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Scripture Reading:  Hebrews 3:1-6


What Makes a Church a Church of Christ?



1.  Psa. 127:1; Matt. 16:18 – Only the church (house of God) built by Jesus will prevail.  It is His church, not ours.

2.  “What do men say my church is?”  (Matt. 16:13)  “Cult…legalists…water salvationists…extremists…antis…just another denomination…”

3.  “What do you say the church of Christ is?  (Matt. 16:15)  Bible answers.

4.  Church a part of God’s eternal plan of redemption in Christ, & in the church of Christ glory will be given to God (Eph. 3:10-11, 21).

    -Christ is its head  (Eph. 1:21-22); chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:19-20); Christ has only one body (Eph. 1:23; 4:4); Christ is its Savior (Eph. 5:23).

5.  The church is made up of Christians, not churches:

  a.  Word “church” used universally:  The general assembly of the saved (Heb. 12:23).  The Lord adds the saved to the church (Acts 2:47); Only the church is saved (Eph. 5:23). 

  b.  Word “church” used locallyLocal congregations (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2).

6.  Concern of this lesson:  What makes a local church a church that belongs to Christ.  (It makes a difference, & we can tell the difference!)

   -All do not agree:  Quote from Bruce Terry  (1 Pet. 3:15)



  A.  Past Accomplishments Rev. 2:2-3, 5; Heb. 6:9-12.

     -Continue in diligent perseverance, Rev. 3:8-9.

  B.  Present Reputation Rev. 3:1.  (The way others view us.)

  C.  Just Saying it is so – Rev. 3:14-19 (Prov. 14:12).

  D.  Just Having a Sign that Says it is so – cf. Rom. 2:28-29 (9:6).

    1.  Not advocating changing the name of signs, etc.

    2.  Name is important because it identifies us – Rom. 16:16.

    3.  Unless we are faithful to Christ, we are not His – Rom. 8:9; Gal. 5:4-5



  A.  The Right Head:  Submission to the Authority of Christ in All Things – Eph. 5:24; Col. 3:17; Lk. 6:46.  (Obedience to Christ)

    1.  Right head (Christ), Matt. 28:18; Rev. 1:17-18.

    2.  Right heart, Col. 3:12-16.

    3.  Right living, Col. 3:1-11.

  B.  The Right Teaching:  Preach & Practice Sound Doctrine:  The Whole Counsel of God, Acts 20:27, 20, 32.  (One faith, Eph. 4:5)

    1.  Teach no other doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3; 4:6; 6:3-5) – Gal. 1:6-9.

    2.  Hold fast pattern of sound words – 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:14-16; 4:2-4.

    3.  Church that won’t loses fellowship w/ Christ – 2 Jno. 9 (Rev. 2:5).

    4.  Applications include:

      a.   Plan of salvation.

      b.   Worship of the local church:  Instrumental music; LS into “celebration” rather than a solemn memorial.

      c.   Organization of local church: Human organ.; Sponsoring church.

      d.   Work of local church:  Preach, edify, care for needy saints.  Not…Social, recreational, political.

      e.   MDR Heb. 13:4; Matt. 19:6, 9; Rom. 7:2-3.

      f.   Fellowship faithful brethren – 3 Jno. 5-8; cf. 2 Jno. 10-11.

      g.  Holy living 1 Ths. 1:9; Acts 19:18-20.

    5.  Devil objects & deceives (so do some brethren): 2 Co. 11:2-4 (12-15)

      a.  “It is certainly not the purpose of this article to condone false teaching. But to teach that a church must be doing or teaching everything exactly right in order to be a church of Christ is itself false teaching.”  (Bruce Terry, What Makes a Congregation a Church of Christ,” Firm Foundation, 18May99).

      b.  Demanding 100% doctrinal conformity!

      c.  Always been division among brethren (Acts 9:31).

      d.  Best we can do is “agree to disagree” – cf. 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:1-6; 3:3-4.

    6.  Remain faithful to “the faith” – 1 Tim. 4:1-3 (Jude 3).



1.  What makes a church a church of Christ?  Faithfully doing the will of God in all things:

  a.  Christians who do no do the will of the Father will not go to heaven!  Matt. 7:21-23

  b.  Some will depart the faith (1 Tim. 4:1).  We must hold fast to be God’s house – Heb. 3:4-6.

  c.  Unity in local church is not only possible; it is commanded – 1 Cor. 1:10.

2.  Right Head … Structure … Teaching … Worship… Work … Living.

3.  Will this church truly be a church of Christ?  That will be determined by how you respond to the word of God as individual saints & as a congregation.




Bruce Terry

(Professor of Bible Humanities, Ohio Valley College)


“The question arises, however, what if a congregation takes on a non-Biblical name, such as “New Testament Church” or “Fellowship of Christ”?  Does it then cease to be a church of Christ?  Or in the area of organization, what if a Church of Christ follows the Baptist pattern of having the deacons run the church?  I have known of such happening when the elders resigned. Does such a church cease to be a church of Christ when this happens?  If so, does it once again become a church of Christ when it again appoints elders?  These questions relate to what is sometimes called “the marks of the true church.”  It is commonly taught that for a congregation to be a church of Christ it must have the right name, worship, organization, teaching, etc.   But while all these things are important, they are not what makes a congregation a church of Christ, either individually or collectively.”   What Makes a Congregation a Church of Christ (1982)  (Firm Foundation, 18May99)