Marshall Church of Christ
Iglesia De Cristo
Speaking Where The Bible Speaks
Marshall Church of Christ
414 N. Washington
Marshall, Texas 75670
Phone: 903-938-2373
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What Is The Church Of Christ

By Phillip Patton

The question of the origin of the church should be one that is easy to answer. Unfortunately for many it is just the opposite. Many websites that claim to belong to the church of Christ are loaded with pocket statements of what to expect when visiting the church of the Christ. This has its place, to be sure, but is there not an even greater reason that one would be seeking an explanation concerning the church of Christ? Among many of those websites, articles have been written that show little to no difference between the church of Christ and denominations. Attempts are made to say that the church of Christ was established during the 1800’s in what is commonly called the “Restoration Movement.” This could not be farther from the truth. Let us examine the church of Christ.


A.D. 32 (ca) God in the flesh (John 1:14) was put to death at the hand of man under false accusations as was prophesied hundreds of years before He drew His first human breath. Three days later that man arose from His state of rest thereby overcoming the final enemy of death (1Corinthians 15:26). Before He ascended to the Father on High (Hebrews 12:2) He handed out His marching orders to “go,” “teach,” “baptize,” “teach” (Matthew 28:18-20). Soon after, He made His ascension to Heaven with the promise that He would return in the same manner in a cloud (Acts 1:9-11). The following Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, the church was established. The remaining question to answer regarding the establishment of the church is ownership. To whom does the church belong? Denominations seem to think that the church belongs to John Smyth, John Calvin, Mary Baker Eddy, Martin Luther, people meeting there, or some other man that is nothing more than man. However, the Master said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18 KJV). This answers the questions regarding ownership and the establishment of the church. The New Testament serves as its own witness to the ownership, “Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Rom 16:16 KJV). 


Shortly after the church was established she began to have difficulty. Not that the church was in trouble, but that the followers were. All of the New Testament epistles were written to address some heresy or to encourage faithfulness in the face of heresy. People soon began to try and make changes in the church and in coming centuries a full departure from the simplistic truth of the Scriptures was realized. The various Nicene Councils met to discuss heretical thoughts and men began to leave the Scriptures and in their place came mens thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Within a few hundred years the first major departure was revealed in the establishment of the Catholic (Universal) Church. Over the centuries the Catholic doctrine went through many changes to meet the desires of the men in search of power. The priesthood was modeled after the Roman government, of which the Bible gives no instruction other than elders (bishops, pastors) are to have the oversight with deacons being special servants of the local autonomous congregation. This desire for power continued and the struggle began between two major powers of the time, the East and West. Eventually Rome would win out and the papacy was developed with the establishment of the first pope after 600 A.D. From that point the priests loomed and hoarded over the people treating them as ignorant. With this came indulgences as the papacy needed to fund their many elaborate building projects and wars. Wars that were nothing more than power struggles and greed. As the centuries droned on the people began to wary with ignorance. Men like John Calvin, and Martin Luther, then emerged, who had in their minds set to reform the Catholic Church out of what they saw as the corruption of the priesthood, which was exactly accurate. From their departures spawned most of the denominations seen today.


The Master made a promise to His disciples. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18 KJV). The gates of Hell were definitely at work with all of this atrocity and departure from the doctrine of Christ and the apostles (Acts 2:42, 2John 9). What this means is that the church that belonged to Christ, the church that He established on the day of Pentecost, the church that He purchased with His own blood was still going strong during this period. Records are sparse, to say the least. Why is this? Dear reader, ask yourself this question. If there was a power that ruled the world, a power that was energized by greed for more power, a power that considered everything outside of what it wanted heresy, a power that would slaughter countless numbers of people in order to retain its power over people, a power that controlled history, would not that power do everything possible to cover its tracks against anything that would say it was wrong. This is exactly what the Catholic Church and its leaders did during what is commonly known as the dark ages (The Eternal Kingdom, F.W. Mattox, p.215-216). “Form the ninth century on there are glimpses of thousands of persons who opposed the Roman hierarchy and were persecuted as heretics. These were found especially in Greece, Italy, Germany, France, and Holland and were known as Catharists or Paulicans by the hierarchy.The various comprised groups were similar in that they opposed the Roman hierarchy, accepted the Scripture as their only authority, claimed to be the only true Christians in their generation and lived puritanical lives.  In their services they read the Scripture aloud, had the Lord’s Supper at every service, refused infant baptism, baptized only believers, rejected all human authority, had no formal creed or confession” (Mattox, p. 208). Conclusion: The church of Christ prevailed. 


