Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 11, 1968
NUMBER 48, PAGE 2b-3,6

Just What Is The Church Of Christ

Gene Lyles

The church of Jesus Christ is the final result of a long range plan on the part of God to redeem man from the fall. By transgression Adam and Eve fell from their holy estate and brought the knowledge of sin into the world. Through this knowledge all men in due time also fall into the same state of condemnation by transgression.

We are not born in a fallen condition as is so erroneously taught by the doctrine of "original sin," but rather we through our own transgression fall (Ezek. 18:20). By our transgression we lose fellowship with God (Isa. 59:1-2). In our fallen condition we are unable to restore ourselves back to God without the help of God (Titus 3:5). But God in His mercy has made possible our redemption back to Him through the gift of His Son. (John 3 : I 6).

Immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve, God in his mercy stated in prophetic words how man would be redeemed from the fall. The seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). We see this prophesy fulfilled in Christ, who, being born of a virgin, was born exclusively of the seed of woman (Matt. 1:18-25). Thus we see that Christ is the one who was to bruise the head of the serpent and make redemption possible.

By His perfect sinless life, Christ became a perfect sacrifice for sin. His sacrificial death on the cross is the only means of man's redemption. Thus fellowship lost can now be regained through the atoning benefits of Christ's shed blood. His blood reaches back to redeem those who complied with God's law prior to His death (Heb. 9:15), and also reaches forward to redeem all who comply with God's law since His death (Heb. 9:12).

Let us now look back and see how God through a series of progressive steps has led up to the church of Jesus Christ. Please notice that the church of Jesus Christ is not an "after thought" on the part of God, but rather is the final step in God's eternal plan of redeeming man. (See Eph. 3:9-11).

After the fall of man, we find that God first dealt with man through the Patriarchal system. In this system, God made his will known to the head of each household who in turn revealed the will of God to those of his household. We have very little information recorded as to all that God required of those under this system, but we do know that he required an animal sacrifice in atonement for sin. Notice that the Patriarchal system was a family religion.

After the call of Abraham, and after Abraham's descendants had become a great nation in Egypt, God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and give them a national law. This law is commonly called the law of Moses or the Mosaical system. It too required animal sacrifice in atonement for sin. Notice that the Mosaical system was a national religion.

In choosing out the descendants of Abraham, God had a purpose that many seem to overlook. God promised Abraham that in his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3). In Acts 3:25-26, the apostle Peter explains how Christ is also a fulfillment of this promise. The apostle Paul also makes mention of the same in Galatians 3:16. So actually the nation of Israel became the nation through which the Messiah came into the world by which all the families of the earth are blessed.

So then, we can see that through these various steps, God was leading up to the time in which He would deal with all men in every nation through a single system of religion, namely the church of Jesus Christ, or the Christian religion.

Observe that under the Patriarchal system and the Mosaical system, a blood sacrifice was required in tile atonement of sin (Neb. 9:22). But also observe that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin (Heb. 10:1-4). Why then were they required to offer such a sacrifice if it did not actually atone for sin? The answer is simple. This was a condition God required them to meet in order for the blood of Christ to actually cleanse them of sin when the perfect sacrifice was accomplished. If they did not offer the animal sacrifice, then the blood of Christ, when shed, would not reach back and cover their sins.

Now how does the church fit into the picture? By His sacrificial death, Christ purchased the church (Acts 20:28). All who are purchased by the blood of Christ are therefore a part of the church. Thus the church is the body of the saved. It includes the saved of all ages. Since the church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), and since Christ is the saviour of the body (Eph. 5:23), then for one to be saved, he MUST be in the church.

Now for the final question. How does one enter the church of Christ? On the day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, the church of Christ had its beginning. On this day the apostle Peter sought to persuade the people that Christ was the promised Messiah, the redeemer of man. When those who heard Peter's words were convinced that Christ was the promised redeemer, they were pricked in their hearts and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) Peter's reply was, "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 Ghost." (Acts 2:38). Verse 41 tells us that they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Verse 47 tells us that the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

When a believer in Christ today repents of his sins and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, he is added by the Lord to the same church that people were added to in the beginning. The Lord does not add the saved to denominational churches because denominational churches do not teach His plan of salvation, nor do they fully abide in His doctrine on any point. Therefore a denominational church or a combination of denominational churches do not constitute the body of the saved. The saved will only be found in the blood-bought church of Jesus Christ. So then, in answer to the question, "WHAT IS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST," it is the body of the saved.