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Most every preacher in the churches of Christ (especially those 50 years or more old) has a sermon in his repertoire with a title similar to the above. In my sermon of this name, I would describe the proper head, time of beginning, name, terms of admission, worship, organization, etc.

In other words, I would attempt to describe the church “as the Lord would have it” mostly in terms of its activity here on earth. I contrasted it with other churches that were not “as the Lord would have them.”

Somewhere along the line, I began to realize that the most important things about the church are not its visible, external marks. In Ephesians 3:14-15, Paul wrote:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

God’s family derives its name, or its identity, from God Himself. He is the Father; we are His children. We are brothers and sisters because of our individual relationships to Him.

David and I are brothers because Philip and Ruth are our parents. My brotherhood to David flows out of and through the relationship each of us has to Philip and Ruth. It is this way with the children of God. My relationship to you flows out of and through the relationship each of us has with the Father through Jesus in the Spirit.

In other words, our “spiritual DNA” comes from God. This “DNA” gives the children of God (His family, the church) a distinctive family resemblance.

Physically, I am the image of my father, Philip. We are often mistaken as brothers, and sometimes even mistaken for each other. Once we were even asked if we were identical twins – but that was in an eye clinic, so I thing that fellow was there for a reason! I do not have the same resemblance to my brother. He and I do not really look alike at all, though DNA tests would show we are brothers. Our external resemblance (or lack thereof) could fool you. If you looked very closely, you might find it – but you would not likely see it unless you already knew we are related.

My sermon on the traits of the New Testament church focused on the differences between the churches of Christ and other churches. I had nothing to say about what made the church we read about in the Bible different and unique in the first century.

It was distinctively different from everything around it, you know. And that was from its very beginning.

At first, the Romans thought it was just another sect of the Jews. The Jews, however, would not have that at all. That Pharisee of the Pharisees, Saul of Tarsus, did all in his power to destroy the fledgling church before it could gain much momentum, because he knew it was different from Judaism.

Later, after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he came into Thessalonica. There, a riot developed with the rioters declaring in the inimitable language of the King James Version, “Those who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17:6). Even in that pagan city, people realized the gospel Paul preached was different and unique.

In this series of posts, I want to examine the differences between the family of God and the culture in which it began. What made the church different from the world around it in the first century A.D.?

The same things will make it different today, because the culture of the world has not changed in its fundamentals. The world is still operating in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16). These things, John said, do not come from the Father. The identity of the family of God, though, does come from the Father.

What are the uniquely identifying traits of the Family of God?

I anticipate having half a dozen posts over the next couple of weeks examining that question.

– (2) Undying Faith in Jesus


One Response

  1. I’ll go one farther than your opening remarks. The church, and the body of believers, get their name from Jesus. That is The name the Scriptures refer to. His is the name of God. Jesus is God. He is the Father, He is the Holy Spirit (John 10:30, etc). This is the name that should be uttered when one is baptized. (Acts 2:38, et al). This act of baptism is our adoption into His family. It is how we take on His name. It is how we “put on Christ”.

    I read and really appreciate your remarks on Mark 8:22-26 (the blind man being healed in steps). It gave me added insight into that particular account.

    God bless.

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