"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
(Matthew 6:33)

 

 

 

2525 Archdale Drive
P. O. Box 241002
Charlotte, NC 28224
704-554-7733
Meeting Times
Sun. Bible Study
9:00 am
Sun. Morning Worship
10:00 am
Sun. Evening Worship
6:00 pm
Wed. Bible Study
7:00 pm
Scripture
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:37-39)

 

 
 
Reasoning Together

Return to Archdale Home Page

Who We Are:

A Discovery of Christ and His Church 
from God's Word

By: Russ McCullough

During these swiftly flowing times, it is painfully obvious that men and women of differing faiths have little time to discuss their beliefs, to examine the Scriptures and to converse about their diverse theology. Not only is there but precious little time to consider these matters, there seems to be more churches in America than major intersection corner drug stores!

How can one know which church is the church of the Bible?

The purpose of this brochure IS to introduce you to a church you may or may not have heard of before. The purpose is NOT to talk about yet another denomination. Unless you have just "found" this pamphlet, the person who gave it to you is likely a member of the church of Christ. Should the church of Christ not be known to you, please allow me to introduce you! What follows is one man's attempt to answer the question, "What does the Bible teach about Christ and His church?" The Bible has much to say, with dazzling clarity, regarding Christian Unity, Salvation, Worship, and Congregational Leadership.

In the long ago, in the midst of a disagreement between God and His people Israel, God said this; "Come now, let us reason together...." [Isa. 1:18] We too have that same opportunity nearly 30 centuries later, to reason together.

Somewhat of a disclaimer must go first. As a people, the church of Christ [Romans 16:16] has no organizational structure outside of the local congregation. There is no earthly authority higher than the local congregational leadership (called the eldership) recognized among us. For Christ is the "....head of the church....and....gave himself up for her." [Eph. 5:23-25] Each congregation is independent and responsible for its own spiritual direction as guided by the Scriptures. We (the word "We" is used in the most limited of senses) have no creed but the Bible and return to the Scriptures for truth in all things because the Bible contains the truth that sanctifies us (sets us apart) in God's sight. [John 17:17] As a result, no mortal person can speak for the church as a whole. I will, however, attempt to articulate, generally speaking, the commonly held beliefs among us as taught in His Word. It is my sincere prayer that I "...speak the truth in love" [Eph.4:15] regarding these most urgent of matters for Heaven and Hell are real places and each of us will soon reside in our choice of one or the other.

One other thought; I ask you to join me in "...examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things (are) so." [Acts 17:11]

What Does the Bible Teach Regarding Unity in Christ?

Spiritual unity is not only possible; it is God's will. Jesus Christ prayed for the unity of all believers. [John 17:20-21] The first century church enjoyed unity. [Acts 4:32] Unity, however, is possible ONLY when we agree on the essential cornerstone of belief as defined by God Himself. When all else is stripped away, we "....must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him." [Heb. 11:6] Who God IS is clearly defined. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." [Gen. 1:1] Either God created EVERYTHING or He did not. Either we believe that He is Creator God or "he" is simply a legend in the collective memory of an evolved animal whose very existence, without God, is unexplainable! Central to who Creator God IS is His Word:

" Jesus said that God's ".....Word is Truth." [John 17:17] " Jesus Himself is the incarnation of God's Word in the world for John says that; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." [John 1:1] " God's Word "became flesh and dwelt among us." [John 1:14] " Jesus (The Word) said that His Words will outlast heaven & earth. [Matt. 24:35] " God's Word is alive and well even unto this very day, able to change our very hearts and souls! [Heb. 4:12]

We believe, therefore, that God IS, that God Created all things, that God gave us His Word who remains alive and well to this very day and that God is capable of changing our lives to the core through His Word! So, one may ask; "What portion of his Word is inspired and what is just mere superstition....and how would one know the difference?" Here is where we differ with many in the religious world, for

we believe that the Scriptures are 100% true and contain no error whatsoever.

We believe that the apostle Paul states the Truth of God when he asserts that; "....all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable....." [II Timothy 3:16-17]

Unity among us is possible when we collectively endeavor to leave our opinions, our cultural history and our theological conclusions all "at the door" and approach the Scripture seeking God's wisdom.

God's wisdom is promised to us. [James 1:5] That wisdom is found in the Scripture, the Word that can and will save us. [James 1:21]

We find ourselves in a world of intense religious division, even to the point of open warfare between "believers." Among many examples, Protestants and Catholics for instance, have been killing each other in Northern Ireland since the English sought to "pacify" Ireland with forced resettlement of the ruthlessly defeated Scotts in the mid 18th century.

Here in America, we have instead of encouraging the unity of believers; have celebrated and encouraged religious disunity in the name of pluralism, individualism and tolerance.

"Attend the church or synagogue of YOUR choice this week end," is the mantra prominently displayed on the backs of trucks and on billboards all over our country. BUT....what does GOD want?

We believe that God wants us all to be one in Christ and that there be; "....no divisions among (us)." [I Cor. 1:10] To the best of our knowledge,

denominationalism first arose in Corinth, Greece in the 1st century and Satan has been using it ever since. What Paul condemned in Corinth has been applauded in America.

Paul tells us that these Christians had "denominated" themselves into separate groups and were in active division one from another. [I Cor.1:11-12] "Denominationalism" is defined by the American College Dictionary (Random House, 1963 edition) as; "...(a) sectarian sect or spirit or policy; the tendency to divide into denominations or sects." There were at least four "Christian" denominations at that time in Corinth. One of these denominations espoused Paul himself as their champion but Paul strongly condemned this sentiment by asking three powerful rhetorical questions. "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?" [I Cor. 1:13] The implied answer: "No, Christ is not divided, Paul was not crucified for anyone and you were not baptized into Paul's name!" In addition, there was serious moral failure, socio-economic divisions and a theological rupture over spiritual gifts. Paul took strong issue with all attempts to divide among the various congregations he wrote to. Never once did Paul tell anyone to "denominate" or to separate themselves when division arose. In fact he, for emphasis sake, redundantly stated to the church in Galatia that if even "...we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed." [Gal. 1:6-8] Paul often saved some of his strongest statements in defense of unity. [Romans 16:17-18] Christ founded but one church (singular). [Matt. 16:18] Christ died for but one church (singular). [Eph. 5:25] Only one church (singular) was established on the Day of Pentecost. [Acts 2:41] Denominationalism and division can easily be a thing of the past simply by returning to the church we read of in the New Testament. Only by turning to the Word as the standard by which Truth is defined can the unity for which our Lord prayed for in John 17 be achieved.

"Attending the church or synagogue of your choice" may be very American, but is not biblical. Christ died for, founded and sustains ONLY ONE church...HIS church, the church of Christ. The church of Christ is NOT a denomination.

What Does the Bible Teach Regarding Salvation?

The evangelical Christian community in America has in the last three decades achieved a semblance of unity regarding the question of salvation. To summarize [synopsis mine] this "unity" in the most general of terms:

"Salvation is by grace/faith/belief alone upon the request of the believing and repentant sinner for Jesus to enter into his/her heart. This takes place once the believer recites his/her preferred version of "the sinner's prayer." It is believed that this process results in a personal relationship with one's Savior thus rendering eternal salvation."

Again, however, we must ask the question; "Is this conclusion biblical?" And.....again...... "what does the Lord say?" There is no example of a "sinner's prayer" in the Scriptures! The concept is based upon a misinterpretation of Revelation 4:20 where Jesus is described as one who is knocking on the door of the heart asking for entry at the request of the one who is already present. Unfortunately for many people who have believed on the "sinner's prayer" teaching, Jesus was NOT speaking to NON-CHRISTIANS in this passage. He was speaking to unfaithful Christians who were "lukewarm" in their faith and were about to be "spewn out" since they were neither cold nor hot. If Jesus did not institute the "sinner's prayer," just HOW do we obtain the free gift of salvation made possible 100% by the Grace of God? [Ephesians 2:8 & 9] Let's examine what the Scriptures say regarding salvation: Jesus Christ came "....to seek and save the lost." [Luke 19:10] He has "....the words of eternal life..." [John 6:68] Just what are those words? Jesus says that; "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should (emphasis mine) not perish, but have eternal life." [John 3:16] By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul says that faith (belief) without love is worthless. [I Cor. 13: 2] Jesus says that those who fail to obey His commands do not, in effect, love Him. [John 14:15] Jesus says that we must believe that He is the Son of God [John 8:24] He goes on to state that we must repent (reform, take a new direction) of all our past sins. [Luke 13:5] As did Jesus before Pilate, we must confess before others that Jesus is indeed the Son of God [Romans 10: 9 & 10] Finally, Jesus stated that; "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." [Mark 16:16] (Note that baptism is not required of those choosing condemnation! Non-believers are by definition those who are "... condemned already." [John 3:18] ) He also commanded that the apostles were to; "....go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." [Matt. 28:19-20a] It is clear that Jesus commands baptism from the time of the apostles to our day and time since we are the "them" that Jesus says should learn and obey "ALL THAT" He commanded the apostles. Simply put, those who love Christ and long to please him will happily be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Jesus prayed while on the cross that God would forgive his murderers. God did just that on the Day of Pentecost, not too many days hence, when those very same murderers cried out in response to the Gospel message; "...brothers, what shall we do?!" [Acts 2:37b] The answer for all time and eternity from the Day of Pentecost until the very day the Lord returns is this: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins...." [Acts 2:38a]

Nearly the entire American evangelical community is unified without question that one must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God [John 8:24], that one must repent of all past sin [Luke 13:5] and confess said belief and repentance in some kind of public manner [Rom. 10:9-10].

