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Updated: May 1, 2023

Is it possible to depart from the faith? Can one be led astray? The New Testament sets forth the fact that the church of Christ was established on the first Pentecost after His resurrection from the dead. The Bible also gives a description of the church. The church was built by Christ (Matthew 16:18) and was purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28).

The church was established in Jerusalem in fulfillment of prophecy. “And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:2-3)

There were certain divinely appointed names by which the church and its members were known: “All the churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16); “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:1-2) Other names by which the church is known are “church of the first born” (Hebrews 12:23); “the church” (Acts 11:26); and Christians (Acts 11:26).

The New Testament church was governed by the authority of Christ. (Ephesians 1:22-23) “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” There was a specific form of government for the New Testament church. Each congregation had its own elders, who had the oversight of the church. (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3) Each congregation was autonomous or self-governing.

Another characteristic of the New Testament church was its worship. They worshiped God by singing (Ephesians 5:18-19); praying (1 Corinthians 14:15); eating the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7); giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-2); and teaching God’s Word (Acts 2:42).

For some years the church remained true to Christ, but the scriptures foretold of a great falling away. Over a period of several hundred years there were major departures from the faith. Jesus even gave a warning to His disciples about false teachers. “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).

We’ve previously said that at no time is the church more than one generation away from apostasy. In Hebrews 2:1 we read, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” We must constantly give heed to the truth as it is revealed in God’s Word or departure from the truth is the result. Stay on the faithful path!

May the Lord bless you and keep you!


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