"I Ordain In All The Churches"

There was no such thing as each church making up the rules for themselves. From the very beginning, they “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42), and when the apostles taught something, it was meant for “all the churches” to teach the same thing and practice the same body of teaching (1 Corinthians 7:17). If it was ordered in Galatia, “even so must you [at Corinth] do” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

There were no denominations with their own creeds, distinguishing names, and organizations. They were all churches belonging to Christ (Romans 16:16), and they were commanded to “speak the same thing” (1 Corinthians 1:10) and “let there be no divisions among you.”  They were not allowed to preach a different doctrine (2 John 9-10) or a different gospel (Galatians 1:6-10) lest God reject them.

The teaching could be planted in a new town, but the result would be the same. The Bible only would make Christians only every time. The Bible only would never make a Roman Catholic. You have to mix in new orders and doctrines of men to get a Roman Catholic Church. This evolution away from the original teaching began with small departures from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1-4) and, over time, would snowball into larger and larger differences from the original churches of Christ. If people wanted to discard all added human inventions, they would relinquish their hold on having popes, cardinals, prayers to Mary, icons, and numerous human doctrines and resort to following the Bible alone. They could return to the original standard of just being a Christian, a follower of Christ.

Later denominations of the Reformation movement also differed in names, doctrines, and practices. They were trying to reform the Roman Catholic Church instead of returning to just being Christians as in the first century. The Bible alone never made the variety of protestant churches. A little bit of the Bible mixed with a new doctrine of men will produce some hybrid denomination, but we are not pleasing God when we defend and support the various hybrid (part Bible and part human-originated doctrines) denominations. Suppose it is possible to plant the pure, unmixed word of God and go back to what the apostles ordained in all the early churches, and it is possible. In that case, it tells us to be determined to be nothing more or less than what those apostolic churches were in teaching and practice.

That is what we must be determined to do. “As I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17) must be the goal and determination. Christians only! Nothing more, nothing less, nothing different than what we read in the Bible.

Three Facts to Remember:

  1. What was taught by the apostles in any one church was taught in all the churches. Departures evolved later.
  2. What was “acceptable to the Lord” (Romans 12:1-3) in one church was acceptable to the Lord in every church.
  3. It was acceptable to the Lord for the disciples to come together on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7). It was acceptable for all the churches to meet on the first day of the week to break bread and to give for the common cause (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

Therefore, it is acceptable for all the churches today to meet for breaking bread (Lord’s Supper) every first day of the week and to give to the needs of the local church and other needs that arise that are in harmony with apostolic example and principle. The first day of the week for all the churches was not an arbitrarily selected day to meet but was designated to all the churches because that was the precedent set by the apostles in all the churches. If we copy that first-century, God-approved precedent, we know this is acceptable to the Lord.

Let us all limit ourselves to what was ordained in all the early churches.