Our Beliefs on the Bible, Salvation, Church, and Worship...
The Bible Only
What doctrine to do we follow? The Bible. What other doctrines do we adhere to? None; simply the Bible. Some churches in the world today follow only parts of the Bible. Some follow the Bible and a creed or statement of faith. Some follow the Bible except when their feelings lead them to another view. We at the Leeward church of Christ do not follow any creed, statement of faith, or human opinion. We follow the Bible, in its entirety, and the Bible alone.
So... why do we hold this view?
Point 1:The Bible says in Matthew 28:18, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Jesus is speaking here. So, if Jesus has all authority, how much authority does that leave for everybody or anybody else? None.
Point 2: "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God" (2 John 9). Those who go on ahead (going beyond or adding to what Jesus has taught) do not have God.
Point 3: "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to them the plagues described in this book" (Revelation 22:18). This specific verse deals with the book of revelation, but certainly the principle of not adding to God's word applies to the whole Bible, (Deuteronomy 4:2; Galatians 1:6-9).
Point 4: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3). If the Lord has given us all things that pertain to our lives and godly living, how much more is needed? None.
If it is more than God's Word, it is too much. If it is less than God's Word, it is not enough. If it is the same as God's Word it is not needed.
What Must I Do to Be Saved?" (Acts 16:30)
Unfortunately, many in the world teach the only thing you must do is say a written prayer, only follow the Ten Commandments or just believe in Jesus. Do not misunderstand. Prayer is powerful and important, Jesus restates some of the principles of the Ten Commandments in Matthew chapter 5, and belief is necessary in order to be saved. However, neither of those things alone saves. In fact, the only verse that says faith alone, says we are justified "not by faith alone" (James 2:24). It is important to first recognize where salvation is. 2 Timothy 2:10 tells us salvation is in Christ Jesus. So the question is then, how do we get into Christ? The Bible is clear about what is necessary to be saved. So... what does the Bible say we must do to get into Christ?
We Must Learn About Christ
Some think it is impossible to understand the Word of God. We believe what is written in Ephesians 5:17, "understand what the will of the Lord is." Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from that understanding (hearing), "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
We Must Believe in Christ
You may have heard of John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Belief (or faith) is necessary to please God (Hebrews 11:6). However, as stated above, belief alone does not save. For "...even the demons believe---and shudder!" (James 2:19).
We Must Repent and Turn to Christ
God does not wish any to perish. That is why God sent his Son to die for us. God hopes all people will repent (2 Peter 3:9). Repenting is a very humbling change or mind, heart, and action. This is changing from what you desire to what God desires and asking him to forgive you of the wrongs you have done against him, (Luke 13:3).
We Must Confess Christ
"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). Confession means affirming your belief in Jesus.
We Must be Baptized into Christ
Let us consider two topics of confusion. The mode of baptism and the purpose of baptism.
The mode: In English, baptism can mean sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. However, in the original language of the Bible (Greek for the New Testament), baptism only means immersion. So immersion is the mode commanded in the New Testament, (Acts 8:38-39; Romans 6:4).
The purpose: First, baptism is "for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:38), and baptism washes your sins away (Acts 22:16). Second, baptism is the action that puts us into Christ (Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27). Remember, salvation is in Christ. In order to be saved, we must be in Christ. Baptism puts us there. Therefore, we are saved after baptism, not before.
We Must Remain Faithful to Remain in Christ
A false teaching out there is: once you are saved, you are always saved. Why does the Bible warn us of Satan and sin? It would be useless to warn us if we were always saved. The truth is: we can fall away from God's grace (Galatians 5:4). Since it is possible to lose salvation, we are encouraged to endure and remain faithful in order to be saved in the end by God (Matthew 10:22; Revelation 2:10).
Let us never forget God's part. Without God's grace, mercy, and love, we cannot be saved. God lovingly sent his Son, Jesus, and continues to do his part in salvation. Salvation is in Christ. In order to get into Christ, we must learn about Christ, believe in Christ, repent and turn to Christ, confess Christ, and be baptized into Christ. Then, we must remain faithful in order to stay in Christ and God's wonderful grace.
Jesus Christ said, “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18). We see the fulfillment of that promise in the first two chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. The church had a great beginning as the apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon and in one day about 3,000 souls "gladly received his word" and were baptized (Acts 2:41). Then we learn that "the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47).
Jesus Christ said, "All authority has been given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). Shortly after, Jesus ascended up into heaven, but He told his apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to remind them of all that He had taught them (John 14:26), and to guide them "into all the truth" (John 16:13). These apostles recognized Jesus as the "head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1:22). Any church that claims to belong to Christ should be the same as the one He built that you can read about in the Bible. Anything else is something other than the Lord's church.
Who belongs to Christ’s church?
From its very beginning we learn that "the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:42). One might wonder how one becomes a saved person who is added to Christ's church. Actually, the Bible tells us, clearly and plainly, what one must do to be saved (see above under "Salvation").
The Church is the People NOT the Building
Paul taught, "God...does NOT live in temples made with hands" (Acts 17:24), and Peter taught the church is made up of "living" stones -- that is, people (1 Peter 2:5).
The Church is NOT a Denomination
The Lord's church is not Catholic, Jewish or Protestant -- it is not a denomination. Denominations are churches established by people, but the Lord's church is from God (Matthew 16:18).
The Church is NOT a Political Organization
The Lord's church has no political agenda. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).
The Church is NOT a Social Institution
When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he said, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).
The church of (belonging to) Christ is not a building, denomination, political organization, or social institution. The church of Christ is a religious group founded by Christ to do Christ's work, mainly the proclaiming of the gospel of Christ.
It is extremely important how to worship God properly. An alarming verse comes to mind. Mark 7:7 says, "in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." There were people who were "worshiping," but God says it was all in vain, worthless. Why? Because they were worshiping according to what they wanted or thought rather than what God wants and commands.
By the example found in the Bible, we meet on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Which first day of the week? Since one is not specified, it implies as often as it occurs. On this day we worship in multiple ways according to the Bible: singing, giving, teaching, eating the Lord’s Supper, and prayer.
There are ten verses in the New Testament that have to do with musically praising God. They are Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:26, Acts 16:25, Romans 15:9, 1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 2:12, Hebrews 13:15, and James 5:13. They all specify singing as the authorized music for our worship. We do use instruments though. The instrument specified is the heart. Therefore, we do not use mechanical instruments but rather our love, our peace, and our joy.
First, we do not solicit from visitors. This is an obligation for the members only. Second, we do not teach tithing. Tithing was in Moses' law for the Israelites. The New Testament never commands tithing. We give from our hearts as each one decides (2 Corinthians 9:7). It is no one's business what amount you give. That is between you and God. The frequency of giving is given in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. Again, no first day of the week is specified, therefore every first day of the week is implied.
Usually a sermon comes to mind when we talk about teaching during church services. Certainly a sermon is meant to teach. Additionally, teaching can be found in the other acts of worship as well such as singing, praying, giving, and the Lord's Supper. An example of teaching in the New Testament is found in Acts 2:42.
The Lord's Supper
We find the authority for eating the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. The purpose is to remind us of the Lord's death. An example in the Bible shows us it was on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Again, no first day of the week is specified, therefore every first day of the week is implied. It is sad that many churches only do this quarterly or twice a year, but this is the same wording for the frequency of giving. Can you imagine those same churches only taking collections quarterly or twice a year? Surely not.
Prayer is one of the greatest privileges God has ever given to us. It is our chance to speak to God, the Creator of the universe. How awesome is that! Those in the New Testament prayed (Acts 2:42), and so do we!