There are many different churches across the religious landscape. Each of them is distinct in name, doctrine, and practice.
You may have heard of a church of Christ. It is possible you know someone who is a part of a church of Christ. Is this just another denomination like all the rest? Or is it different? What is the church of Christ?
To put it simply, the church of Christ is Christ’s church. It is the church that belongs to Him. Jesus made the promise to His apostles: “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). Paul told the elders of the church in Ephesus that Jesus “purchased” the church “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). These passages teach that the church was built by, purchased by, and belongs to Jesus Christ.
Paul said that Christ is the head of the church, and that the church is His body (Ephesians 1:22-23). A head only has one body. Jesus only promised to build one church (Matthew 16:18). While there may be many churches in the world, only one belongs to Christ. He built one. He purchased one. He is the head over one. That church is the church of Christ.
This church that belongs to Christ is made up of those who are saved. Paul said, “Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). The church of Christ is composed of those who have Jesus Christ as their Savior.
In Acts 2, Peter preached the first gospel sermon. He spoke about who Jesus was, indicted those Jews of being guilty of His death, and declared that God had made Jesus “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:22-36). At this point, many now believed that Jesus was the Christ. This is evident by the fact that they were “pierced to the heart” and asked what they needed to do (Acts 2:37). Peter answered them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). “Those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). To what were they added? “The Lord was adding to their number [i.e. the church] day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). The church these people were added to was the church of Christ. We know that because they were added upon being saved and Jesus is the Savior of the church that is His body (Ephesians 5:23; 1:22-23).
Biblically speaking, the church of Christ refers to the body of all the saved. But it is also used in reference to a local church. Paul told the saints in Rome, “All the churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16). We have already noticed that Christ’s church is not made up of congregations, but individuals who have been saved. So a local church of Christ would be made up of those who have been added to Christ’s church.
The vast majority of churches have their own name, doctrines, and practices. But a faithful church of Christ practices only those things authorized by Jesus in His word (Colossians 3:17), teaches only the doctrines contained in His word (1 Peter 4:11), and wears no other name but His (Romans 16:16; Acts 20:28).
How do you become a part of Christ’s church and have Him as your Savior? Upon hearing the word of God, you must believe it and believe in Jesus (Romans 10:17; John 8:24). That belief must be manifested by repenting of your sins and confessing your faith in Christ (Luke 13:3; Romans 10:9-10). You then must be baptized into Christ to have your sins washed away (Galatians 3:27; Acts 22:16). Then, after being added to the church, you must “continue in the faith” (Colossians 1:23).