You can be just a Christian. Does this sound strange? Learn 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 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, “The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16b). However, it is just as correct to describe the church of which we read in the Bible as “the church of God” (I Corinthians 12:27), or “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). These and similar Biblical phrases are not proper names, but descriptive expressions which show how the church is related to Christ and God.
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.” (See I Corinthians 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 verbal inspiration of the entire Bible and that it is all-sufficient to guide us in all matters of faith; we believe that Jesus Christ is the son of the living God and that his shed blood is powerful to atone for our sins; we believe that after death all men will be rewarded or punished in another life for the way they have lived here. Also, we insist that the moral principles of Jesus Christ 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 that the Bible must be our ONLY guide in religious matters. God’s Word frequently warns us against changing the divine message (see Galatians 1:6-9). We, therefore, have no creed, catechism, discipline, or dogma to present, but accept CHRIST as our only creed and the BIBLE as our only guidebook.
Restoration and Reformation
It is obvious to thinking people that the religious world is greatly divided. Many honest, sincere religious people have sought to correct erroneous teaching and practices, to REFORM existing religious bodies. While they are to be applauded for their concern, their efforts have resulted in increased division rather than unity.
Churches of Christ, however, plead for the RESTORATION of apostolic Christianity rather than a ‘reforming’ of existing religious bodies. Since all can agree that the church of the New Testament was right, we cannot be wrong if we seek to reproduce that church today in every essential part. While many things have changed in the twentieth century, the teachings of Jesus and his inspired apostles have not. TRUTH IS ABSOLUTE AND UNCHANGEABLE! God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17) and can save today as surely as it could in the first century A.D. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Should you visit one of the churches of Christ, you will find it worshipping God as did the first New Testament Christians – “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). This involves partaking of the Lord’s Supper, or breaking of bread, upon the first day of every week (Acts 20:7). It also includes acapella singing (Ephesians 5:19), praying (I Thessalonians 5:17), studying God’s Will (Acts 20:7) and contributing financially upon the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1, 2). Likewise, in every other way churches of Christ endeavor to reproduce New Testament Christianity – in organization, work, daily conduct and teaching.
How To Be Just A Christian
In few areas is man in such disagreement as in answering the Bible question, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) As in all matters of religion, we must go to the Scriptures for the answer. The Bible teaches that Christ shed His blood for our sins (Matthew 26:28), and that without it we cannot be saved (Hebrews 9:22). But what does Jesus require of us if we are to appropriate that sacrifice? Those who crucified Christ were told to “know assuredly” or BELIEVE that Jesus is “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Those who believed this to be true asked for further information and they were told, “REPENT, and be BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Also, to be a fit candidate for scriptural baptism, one must CONFESS his faith in Jesus as God’s Son (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10). A comparison of the accounts of conversion in the book of Acts teaches that men must believe Jesus to be the Son of God and confess that faith, repent of their sins and be baptized for the forgiveness of all past sins. Those who do these things the Lord adds to His body, the church (Acts 2:47). They are then “in Christ” (Galatians 3:27) wherein are ALL spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3).
The early disciples were CHRISTIANS ONLY. Although we live more than 1900 years later, we too can be CHRISTIANS ONLY if we follow the BIBLE ONLY.
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