Books of Bible
The New Testament Church
By Louis Rushmore
Is Divine In Doctrine
The early church was taught an aversion to humanly devised creeds. Jesus declared a cardinal abuse
under Judaism was the substitution of human doctrine for teaching of divine origin (Matthew 15:9). "But in
vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." The apostle Paul heartily
affirmed the Gospel alone effects the salvation of men (Romans 1:16; Galatians 1:6-12). The Gospel
(New Testament) is comprised of: (1) instruction (doctrine or teaching), (2) God's unfolded scheme for man's
redemption, and (3) God's assignment of a three-fold mission to the church.
New Testament: Only Creed of the Church
Creeds of human origin are the source of vast religious division around the world. Whereas human creeds
change periodically, New Testament ink long ago dried, making the doctrine of the New Testament changeless.
Even from a human perspective, accepting the New Testament as sole creed and doctrine in religion is more
likely to achieve the unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:20-21) than the sum of all alternatives some
ecumenical movement may promote.
Before the judgment bar at times end, all men will be judged by the covenant of God under which they lived
(Revelation 20:12-15). Men cannot be sanctified by substandard, humanly devised righteousness
(Romans 10:1-3; Matthew 7:21-23). Neither will people living in the Gospel (New Testament) Age be received
into heaven through compliance with the Old Testament standard from which we have been delivered
(Colossians 2:14; Ephesians 2:15; Romans 7:6, 7; Hebrews 8:6-13). Anyone trying to live by the Old Law
(Testament) today is outside of God's saving grace (Galatians 5:1-5). The New Testament alone is the absolute
and final standard of authority in religion to which man must appeal today. It teaches man how to live with his
fellow man, how to worship and serve God, and how to receive the blessings of the Gospel and hope of heaven.
Redemption is inseparably tied to membership in the Lord's church; the Lord adds the redeemed or saved
to the church (Acts 2:47). However, the confused religious community challenges souls with a religious
shopping center of different churches and accompanying redemption doctrines. It is imperative the truth seeker
wade through the swamp of human doctrines and espouse only God's redemptive plan and the church to which
the Lord adds the saved. The "seed" which when planted into the honest hearts of men produces
Christians only and only the Lord's church is the "word of God" only (Luke 8:11).
The Gospel or New Testament addresses God's plan of salvation in several passages. Often, religious
people acknowledge many of the divine prerequisites to salvation. However, as often they select only those
which they cherish to the exclusion of other elements to which Scripture attributes saving power. Abbreviated,
the divine plan of salvation requires: (1) hearing God's Word exclusively (Romans 10:17), (2) nurturing a
saving, obedient faith (James 2:20, 24, 26), (3) repenting of past sins (Acts 17:30-31), (4) confessing Christ as
Lord (Romans 10:9-10), (5) burial (baptism) in water to wash sins away (Romans 6:3-5; Acts 22:16), and (6)
remaining faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). A divine appendix to the plan of salvation for erring
children of God is penitent prayer (Acts 8:22).
Mission of the Church
All the church is commanded by Scripture to do falls within three categories: evangelism, benevolence,
edification. If something does not come under one of these departments, it is neither the mission nor the
responsibility of the church. A function may even be authorized by Scripture, and yet not concern the
church; for instance, it may fall in the realm of the home's responsibility. The home is another divine
institution, but the roles of the home and the church, though they often interact, are not the same.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:2) is fundamentally tied to the visible existence of
the church in its local sense. This makes evangelism the chief mission of the church. Yet, the church must
also mature or edify itself to maintain God's favor (1 Corinthians 14:12; Hebrews 5:12-6:2). Too, the Lord's
church must possess and exhibit the highest form of love toward fellow men (Matthew 22:37-40; James 1:27;
Galatians 6:10), in a small way imitating the love of God shown to man. The practice of benevolence also
contributes to the goodwill of men toward the church and affords the church valuable contacts for the exercise
Some estimates indicate the churches of Christ number nearly 20,000 congregations and about 2,000,000
members world-wide. Since each congregation is autonomous from every other congregation, it is nearly
impossible to address figures of this nature with certainty. However, irrespective of the actual number of
congregations and members, the vast brotherhood of churches of Christ is predicated upon no creed but the
New Testament alone. Though there are several variant views on a handful of fields of biblical inquiry, these
pale in comparison to creedal segmented denominationalism.
Following the New Testament only affords the Lord's church a measure of safety from world-wide apostasy;
individual Christians and churches which depart from the New Testament do not necessarily imperil other
Christians and churches, whereas, were the church bound to a human creed, as went the creed so would go the
whole church. This is the plight of the bulk of the religious community today. "There is a way
which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).