The Lord’s Church Is Different, By Garland Elkins, (part 2)

THE LORD’S CHURCH SUPERIOR TO DENOMINATIONS

The church for which our Lord gave His blood is far superior to any and/or all denominations. All denominations have been started by human rather than by divine authority.

It is a fact, both from the Bible and history, that the church of Christ was established and existed in the world for several centuries before Catholicism or Protestantism were known, and before the followers of Christ divided into various denominations. (Acts 2:22-47; Rom. 16:16.)

Preaching the same gospel and urging obedience to the same conditions of salvation will reproduce the church of Christ in any given community today. The seed of the kingdom is the word of God. (Luke 8:11.) The good soil is the “honest and good heart.” (Luke 8:15.) When the word of God was planted in the first century, it produced Christians (Acts 11:26; 26:28), and churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16.)

Since seed always produces after its kind (Gen. 1:11, 12; Gal. 6:7, 8), it will produce in this century what it produced in the first century. If not, why not?

THERE IS ONE CHURCH

First, I want to show that there was one and only one church in the first century. The New Testament, of course, will be the standard to which we must turn for our evidence.

The word “church” comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” and simply means the “called out.” The church of the New Testament was composed of people — people who were called out of darkness, by the gospel, into the light of the Son of God. (II Thess. 2:13, 14; Col. 1:13.)

Such a group of “called out” people in any community was called the “church” in that community. Therefore we read of “the church which was in Jerusalem.” (Acts 11:22.) Also, the church at Corinth (I Cor. 1:2), and the church at Thessalonica. (I Thess. 1:1.)

The congregations were spoken of as “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16), “the churches of Judea” (Gal. 1:22.), “The

churches of Macedonia” (II Cor. 8:1), and “the churches of Galatia” (Gal. 1:2.) The plural form “churches” is never used except in reference to a number of local congregations in some section of the country.

When Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he said: “The churches of Christ salute you.” (Rom. 16:16.) In the area from which Paul was writing there were a number of congregations sending their greetings to the church in Rome.

Hence, Paul said: “The churches of Christ salute you.” It is a certain fact that if a number of congregations were called “Churches of Christ,” each individual congregation would be “a” church of Christ.

In I Corinthians 1:2, Paul addresses “the church of God which is at Corinth.” He wrote to Timothy after this fashion. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Tim. 3:15.) Here reference is made to “the church of the living

God.” These similar phrases are not proper names, but descriptive expressions which show how the church is related to Christ and his Father.

 

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