More Marks of the Right Church
Must Be Right on Christian Living
In order to be the right church, the church must teach what the Bible teaches on Christian living. The church must attempt to persuade its members to follow the Bible in their everyday living and it must also discipline those who disobey (Tit. 2:11-12; Jas. 1:27; 2 Thess. 3:6-15). The church which teaches what the Bible teaches on Christian living and strives to enforce that teaching is right, because the Bible is right and that's what the Bible teaches. It could be right on this point, yet wrong in its worship or wrong in its teaching concerning the conditions of membership and this would make it the wrong church.
Must Be Right In Name
Christ built the church, is the head of it, the Savior of it and responsible for adding those who obey the gospel to it (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Matt. 16:15; Acts 2:47). So what name should the church wear? Since the Bible is right, what does the Bible say? We see it called the church, the church of God, the churches of God, and the churches of Christ (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 1:2; 11:16; Rom. 16:16). These are not titles given to the church, but simply expressions of ownership. In the broad sense, speaking of all the saved it is called the church. When speaking of it in terms of different local congregations "church" is used in the plural form.
Denominations of men wear differing titles based upon different teachings, different creeds, and different practices. There is no such division in the New Testament church. In fact, division is condemned (1 Cor. 1:10-13). The church that wears a Bible name is right on that point. It may be wrong elsewhere in its doctrine and practices, but it is right on that point.
Must Be Right In Its Organization
The Bible teaches that local congregations are independent bodies. They are to manage their own affairs and to be organized as God instructs in his word. Each local congregation is to have its own elders, deacons, and members (Acts 14:23; 20:28; Phil. 1:1). The church which teaches this plan and strives to be organized in this way is right on this point. In order to be the right church, it must be right on all of these points.
Must Be Right In Its Benevolent and Missionary Work
It is the duty of the church to help poor saints and preach the gospel to the world (Acts 11:27-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Phil. 4:10-18). The church may be right in name, organization, its teaching on Christian living, worship, and conditions of membership, but if it does not make a scriptural effort to help poor saints and preach the gospel to the world - it lacks that much being right.
What the Bible Teaches Is Right
The church which does what the Bible teaches is right, because the Bible is right! The church which leaves off some of the Bible's teaching or adds to what the Bible teaches is wrong. It may be right on some points, but in order to be the right church it must be right on all these points. We must learn to keep our own opinions out of the matter and listen to God.
Study your Bible. Examine what you are doing. Is what you are teaching, supporting, and practicing found in the Bible? If not, then obey the gospel and identify yourself with a congregation which follows the Bible completely. The church of Christ is following the Bible as its one and only guide. If we are failing, then point out our faults, even if its just one point. We want to go to heaven and the only way is to follow the Bible.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 9, p. 263