“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;” (Ephesians 4:4). The church that Jesus built (Matthew 16:18) and the Apostles established (Acts 2) was the one true church and though later in history the church would aposticize in many ways forming churches that were not patterned after God’s will as we find it in the New Testament, it remains today as the one true church (only one body) today.
The first major apostasy that occurred was that of the Catholic church around the 3rd or 4th century. That church set up a system of priesthood, which is not authorized in scripture and established their own creed books adding to the gospel and although they established which books would be included in our modern bible (due to God’s providence), they did not adhere to it and set up many traditions (including a Papacy) that are contrary to the word of God and that they consider more important than the word of God.
Many of the denominations that exist today are called protestant churches because they were a result of protest against the practices of the Catholic church. These denominations kept much of the same traditions and practices that the Catholic church practiced, but changed what they found offensive. They reformed it, they did not seek to reestablish churches based on the bible alone. This is called the reformation movement.
Another movement came out of the reformation that was the attempt by bible believing men and women to restore the practices of the first century church as found in scripture, using the scriptures as the sole source of religious authority. This is known as the restoration movement and is why the church of Christ is able to worship openly, at least in this country, today.
We trace our roots back to the first century church as we seek to do only what we find the first Christians doing in the bible requiring book, chapter and verse for everything we do both in doctrine (what is taught) and in practice (how we worship). We believe the church has existed since the first century when the apostles established it,though probably worship was not done openly because of fear of persecution, a condition that exists in many countries, even today.
There are five acts of worship found in the scriptures which the church of Christ practices today. They are: singing acapella (without musical instruments) (Col 3:16; Eph 5:18,19; 1 Corinthians 14:15); praying (1 Timothy 2:8); the Lord’s supper every first day of the week (1 Corinthians 11:18-34; Acts 20:7); preaching (2 Corinthians 8:18; 1 Corinthians 1:20,21; Acts 20:7); and giving of our means on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2). These are the acts of worship we find the early church doing and are the only things authorized by scripture for the one true church to practice.
Through the weekly giving of its members the local church also supports the preaching of the gospel both locally and in other places where the need might be, but directly to the preacher and not through some intermediate, as we see being done in the scriptures (2 Corinthians 11:9; Philippians 4:14-16).
The local church also helps its needy members and maintains a church building (with classrooms usually) as the scriptures authorize a place to meet and teach the bible and help for needy saints (members). The scriptures do not authorize church funds to form benevolent organizations or help the needy in general or to build gymnasiums and kitchens or the like to entertain and “attract” membership. The only attraction provided is the gospel and the worship of God as authorized by scripture. This is how it was done in the early church and how we strive to do so today.
May God bless you and keep you until next time.