Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 4, 1955

Church Of Christ

Joe Banks, Fayetteville, Arkansas — Charles Hodge, Ennis Texas

The church of our lesson is not to be confused with denominations of men; it is the church of Christ — the one hid before the foundation of the world in the mind of God, the one prophesied in the Old Testament and revealed in the New, the one Jesus promised, built, bought, adds to, takes from, and saves. The importance of our subject cannot be exaggerated; the salvation of men is determined by their adherence to the truth of this subject.

Mission: What is the mission purpose objective of the church? When one hears of a lodge, club, or social order he automatically counters 'with our question. Many times the truth is easier presented and understood in the negative... What is not the mission of the church? It is not a social club nor a fellowship order; it is not here to fulfill political ambitions nor business connections. Neither is it here to compete with sectarianism and modernism. God did not send it to build imposing cathedrals and "eating halls." It is not here to subsidize and finance the institutions and schemes of man regardless of their work and success. It is not primarily a benevolent society. Although it practices the hospitality it preaches it is not to be relegated to the status of a Red Cross or Salvation Army. Jesus went about doing good, but this was not his mission. If it were, he would have come sooner and remained longer. This is not the mission of the church! What, then, is its mission? Being the spiritual house of God it has a spiritual mission; being divine it has a divine mission. Its mission is that of Jesus — to seek and save the lost through the medium of gospel preaching. Every church is a missionary point; every Christian is a missionary. Viewing the work accomplished, the conclusion is inevitable — the church has lost sight of her glorious mission. She is so entangled with the innovations of men that her life is nearly taken away! The church saves by the gospel, lives by the golden rule, and longs for the mansions above. Its mission is to save, house the saved, teach the saved, and save the saved. This is the mission of the church!

Organization: How is the church organized? Any club or order is organized that it might properly function. The organization determines the mission; the mission does not control the organization. Christ is head of the universal church. Other than this there is no universal church organization — it exists only in a relationship. The largest and smallest government that God has is the local congregation. No church has any jurisdiction over any or all regardless how young, weak, helpless, they may appear to be. Autonomy must be respected; equality must be maintained. The idea of "missions," "sponsoring promoting churches," "pooling of resources," etc. is as foreign to New Testament teaching as night is today. Each church is independent and separate from all others organically and financially. If one church can relinquish one phase of work she can turn in her badge!

God had ordained that elders oversee these autonomous units; that deacons serve, preachers preach, teachers teach, and members work. This is the simple organization of the church.

Achievements: Has the church fulfilled its mission through the organization given? Can it accomplish its mission today through this means? Beginning with 3,000 additions on Pentecost it has stormed all over the world; no people have been left untouched. Nothing like it was ever seen before; nothing like it will ever be seen again until Gabriel blows his horn. Millions have been saved; sinners have been changed; civilization has improved. Through the means prescribed Paul maintained that the world had been evangelized in less than three decades; the church conquered famine, persecution, and death! Can this occur today ? CERTAINLY SO!! To deny this would deny the plan of God, the all-sufficiency of the church, and affirm we need a 20th century gospel! In fact, this is the only way the church can achieve her mission; all other ways are doomed to failure! There are more churches, members, preachers, money than ever; why are we doing so little? Has God's plan failed? No, the answer is obvious; we have substituted man's complicated plan from God's simple order. When the church operates scripturally, then, and then only, New Testament results will follow! When we forsake this way division and apostasy is inevitable!

This Is The Church Of Christ; May God Help Us Achieve Our Work!