“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever”
(Hebrews 13:8).

The church of Christ remains the same.

Just as Jesus and His doctrine are the same, His church is also the same. The church of Christ today has the same Founder, the same Head, the same foundation, the same leadership and the same forms of worship as in the New Testament.

Every church that does not have the same Founder, Head, foundation, leadership or worship, is not the church that Jesus built, but is a human concoction resulting from strange winds of doctrine and rebellion against Christ.

The Founder is the same.

Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18). How can a church with a different founder be the church of Christ. If Luther, Calvin, Wesley or any person other than Jesus is the founder of a church, it is not the same church that He built. It is an unscriptural religious group.

The Head is the same.

“Christ is head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23). The Father, “put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Ephesians 1:22, 23). There is one Shepherd (John 10:16). “He is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18).

If a church has some head other than Christ, such as a pope, or a president, or a central administration of any kind, it is not the church you read about in the New Testament. It has rejected Christ as its Head.

The foundation is the same.

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

The church of Christ is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).

The church is founded on the gospel of Christ. That gospel was put in writing by the apostles and prophets of Christ, and has been passed on to us through the prophetic writings of the New Testament.

Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:25, 26).

Peter wrote: “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:1, 2).

Because Jesus and His inspired apostles and prophets form the foundation of the church, we read of the first Christians: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine” (Acts 2:42).

The church of Christ today is built on Christ and on His teachings that have been passed on to us in the New Testament by His apostles and prophets.

Our apostles and prophets today are the same apostles and prophets of the first-century church.

The office of Peter and the other apostles was for all time. Of heavenly Jerusalem we read: “Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14).

A church that has an alleged successor of Peter as its head, is not the church of Christ because the Lord's church has Christ as its only head and Peter himself, with the other apostles, is in the foundation. Peter does not need a successor because he is still serving as apostle through his writings in the New Testament. A church that has contemporary or other apostles and prophets, is not the church that Jesus built, because the Lord's church still has the same apostles and prophets.

The leadership is the same.

In addition to the original apostles and prophets, the Lord has given elders, deacons, evangelists and teachers to lead, serve and instruct His church: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Churches with leaders other than those Christ gave to His church (evangelists, teachers, elders and deacons) are not the church that Jesus built because the leaders are not the same.

A church that appoints elders and deacons who do not meet the qualifications set out in 1 Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 1:5-9 is not the church that Jesus built. A church that has evangelists and teachers who preach and teach something other than the doctrine of Christ, is not the church of Christ.

Public teaching and leadership are provided by men and not by women in the church that Jesus built. “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:11, 12). “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35).

A church that has women teaching men in public, or that has women preachers, elders or deacons is not the same church that Jesus built.

The worship is the same.

In the New Testament we learn how the church worshiped God. The church of Christ today worships God that same way.

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). On the basis of the apostles' doctrine, the first Christians came together for prayer and to break bread (eat the Lord's supper).

They partook of the Lord's supper on the first day of the week (Sunday): “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

They also had a free-will collection on the first day of the week: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2).

The Scriptures were read: “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).

Prayer was sometimes accompanied by fasting (Acts 13:2, 3). “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).

They taught and encouraged one another, and praised God in song: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

Since the prayers and songs of Christians have a teaching function, they must be understandable (thus not just sounds without meaning): “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

Churches that incorporate Old Testament or heathen rituals into their worship such as the burning of incense or candles, the use of mechanical instruments of music, the wearing of distinctive clothing, the veneration of statues or icons, are not the church that Jesus built. Their worship is vain because it is based on the teachings of men rather than the word of God. Jesus said of such worshipers: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8, 9).

The church of Christ today is the same and worships God the same as the church in the New Testament.

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). His church is also the same. It has the same Founder and Head. The foundation is the same. It has the same apostles and prophets. The same doctrine is proclaimed and practiced. Its leadership and its worship are the same.

This is how we can distinguish the Lord's church from the many man-made counterfeit denominations in the world today and “not be carried about with various and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:8, 9).

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive