In the first chapter of the Book of Acts we read about the establishment of the church. The Apostle Peter preached a sermon on the Day of Pentecost and as a result of that sermon three thousand people were baptized and added to the church. The church grew and spread from that day on.
In the 16th century, Martin Luther led a movement that reformed the church. This was the so called Great Reformation. What was Luther trying to reform and why was reformation necessary. The obvious answer is that the church had changed from what it was on the day that it was established on the Day of Pentecost in the 1st century.
Shortly after our nation was founded, around 1800, some Methodist and Presbyterian Preachers came to the conclusion that there were problems with the way Christianity was practiced. There were divisions among Christians, more commonly called denominations, contrary to the explicit intention of the Church's Head and Founder, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus' prayer is recorded for us. Jesus prayed that His disciples would be one as He and the Father were one.
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:20, 21 NIV)
...These 19th century preachers came to believe that: (1) There was only one true church and there should not be any divisions between Christians; (2) There was only one authority on church matters, The Bible; (3) Jesus is the one and only Head of the Church; and (4) Congregations are autonomous. Consequently they attempted to "restore" the original church that was established on the Day of Pentecost in the 1st century.
What is truly fascinating about this restoration movement is that it truly arose organically. Preachers in the South and preachers in the North arrived at these same ideas simultaneously and independently of each other. Their intent was to return to the church as originally instituted on the day of Pentecost in the first century A.D. (I refuse to use the BCE or CE designators crap!) The common element in this occurence was that they all read the same Bible.
Something special was obviously occurring here. It was this movement that gave birth to the modern day church of Christ. It's important to understand that the name "church of Christ" does not denote a denomination, per se, but rather a declaration of the church being the possession of Christ.
Jesus established only one church. The Apostles evangelized the known world and grew the one church. The Apostles taught people one Gospel and urged them to obey that one Gospel. The Apostle Paul warned in his letter to the Galatian church that if anyone, even an angel from heaven, should teach any other Gospel other than the one he, and by implication the other Apostles, taught...let them be accursed.
However, despite the clear teaching of Scripture and despite Jesus' clear intention to the contrary, divisions arose over the ensuing centuries that gave rise to the various denominations. These same divisions exist to this day.
The teaching of Scripture is clear...there is only one true church that was established by Jesus through His Apostles. Please don't take my word for it...check it out for yourself! Let me know if I may be of assistance in your search. If you want to know more, this Sunday please visit the Manchester church of Christ, located a 66 Mammoth Road, Manchester, NH, . I'll see you there! God bless you!