The New Testament church is
distinctly different than the church found in our world today. A close
examination reveals the churches created by men do not fit the pattern as
revealed in the New Testament. If we are seeking to find the true pattern of
the church as it was in the first century, we must look within the pages of
God's word for that pattern. The following observations are made in regard
to the many differences in the church as found in God's word and churches
practicing today who claim to be following the word of God.
The church as found in the New
Testament is called the church of the Lord (Acts
20:28), the churches of Christ (Romans
16:16), the church of
God (1 Corinthians 1:2)
to name a few. Individuals of the church were simply called ``Christians''
(Acts 11:26 and 1 Peter
4:16). They wore no
The churches of men can be
found as the Church of Christ, Scientist (according to a decision made at a meeting on
April 19, 1879.) Individuals are called
The Lutheran Church (L.C.A.) is
named in honor of its founder, Martin Luther. Individuals are called
Lutherans. Individuals of the Holy Roman Catholic Church are called
Catholics. The Baptist Church members are called Baptist. In the
Church individuals are called Methodist (United
Methodist Church). Individuals
within the Presbyterian Church are called Presbyterians for their form of
The organization of the church
as found in the New Testament is no evidence of denominational organization
or hierarchy. Each local church was independent and autonomous, with a
plurality of qualified, married men appointed to serve as bishops, elders or
pastors (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-3).
The organization of the
Christian Scientist is a worldwide headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, under a
President, Board of Directors and so forth (Church Manual, 1980, p. 25). The
Lutheran Church has a President (4 year term) who presides over biennial convention and
The members of the Holy Roman
Catholic Church are subject to the Pope, ``Vicar of Christ on Earth, and the
Visible Head of the Church.'' All Church officials, including Bishops, are
forbidden to marry. The Baptist churches belong to a loose confederation in
the Southern Baptist Convention. Local congregations are under one pastor
and board of Deacons.
The organization of the
Methodist Church is governed by a General Conference, with bishops overseeing small
jurisdictions. The Bishops need not be married. Within the Presbyterian
Church the organization is governed by a General Synod or Assembly.
Lordís Supper or Communion
The church of the New Testament
observed the Lord's Supper weekly upon the first day of the week, with all
partaking of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine (Acts 20:7; 1
Corinthians 11:2-29; Mark 14:22-25).
According to the Church of
Christ, Scientist (Christian Scientist), ``The Mother Church of Christ,
Scientist, shall observe no more Communion seasons.'' In the Lutheran
Church the frequency of observance varies from church to church monthly,
weekly, etc. It may be observed on days other than Sunday.
The Catholic Church offers the
Lord's Supper, Eucharist in the Mass daily. The common people are denied the
fruit of the vine as it is reserved for the clergy. The Baptist
Church commonly observes once a month and not always on the first day of the
In the Methodist
Church the Supper is commonly observed once a quarter. I have had a personal
conversation with a Methodist who was present at a communion service where
potato chips and Coke were used. The Presbyterian Church states that the
Supper is not necessary to observe weekly.
In the New Testament it is
clearly shown in the public meetings and assemblies, God has specified that
men are to take this responsibility and not the woman (1 Corinthians
14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12).
Within the Christian Scientist,
``The readers for the Mother Church shall be a man or a woman'' (the Readers conduct services). The
Church does ordain women to its ministry.
In the Catholic Church, these
would be ``priests.'' They are limited to men and are addressed as
``Father.'' (Note what Jesus said in Matthew 23:9).
Church generally allows men but more and more women are now being ordained to
the Baptist ministry. This is also true of the
Church and Presbyterian Church. It is even being found that Homosexuals are
ordained to be ministers in some denominations.
God has authorized his people
to sing praise. There is no authority for addition of any other kind of
music, such as mechanical instruments (Ephesians
5:19; Colossians 3:16). The Christian Scientist state, ``The services should be preceded and
followed by organ or piano music.'' Within the
Church, the Baptist
Church, the Methodist
Church and the Presbyterian church, instrumental music is used. The Catholic
Church admits that instruments are borrowed from pagan cults ``to add
greater beauty...to the rites of religion.'' (Catholic Encyclopedia, XV,
The New Testament teaches that
baptism is by immersion (Romans 6:3-5; Acts
8:38; Colossians 2:12).
Baptism is unto remission of sins (Mark
16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21) and is for believers, not infants (Mark
16:16; Acts 2:38).
The New Testament teaches that baptism is essential for salvation (Mark
Baptism is not practiced by the
Christian Scientist. The Lutheran
Church baptizes by sprinkling or affusion (pouring). Infants are baptized in
The Catholic Church says, ``I
would give baptism by pouring ordinary water on the forehead...'' (Baltimore
Catechism No 3, p. 196). Infants are baptized as well as the dead.
Church practices baptism by immersion and denies its relationship to remission
of sins. ``Baptism is not essential to salvation'' (Standard Manual for
Baptist Churches, Hiscox. page 8).
Church states that baptism is by ``choice of sprinkling, pouring or immersion''
(Methodist Discipline). Infants are baptized. The Presbyterian Church says
that baptism is ``Dipping...into water is not necessary'' (Westminster
Confession of Faith). Infants are also baptized.
The only guide used by the
church of the New Testament is the Bible--the word of God (2 Timothy
3:16,17; Revelation 22:18,19;
Proverbs 30:5,6; Deuteronomy 4:2).
Christian Scientist say,
``Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.'' The Lutheran
Church abides by Luther's Catechism. The Catholic Church follows various
Catechisms. The Baptist
Church follows the New Hampshire (or
Philadelphia) Confession of Faith. Methodist follow the Methodist Discipline
as the Presbyterian Church follows the Westminster Confession of Faith.
The church of the Lord was
founded by Jesus Christ (Matthew
The Church of Christ, Scientist
was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. The Lutheran
Church was founded by Martin Luther in c.1530. The Holy Roman Catholic Church
was an outgrowth of the gradual apostasy from the early first century
church. John Smythe founded the Baptist
Church in 1609. John Wesley founded the
Church in 1739, and John Calvin founded the Presbyterian Church in 1536.
When you try to identify the
New Testament church, does it really make a difference?