The “Lord’s church,” is the one we find in the New Testament. It is “different” because it is separate and distinctive. The Lord’s church is radically different from all the numerous man-made churches. You might ask, what makes the Lord’s church different?
The founder of the Lord’s church, and the New Testament church has one unique founder, the Son of God.” Jesus stated to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). Billy Graham did not build the New Testament church. John Wesley did not build the New Testament church. Joseph Smith did not build the New Testament church. Ellen White did not build the New Testament church. NO! The Lord did! The Lord being the sole founder of His church makes it separate and different from all human originated churches.
The origin of the Lord’s church had her beginning in Acts chapter 2 about the year 30 A.D. Jesus had promised that He would build His church, and that the church would come into existence in the life span of those whom He addressed in the setting of Mark 9:1. When we consider the origins of current denominations, we are made to appreciate the separateness of Jesus’ church.
The designations applied to the church Jesus founded did not and does not wear human names or designations. For example, there was the church of God at Corinth (I Cor. 1:2) and the churches of Christ referred to by Paul (Rom. 16:16). For the record, the name “Church of God” is not a reference to God the Father, but rather to God the Son. God the Father truly gave his only begotten Son, but it was the Son of God which came to earth and died for our sins. (Acts 20:28) Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Mormon, Seventh Day Adventist, or Methodist were designations totally unknown to the scriptures. Truly, scriptural designations set Jesus’ church apart from all others.
As we study the New Testament, you will find the Lord’s church partook (1) of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), (2) engaged in singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs without the use of instrumental music (Eph. 5:19), (3) gave of their means (1 Cor. 16:1-3), (4) engaged in prayer (Acts 4:31), (5) and had unadulterated preaching (Acts 20:7, ff 2 Tim. 4:2-5).
As we study denominationalism, we find most denominations are financed by a number of carnal, secular methods. They are not shy to have all kind of events to raise money for their man made organization. However, the church of the New Testament was restricted how they obtained support. The only money accepted by the church was given each first day of the week, and no money was raised by denominational methods or by old testament tithing (I Cor. 16:1,2).
The plan of salvation as presented in the word of God – belief and confession, repentance and baptism for remission of sin – is only taught by the Lord’s church (Rom. 10: 9,10 f; Acts 2:38). The denominations teach faith only, baptism because of salvation, infant baptism, etc.
While all of these foregoing characteristics of the New Testament church set her apart for all man made organizations (Denominations), there is one feature which is more directly responsible for her separateness than anything else: her insistence upon having a thus-saith-the-Lord for everything she believes and practices (Mt. 28:18 ff; Col. 3:17; 1 Thess. 5:21; Acts 3:22,23; 2 Jn. 9-11). “And hath put all things under his feet,” Paul teaches regarding Christ and his church, “and gave him to be the head over all things to the church . . .” (Eph. 1:22).
Beloved, the reason Jesus’ church wears scriptural designations and teaches the true plan of salvation, is because of her conformity to the doctrine of Christ. Denominationalism, is not concerned about New Testament authority. They believe what they do and practice is justified, because they don’t believe all scriptures were inspired of God. (2 Tim 3:16) Therefore, if mere men wrote the bible, then they as mere men could change it. Conversely, the church for which our Lord shed His blood, seeks to do all they do in the name of the Lord (by His authority – Acts 4:7,12), and speak as the oracles of God (Col. 3:17 f; 1 Pet. 4:11). This determination to have book, chapter, and verse for everything believed and practiced makes her peculiarly and radically different. What happens when she ceases to demand authority? She ceases to exist and simply becomes another Denomination” like so many others! Sadly, most liberal churches of Christ have become denominations for this simple reason.
If the church which you attend goes beyond that which was written; If they add to and take from God’s Word; If they don’t speak the very words of God; If they call anyone who strictly follows the word of God a “Legalist”; If they don’t believe all scripture emanated from God, then you are attending a denomination and not the Lord’s church. If the church you attend looks like a denomination, teaches like a denomination and worships like a denomination, then by all means, it is a denomination. The church which Christ died for is peculiar to the world. It is a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people. (1 Pet 2:9) It speaks where the bible speaks and remains silent where the bible is silent. (1 Pet 4:11) Obey the gospel, be added to it, and worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Only the saved are members of the church of Christ, and are faithful to the doctrine of Christ.