A: Since God has vested “all authority” in Christ (Matthew 28:18), and since He serves as God’s spokesman today (Hebrews 1:1,2), only Christ has the authority to say what the church is and what it should teach.
Since only the New Testament sets forth Christ’s instructions to His disciples, it is fundamental with members of churches of Christ that teaching the New Testament without modification is the only way to lead men and women to become Christians.
Scripture teaches that religious division is bad. Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20,21 emphasized unity based on the apostles’ word. Later, the apostle Paul begged those who were divided to unite in Christ (I Corinthians 1)
Members of the churches of Christ believe the only way to achieve unity is to return to the Bible. Unity involves attitudes, beliefs and practices(Ephesians 4). Compromise cannot bring unity. No person, or group of persons, has the right to draw up a set of rules by which everyone must abide. It is altogether proper to say, “Let’s unite by just following the Bible.”
Members of the churches of Christ plead for religious unity based upon the Bible. To subscribe to any creed other than the New Testament, to refuse to obey any New Testament command, or to follow any practice not sustained by the New Testament is perverting the gospel of Christ by adding to or taking away from the teachings of God. Both additions and subtractions are condemned in the Bible (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18,19). The New Testament is the only rule of faith and practice in churches of Christ.
A: We have a great appreciation for the strong morals and spiritual devotion of our Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical friends. While we rejoice in our common faith in Jesus as God’s Son, we do not fellowship closely because of significant doctrinal differences.
For example, we believe the authority of the Bible is supreme above any individual leader or church council. Consistent with the Bible, we also proclaim the necessity of baptism for the forgiveness of sin. Love compels us to uphold these convictions because of our genuine interest in the well-being of all men and women.
Our fellowship with other religious groups is also limited by different understandings of the way God desires to be worshiped. When we assemble to praise God, our highest aim is to please Him, and we believe people can appreciate this sincere desire even though we may not agree on how to go about it. Whatever differences exist, they are overshadowed by love and goodwill for all people!
A: We place a strong emphasis on the Lord’s Supper during our worship services. During the observance of the Supper, a time of quiet reflection is provided for everyone present. This is for the purpose of solemn reflection on what Jesus did on the cross for His people. Also, we are to observe ourselves and make sure we don’t participate in an unworthy manner.
Christ is the author of the Supper and we observe it in His memory as well as in anticipation of His return.
A: Although they do not serve as elders or preside in public worship, we believe that the women of this congregation are great leaders in the highest and best sense of the word. They are actively involved in countless good works and exert a powerful influence for good. Christian teaching elevated the place of women in society by affirming their equality with men.
Still, God has revealed that there are functional differences between the sexes and that each has a unique role to fulfill. Women are far better atexerting some influences in the lives of others than men. Paul said the relationship between men and women should be like that between Christ and His bride, the church. Men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and women are to yield to the faithful leadership of husbands as the church submits to Christ. We are convinced that this faith-prompted cooperation results in the greatest possible happiness for families and congregations.
A: Paul instructed Christians to sing and make melody (psallo) in their hearts. The heart is the instrument of our praise to God. We do not use man-made instruments because there is no command or example for their use in the New Testament.
History confirms that early Christians sang without mechanical accompaniment for hundreds of years after the example of the Apostles. Since our commitment is to promote Christian unity by doing Bible things in Bible ways, we choose to worship in the manner of the early church by singing acappella.
We believe that focusing all our attention on words of thanksgiving and praise is biblical, ecumenical, and more consistent with the spiritual nature of Christian worship.
Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). From this statement we learn three things:
- Worship must be directed to the right object… God;
- It must be prompted by the right spirit;
- It must be according to truth.
To worship God according to truth is to worship Him according to His Word, because His Word is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, one must not exclude any item found in His Word, and one must not include any item not found in His Word. We are to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Since faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), anything not authorized by the Bible cannot be done by faith. And whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
Therefore, according to faith in His Word, one finds that there were five items of worship observed by the first century church: singing, praying, preaching (Matthew 28:18-20), giving and eating the Lord’s Supper Worship in churches of Christ center around these five items, the same as in the first century church. Even though these five items constitute worship, true worship must be accompanied by a good, honest and humble heart (Hebrews 10:22).
A: At Highland, the entire congregation is our praise team! We feel that accentuating the voices of a select group detracts from the meaning of true worship by placing the emphasis on the aesthetic appeal of an elite few rather than spiritual expressions of thanksgiving proceeding from the hearts of all our redeemed people. For accomplishing God’s purpose, there is nothing that compares with the joy and beauty of believers uniting their voices in praise!
A: This is the most sensitive, heart-wrenching question facing the church today. The answer can only be found in the inspired word of our loving and wise God. We understand the Bible to teach that the only basis for divorce and remarriage is sexual unfaithfulness on the part of one’s spouse. Jesus knew that this teaching would not be popular, but He believed it was the best thing for children, for society, and for married couples themselves. Several of our members have personally experienced the emotional and financial devastation of divorce, and we are committed to providing them with every possible support during this traumatic time. Divorce prevention is our top priority, and we continually strive to provide quality teaching, activities, and resources to strengthen marriages and families.
A: If you are already a Christian and you desire to place membership with this congregation, please inform the elders, and they will arrange a convenient time to meet with you and discuss the privileges and responsibilities of membership in this local church.
If you are not a Christian but desire to become one, congratulations on the greatest decision of your life! God’s plan for becoming a Christian and being added by God to His church is clearly set forth in the Bible.
Churches of Christ do not speak of membership in terms of some formula which must be followed for approved acceptance into the church. The New Testament gives certain steps which were taken by people in that day to become Christians. When a person became a Christian, he automatically became a member of the church.
The same is true of churches of Christ today. There is not a separate set of rules or ceremonies which one must follow to be inducted into a particular congregation. When one becomes a Christian, he at the same time becomes a member of the Lord’s church. No further steps are required for church membership.
On the first day of the church’s existence (Acts 2:47), those who repented and were baptized were added to the church. According to this verse (Acts 2:47), it was the Lord who did the adding. In seeking to follow this pattern, the church of Christ neither votes people into the church nor forces them through a required series of studies. They feel that they have no right to demand anything beyond their obedient submission to the Savior.
The conditions of pardon which are taught in the New Testament are:
- One must hear the gospel, for “faith comes by hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17)
- One must believe, for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6; John 8:24)
- One must repent of past sins, for God “commands all men, everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30; Luke 13:3)
- One must confess Jesus as Lord, for he said, “he that confesses me before men, him will I also confess before my father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10)
- And one must be baptized for the remission of sins, for Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins…” (Acts 2:38)
So, you might ask, “Do people actually join the church of Christ?” No formal declaration of membership is required other than the adherence to the conditions of pardon stated above. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
You can become a Christian by following these commands and examples. If you would like more information on this subject, we will be happy to meet with you personally or mail you material you can study privately. If you need assistance in being baptized, we are ready to aid you at this very moment. Please, let us know how we can help.