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www.apologeticspress.org Much material on many, many Bible subjects. Special emphasis on the defense of the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible.

World directory of churches of Christ  www.churchofchrist.cc

Churches of Christ in the United States   www. www.21stcc.com/ccusa/

The following article in Spanish

Originally written in Spanish, 8,710,000 copies of this message in Spanish were printed in Puerto Rico and distributed throughout the Spanish-speaking world. The newest edition is now being printed in Florida. Thousands have become members of the church Christ built through studying this subject and related ones.

 

“On this rock I will build my church.” 

Pronouncement made by Jesus of Nazareth

 

The massive rock mountain seen in this photograph is used to symbolize the great, solid foundation upon which the Lord built his church.

This massive rock mountain is selected to symbolize the great, solid foundation upon which the Lord built his church. It is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God” (Ephesians 2:18-20).

 

We invite you to learn about the…

…church Jesus Christ built.

The oldest. The original. The one which received apostolic instruction, and is under the "new covenant" of Christ..

 

Dear reader, when you contemplate the profusion of churches and religions that exist today, do you feel somewhat concerned, confused or discouraged? Do you ask yourself which one of them, if any, preaches “all the truth” of God? Do you perhaps repeat a common saying: “They are all good; they are all looking for the same thing”, but never become a steady, faithful member of any? If you do belong to a church, do you hear teachings or observe practices that appear not to harmonize with the Bible? Do contentions, divisions and competitions between diverse religious institutions cause your spirit to grieve? Are you offended by the rampant commercialization of the gospel, worship and ministerial offices? The frequent and terrible sexual scandals in religious circles? The hypocrisy clouding the reputation of not a few men, women and young people who profess to follow Christ?

Unquestionably, your concerns or criticisms are justified, for the Christianity of our Age is divided into thousands of groups by an infinite number of opposing beliefs and practices. In addition, abuses and follies that distance people from God continually multiply in the clergy, as well as among regular members. But, beloved soul, you who have a thirst for God, for the truth, for life eternal, the fault is not that of Christ! Do you agree? He founded only one church, not multiple groups of Christians, different in doctrine and practice. He said, emphatically: “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). “…CHURCH.” One. Singular, and not plural. Do you concur?

With reference to the unity of his followers, Christ’s prayer for all of us is the following: “… that they may all be one… that they may become completely one” (John 17:20-23). The Holy Spirit also repeatedly exhorts all of us, as believers, to be perfectly united. "Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10). God hates division, classifying it as a work of the flesh (Proverbs 6:16-19; Galatians 5:19-21; Titus 3:10-11).

With respect to moral and spiritual purity, Christ describes the church that pleases him: “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Would you like to learn about a church that is not a “Christian” organization created by religious leaders? The one that is the same as the church Christ established in Jerusalem, on Pentecost, ten days after his ascension? (Acts 2) Would you think it impossible it could exist right here in the 21st Century? Why “impossible”? The divine model for bringing it into existence today, just as it was conceived in the mind of God, is revealed, in great detail, in the Bible. By faithfully following the model, loyal ministers of the Lord who act as able spiritual architects (1 Corinthians 3:10), can raise up, in any place or time, the same church founded by Christ –divine and pure, whole and sound, united in love. Precious soul engendered by God (Hebrews 12:9), although you may not have known such a church until this moment, thousands of congregations have already been established around the earthly globe by “competent… ministers of the new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6). This church, putting distance between itself and religious divisionism, has the firm purpose of being an exact replica of the original church in doctrine, practice and spiritual life. Cordially, we invite you to examine it impartially, comparing it with the “holy temple in the Lord” the apostles present by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).

A biblical name

We call ourselves “Christians” (Acts 11:26), not adding adjectives that would differentiate us, or separate us into denominations. Congregations identify themselves as “churches of Christ”, a biblical nomenclature. “All the churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16). Some believers in ancient Corinth said: “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” The apostle Paul asked them:Has Christ been divided?” He reproved them strongly, calling them “merely human” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13; 3:1-6). Dutifully warned, we do not say “Pastor Peter’s church,” or any such name, nor do we follow any man whatsoever.

