Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 11, 1957
NUMBER 10, PAGE 2-3b

It Takes More Than A Change Of The Name

C. D. Plum, Columbus, Ohio

We might call a road wagon an auto, but that would not make it one. More than a change of name is necessary here. We might reason that a wagon has four wheels, and an auto has four wheels, therefore a wagon is an auto. But you can see how wrong this kind of reasoning would be. It just won't work. Changing the name does not work miracles. Similarities do not make sameness. Just so, you may change the name of "a" church, and call it "the" church, but this does not make it so. You might even be able to point out some similarities between "a" church and "the" church, and still this does not make them the same church. Let this lesson be forever remember: similarities do not make sameness.

"But what are you talking about", says one? Just this. There was "a" Christian Church at 31st Street and Linden Avenue in North End, Parkersburg, W. Va. This digressive church decided she was wearing the wrong name to be the right church. (And she was.) But this same digressive church changed the name from "Christian Church" to the name: "The Church of Christ." And thereafter, this church advertised herself as being "the" Church of Christ in North End. Did this change of name make the Church of Christ out of a Christian Church? Of course not. This Christian Church can point out some similarities between herself and the true Church of Christ meeting at West Virginia Avenue in North End. Do these similarities make her another Church of Christ in North End? The answer is: "No!"

It takes more than a change to the right name make "a" church "the" Church of Christ. The change of name is necessary, to be sure, but it takes much more than this. A number of things must be changed. These changes will appear very evident in the continued study of this lesson.

Every Point Of Identification

If we wear the name church of Christ, we should be right in every New Testament point of identification. Let us now note the New Testament way of entering the true church.

1. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." And we note again: "He that cometh to God must BELIEVE that he is." (Heb. 11:6.)

2. "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Lu. 13:3.) And again we read: "He commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30.)

3. "Whosover therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 10:32.) And the eunuch confessed: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37.)

4. "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him." (Col. 2:12.) "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38.) "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins." (Acts 22:16.) "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27.)

I humbly ask: "Does the Christian Church meet these requirements in obedience to the first principles of the gospel of Christ?" In some few places, perhaps they do. But we need to exercise the utmost care regarding this matter, in receiving members from the Christian Church on their baptism. But why? The reasons are many. Most Christian Churches receive people from the sectarian denominations upon their baptism, and unscriptural baptism at that. Baptist immersion is no better than Methodist sprinkling, and the Christian Churches in many places today receive them in membership on either. So some of the ones changing membership from the Christian Church to the Church of Christ are sometimes these very ones, and they say they are members of the Christian Church. Yes, but how did they get there? I am told now that when the Christian Church performs a baptismal service, they play the organ, or some other mechanical instrument. Of course this was not done in New Testament times. I wonder, sometimes, with the departure from the truth the Christian Church has made, if the safe thing to do would not be to receive them as we would Methodists and Baptists, insisting that they obey the gospel fully. (I am not just sure what is the right thing to do here, and I wish I did know.)

To be the Church of Christ, we must be right in the organization of the church. The following will show a brief of this.

1. The elders of the church are to look after the spiritual affairs. They must "take the oversight" of this work. (I Pet. 5:1-3) Those serving as elders, must, of course, be reasonably qualified in the light of the revealed truths in 1 Timothy 3rd chapter, and Titus 1st chapter. Elders are not "vote counters" or "underseers", but overseers. Elders are over one congregation only. Elders are not proxies for other elders.

2. The deacons of the church are to look after the temporal affairs. The physical need in the congregation is under their supervision. (Acts 6:1-5) Deacons, like the elders, must be qualified men, and if the church is to have a good name with the world, both must have "a good report of them from without." The Holy Spirit knew this, and pointedly revealed the same.

The Christian Church does not meet this New Testament standard of organization. Many Christian Churches make the preacher the "pastor" instead of the elders. Evangelists or preachers are not to be called reverend, as this title belongs only to God. (Ps. 111:9) Yet Christian Church preachers, many of them, like to be called reverend, and sign their names as such. You may change your name to the New Testament name, but if you are not right in New Testament organization of the church you are not the church of Christ.

To be the church of Christ the worship must be scriptural. It must be according to the New Testament plan. Let us note the New Testament worship.

1. The Lord's Supper (communion) on the first day of every week is the New Testament plan, and the practice of the church of Christ. (Acts 20:7, 21:42)

2. Earnest, fervent prayers are also parts of the worship of God in the church. (Acts 2:42)

3. Giving of our means, as prospered, on the first day of every week, is also New Testament church worship. (1 Cor. 16:1-2)

4. Singing with the spirit and with the understanding, is the New Testament praise service for the church. (1 Cor. 14:15; Heb. 2:12; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)

Does the Christian Church measure up to the New Testament standard of worship? The answer is: it does not. The Christian Church in some places communes occasionally on Thursday night by candle light. This church has all shades and grades of mechanical instruments in the worship. This church resorts to all sorts of plays, socials, suppers, and what have you, to support the Lord's work. The Christian Church is going to have to drop more than their unscriptural name in order to be the church of Christ.

But, to be the church of Christ, the work of the church must be according to the New Testament plan. Briefly we note the following.

1. Visiting the sick. (Matt. 25:34-40)

2. Establishing new congregations without the aid of unscriptural missionary societies. (Phil. 4:15-17; Eph. 3:10)

3. Helping the needy without the aid of human organizations. (Acts 11:29-30; Acts 6:1-5)

4.Preaching the gospel without the aid of unscriptural missionary societies. (Eph. 3:10; Phil. 4:15-17)

The Christian Church cannot qualify as the church of Christ in the work of the Lord. This church is weighted down with all sorts of unscriptural organizations, societies, and committees. Under these conditions, for the Christian Church to take the name Church of Christ, is to take the name of the Lord in vain.