By Larry Ray Hafley
(Editor’s Note: The following is the body of a tract of the Washington Avenue Church of Christ. The cover of the tract has the title-question, and the meeting times of the church. It was suggested that we print the body of the tract in case other churches might want to alter the title and change local references, thus making it usable to them.)
Perhaps we should ask “who” we are as well as “what” we are, for the church is people. Acts 8:1 refers to “persecution against the church … at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad.” Likewise, we are “the church” which meets on Washington Avenue in Russellville.
The word “church” means the “called out ones.” The church is comprised and composed of those who have been “called out” of the world by the gospel unto Christ (2 Thess. 2:14). The gospel tells of sin and of its wages of eternal death (Rom. 6:23). It tells of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-4). It urges all to receive forgiveness of sins. When one obeys the gospel, when he heeds its call, he is then “called out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). So, the church is those who have obeyed the gospel, who have been “called out” of sin unto salvation.
In the New Testament, we read of “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16). This is a reference to the various congregations or churches in different localities. “The church of God … at Corinth,” and “the church … at Jerusalem” (1 Cor. 1:2; Acts 8:1) are two congregations; two local churches. We are the church which meets on Washington Avenue in Russellville. We endeavor to work and worship in the same way as did the “churches of Christ” in the New Testament.
What We Are Not
Negatively, we are:
1) Not a Denomination: We are not associated nor affiliated with denominationalism. Denominations such as we have in this area are not mentioned in the Bible. “The churches of Christ” are (Rom. 16:16).
2) Neither Catholic nor Protestant: We are not a Catholic church. We honor and revere no man or human authority such as the Pope (Mt. 28:18). We are not a “Protestant” church in the popular sense. We “protest” against sin, false doctrine, ungodliness and immorality, but we are not allied nor identified with Protestant denominationalism. Catholics and Protestants are not referred to in the Scriptures. Christians are (Acts 11:26).
3) Not a Social Club: The church was purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). The Son of God did not die for a social organization, but for a “spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5). We are not a glorified social center in competition with country clubs and the YMCA. We are the church. We worship God “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24), not in fun, food, frolic.
What We Are
Positively, we are:
1) The Saved: The church is the saved (Eph. 5:23). The church is not the Savior. Jesus is. But the church is the body of Christ. All believe and are baptized are saved (Mk. 16:16), that is, they are “added to the church” by the Lord (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). The church is Samaria consisted of the saved, those who had believed and been baptized after hearing an evangelist “preach Christ” (Acts 8:5, 12; 9:31).
The church which meets on Washington Avenue in Russellville is those who have obeyed the same gospel. Are we not, therefore, members of the same church?
2) Subject To Christ: Jesus is “the head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22, 23). We have no synods or conventions to guide us. We are not a part of any amalgamation or association of churches. We are subject only to the authority of Christ (Jas. 4:12).
In Summary: The church which meets at 309 N. Washington Avenue in Russellville is a group of Christians drawn together by faith in Christ. We are neither Catholic nor Protestant. We are simply men and women who have been saved from sin by grace through faith, that is, in obedience to the gospel (Heb. 5:9).
Our worship is simple because it is based on the New Testament. Prayers are led by men of the church and congregational singing allows each to make melody in his heart unto the Lord (Eph. 5:19). Observance of the Lord’s Supper “upon the first day of the week” shows the Lord’s death until He comes again (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:26). No solicitation for money is made. We engage in no church socials or recreational affairs to entertain nor to raise funds. Christians contribute only upon the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2).
We are an independent congregation with no earthly headquarters of any kind. Christ is the head of the church, and He rules and directs the church through His word (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Our allegiance to the Lordship of Christ moves us to endeavor to reproduce faithfully the church described in the New Testament. We do not follow any human creed. The Bible is our only guide (1 Cor. 4:6; 1 Pet. 4:11).
Now that you know who we are and what we are, please worship and study the Bible with us. A warm, sincere welcome awaits you. Feel free to call upon us if you have further questions about us or about what the Bible teaches.
Truth Magazine, XX:4; p. 10-11
January 22, 1976