An infallible creed

Our “creed,” or “rule of faith,” is the Bible, the only book given by God to humanity (2 Timothy 3:16-17; John 16:13-15). Creeds emitted by ecumenical councils, catechisms, manuals or disciplines of faith and order: Are not all of them creations of fallible men? Do they not reinforce and preserve the religious entities that authorize them? We prefer to speak as “one speaking the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11), desiring to implement the “saying: Nothing beyond what is written(1 Corinthians 4:6) in the Bible. We follow “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). It is the one of divine origin defined in the New Testament. We do not live by “the old written code” given through Moses on Mount Sinai (Romans 7:4-6), but submit ourselves to “Christ’s law” (1 Corinthians 9:21), which is “the perfect law, the law of liberty” (James 1:25).

How we worship the “only true and living God”

If you visit us –and we surely hope you will- you will observe the orderliness of our worship services, indispensable trait of worshipers who take care to worship “in truth and in Spirit” (John 4:23-24), doing “all things… decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Disorderly behavior, emotional outbursts or ecstatic displays are not tolerated, nor is more than one member permitted to speak at the same time. These are rules of the Holy Spirit we respect (Ephesians 4:31; 1 Corinthians 14:27). Faithful men of good reputation direct worship. With regard to the roll of Christian women, the Holy Spirit has established the following: “As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says” (1 Corinthians 14:33-34). I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.” This regulation rests on two considerations stated explicitly, neither of which have to do with culture: For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Timothy 2:12-14). Thus it is that in worship services of the church of Christ women do not direct or preach. God has assigned them other ministries equally important, according to 1 Timothy 5:14, Titus 2:3-5 and other texts.

How we pray to God

We pray to the Father only in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, “For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5). One man alone directs public prayer in an audible voice, keeping silent the rest of the praying members, but being very attentive. They make the prayer their own by concentrating on it and affirming it, once it is concluded, by saying a sincere “Amen” (1 Corinthians 14:16-17). When many pray in an audible voice at the same time, the result is confusion, that not being pleasing to God, “for God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).

We sing, without playing musical instruments.

Our “Christian music” is acapella, that is, by voices only, without the accompaniment of a piano, organ, guitars, wind or percussion instruments. Is there any sound more beautiful than that of the instrument created by God himself: The human voice consecrated to the singing of hymns and psalms? Historically, the use of musical instruments in praise to God is a phenomenon of modern times. “Contemporary Christian music” has evolved into a tremendous, worldwide, multibillion dollar, entertainment business.

In our meeting places, musical instruments shine by their absence. Why not acquire them and play them? One of the principal reasons has to do with the complete abolition of the “regulations of worship” of the “first covenant”, the Old Covenant given through Moses (Hebrews 9:1). Not only the abolition of burnt offerings and ablutions, but also of the levitical priesthood, tithes, incense, Sabbath keeping, unclean meats and musical instruments. This doctrine is taught with admirable clarity in 2 Corinthians 3:6-17; Hebrews 9:1-23; 7:12; Colossians 2:14-16 and many similar texts. Once the Christian Age was initiated on Pentecost of the year 30 a. d. (Acts 2), the church received a “better covenant”than the “first covenant”, of which Moses was mediator (Hebrews 8:6-13). The changes are not just cosmetic but radical, resulting in the creation of “one new humanity in place of the two” (Ephesians 2:14-16). This “one new humanity” is the “church of the Lord”. The “better covenant” takes her, and all that is related to her, to a superior plane of higher spirituality. Christians are to be “living stones”,to “be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:4-9), and not animal or material ones. We are to “continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15). “…our paschal lamb” is “Christ”, and not a physical, earthly lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Lord’s Supper is spiritual, not literal (1 Corinthians 11:17-22).

