Christ.” This term is not used
in a sectarian sense, but is intended to denote their desire to belong to
Christ’s church. The Bible says, “All the churches of Christ greet you.” (Rom.
16:16.) However, it is just as correct to describe the church of which we read
in the Bible as “the church of God” (I Cor. 1:2), “the body of Christ” (I Cor.
12:27), or “the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). These and similar Biblical
phrases are not proper names, but descriptive expressions which show how the
church is related to Christ and His Father.
Individually Christ’s followers are known as “Christians” in the Bible. “The
disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26.) “If a man
suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this
name.” (I Peter 4:16.) Never does a human name prefix this God given name. Paul
was one of the greatest of all Christians, but he did not want disciples to be
called “Paulites” or “Paulite Christians.” (I Cor. 1:10-17.)
A Distinctive Plea
Churches of Christ have a distinctive plea. Of course, in many ways we agree
with others striving to follow Christ. We believe in the divine inspiration of
the entire Bible and that it is sufficient to guide us in all matters of faith;
in the death of Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sins; and that after
death all men will be rewarded or punished in another life for the way they have
lived here. And with all people of real religious conviction we insist that the
moral principles of Jesus are absolute truths to be exemplified in the personal
righteousness of the child of God.
The Bible ONLY
However, we not only believe that the scriptures are inspired, but also are
convicted that the New Testament must be our ONLY guide in religious faith.
God’s Word frequently warns us against changing the divine message. (See
Gal.1:6-9.) We, therefore, have no creed or catechism to present, but accept
Christ as our only creed and the Bible as our only guidebook. In this way we are
never prevented by an erroneous creed from accepting any truth which may be
learned from God’s Word.
Restoration Rather Than
is obvious to thinking people that the religious world is badly divided. Great
leaders such as Martin Luther and John Calvin sought to correct erroneous
teachings and practices. But the reformers often started at different points and
thus arrived at different conclusions. Division rather than unity has resulted.
Churches of Christ, on the other hand, plead for the restoration of apostolic
Christianity rather than a reformation of existing religious bodies. Since all
can agree that the early church was right, we should also be able to agree that
we cannot be wrong if we succeed in reproducing that church today in every
essential part. While many things have changed in the twenty-first century, the
teachings of Jesus and His apostles have not. Truth is absolute and
unchangeable. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) and can save today as surely as
in the first century if applied in the same way. “The truth will make you free.”
Should you visit one of the churches of Christ you will find it worshipping god
as did the early disciples – “in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24.) You will
observe that it partakes of the Lord’s Supper, or communion, every Sunday. This
is because we are following the example of the early Christians who assembled
every first day of the week to “break bread.” (See Acts 20:7.) Likewise, in
every other way churches of Christ seek to reproduce New Testament Christianity
– in organization, in work, and in other areas of teaching.
How To Be Just A Christian
few places is there so much disagreement as in answering the Bible question,
“What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30.) Here again churches of Christ reply
by going to the scriptures for their answer. The Bible teaches that Christ shed
His blood for our sins (Matt. 26:28), and that without it we cannot be saved.
(Heb. 9:22.) But what does Jesus require of us if we are to appropriate that
sacrifice? Those who crucified Him were told to “know assuredly” or believe that
Jesus is “both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36.) When these people on the day of
Pentecost then asked for further information, they were told, “Repent ye, and be
baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your
sins.” (Acts 2:38.) Today we teach as did the apostles then that for Christ’s
blood to remove our sins we must a believers in Him repent and b e baptized. As
we are thus saved from our sins, the Lord adds us to His body, the church. “And
the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47.) “For
in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.” (I Cor. 12:13.) The saved,
then, are in the body or church of Christ; one cannot be saved and be outside
The early disciples were Christians only. Although we live 2000 years later, we
too can be Christians only if we will follow the same teachings given to these
first followers of Jesus. Christ said, “The seed is the word of God.” (Luke
8:11.) Just as surely as a planted acorn will produce only an oak, so God’s Word
will produce Christians and nothing more. We invite your earnest consideration
to this plea.
If you would like to
be Just A Christian
Contact Me via E-Mail
Edward E. Healy
164 Trout Brook Road
Olmstedville, New York 12857
What is The Church of Christ