Who are we?
We are disciples of Jesus Christ who regularly meet together as His Body so we can carry out His Will to "consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Regular attendance to worship God and to have fellowship with one another was also the habit of the Lord’s church from the beginning: "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." We have enjoyed meeting as a congregation at 3536 Prince Road in Alton, IL, since 1982.
The Name of the Church
"The churches of Christ salute you". Our congregation is called the "Church of Christ" because the name is found in the New Testament and is in harmony with the teachings therein. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." If Jesus calls it "my church", then it is only fitting that His Name would remain upon His purchased possession. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." Just as the bride takes on the name of her bridegroom in marriage, we are likewise honored to wear the Name of the One Who died for us, Who is our Head and our Savior, and in Whose Name we were baptized. Christ is not divided, and we do not want to wear an unbiblical name for our congregation which would contribute to an already divided and confused religious world. "Prince Road" is merely the location of the meeting house where we assemble, and serves to differentiate our congregation from other churches of Christ that meet in various locations throughout the world.
The Name of our Members
"And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." We are also happy as the followers of Christ to simply be known as "Christians", as the first century disciples began to be called after Jews and Gentiles had been brought together in One Body in Christ. "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter." Though suffering often comes with wearing the name (as Jesus also suffered while He was here), we are not ashamed to be identified with this blessed name, and we are glad when all who name the Name of the Lord are content to do likewise.
What Do We Believe?
First of all, our congregation has no written creed but the Holy Scriptures to serve as our sole rule for faith and practice. We have seen that written creeds are not very useful and often fuel needless division, for if a creed contains less than the Bible, it contains too little; if it contains more than the Bible, it contains too much; and if the creed contains only the Bible, then why is it needed since we already have the Bible? "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." The Bible contains the inspired Word of God, and we believe that this eternal Word is powerful enough to make each of us complete in Christ. "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Jesus has provided a book for His people which supplies us with "all things that pertain unto life and godliness", and if we apply ourselves to understand what has been written therein, we will know what God wants us all to believe in order to be saved.
We believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that our salvation from sin and condemnation is based upon faith in what His death, burial, and resurrection has done for mankind. This Gospel, or "Good News", is recorded for us in the Bible by four witnesses, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, and the central facts of the Gospel are described by the Apostle Paul, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed." The Gospel is precious to us, and it forms the foundation of our salvation and our hope for eternal life with Christ in Heaven. "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Sin is the universal problem of man; Christ’s sinless offering of Himself on the cross is the divine remedy which we could never provide for ourselves.
While our salvation requires faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a true saving faith will bring about an appropriate response and be demonstrated in our obedience to the Good News of Jesus. "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." The "form of doctrine" they obeyed is in harmony with the Gospel as a sinner follows the "form" of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ when herepents and is baptized. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." Again, Paul says in Colossians 2:12 that we are "buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." When we obey the Lord by submitting to baptism in water, we are given the "gift of the Holy Spirit" as the earnest of our inheritance.
Once we become Christians, the Bible teaches that we are "added to the Church", which is the "Body of Christ." The visible representation of the Church on earth is in local congregations who meet together on the First Day of the week to show forth the Lord’s Death until He comes again by partaking of the Lord’s Supper, Reading the Word of God, Praying, Teaching, Singing, and taking up the Collection on the First Day of the week are also important elements of our assembly and precious to us. We are taught by the Lord to worship in spirit and in truth, so we try to avoid pomp or carnal allurements in our services, focusing instead on sincerity and the edification of the Lord’s Body.
Government of the Church
Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone in the solid foundation of His Church and He is our only Head as He sits at the Right Hand of the Throne of God. He has graciously given gifts to His Bride, the Church, in the form of offices listed in Ephesians 4:11. Apostles and Prophets are in the foundation of the Church with Jesus, having finished the laying of the foundation in the First Century. Since their departure, we now have Evangelists and Elders to guide the Church in her work. The work of the Evangelist is described in the New Testament, and so is the work of the Elders. We read about Elders, the Presbytery, Pastors, Shepherds, Bishops, and Overseers in the Church, and we find that they all refer to the same office in the church. Evangelists preach the gospel and work with congregations in order to develop them to maturity where they can have their own government in the form of Elders. Evangelists can also help with problems in congregations. Elders are appointed by Evangelists, and Evangelists are appointed by Elders, so there is a kind of check and balance provided in the Church so that no one is given too much power in the Church. Deacons are also described in the New Testament, and they are appointed to take care of physical matters of the church so that the teaching of the Word of God is not neglected by the Elders and Evangelists. We are blessed in our congregation to have two Elders who watch out for our souls and five deacons who serve the temporal needs of the congregation.
As Christians, we understand that our worship in the church is only a small portion of our time here on earth. Most of our time will be spent outside of the assembly, and during this time we must always conduct ourselves as the children of God. Paul tells us in Romans 12:1,2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Here is a description of the daily life of a Christian: It is a ‘living sacrifice’ to our Creator, showing our thanks to Him by serving Him and doing whatever pleases Him each day. Providing for our families, helping our neighbors and our community, and being a blessing to all we meet – these are our goals as we seek to please God. While we struggle to overcome imperfections, we make it our goal to give ourselves to the Lord as a living sacrifice because of His great mercies to all of us.
We believe the teachings of Jesus Christ concerning Heaven and Hell. We believe He came to save us from Hell and to prepare us a place with Him in Heaven. We do not look for a reward on this earth, but in the beautiful eternal home described for us in the New Testament. We invite all who are tired of this sinful world to find rest in Jesus Christ and to enjoy the place He is preparing for the Faithful in Heaven!