I love the Church of Christ because of the beauty and simplicity of the doctrine which comes directly from the Bible. To understand my love for the Church, one would have to understand my conversion.
I grew up a staunch Methodist. My mother raised me that way as did her mother. Anything I could do, I did. I was not a lukewarm Methodist. It was my intent in college to attend seminary and go to Liberia in West Africa to be a missionary. I had two other roommates in college. One was the son of a Baptist preacher and the other was from the Church of Christ. Baptist and Methodist were the dominant churches in the area and I knew nothing about the Church of Christ.
We were good friends except when we got on each other’s nerves. One thing we did regularly was to sit in the commons room and discuss religion. It is the intent of most men to win religious battles and I was no exception. The question that stumped me the most for my roommate from the Church of Christ was: “Where do you find that in the Bible”? For example, “Where do you find Christians partaking of the Lord’s Supper quarterly and on special days?” After all, the Bible says in Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” When did the disciples break bread (have the Lord’s Supper)? On the first day of the week which was Sunday. Which Sunday? Every Sunday. So on the weekends when I came home I would wear a trail to my preacher’s house which was next door and we talked about this topic. “Well”, he would say, “That’s the way they did it back then in the Bible but as Methodist we have specific days to have it.” Check one for the Church of Christ for biblical accuracy. But I was determined to win the war.
Our next battle would be over titles like Reverend. Here we go again. “Where do you find that in the Bible?” he would ask. So there I went to my preacher for the answers. “Well”, he would say, “They didn’t use titles like we use them today. It’s a Methodist thing to help distinguish between the different roles.” “Humm”, I thought. “It’s not in the Bible but we use them today?” I found it interesting that not even the apostles were called Reverend. Check two for the Church of Christ for biblical accuracy. But still I was determined to win the war.
The next battle would be fought over special clothing and the clergy / laity system. Here we go again. “Where do you find that in the Bible?” I could not think of any place but surely my preacher would know. “No, it can’t be found in the Bible” he said. “All the special robes and the clergy / laity system kind of evolved over the centuries to what you see today.” So I’m thinking to myself, “All of this is not in the Bible but we are doing it today?” I’m starting to see a trend. The only thing I could reason is that the system developed that way to elevate some above the masses to make them feel special, superior or more holy than others. I remembered in Acts 10:25-26 where it says, “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” I think men and women like the lofty positions that the religions of today have made for them. Check three for the Church of Christ guy. But I was still determined to win or at least put a chink in his armor that would close his mouth.
Other battles were fought and months passed by but the biggest one was over the importance of baptism for one’s salvation. Finally, I thought. At least this was one point that we would agree upon. After all, I was baptized (sprinkled) when I was several months old. I even had the card from it and it said “Baptism” on the outside. Then came the question “Where do you find babies being baptized in the Bible.” This time I had an answer for him from the Bible. The Bible says in Acts 16:15, “And when she (Lydia) and her household were baptized…”. Besides, in the case of the Philippian jailer that “he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33). See their “household” and their “family” were baptized. There must have been babies there. “How do you know?”, came the response. After all, one who comes to the Lord must come repenting of their sins (Luke 13:3, 5 and confessing (Romans 10:9). A baby can neither repent nor confess. Baptism is for those who are old enough to understand the commitment they are making to the Lord. That made sense.
Besides he said, “Baptism is always an immersion or burial (Romans 6:3-6) in water. It was never a sprinkling and the purpose of baptism was for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38; 22:16). This was a big one because it was not only a religious argument but it affected my very own salvation. So there I go back to my preacher with this wagon load of doctrine to sort out. This took time but most of the answers came back in silent or in snappy little jokes. Finally it got down to the point when I said, “I want to be baptized just like they were in the Bible, by immersion, and for the remission of my sins.”
So we agreed the following weekend when I came home we would go down to the river and he would baptize me. Next week came and so did the excuse that he could not do it that weekend but to come back the following weekend. This happened two more weekends. Seeing that I would not be deterred, he finally said, “Find someone else to do it. If people found out that I baptized (immersed) you for the remission of your sins, I could get in trouble.” I was floored and greatly disappointed. Why could he not do what the Bible clearly stated must be done for salvation, my salvation? It was then that I realized that the church in which I had devoted all of my young life to was not built on God’s word but upon human traditions.
I left there because it is so much easier and reassuring to follow God’s word, book, chapter and verse than it is to defend the traditions of men and cross my fingers and hope that God would save me. I love the Church of Christ because I can know that when I follow God’s word that I can be saved. 1 John 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” I pray that you are never content with man’s traditions but that you too will come to love the beauty and simplicity of God’s word that is found in the Church of Christ.
Roy Knight is the minister for the St. George church of Christ located in St. George, South Carolina. Roy also has a weekly podcast entitled, “The Christian Gentleman” located at http://thechristiangentleman.podbean.com/
Personal Note: I appreciate Roy’s words and thoughts on his love for the church. Since meeting Roy for the first time, I have respect for his work and words. Roy has a great heart for the church and a great knowledge. His work in the coastal South Carolina area has been a benefit to the Kingdom and the churches in the area.