What is the church of Christ?
A peculiar group of people call themselves the church of Christ. You may have heard that this peculiar group of people claim that if you are not a member of the church of Christ, you will not go to heaven. This would certainly seem to be close-minded thinking. Let’s break this down so we can understand why this peculiar group of people makes this claim and see if the Bible confirms what they teach.
Who exactly is going to heaven? I am 100% confident that we can agree that all saved people are going to heaven. The “saved” are going to heaven. The saved are Christians who remain faithful to the end. Consider what Jesus said.
But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:13).
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
If we are saved, if we are Christians when we die, we will spend eternity in heaven with God; therefore, it makes reasonable sense that Christians are the ones going to heaven. It is a fact, according to the Bible.
What is a Christian? Someone who is saved, as we have already established. What does the Bible say about what happens with someone is saved?
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:46,47).
The Bible tells us that those who are saved, those who become Christians, God adds them to the church. There is no doubt about it; when a person is saved and becomes a Christian, that person is added to the church, per the Bible. We just confirmed this truth in the previous passage.
What is the church according to the Bible? The word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklesia and is defined as “the called out.” If we study the meaning of this word, we will learn that it refers to those who are called out of the world and into an assembly. The church is made up of Christians. The church is a group of people who are saved. Most people think of church as a church building, or they may say something like, “We are going to church this Sunday.” However, we don’t really “go to church”; instead, we go to the church building for worship and Bible study. As Christians, we are the church, and we don’t go to church; we go to Sunday worship service.
The Bible also teaches us that the church is also the body of Christ. How can the church be two things? If the church is made up of those who are saved, made up of Christians, how can it be the body of Christ? That may not initially seem to make much sense, but let’s see what the Bible says about it.
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesian 1:22,23).
If we study Ephesians chapter 1, we will learn that “His body” refers to the body of Jesus Christ. Paul also confirms His body is the church when he wrote to the Colossians.
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church (Colossians 1:24).
If the church is the body of Christ, as these two passages confirm, how can we confirm that the church is also all who are saved?
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many (1 Corinthians 12:11-14).
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another (Romans 12:4,5).
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body (1 Corinthians 12:18-20).
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually (1 Corinthians 12:27).
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling (Ephesians 4:4).
These passages show us that as Christians, we are members of one body, and that body is Christ and the church because His body is the church, and the Bible tells us the church is made up of the saved. If it seems a bit confusing, it may be good to read over the passages again.
Now that we understand that the church is the body of Christ, it makes sense that Christians are the church, as we are all baptized into the body of Christ. If we go back to Acts 2:47, where God was adding to the church daily those who were being saved, we see that those being baptized were the ones being saved in the preceding verse 41.
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2:41).
Considering the previous passage in 1 Corinthians 12, we also see the following in verse 13.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Christians, those who are saved, are part of the body of Christ, we are members of the body, and we are members of the church because the body is the church, as the Bible confirms.
Thus far, we have confirmed with the Bible what a Christian is and that as we become a Christian, we are added to the church, which is also the body of Christ. Christians make up the church and are members of the church.
To whom does the church belong?
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Matthew 16:18).
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22,23).
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body (Ephesians 5:23).
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18)
These passages confirm that Christ is the head of the church, the head of the body... the church belongs to Christ... it is His church.
Instead of thinking of a church name when you hear the term “church of Christ,” you should think of the church that belongs to Christ. In referring to my land or my house as the land of Sonnie, or the house of Sonnie, I would mean that this is the land and house that belongs to Sonnie. The “of” denotes ownership. Don’t think of the “church of Christ” as a church building; instead, think of it as the body that belongs to Christ because Christ owns it; He built it. We know from the above passages that the church is the body of Christ. When we think of the church of Christ, we should think of ALL Christians that BELONG to Christ. ALL Christians are part of the body of Christ.
Some people want to make the “church of Christ” out to be a bad thing or that it is some religious cult of some kind, but they fail to realize that if they are Christians, according to the Bible, they are a member of the church of Christ. Saying that only those that are members of the church of Christ are going to heaven is not excluding ANY Christian; instead, it INCLUDES ALL Christians... all who are saved. This truth is not what some individual has made up; it is what the Bible teaches, as we have just confirmed.
Did you know Christians are a peculiar group of people?
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (1 Peter 2:9,10).
Perhaps it makes more sense now that this peculiar group of people are Christians, and this includes Christians EVERYWHERE, all over the world, even those dead in Christ. If you are a Christian, like it or not, the Bible confirms you are a member of that peculiar group of people that call themselves the church of Christ because you are added to the church that belongs to Christ when you are saved. This is what is meant when you hear someone say the church of Christ believes they are the only ones going to heaven... which is correct because the Bible teaches ONLY Christians, ONLY the saved will go to heaven, and Christians (the saved) are the church of Christ, the body of Christ, the church that belongs to Christ. Are you saved... are you a member of the church? If not, see How To Become A Christian.
Some will say the "church of Christ is just another denomination among thousands of others. This is simply not true, although some denominational organizations could very well have the phrase "church of Christ" in their name. What would make them a denomination would be breaking away from what the Bible teaches about the church of Christ and creating their own man-made traditions and doctrines. While there are several references to churches of Christ in the Bible, there are no references to the modern-day denominations we see today. The Bible actually teaches that there should be no divisions among Christians (1 Corinthians 1:10-17), which is exactly what denominations are (divisions). If the churches of Christ are so bad, why did God inspire Paul to mention the churches of Christ in the Bible?
Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you (Romans 16:16).
Remember, Christ built His church (Matthew 16:18), which belongs to Him (Ephesians 1:22,23). It has been here since He built it, and it's not going anywhere; it is the church of Christ! ALL Christians make up the church of Christ.
See The History Of The Church for a deeper study of church history.
God bless you!