Why then, does that same community reject the absolute necessity of baptism for the remission of sins as essential to eternal salvation?

Without going into the history of Protestant theology, it is assumed by many that baptism is a "work" and as such has no relationship to salvation. [Eph. 2: 8-9] And yes, we believe that baptism IS a work...... we believe it to be a work of GOD! [Col. 2:12 (Literal Greek per The R.S.V. Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Fourth Printing, 1972: "..co-buried with Him in the baptism in whom also you were co-raised through the faith of (in) the operation of God (emphasis mine) raising Him from (the) dead.")] We believe that God's saving work is done at the time and place of one's baptism.

Not only is baptism a work of God, baptism is the result of an responsive belief. Belief, like baptism, is a work of God!

The inspired apostle John writes in his gospel quoting Jesus Christ in his response to a question; "...What must we do, to be doing the works of God? Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom he has sent." [John 6:28b -- 29] A "belief" that does NOT include baptism is NOT a responsive or saving belief! We do the submission and God does the work! Speaking logically for arguments sake, "IF" baptism is a "work" in the Ephesians 2:8 - 9 model, would not any other form of salvation process be an equal or even greater "work?" We would suggest that "praying through" at the "altar" is much more "work" than closing one's eyes, falling limp into the hands of another and submitting to Christ's will in the "watery grave of baptism!" We believe that along with belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, repentance of past sins and public confession of the name of Jesus Christ, baptism is the only proper response to God's free gift of salvation, an "...appeal to God for a good conscience." [I Pet. 3:21] The inverse is just as true; the appeal of a "bad conscience towards God" would be a neglect of baptism. We believe that immersion (sprinkling for "baptism" was unknown for hundreds of years after the church was established {the Roman Catholic church did not officially endorse sprinkling until the Council of Ravenna in 1311} and one can still see massive immersion pools in many of the older cathedrals of Europe) for the remission of sins is no more a "work" than hearing and pondering over the Word of God, believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was killed-buried-and rose again the third day and confessing that most Holy of names among witnesses. Please know that we do not believe that baptism is "more" important than hearing, believing, repenting and confessing.......I just have dwelt upon baptism more since it is the prominent obstacle to unity between us concerning salvation. One final note on the subject; baptism by mode is ONLY immersion.

The word "baptism" [noun] comes from the Greek word "baptisma" meaning; "...baptism, consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence of...." The word "baptize" [verb] is ".....primarily a frequentative form of "bapto," to dip, was used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another, etc." Vine, W. E. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, Seventeenth Impression, 1966.

The final change from "immerse" to "baptize" came in 1611 with the "King James Version of the Bible." Not wanting to mortally offend the king who practiced sprinkling, and wanting to do the least amount of violence to the Sacred Text, the translators opted for the "hybrid" words "baptize" and "baptism."

What Does The Bible Teach Regarding Worship?

We believe that additions and subtractions from God's Word, no matter how well meaning, are presumptuous at best. Unknown in 1st century church worship were clerical robes, mandated uniform liturgy, candles [except for lighting], incense, iconoclastic art veneration, mechanical instruments of music, special "holy days" celebrations for Christmas & Easter, extra congregational government and extra biblical creeds. We believe that worship should replicate, as closely as possible, the worship practices we read about in the New Testament.

Additions and changes to worship that have come down to us through the centuries via religious tradition take us down a slippery slope. Biblical worship is God centered, evokes proper emotion towards Him and is based upon revealed truth.

We read in John 4:23b, 24 that; "....true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers that the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth." God seeks us to worship and we joyfully do so. But, how do we obtain the knowledge of what to do and how to do it? As noted previously, Jesus states in John 17:17 that God's Word is truth. Peter, by inspiration, reveals that "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us....." [II Peter 1:3] In short, everything we need to know concerning worship has been revealed in God's Word and awaits our discovery. The "acts" and the "words" of the apostles carried down to us through the centuries by the Word are our pattern and blueprint for worship today.

