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“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1).

WE HAVE LOOKED AT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE “TOGETHER” PART OF CHRISTIANITY. Now let’s tackle another, more specific, question: if a new convert to Christ is searching for a faithful congregation (as we talked about yesterday), one that works together and worships God in the manner revealed in the New Testament, what about the groups that call themselves “churches of Christ”? Is it, more or less, among the “churches of Christ” that a person is most likely to find the individuals who are the people of the Lord?

First of all, if there is such a thing as the “churches of Christ” denomination (and unfortunately, there is), that is something I would steer you away from. The concept of denominational Christianity is foreign to the New Testament, and I share no more spiritual DNA with members of the “churches of Christ” denomination than I do with people in any other denomination (and in some cases less).

But, as you may know, I worship with a group that calls itself a “church of Christ,” so let me explain. When Paul said, “All the churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16), he was merely saying that those churches belonged to Christ, which the CEV makes clear: “All of Christ’s churches greet you.” Any church that follows the Lord obediently is “of” Him, but how it identifies itself to the public is a question of expediency, as long as the identification is scriptural.

That said, I must be transparent. Of the congregations that I know of personally, many, if not most, of those that are faithfully following the Lord (at least in the United States) do wear the name “church of Christ,” not as a denominational label but as a generic descriptor. They just want to be congregations that are “of Christ.”

So yes, by all means investigate the “churches of Christ.” But when you visit, you’ll need to look deeper than the name and ask lots of questions. Sad to say, most of the “churches of Christ” departed from the gospel long ago. That designation expresses a noble idea, but a congregation is not “of Christ” just because it says it is. As at Sardis long ago, the Lord would say to some today, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1).

“The people of God wear the name of Christ because they are His people; they are not His people because they wear His name” (Robert F. Turner).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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