History of the Church of Christ
We understand that this command was given to save the early Church from schisms. We believe that men and women are called into the ministry-to teach, to preach, and to pastor-in fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28-29:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
In the first-century Church, a group of adherents believed that they had received a special knowledge or revelation from God. This group opposed the Church's proclamation of a salvation by "faith" and proclaimed a salvation by knowledge. Many of these heretics were later called "Gnostics," from the Greek word gnosis, which means knowledge. Other heretics believed:
• Christ was not the true Son of God because God could not die.• Christ pretended to have died on the cross but did not die.• Christ could not have been born of a virgin.• Christ was divested of any spiritual power after He died.• God turned His back on Jesus because of disappointment and shame.• There is no Trinity (God in three persons)• There is no hell.• There is no Holy Spirit. Those who possess such a spirit are possessed by an evil spirit. Remember, these were not ideas coming to the early Church from some foreign body; these doctrines were coming directly out of the Church from men who were dissecting the doctrine of the Church.Not only were men teaching these false doctrines, but women were also proponents of these strange beliefs. First-century documents bear out that during this period women were strong evangelists, prophetesses, and teachers. Others, however, had fallen under the influence of false doctrines. Some women failed to see that the Church was a place for them to be taught along with the men and disrupted the service with idle chatter.For these reasons, Paul was not being prejudiced when he ordered that women keep silent in services (1 Cor. 14:34-35). He commanded silence for the women of this church and others to fix a local problem of misconduct-speaking out of turn. The ministries of Euodias and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2), Priscilla (Rom. 16:3, 1Cor. 16:19), Phebe (Rom. 16:1-2), and the "elect lady" (2 John1) show that women were quite vocal in service.The Church met in various councils to refute heretical teachings and affirm the revelation of Christ as presented in scripture. Statements known as "creeds" were adopted from the Council rulings in the fourth and fifth centuries as formulas of faith. (The Apostles' Creed
and the Nicene Creed are used by some denominational churches today.)The Church of Christ does not use any creed in its worship. The "Aim and Plea" of the Church, which defines our focus, and the reading of scripture declares the substance of our faith.
THE FOUNDER: JESUS CHRIST
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself instituted His Church and that He received full authority from God to do so (Mark 9:7). In Matthew 16:18, Jesus tells His Disciples that the Church would be built on Him, and because of this Satan would have no lasting power over it.While the Church of Christ does not deny that there are "followers" in other churches (denominational churches, John 10:16), we are compelled by scripture to embrace His name as He is the head of our Church.We believe that the Church of Christ was fully established on the day of Pentecost (the tenth day following the ascension of Jesus Christ-Acts 1:4, 2:1-2). On this day, God revealed His third person in His fullness. The power of the Holy Ghost brings the oneness of His followers, the gifts and fruit of the Spirit, and the increase of the Church.
THE MOTIVATION: LOVE
The Church is founded on the love of God (John 3:16). This is an unchanging love, a love that cares tenderly for
a person even when she or he is wrong. God's love loves the sinner, but hates the sins in the person's life. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). People are saved by the grace of God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9).
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
The Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ is a New Testament Church. This does not in any way negate our belief in the Old Testament as holy writ, for it served as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster (Gal. 3:23- 26). We believe the entire Bible, from Genesis to Malachi and Matthew to Revelation, to be the revealed word of God.Most church denominations reflect some Bible truths in their name that we are acquainted with:
Holiness Church: "0 worship the Lord in beauty of holiness" (Ps. 96:9).Methodism: "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40).Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): "And thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall
name" (Isa. 62:2) "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26).Presbyterian Church: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the presbytery" (1 Tim. 4:14).Baptist Church: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).We are a New Testament Church because our salvation, hope, and eternal life came through Christ Jesus. Without Him, we would be of all people most miserable (1 Cor. 15:19). The fulfillment of Pentecost is introduced in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is made manifest in the New Testament.Each of the denominational churches represents a fraction of the teachings of the New Testament Church (1 Cor. 13:9-10). Historically, we share the same drive to press toward the high calling of Christ. Doctrinally, the Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ believes that we are fulfilling the call of the Master to preach and teach, righteously dividing the word of truth (Mat. 28:19-20, 2 Tim. 2:15).
THE MEMBERS: DISCIPLES
We believe that Christ designated a title by which His followers are to be called. That name is "Disciples" (Mat. 10:42; Luke 14:26; John 8:31).We believe that because Christ chose this name for His followers, it should be held in reverence. Isaiah 8:16 teaches us that "Disciple" is a divine name. A "divine name" is one from God's heavenly kingdom, given by
revelation to men and women, direct from the Lord Himself to humankind.While a true Disciple should not be offended when called "child of God," "saint," "brother," "sister," or "Christian," we know who we are. Just as we answer to personal nicknames, we should not despair at being labeled.
THE EMBLEM: THE FISH
Mark 1:17 records the words of Jesus: "And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." Jesus was calling the fishermen to become His Disciples, and he would make them "fishers of men."The sign of the fish is the official emblem of the Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ. Among the first Disciples of Christ nearly two thousand years ago, it is said that in the struggle of the Church with the civil authorities, the early Disciples used the sign of the fish as a secret code to protect their identity in the midst of their enemies. In order to become a fisher of men, a person must go through the same steps those fishermen went through. One must repent, believe, and be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Secondly, a person must learn of Jesus, follow, and obey Him.