Today, churches of all kinds can be found throughout the many cities of America. Why
can’t any given person take their pick of the nearest church or the biggest church in town? The
reason is vital: not all churches can be identified as the New Testament church. By “New
Testament church,” I mean a church that is doing all things in accordance to the
commandments given by God to the church in the New Testament text. It is astounding to read
scriptures like Ephesians 4:4-6, which speaks of the “one faith” (v.5), and the “one body” (v.4).
That is contrary to the popular belief that there are many faiths and many ways to get to
heaven. But what is this “one body” that God speaks of? Earlier in Ephesians, the Apostle Paul
explained that the body is the church (1:22-23). Therefore, “one body” means one church. This
is in harmony with the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church.” The word
“church” is singular, thus Jesus only built one. Furthermore, Acts 20:28 teaches us that Jesus
only purchased one church (singular) with His own blood. All other churches are not partakers
of the blood of Christ, which means their sins have not been forgiven (Colossians 1:14). These
powerful scriptures have spurred this writer to spread the words of God to as many as have
opportunity to read this short pamphlet. There are many words spoken today in disharmony
with the teaching of scripture. It is my prayer that the reader will lay aside predispositions, and
consider the living and powerful word of God (Hebrews 4:12) as we search for the “one faith”
and the “one body” that God spoke of.

The New Testament Church has a Pattern

If a dress is fashioned according to a dress pattern, then the end product should look
exactly like the original pattern. The same is the case for all things that follow a pattern. The
church is no different, for it, too, has a pattern that it is to follow. It is not a pattern of drawings,
but a “pattern of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13). This pattern of words is found throughout the
pages of the New Testament. So far, we have read from the bible that Jesus purchased and built
the church (Acts 20:28; Matthew 16:18), which makes Jesus the owner of the church. We can
also find in Ephesians 5:23, that Jesus is the “head of the church.” Thus all things done by the
church must be authorized by the “head of the church.” The church’s headquarters are located
at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). Today, many of the most popular
religious organizations have earthly headquarters where a hierarchy of men preside over the
churches that are organized under their authority. However, the church has no other authority
but Christ, nor can we find a pattern for earthly headquarters, for the church receives all
instruction from the Lord through the words of the New Testament. Understanding now the
authority Christ has over His church, what has He instructed it to look like? Let’s consider a few
things in the space provided.

The Worship of the Church

What is the Pattern of worship given in the New Testament by the Head of the church?
Jesus has given commandment for His church to partake of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19-20),
in remembrance of His sacrifice on the cross through which the Christian has forgiveness of
sins. When did the New Testament church partake of the Lord’s Supper? It is shown, in Acts
20:7, that the church came together on Sundays to “break bread.” It is not up to man to decide
whether the Lord’s Supper is served annually, or on special holidays, because the head of the
church has instituted the Lord’s Supper to be taken in remembrance of Him on Sundays, that is,
every Sunday. No other authorized way has been given.

Prayer is another way the church worships God. The church is to offer prayers together
as the New Testament church also did: Acts 12:5, “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but
constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” The church is also to learn and
study together through bible classes and sermons (1 Timothy 4:13; 1 Peter 4:11; Acts 20:7) led
by faithful men of the congregation, and not taught by women (1 Timothy 2:11-12). This is the
pattern Christ gave us.

Another commandment, given by the authority of Christ, is for the whole church to sing
spiritual songs, one to another (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). This commandment is for the
purpose of teaching and edifying one another through the effectiveness of song. Instruments of
music are a tradition of men, not found in the pattern of Christ. The Lord’s command was
simple: “making melody in your heart.” The heart is to accompany our song worship; we are
not given commandment for instrumental accompaniment. Again, the purpose is for teaching
the words of the songs, this purpose cannot be accomplished through instruments. If a truth
seeking soul finds instruments of music used in the worship of a particular church, they will
know that the one church fashioned after the pattern of the New Testament church is not
located there.

