Who We Are
You can be just a Christian! Does this sound strange? With about 500 religious bodies in our country it might appear impossible to be a Christian without being a part of a denomination. It is not only possible, but there are actually millions of “Christians only” in this and other nations.
The churches of Christ
Who are these people who seek to be only Christians? The congregations of which they are a part are usually known as “church of Christ.” This term is not used in a sectarian sense, but is intended to denote their desire to belong to Christ’s church. The Bible says, “All the churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16). However, it is just as correct to describe the church of which we read in the Bible as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2), “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27), or “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). These and similar Biblical phrases are not proper names, but descriptive expressions which show how the church if related to Christ and His Father. Individually Christ’s followers are known as “Christians” in the Bible. “The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). “If a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16). Never does a human name prefix this God given name. Paul was one of the greatest of all Christians, but he did not want disciples to be called “Paulites” or “Paulite Christians” (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).
A Distinctive Plea
Churches of Christ have a distinctive plea. Of course, in many ways we agree with others striving to follow Christ. We believe in the divine inspiration of the entire Bible and that it is sufficient to guide us in all matters of faith; in the death of Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sins; and that after death all men will be rewarded or punished in another life for the way they have lived here. And with all people we should have a real religious conviction. We insist that the moral principles of Jesus are absolute truths to be exemplified in the personal righteousness of the child of God.
The Bible Only
We not only believe that the scriptures are inspired, but also are convicted that the New Testament must be our ONLY guide in religious faith. God’s word frequently warns against changing the divine message. (Galatians 1:6-9). We, therefore, have no creed or catechism to present, but accept Christ as our only creed and the Bible as our only guidebook.
Restoration Rather Than Reformation
It is obvious to people that the religious world is badly divided. Great leaders such as Martin Luther and John Calvin sought to correct erroneous teachings and practices. But the reformers often started at different points and thus arrived at different conclusions. Division rather than unity has resulted. Churches of Christ, on the other hand, plead for the restoration of apostolic Christianity rather than a reformation of existing religious bodies. Since all can agree that the early church was right, we should also be able to agree that we cannot be wrong if we succeed in reproducing that church today in every essential part. While many things have changed in the twentieth century, the teachings of Jesus and His apostles have not. Truth is absolute and unchangeable. God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and can save today as surely as in the first century if applied in the same way. “The truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Should you visit one of the churches of Christ you will find it worshipping God as did the early disciples–“in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). You will observe that it partakes of the Lord’s Supper, or communion, every Sunday. This is because we are following the example of the early Christians who assembled every first day of the week to “break bread” (Acts 20:7). Likewise, in every other way churches of Christ seek to reproduce New Testament Christianity-in organization, in work, and in other areas of teaching.
How To Be Just A Christian
In few places is there so much disagreement as in answering the Bible question, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) Here again churches of Christ reply by going to the scriptures for their answers. The Bible teaches that Christ shed His blood for our sins (Matthew 26:28), and that without it we cannot be saved (Hebrews 9:22). But what does Jesus required of us if we are to appropriate that sacrifice? Those who crucified Him were told to “know assuredly” or believe that Jesus is “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). When these people on the day of Pentecost asked for further information, they were told, “Repent ye, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Today we teach, as did the apostles then, that for Christ’s blood to remove our sins we must as believers in Him repent and be baptized. As we are thus saved from our sins, the Lord adds us to His body, the church. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The saved, then, are in the body or church of Christ; one cannot be saved and be outside the body. The early disciples were Christians only. Although we live 1,900 years later, we too can be Christians only if we will follow the same teachings given to these first followers of Jesus. Christ said, “The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). Just as surely as a planted acorn will produce only an oak, so God’s word will produce Christians and nothing more. We would invite you to join us at any of our services, and see for yourself that the Church of the New Testament is alive and well.?
John T. Griffis, Sr. married Vickie Russell in January 1968. They both graduated from Dixie Hollins High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. John attended Freed-Hardeman University and Florida School of Preaching in Lakeland, Florida. They have three children, John Griffis Jr., Melissa Folks and Aaron McPherson. They have nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren. John began preaching full time in August 1978. He and Vickie came to North Jackson Avenue in Bartow, Florida in August 1988. One of their greatest loves is working with children in Bible camp. They have worked with Weeki Wachee Christian Camp in Weeki Wachee, Florida for over 40 years. They have also worked with Central Florida Bible Camp in Eustis, Florida for 21 years. They have a deep love for children and Bible camp. Vickie works with the Polk County School Board in the Learning Support Division. She also teaches Bible classes at North Jackson Avenue. John is the full time minister and preaches and teaches each week. They count it a true blessing to work with a friendly and active congregation. The congregation at North Jackson Avenue cares for one another and welcomes visitors.
John T. Griffis, Sr.