Far too often, modern day worship is ever changing, subjectively self-focused, and directed by clergy.

When we strip away centuries of religious tradition, we find that

worship in New Testament times was simple, God focused and "clergy" free.

We believe that there is a balance in worship between emotion and reason. While discussing the subject of speaking in tongues in the public worship, Paul illustrates this principle in I Corinthians 14:15, "......I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind."

Too much emotion in worship soon evolves into entertainment and too little soon sends the worshipper into legalism.

Upon opening the Word, we find that the first century church met on the first day of every week. [Acts 20:7] When gathered together as the Body of Christ, there was the observance of the Lord's Supper [I Corinthians 11:23-36], praise to God in song [Colossians 3:16], prayer [Colossians 3:16], public reading of the Scriptures [I Timothy 4:13], preaching [Acts 20:7] and a cheerful setting aside of one's God given wealth. [I Corinthians 16:2] We believe that if we do these things as did the apostles along with the 1st Century church, our worship will be pleasing to God. It is our belief that

if we were to attempt an "improvement" of worship by pragmatism, experimentation and outright change, we run the risk of having our worship rejected by God as was Cain's in the long ago. [Gen. 4:5]

What Does The Bible Teach Regarding Congregational Leadership?

Consistent with how we believe on other matters already mentioned, how and by whom the church is guided is founded upon the Word as opposed to our feelings and opinions.

In the first century church, there was no such thing as a "clergy." There was no such thing as a "laity." These are extrabiblical concepts that came into play long after the church was established.

The Word teaches that ALL of us are a part of a "priesthood of all believers." [I Peter 2:9] Unlike the Mosaical covenant, the 1st century church had no "priest." In the Christian age each person is his or her own "priest" and can approach, pray to and worship God without a 3rd party go-between. In other words there is no need for a modern day "ordained person," "father" or "reverend" to "facilitate" our connection to God. We believe that the insertion of "clergy" between God and people is from man. Other than the apostles, the only guidance the infant church had was what we call the "eldership." The eldership consists of a plurality of men who "shepherd" and "pastor" the congregation as far as spiritual matters go. The apostle Peter tells us that elders, and he identifies himself as one, should "shepherd," "care" and "oversee" the congregation which he refers to as the "flock." [I Peter 5:1-4] The Word also refers to these men as "bishops" and "presbyters." Since the eldership is primarily focused on the spiritual well being of the congregation, the assistance of whom the Scriptures refer to as "deacons" is essential to serve the congregation in day-to-day matters such as benevolence and various housekeeping duties. The qualities these men who serve the congregation should have are given by inspiration in two places, I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. Not because we chose it this way, but because God did, all elders and all deacons must be men [men married to only one wife] and women are not to take a leading public role in teaching or worship. By so stating, does Paul say men are superior to women? No. Is Paul a sexist? No. The Word clearly states that the souls of both men and women are equally valuable, saying that "There is neither.....male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." [Galatians 3:28] The Scriptures reveal that God respects no person above another, for Peter says; "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism." [Acts 10:34].

Though each soul is equal in value in God's sight, He has given different roles to men and women.

My conclusion follows:

Thank you for prayerfully considering what has been said regarding Unity in Christ, Salvation, Worship, and Congregational Leadership. Please critically compare the above in the light of the Scriptures. Should you conclude, as did I, that Jesus is the Christ -- The Son of the living God, it is now YOUR opportunity to come to that same.....Conclusion:

"....here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." Ecclesiastes 12:13

My conclusion, as I pray yours will be, was to repent of my sins, confess the Name of Christ in the presence of others and was immersed for the forgiveness of my sins. I then arose, as will you, to a new life as God Himself added me to the church of Christ in which I now live and worship in accordance with His Word.

Won't you join us in study and worship next Lord's Day with the church of Christ? God will be glorified and we would be honored by your presence!

Thank you for taking your time to check us out on the web! May God richly bless you this day.

Your Friends @

The Archdale church of Christ

________________________________________________________________________________

Copyright © 2006 by the Archdale church of Christ and Russ McCullough. All rights reserved. Reprint or reproduction without the expressed written consent of the publisher is forbidden for any reason whatsoever. For proper reprint and/or purchase information on additional pamphlets, contact the publisher noted above.

 

.



Your ideas and comments are welcome and appreciated!

This website developed by dnelson (DogwoodNC Home Page).
Copyright ©. 1999-2016, Archdale Church of Christ. All rights reserved.

Ephesians 3:20-21 -- Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.