Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 11, 1964

The Undenominational Character Of The Church

Clyde Strickland

The religious world today has grown so accustomed to thinking of the church in denominational terms that it has lost sight of the church which was established by Christ and revealed to us in the pages of the New Testament. Whenever the church is mentioned, denominationalism is thought of, and if a particular denomination is not specified, men wonder just which denomination is meant. But the church established by Christ is not a denomination. It possesses no denominational characteristics. It is our purpose in this article to note some of the characteristics of the church revealed to us in the New Testament which set it apart as being distinct from denominationalism.

1. The Church Was Builded By Christ And Not By Man.

Every denomination in existence can trace its origin to no higher source than man; they were all builded by man. But not so with the church revealed in the New Testament; man cannot lay claim to having anything to do with the building of that church. Rather, it originated in the wisdom of God and was a part of his "eternal purpose" (Eph. 3:10,11), and it was builded by the Lord. The Psalmist said, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it" (Psalms 127:11. and Jesus said, -Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). The Lord Jesus Christ, not man, built the church of the New Testament.

2. Christ Is Its Only Head

Most every denomination has a man, or a group of men, as its head. This head, or board or whatever it may be called, makes the laws by which the denomination shall be governed, and by popular vote it can change, annul, and/or bind upon the members of said denomination over which it rules as head what its members are to believe, teach, and practice as articles of faith. But this is not true with reference to the church of Christ. Christ is its only head (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18), and He possesses all authority (Matt. 28:18). Whatever He says that we must hear (Acts 3:22, 23); whatever He commands we must obey (Heb. 5:8, 9), and from His word there is no appeal (John 12:48).

3. Its Only Creed Is Christ.

Every denomination has its own creed, whether written or unwritten, which sets forth its articles of faith and rules of practice. Each creed is acceptable only to the denomination for which it was written,1 it is rejected by all others. The creeds of the denominations are subject to the governing bodies and the membership of the respective denominations for which they were written: they, therefore, May be revised, amended, so that what is believed and practiced by the denominations today may not he believed nor practiced by those denominations tomorrow. But the church of the Lord has no creed but Christ; it has no rule of faith and practice but the Scriptures. Its members to be pleasing to the Lord must ''speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent." (I Pet. 4:11). They must recognize that the word of the Lord "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Nothing more is needed, and anything more or less than the Scriptures as a rule of faith and practice would destroy man's perfectness or completeness in Christ!

4 The Divinity Of Christ Is The Only Foundation Of The Church.

Denominations have been builded upon principles of character, upon ordinances, upon men, methods, upon forms of government, etc., but the church revealed to us in Holy Writ is builded upon Christ. When Peter confessed: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church..." (Matt. 16:18), and the apostle Paul said, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ." (I Cor. 3:11).

5. The Church Was Purchased By The Blood Of Christ.

All the labors and great sacrifices expended by men for the sake of the denominations which they have builded and to which they belong pass into insignificance when compared to the great sacrifice Christ made for the church that it might have its being on the earth. Christ gave himself for it (Eph. 5:25): He purchased it with his own precious blood (Acts 20:28). In the light of this, how can it be said that the church is "non-essential"? And when men say that "one church is as good as another," they are saying in substance (either wittingly or unwittingly) that a denomination which cost no man anything and which was established according to man's own fancy, is just as good as that church for which Christ died and for which He shed His blood. Believe it, who can!!!!

6. Christ Is The Saviour Of His Church.

No denomination makes the claim that it contains all the saved of the earth. Men count such an idea that any church could contain all the saved as being narrow and contemptible. But the Scriptures teach that every person who has been saved since the Pentecost of A. D. 33 has been a member of the Lord's church, "for the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). The apostle Paul says that "Christ is the savior of the body" (Eph. 5:23), and that the body is the church (Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:18).

Friends, the church of the Lord is a wonderful and glorious church (Eph. 5:27). It was loved by Christ (Eph. 5:25); it cost him his blood (Acts 20:28), and the redeemed are its members (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:23). To support the preaching of the gospel is its mission; to lead the Lost to Christ is its aim, and the glory of God is its end. Investigate it, claims: obey its Lord, and enjoy the blessings which membership can bring. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.