How is the church of Christ different?

It needs to be said that we have many things in common with other Christian groups.

1. We are not the only ones who believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word. Some churches are led by theologians who deny the truth of the creation account and the recorded miracles. But there are many groups with preachers who take a stand against Bible criticism. We likewise affirm that all scripture inspired by God is useful for teaching and correction of error (2nd Timothy 3:16).

2. We are not the only ones who believe that Jesus Christ is truly man and truly God (John 1:1+14; 20:28; Revelation 1:17-18). We affirm without hesitation that He is the only mediator between God and mankind. “And in no other is there salvation” (Acts 4:12). We don’t stand alone when we proclaim that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. We need him no less than all others: “For all have done wrong and are far from the glory of God; And they may have righteousness put to their credit, freely, by his grace, through the salvation which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).

3. We also believe that God wants to make a new covenant with all people through Jesus. In Hebrews, Chapter 8, it says: “For if that first agreement had been as good as possible, there would have been no place for a second. For, protesting against them, he says, See, the days are coming when I will make a new agreement with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; Not like the agreement which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand, to be their guide out of the land of Egypt; for they did not keep the agreement with me, and I gave them up, says the Lord. For this is the agreement which I will make with the people of Israel after those days: I will put my laws into their minds, writing them in their hearts: and I will be their God, and they will be my people: And there will be no need for every man to be teaching his brother, or his neighbour, saying, This is the knowledge of the Lord: for they will all have knowledge of me, great and small. And I will have mercy on their evil-doing, and I will not keep their sins in mind.” Many other groups have realized this as well. There are many who meet on the the first day of the week instead of the Sabbath, many who don’t sacrifice animals and who worship without burning incense or wearing special priestly garments. We are not alone in this belief either.

4. People who belong to this new covenant have accepted Jesus in a personal decision of faith. They affirm him as Lord and Savior, stand on the merits of his death, burial and resurrection. Just as burial and resurrection followed the death of Jesus, the radical decision of turning one’s life around must be followed by baptism without much delay. This is how a person enters into the new life with Jesus Christ, the risen One. Paul writes: “We have been placed with him among the dead through baptism into death: so that as Christ came again from the dead by the glory of the Father, we, in the same way, might be living in new life.” (Romans 6:4). But we are not the only ones who practice believer’s baptism by immersing people in water. We also affirm the biblical purpose of baptism: At this point God grants forgiveness of sins and seals us with His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 19:2-3; 22:16; Colossians 2:11-13; 1st Peter 3:20-21). This point is affirmed by some other religious groups beside us as well.

5. We are self-governed as a local church and do not belong to any parachurch organization (Philippians 1:1-2). Christ alone is the head of his worldwide church (Colossians 1:18). The Bible mentions several possible names for local churches – in each case that name refers to God’s ownership (see for example Acts 20:28; Romans 16:16). There are many independent congregations beside us, we are not the only ones.

6. Even the fact that we put the Lord’s Supper into the center of our worship does not make us unique. People in many places have discovered through their study of the Bible that it cannot be left out (Acts 20:7; 1st Corinthians 11:20f.)

7. Some can play an instrument and do so in their free time. In the church assembly however we stand on the same level before God using the one instrument which was given to all people from the beginning: our voice (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:18-20; Hebrews 13:15). In the New Testament and during the first centuries of church history this was the kind of music at church. Even today, this early Christian tradition is followed by some groups. We are not the only ones.

8. We strive to live different than the world does (James 1:27). Life is a gift from God, valuable even in the mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16). We believe that Jesus will come back and judge the world (Acts 17:31). We seek to live in peace with everyone. And we try to help seeking people get to know God’s love and grace, as long as God gives time. But we are not the only ones who do things this way.

We call upon us and others to model church and Christian life according to the pattern found in the Bible. This way we will serve – before God and the world – as credible witnesses for the unity in faith Jesus once prayed for (John 17).

Now does that make us different from many others? In any case it makes a big difference for those who walk along this way with Jesus.

Please don’t misunderstand this invitation! We don’t mean to say that all true disciples of Jesus in and around Chemnitz need to belong to this particular local congregation. The truth is not ours alone. We are not the only ones with a Bible. We are not the only ones who can read, accept and obey from the heart what God is teaching through His word (Romans 6:17). May God richly bless you!