By: Gary L. Hutches
Everything that God created is distinctive. The church is no different; it is distinctive by its design and very nature. In order to live up to its identity, the church must maintain its distinctiveness.
Jesus told Peter, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). There is distinctiveness in that statement. Jesus stated that He would do the building, and it would be His church. A church established by anyone else is not the Lord’s church.
Jesus established His church on the first Pentecost following His death, burial and resurrection almost two thousand years ago. Any church established since that day cannot be the Lord’s church.
The Lord Himself, by God’s distinctive design, is the only head of His church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). Any church that has any other head, including some governing board or body, cannot be the true church that Jesus established.
The church is distinct in what it stands for. It is described as being “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Therefore it must stand on, uphold and teach the truth of God’s word (Jn. 17:17). Truth is narrow; that narrowness distinguishes truth from error. Jesus emphasized the importance of living in the truth (Matt. 7:13-14).
The church must be distinct from every other philosophy in that it stands on the truth of God’s word. Truth stands out from error, exposes error to be error. It matters what the church believes and teaches and practices (Eph. 4:4-6). God’s truth, communicated in His word, offers mankind freedom from the guilt of sin (Jn. 8:32). Only by living according to the truth of God’s word can a person be a true disciple of Christ (Jn. 8:31). Anyone who does not live “in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (2 Jn. 1:9).
The church is distinct in how it worships. Worship is directed toward God and is intended to express adoration, praise and glory to Him. The true church will submit itself to worship God in the ways that He wants to be worshiped, as instructed in Hs word. The scriptures teach that we are to worship through prayer (1 Tim. 2:8), singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) (Instrumental music is nowhere authorized as part of New Testament worship), giving (1 Cor. 16:1-2), partaking of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20-29), and preaching/teaching from God’s word (2 Tim. 4:1-4).
The church cannot allow itself to become just another denomination within the realm of denominationalism. To do so would be to lose its distinctiveness. The church is supposed to stand out as a shining light on the hillside, lighting the way for all the world to see the path to eternal salvation (Matt. 5:14-16). We must maintain, judiciously guard, our distinctiveness as the Lord’s church…
Gary L. Hutchens