In a word, under the New Testament, everything has changed! By what reasoning would religious music be made an exception? Musical instruments are not spiritual, and, therefore, do not harmonize with worship “in spirit” (John 4:24) that the church built by Christ offers up. “…with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God”, exhorts the apostle Paul (Colossians 3:16). “…sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts” (Ephesians 5:19). Did you take notice of the adjective “SPIRITUAL”? They say that “religious lyrics” set to rock, rap, hip-hop, light jazz, salsa and other types of popular, secular music is “Christian music”, even “spiritual,” but it is neither really “Christian” nor “spiritual” in the pure, Bible sense; rather essentially worldly, pleasing the mind, heart and body of the natural man, rather than edifying the spiritual man according to God’s plan. You will not hear it in a truly “spiritual house” of Christ. We like to praise the Lord by means of “spiritual songs”. We encourage you to consecrate your own voice to him, singing in your heart and “with understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

How we finance our works

“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn…” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). “…according to your means” “…according to what one has –not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:11-12). These are the new guidelines of “Christ’s law,” contrasting strongly with tithes, first fruits, wave offerings, etc., of the Old Covenant of Sinai. In the church under the “new covenant,” we carry out extensive works, both benevolent and evangelistic, support thousands of preachers and construct our own meeting places, doing all of it by means of voluntary offerings. We do not make the “spiritual house” of Christ, the church, into a “marketplace” (John 2:13-17), or “den of robbers” (Matthew 21:12-13), through carrying on businesses in the name of the church, or in its facilities (pyramid type businesses like Amway; also bingo, raffles, the sale of religious images and other articles, foods, drinks, etc.). The apostle Peter warned: “And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words” (2 Peter 2:1-3), a prophecy being widely fulfilled in the present time. We are not among those who are fulfilling it. Neither do we demand the tithe of anyone, for the laws on tithing were abrogated when Christ abolished the levitical priesthood, introducing a new priesthood composed of all faithful Christians.

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.

In our worship services conducted the first day of each week, members of the church of Christ commemorate the sacrificial death of Jesus by eating unleavened bread and drinking the juice of the fruit of the vine, elements representing the body and blood of the Lord. Our practice follows that of the primitive church. The first Christians “devoted themselves… to the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42), that is, to the Lord’s Supper. “…devoted themselves…” indicates frequent breaking of the bread. When? How often? Acts 20:7 teaches us the Christians in Troas partook of the Lord’s Supper on Sundays. “On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread…” Clearly, the chief purpose of their meeting on Sundays was to eat the Lord’s Supper. The texts of 1 Corinthians 10:16-22 and 11:17-34 focus on the sublime significance of the Supper, setting down guidelines for its correct celebration. According to what Christ says, the Supper should not only be central in worship but is also indispensable for eternal salvation. “So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day’” (John 6:53-54). Of course, only faithful members of the church have the right to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

How we are organized

Paul and Barnabas “appointed elders… in each church”(Acts 14:23). Paul reminded the evangelist Titus: “I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you…” (Titus 1:5). The congregations in Jerusalem (Acts 15:4), Ephesus (Acts 20:17-28) and Philippi (Philippians 1:1) were administered by a plurality of elders, also called bishops or pastors. Requirements to be a bishop (elder, pastor) are detailed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-11 and 1 Peter 5:1-5. This organization authorized by God for his church is the same one our congregations seek to implement, thereby avoiding dictatorial type control by only one man.

How to be added to the church of Jesus Christ

Beloved reader, you also can enjoy countless spiritual blessings by becoming a member of the church Christ himself established. In order to obtain them, it is necessary to obey what he commanded in Mark 16:16. “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved…” There are two implicit commands in these words: Believe and be baptized. The apostles taught the same on the day of Pentecost. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven…” (Acts 2:38). When you take these steps of believing, repenting and being baptized, Christ adds you to his church. “And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Then, devoting yourself to “the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42), and also walking in “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), you will be prepared at all times for the Second Coming of Christ in glory. So then, why do you wait? Save yourself today from this perverse generation! Rise up and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16), so that you may receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” and delight in the “times of refreshing” that “come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19-20). Become a faithful, active member of a congregation governed by the norms of the New Testament. Persevering to the end, you will be given the crown of immortality.

As for us, we are at your service. Please call upon us for any assistance you may need in obeying the gospel. God bless and guide you

 

Comments or questions   hshappley@yahoo.com

 

The above article in the Spanish version

Originally written in Spanish, some nine million copies of this message in Spanish were printed in Puerto Rico and distributed throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Thousands have been converted through it.

 

World directory of churches of Christ  www.churchofchrist.cc

Churches of Christ in the United States   www. www.21stcc.com/ccusa/

www.apologeticspress.org Much material on many, many Bible subjects. Special emphasis in defense of the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible.

  

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