Why We Believe In The Church

W. Terry Varner
September 18, 2016

A fair question is “Why do we believe in the church?” I pray the answer that follows will be your answer too. The church is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). What the Bible teaches about the church, we must believe, teach, and defend.

We believe it is possible, some twenty centuries after its establishment, to identify the New Testament church. All we must do is open the Bible and seek to find its identifying marks and then follow them.

In one of our located works, we had a unique family. They could not harmonize the teachings of their church with what the Bible taught. They selected a church in their town and attended for several weeks carefully checking what they taught and see if it harmonized with the Bible. Church after church came and went until finally, they visited the Church of Christ. After several weeks of carefully checking the teaching with the Bible they came to realize that they had found the church established by Jesus. They became members ana later taught Bible class and died as faithful members. The following are some of the traits identifying that the Church of Christ is identical to the church described in the pages of the Bible.

The Church Has No Denominational Ties. The New Testament portrays the church as autonomous or independent congregations under the oversight of qualified elders. One of the undertakings of Paul in the second missionary tour was “to ordain elders in every church” (Acts. 14:23). Remember there were no denominational churches in the first centuiy. The West Union congregation is an autonomous or independent congregation under an eldership.

The Church Has No Creed but the Bible. All have creed books set forth their doctrine. Yearly, these are updated with various doctrinal changes. The creed book of the church is the Bible and it is never updated because it was delivered to us by inspiration and therefore is without error (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Cor. 2:13). The West Union congregation uses no creed but the Bible for what we practice.

The Church Practices the Same Items of Worship. A careful reading of the New Testament reveals that the church of the first centuiy practiced five items in their worship services: 1) they sang a cappella, that is, with their voices only (cf. Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). It was centuries before musical instruments were added to the worship of any church portraying Christianity. 2) prayer (cf. Acts 2:42; 1 Thess. 5:17). 3) the Lord’s Supper (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23-29; Acts 20:7). 4) giving of their means (cf. 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8). 5) teaching or preaching the gospel (cf. Acts 2:42; 11:26). The West Union congregation practices these five items of worship as the first century church.

The Church Had Terms of Membership. The idea of terms of membership bothers some, but it is God’s way. The first century church taught that one 1) must hear and believe (cf. Rom. 10:9-10, 14), 2) repent of one’s sins (cf. Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38), 3) confess Jesus as Lord (cf. Rom. 10:9-10), 4) be baptized for remission of sins (cf. Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:5), and 5) live a faithful, godly life (cf. Titus 2:11-14; John 15:15:1-5). The West Union congregation practices the same terms of membership.

The Church Is the Pillar and Ground of the Truth. When it comes to spiritual truth “the church is the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15) for which it is to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The West Union so practices. We fear no error as the Bible refutes all error.