What is a Sound Church?

It is no secret that there are many apostate churches in this world.  The apostle Paul warned us that many will depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1).  Even within Churches of Christ there are many congregations that have departed from the truth.  Brethren are quite aware of those churches that no longer seek Biblical authority for all their practices though they still consider themselves a church of Christ.

In the course of discussion, I’ll refer to congregations in the Lord’s one true Church as a “sound” church.  I seek to draw a distinction between churches of Christ that follow the New Testament pattern and those which do not.  A sound church will abide in all that is written in the scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  An apostate church will not care if they operate with or without authority.

I could as easily call such digressive congregations “liberal.”  However, that gives credit to those congregations as abiding in God’s word but without a strict adherence to it.  In reality, any digression from God’s word is enough to jeopardize a soul no matter how liberal a church might become.  “Liberal” certainly describes an undesirable attitude toward God’s word.

A sound church is fundamentally solid.  It is like a building that is well constructed and remains solid through the years. If the building develops a crack in the foundation we would no longer consider it sound.  Without repair (i.e. repentance) even a building inspector (i.e. Christ) will eventually condemn the structure (i.e. the congregation). Christ told the church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place – unless you repent” (Rev. 2:5). A building may continue to stand, but that does not mean it is sound.

Paul and Titus both referred to God’s word as “sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1).  They also referred to those who abided in God’s word as being sound in mind, speech or faith (2 Cor. 5:13; 2 Tim. 1:7; Titus 1:13; 2:2, 8).  It is not a stretch to refer to congregations that abide in God’s doctrine; composed of brethren who are sound in mind, speech and faith as being a “sound church.” If a congregation fails to abide in God’s doctrine that is enough evidence to know it is not a sound church.

A sound church would not try to justify kitchens and dinners supported by church funds when the apostle Paul condemned mixing social events with the work of the church (1 Cor. 11:22, 34).  A sound church would not pay organizations or institutions to do their work (Matt. 25:36, 43; Acts 15:36; Jas. 1:27).  A sound church would respect what the scriptures authorize and not try to justify what it does not authorize (Lev. 10:1-2; Matt. 19:9; Eph. 5:19; Heb. 10:26-27; etc.).  A sound church would not seek to establish a hierarchy nor positions not found in scriptures (Eph. 4:11-12).  These things cannot be done by faith (Rom. 10:17).  “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).  Yet, all these things can be found in apostate churches of Christ.

Some brethren will argue in ignorance that churches of Christ have always practiced the things just mentioned.  Jeffrey Hamilton wrote an excellent and well documented article on this very topic entitled “Slip Sliding Away.”  I would encourage anyone living under that delusion to read the article.  It can be found on the web at:

www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/lvarticles/slipslidingaway.htm.

The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thes.2:15).

By Steve A. Hamilton
shamilton@rap.midco.net

A Church that is Just a Church

Maybe you’ve noticed that a lot of churches today are involved in all kinds of business and social ventures, and very little in teaching the word of God. Some are quite proud of the fact that they place little emphasis on doctrinal matters.

Our emphasis is spiritual–not material or social. For that reason, our main concern is that we abide in, and teach, the doctrine of Jesus Christ. This requires that we pay close attention to the Bible, and treat it as our sole guide in spiritual matters.

It is our aim to be the very same church as the one we read about in the New Testament. We do not claim perfection in our attempts to follow the doctrine of Christ, but neither do we use our imperfection as an excuse. We are always willing to examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).

The Bible clearly tells us that the Lord’s church is “a spiritual house”  (1 Pet. 2:5). The New Testament tells us how to conduct ourselves in the church, which was designed to uphold the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

If you are looking for a church that is merely a “front” for a social club or agency, we’re not for you. But if you share our interest in searching the scriptures in order to learn what the will of the Lord is, then we’d like to hear from you.

Come visit any of our worship and Bible study gatherings. Or, we would be happy to schedule a home Bible study at a time convenient to you.