Distinctive Features of the Church that Jesus Built
The church we read about in the Bible is distinctive in several areas. I want to mention two of those areas:
Distinctive Feature #1: Doctrine
The doctrine of the church of Christ is distinctive from others because it stresses the authority of Jesus. This authority is held as the standard for everyone. His authority is found in his teachings. If you have respect for Jesus, you will have respect for his teachings. The only way to show your respect is to teach and obey the things that Jesus taught. “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 1.9). It is impossible to honor Jesus and not honor Jesus’ teachings. Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6.46).
Distinctive Feature #2: Worship
The Bible reveals that the Lord’s people have always worshiped distinctively and differently. The reason for this is because they respect God’s authority. God has always revealed how he is to be worshiped. It has never been left to man to determine how to worship God. God’s people in the Old Testament worshiped differently from the Canaanites because God commanded them to do so. Deuteronomy 12 tells us about their worship. Some highlights are:
- vv. 1-5 — These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it all, all the days that ye live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree. And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God. But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes and put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come.”
- v. 8 — You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.
- v. 11 — It shall come about that the place in which the Lord your God will choose for his name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you.
- vv. 29-32 — When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, an that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?” You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God…whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.
What we see from this is that worship was to be as God commanded. This is still true today. God’s people are to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4.24). Their worship will be different because it is done by faith. Their faith is not based on silence, but on what the Lord has declared in his teachings. Romans 10.17 shows that faith never comes from God’s silence. This is why the church of Christ is distinctive. God’s people worship by the authority of Christ.
Singing is Distinctive:
- Ephesians 5.19 — …speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…
- Colossians 3.16 — …teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord…
Giving is Distinctive — Free Will:
- 2 Corinthians 9.17 — Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Observance of His Death is Distinctive — Each First Day:
- Acts 20.7 — Upon the first day of the week…the disciples came together to break bread.
Prayer is Distinctive — Only Authorized by Those “in Christ”:
- John 9.31 — Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
Preaching is Distinctive — “Sound Doctrine” as Taught by the Apostles of Christ:
- 1 Timothy 1.10 — …and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine…
- 2 Timothy 4.3 — For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…
- Titus 1.9 — …holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
- Titus 2.1 — But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.
Early Christians had a standard of doctrine and a standard in worship. It was what the Lord taught through the apostles. This is seen from Acts 2.42, which says, “…and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”