When Luther and Calvin began working to reform Catholicism the door was then opened for the majority of the public to begin thinking on their own again. The Bible was diligently being translated into English and other languages so the common man could read and understand (Ephesians 3:4) leading into what is known as the Restoration Movement. During this period from the turn of the 19th century men such as Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and “Raccoon” John Smith among many others are credited for working to return to New Testament Christianity. The mistake that many make today is to think that New Testament Christianity ever failed, that it died. Had the existence of the church of Christ dwindled into nothingness then one would question if Christ were true to His word, which anyone would know better than to attempt. Historical records go back further than the Campbells, or Stone tracing the path of the Kingdom in the USA and England. In the United States there were brethren meeting as members of the Lord’s church before these men ever drew breath. This link would serve helpful in tracing the church of Christ through the centuries in a condensed form ( Going back to England notice the following excerpts:

Foxes Book of Martyrs speaks of John Bainham: “He was demanded further, for what cause Holy Scripture hath been better declared within these six years, than it hath been these eight hundred years before? -- Whereunto he answered, To say plainly, he knew no man to have preached the word of God sincerely and purely, and after the vein of Scripture, except Master Crome and Master Latimer. And he said, moreover, that the New Testament now translated into English, doth preach and teach the word of God, and that before that time men did preach but only that folks should believe as the church did believe; and then if the church erred, men should err too. Howbeit the church of Christ (Emph. Mine), said he, cannot err: and that there were two churches, that is, the church of Christ militant, and the church of antichrist; and that this church of antichrist may and doth err; but the church of Christ (Emph. Mine) doth not (Remember this took place in 1532-mine). Likewise touching the sacrament of baptism, his words were these: "That as many as repent, and do on them Christ, shall be saved; that is, as many as die concerning sin, shall live by faith with Christ. Therefore it is not we that live after that, but Christ in us. And so, whether we live or die, we are God's by adoption, and not by the water only, but by water and faith: that is, by keeping the promise made. For ye are kept by grace and faith, saith St. Paul, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God."

“Dr Daniel Featley (also known as Richard or Daniel Fairclough, other spelling includes Danielis Featlei), he  was an adversary of the Lord’s Church during the early to mid 1600s, writing against them. He was an Anglican theologian of some considerable renown. He was born 1578 in Charlton, Oxfordshire — he died April 17, 1645 in Chelsea, London. The “fovrth edition” of the “The Dippers dipt or the Anabaplists dunckt and plunged over head and ears” was printed in 1646 by Nicholas Bourn and Richard Royston, in Ivy Lane (London), one year after Featley’s death and one year after the first edition appeared. It is this edition I have used and to which I refer. The book was written to oppose congregations who call themselves ‘Churches of Christ’ meeting in England in the 1600s, who baptized by immersion for remission of sins. Who were autonomous being separate from the Church of England, ruled by a plurality of elders and deacons assisting. These congregations were Trinitarian, which was for a time denied by their enemies (re. the burning of Edward Wightman and Bartholomew Leggett in 1612).”

“The third broached theirs in the year 1525. which was this; that baptism ought to be administered to none, but such as can give a good account of their faith; and in case any have been baptized in their infancy, that they ought to be re-baptised after they come to years of discretion, before they are to be admitted to the Church of Christ."

To complete this study, the church of Christ did not begin in the 1800’s as some allege, and is NOT another denomination. She was born on the day of Pentecost, the year of our Lord’s crucifixion which He endured for YOU. What right do You or I have to call His blood bought institution anything other than the church of Christ and follow His doctrine instead of “I think” “I feel” or “my heart says.” If you cannot find your church or your doctrine or church in the New Testament then serious thought needs be given to turning your allegiance to the one who paid the blood price for your soul, the doctrine, and the church that are taught in His New Testament. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church(Emph. Mine); and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18 KJV)

If you would like further information on the church of Christ do not hesitate to contact us. If you would like to be a part of the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23-25) by obedience to His will, not some man made creed, to answer to the Master, not some earthly based “mother church” or “headquarters,” added to the Lord’s church by the Lord (Acts 2:47) the allow us the opportunity to walk through the only divinely inspired word of God (2Timothy 3:16-17) and answer to no MAN, but to God in humble, faithful, obedience. 

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