Below is a checklist that I developed based upon New Testament
Scripture in respect to the church. Certainly this brief
list cannot be exhaustive, but is helpful in identifying
the New Testament church as opposed to the denominations
Remember, God has warned of false religions. And, we have
some of these false religions with us today. The Bible says:
- "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy
and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according
to the basic principles of the world, and not according
to Christ" (Col. 2:8).
- "Let no one defraud you of your reward, taking
delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding
into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed
up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head,
from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by
joints and ligaments, grows with the increase which is
from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the
basic principles of the world, why, as though living in
the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations -
'Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all
concern things which perish with the using - according
to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things
indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion,
false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no
value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Col.
New Testament Church Checklist:
Compare the church you attend, or any church, to the
following checklist. And, compare this checklist to the
Bible. Answer yes or no to each of the following questions.
Any church that does not have the components listed below
is not a New Testament church founded upon Christ, but it
is a man-made organization founded upon men.
Is Christ the Head of the church? "For
the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head
of the church" (Eph. 5:23). If Christ is head of the
church, the church must be structured as He has ordained.
In order for the church to be structured by Christ, it must
be structured according to the doctrine of Christ (2 John
9). Everything done by the church must be authorized
by Christ, wherefore; authority for every doctrine and practice
in the church must be found in the Bible. And, everything
that is found in the Scriptures relative to the church must
be accomplished by the church.
Does the church bear a Scriptural name? Some
of the names in the Bible for a New Testament church, are:
church of the Firstborn (Heb. 12:23), church of
God (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2; 10:32; 1 Tim. 3:5), the
church (1 Th. 1:1; Eph. 5:23), church of Christ
(Rom. 16:16), house of God (1 Tim. 3:15). A church
with a name that's not authorized by Christ, is a church
founded upon the doctrines of men, not the doctrine of Christ.
Is the church organized according to scripture?
God teaches in the Bible, that churches are to be locally
organized with elders (also called Bishops), deacons, evangelists,
teachers, and members (saints); and that each church is
autonomous (Eph. 4:11; Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:1-13;
Heb. 5:12). Churches that have appointed qualified men to
be elders and deacons, must be ruled with a plurality (more
than one) of elders. The men who are appointed must meet
qualifications as outlined in the New Testament. A church
that is organized with any other administrative offices
is not a church organized according to the doctrine of Christ,
but it is organized according to the doctrines of men. By
definition, a denomination is "a religious organization
uniting in a single legal and administrative body a number
of local congregations" (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary);
therefore, a denomination is not organized according to
the doctrine of Christ.
Does the church Scripturally worship God?
The Bible teaches New Testament worship to contain: prayer
(Acts 2:42; 4:24); singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual
songs - instrumental accompaniment is excluded by silence
of the Scriptures (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16); observing the
Lord's Supper every first day of the week (Acts 2:42; 20:7);
laying by in store (collection) as prospered every first
day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-2); teaching and preaching
(Acts 2:42; 20:7- 12). A church that "takes from"
or "adds to" the worship of Christ's church is
not worshiping according to the divine plan of Christ. We
are not worshiping God unless our worship is according to
the doctrine of Christ, and thus in spirit and truth (Jn.
Is the church benevolent according to Scriptural
design? The church may disburse monetary benevolence
from the treasury to the elders of another church (Acts
11:30). Benevolence may be disbursed from the church treasury
to an individual Christian, but benevolence disbursed on
the grounds of widowhood must meet the criteria ordained
by the apostle Paul (1 Tim. 5:3-16). Benevolence to those
outside the church is commanded to be made on a personal
basis. The church cannot take funds from the treasury to
aid the general public (Gal. 6:6-10; James 1:27). Funds
in the treasury have been collected "for the saints"
(1 Cor. 16:1-2) and are to be used in "ministering
to the saints" (2 Cor. 9:1).
Is the method of financially supporting evangelists
and missionaries Scriptural? Missionaries, such
as Paul, received financial support direct from individuals
and churches. They did not receive financial support from
a missionary society or sponsoring church that collected
financial funds from a group of churches (Phil. 4:10-20),
thus abrogating local church authority and responsibility.
Do church members socially fellowship according to
the doctrine of Christ? Some groups build and financially
support social halls and activities from the church treasury.
In the Bible, the church treasury was never used to support
social activities. But, social fellowship was a personal
responsibility discharged "from house to house"
(Acts 2:46). The church cannot make the worship of the church
a social activity, thus profaning worship to God (1 Cor.
11:17-22). Wholesome social fellowship is good in the sight
of God, but we cannot rob God to pay for our social facilities
Does the church exclude human creeds, catechisms,
church manuals, professions of faith? Likewise, does the
church exclude all other gospels of men? "...
you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make
you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ
Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and
is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may
be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work"
(2 Tim. 3:15-17). "But even if we, or an angel from
heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have
preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). If
a church uses any man-made commands or traditions, thereby
"adding to" or "taking from" the doctrine
of Christ, then it is not a church according to the doctrine
of Christ. It is an organization according to the doctrines
and gospels of men. The doctrine of Christ requires that
only the Scriptures be used in organizing the church.
Does the church teach salvation as revealed in the
Bible (that baptism is for the remission of sins and to
wash away sins)? "Peter then said to them,
'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name
of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:38).
And the Lord commanded Paul, "And now why are you waiting?
Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling
on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Regarding baptism,
many denominational doctrines differ from the Bible. Some
teach that baptism is not essential and others teach that,
while it should be observed, it is not for the remission
of sins or to wash away sins. You must decide whether to
believe denominational doctrines or the doctrine of Christ.