Identifying Marks of the New Testament Church
Trucks often carry the sign, “Attend the church of your choice.” That sign implies: I have the right to choose where I worship; and One church is as good as another.
However, Jesus promised to build his church (Matt 16:18), and religious division is wrong (Jn 17:21).
This morning, we want o examine the Bible and see what the New Testament church looks like.
The New Testament Church Wears a Biblical Name
There are descriptions of the church in the New Testament: “My church” (Mt 16:18); “The church” (Acts 8:1); “The Way” (Acts 9:2); “Church of God” (1 Cor 1:2); “Churches of Christ” (Rm 16:16); “Body of Christ” (Eph 4:12); “House of God”; “Church of the living God”; “Pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tm 3:15); “Church of the firstborn” (Heb 12:23).
The New Testament church ash no official “name;” these are simply different ways of describing the church.
However, any church which attempts to follow Scripture will wear one of these descriptions, because these are inspired descriptions.
The New Testament Church Has No Written Creed
The Bible teaches that it alone should be the standard of religious life. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. 2 Peter 1:3. Galatians 1:6-9. I have no right, therefore, to write a creed for the church.
The New Testament Church Has Proper Organization
Jesus is the head of the church (Mt 16:18; Col 1:18; Eph 4:15; Eph 5:23).
Elders lead individual congregations. The New Testament speaks of elders overseeing individual congregations (1 Pt 5:2; Acts 20:28). The Bible gives qualifications for these men (1 Tm 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9). The New Testament always speaks of a plurality of elders.
The New Testament also speaks of deacons. Deacons work with the elders (Phil 1:1). The deacons deal with physical needs while elders work with spiritual needs (Acts 6:1-7). The New Testament gives qualifications for these men (1 Tm 3:8-13).
The New Testament Church Worships According to the New Testament
Worshiping according to the New Testament means that men lead the worship (1 Tm 2:11-14). Worshiping according to the New Testament means that we pray (1 Thess 5:17). Worshiping according to the New Testament means that Scripture is preached (Acts 20:7; 1 Tm 4:13). Worshiping according to the New Testament means that we give of our means (1 Cor 16:1-2). Worshiping according to the New Testament means that we take the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 16:1-2). We need to take the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week; the Israelites understood that they were to keep the Sabbath every seventh day of the week (Ex 20:8-11). The Corinthian church was coming together each first day of the week for take the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20; cf. 16:1-2). Worshiping according to the New Testament means that I sing without the use of instrumental music. The New Testament teaches that we are to sing (Mt 26:30; Acts 16:25; Rm 15:9; 1 Cor 14:15; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Heb 2:12; 13:15; Js 5:13). A mechanical instrument is not mentioned in any of these passages. We are not to add to Scripture (Deut 12:32; 1 Cor 4:6; Rev 22:18-19).
The New Testament Church Teaches God’s Plan for Saving Man
Many churches teach one can be saved in a variety of ways, but not so the New Testament church. The New Testament church will teach what the New Testament teaches. One must have faith to be saved (Jn 8:24). One must repent of his sins (Lk 13:3, 5). One must confess his faith in Christ (Mt 10:32-33). One must be baptized (Mk 16:16). One is saved at the point of baptism, not before (1 Pt 3:21; Acts 2:28). Baptism is by immersion (cf. Mt 3:16). The Lord, not Christians, adds to the church (Acts 2:47).