GOD’S PATTERN - AS REVEALED THROUGH PAUL:
Thus, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:37: “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” What Paul did and what Paul taught are to be our pattern and we are to copy, imitate that very pattern.
When it comes to the name of the church - we have the inspired pattern to call ourselves: Church of Christ, Church of God, Body of Christ, House of God, and a handful of other designations.
Relative to the organization of the church - preachers are not “pastors” or “shepherds” and they have no authority in the congregation, except what is inherent in the word they teach and preach. That pattern calls for a body of elders, never just one, that shepherd and guide the church as a shepherd provides for his flock. The deacons are not decision-makers over the whole congregation, according to the NT pattern. They are servants and no higher up on the hierarchy than the preacher or Bible class teachers. They have a special role to play but their authority is only what is given to them by the elders.
According to the NT pattern, women are not to be elders, deacons, public teachers in the presence of Christian men, or lead over men in the church in any other way, which of course, would rule out women being song leaders.
Worship, according to what Paul taught his audiences - is simple and can be practiced very inexpensively and world-wide. It is worship that is concentrated on honoring God and bringing glory to Jesus Christ through intense study and meditation on the word of God, humble prayers and supplications, reminding ourselves on a weekly basis of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, singing with our hearts as expressed through our voices and giving when we assemble on Sundays so that the work of the church can be fulfilled. That’s the NT pattern. Worship is not the time to showcase our talents and skills. Worship is not about us. It is about God.
Relative to baptism… the apostles Paul and Peter are very clear when it comes to the means, mode, and purpose of baptism.
It is, first of all, baptism in water, not in the Holy Spirit, Eph. 4:5 and 5:26-27.
Secondly, since the NT pictures baptism as a burial (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:11-12), then it must be (indeed the very word means) immersion. Sprinkling or pouring do not follow the pattern of sound words.
Third, with baptism being the culmination of a series of steps leading to salvation, then we understand that it is for people old enough to understand the nature of sin and to repent of those sins. Baptism is for the mature, not for infants.
Finally, baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). It is in order to make someone a member of Christ’s church, yes, but it is also necessary in order to be saved from one’s sins (Mark 16:16). It is how we are washed clean (Acts 22:16). Peter writes very simply, “baptism does now save us” (1 Peter 3:21).
In order to be a member of the church which the apostle Paul was a member of and to glorify and honor the Gospel which Paul taught and received from Jesus Christ, then we too must follow this very basic pattern of obeying the Gospel to be saved: Hear. Believe. Repent. Confess. Be immersed. Live faithfully and worship regularly. If we are not following that Gospel pattern, then we are not the church of Christ. We are not following the pattern laid out by Paul. We are not conforming ourselves to the pattern of sound words that Jesus revealed to Paul.
The churches of Christ seek to restore the original pattern revealed in the pages of the New Testament.