It's Simple, Really
We Are Simply Christians, Without Being Members of Any Denomination. You Can Be Too!
by Dale Smelser
We read with interest the reports on every hand of the growing disenchantment with present religious forms which originated in the middle ages and have become meaningless. We hear of displeasure with denominational structures and their pronouncements which reflect only the preferences of an influential elite, ignoring the convictions of the rank and file. Because of these aspects of modern religion some have decided that Christianity is not relevant to this day and age. We believe they have so decided because they are not sufficiently acquainted with the Scriptures to be able to distinguish between the relevant gospel of Christ, and what men have added to religion since, and which are not relevant to serving God.
If some of these things have troubled you and you have felt an urge, or even a yearning, to return to the simple uncomplicated religion of Christ, and if you have felt the desire to strip away all non-essential elements of religion and simply abide by the truths of Christ, truths which alone can transform the soul and bind it by God, let us suggest that such a possibility actually exists.
Let us begin with one essential fact. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. His coming, His mission, and His new message were all foretold in the Old Testament (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 53; Zechariah 6:13; Jeremiah 31:31-33), which Jehovah used to govern Israel until the Christ should come and establish the New for all mankind (Galatians 3:19,23,24).
The New Testament is the Word of Christ. It reveals the religion of Christ (Hebrews 9:15-17). By studying it we become aware that among the followers of Christ, no denominational organizations existed whatever. All such began at a later time. We see people hearing the gospel and in faith obeying the conditions of God's grace. That is, they turned to God and were baptized in order to be forgiven of their sins. Being thus saved, they were added to the Lord's people, or church (Acts 2:36-47). As the gospel spread, we find them assembling together in the congregations in various localities. Each congregation was under its own elders (Acts 14:23) and no one else on earth. These elders could not make laws or be masters. They were given the responsibility of tending and caring for the congregation as shepherds would a flock of sheep (Acts 20:17,28; I Peter 5:1-3). The only headquarters those disciples knew was heaven, where their Head, Jesus Christ, was and is (Ephesians 1:22,23).
Their worship was something to participate in, not something to watch. On the first day of every week, for instance, they would eat the Lord's Supper and hear preaching from the Word of God (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 11:23-29). They would share their mutual responsibilities by sharing their prosperity, and we find contributions being collected on no other day than that, the first day of each week (Sunday) (I Corinthians 16:1,2). Incidentally, no hierarchy could tax them or tell them how much to give. They had no organizations clamoring for their support. They gave as they individually purposed in their hearts and as they had prospered over the previous week (II Corinthians 9:6,7). In their assemblies they all would lift up their voices in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs to their Lord (Ephesians 5:19; Colosians 3:16), everyone would enter into the prayers voiced by a man chosen for such. They would listen closely to the prayer and would give their own amen at the end of the prayer (I Corinthians 14:15,16). In all this they were all necessarily involved, for each saved person was a priest in the Kingdom of God (Revelation 1:5,6). No one could perform his service or worship for him. He had to be present and worship for himself.
They lived godly lives. They care for the poor among them. They taught others the gospel of Christ. They sent out preachers to preach in places they could not go. With simplicity of faith and fervor there was no need of centralization. without organized machinery the gospel was preached throughout civilization in a short time (Colosians 1:23). These disciples were known as Christians (Acts 11:26; 26:28; I Peter 4:16). They wore no sectarian names. Their religion was not sensual or materialistic. They sought to impress God with the only thing that ever impresses Him -- contrite obedience (I Samuel 15:22). Their appeal was not social or recreational. They offered the gospel to a troubled world for it was God's power to save (Romans 1:16), and any other appeal was beneath them.
"If only such could be here today," many say. But it is! Free men and women over the earth have despaired of denominationalism, seeing in it no necessity or relevance and only a cause of division. They desire the simplicity of what Christ authored, and their number is increasing. How many have taken such a stand? Who knows! They are related and connected only in Christ and not in some super organization with machinery to keep a tally on the membership for bragging purposes. Periodicals such as Time Magazine have listed the number in this nation alone in excess of two and a quarter million. We will not assess their estimation and try to number a people spiritually belonging only to the Lord.
What is important is that a group of such people no doubt meet within minutes of where you live right now. The are just Christians, Christians only and nothing else. They worship and serve God in the same simple way that the early disciples did. Chrsit is their only Creed and the Scriptures are their only guide. They are not members of any human denomination, they are simply a congregation, or church, of Christ. They would like to share Christ with you and with all the world.
You too can be just simply a Christian and serve God without belonging
to any denomination, bound by no denominational laws or obligations. If such freedom appeals to
you, please contact a member of the church of Christ in your
own neighborhood. They can usually be found listed in your
local telephone book. Thanks for taking the time and interest
to read this article.