One can also find the New Testament church giving back to the Lord a portion of what
they have prospered (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). Like every act of collective worship,
this is commanded to be done on the first day of every week. When one gives back to the Lord,
the funds now belong to Christ, and He has, therefore, commanded the church exactly what
can be done with the funds. Today, one can see contribution used for many reasons: social
church affairs, entertainment, and benevolence without restrictions. However, the pattern of
the New Testament church teaches us that the collection of funds is used “for the saints” (1
Corinthians 16:1). Seeing that Christ had one purpose in mind for the collection plate, the true
church today follows after that same pattern. With the funds, the Lord provides for His own:
those in Christ who have need (Acts 11:28-30), and those who labor for the gospel (1 Cor. 9:3-
14).

The Mission of the Church

The purpose of the church is not to be a social institution providing meals, recreation,
and entertainment. Such practices are foreign to the New Testament pattern. Nor is the church
a business, school, fundraiser, or anything else that fulfills carnal interests. The true mission of
the church is to save souls from hell (Romans 6:23). This purpose is fulfilled by the teaching of
the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). Secondly, the mission of the church is the edification of
Christians. To edify means to build up, strengthen, or encourage. Ministers are to give their all
to edify the church (Ephesians 4:11-15), but every member of the church is responsible for
fulfilling this duty (Ephesians 4:16).

Obtaining Salvation

Truly, the New Testament is not silent on the matter of salvation, that’s what the bible is
all about. Today, many say different things about how to be saved. However, there is only one
pattern given by the authority, Christ Jesus. Let’s be careful to observe the entire pattern and
not just some of it. Jesus said we must believe on Him: John 3:16. Salvation is not possible
without belief in Jesus. But we are not saved by faith alone (James 2:24), there are things that
Jesus commands us to do when we believe Him. We must repent of our sins: Acts 3:19. Sins will
not be forgiven if one continues in sin, repentance means that we walk away from our previous
life of sin in order to serve the living God (Romans 6:2). The pattern does not end there, for we
still need to confess our Lord: Romans 10:9. Confess, i.e. acknowledgment by mouth of our
Savior, has been commanded for our salvation. By this time, many want to stop looking for any
more commandments that pertain to obtaining salvation, but we will not stop, for we are
interested only in the truth, not half of it. We find the commandment for baptism in Acts 2:38;
Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Colossians 2:11-13; Romans 6:4. To leave out this commandment, like
many try to do today, would be to not obtain salvation from the Lord, because this is what He
has commanded in the pattern of sound words.

The Name of the Church

This is of interest to many: what should the New Testament church be called? With a
church that is led entirely by the commandments of God, it would be unnatural to give it a manmade
name, especially when Christ already named His church in the New Testament text. There
are two names given to the church in the Bible, but we will see that these two names are
actually one. One name is “church of God” (Acts 20:28), and the other name is “church of
Christ” (Romans 16:16). Do these names differ? They do not, for these names speak of the
same person. Consider closer Acts 20:28, where it says “the church of God which He purchased
with His own blood.” Who is God specifically in this context? It is not God the Father, nor the
Holy Spirit, but it is the He who “purchased” the church “with His own blood.” It is Christ.
Therefore, any church fashioned after the pattern of the New Testament church carries the
scriptural name “church of Christ.” The only fitting name for the church that is owned and built
by Christ, and the salvation of the church comes from no other but Christ (Acts 4:12).

Where is it Today?

Just because a church has a sign that says “church of Christ” does not mean they are
following the entire pattern. I am familiar with many who call themselves members of the
church of Christ but are practicing man-made traditions in the worship, work, and organization
of the church. Therefore, the New Testament church cannot be identified alone by its title, but
just as any product of a pattern can be identified by its original pattern, so the New Testament
church can be discovered and identified, even today, when compared to its pattern: the word
of God.

By Tanner Campbell

Contact Tanner at sousideminister@gmail.com

The New Testament Church