In 1 Peter 4:11, the apostle said, “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God.” It is imperative that we have biblical authority for every practice and doctrine that we embrace. To fail to do so is to invite the anathema of God (Galatians 1:6-9).
Terminology is sometimes used by brethren for which there is no biblical basis in the way in which it is used. The word or phrase may be found in the Bible, but the way in which it is used is based on denominational jargon and not on biblical authority. Sometimes our speech is merely an accommodation to the speech of others who are biblically illiterate or ignorant. Too frequently, however, it is the result of our own ignorance.
For example, the word pastor is often used by brethren in the same way it is used among denominations; namely, in reference to the preacher. The word is a biblical one. Paul spoke of “pastors” being placed in the church by God to equip brethren for spiritual service and to build up the church (Ephesians 4:11-12). However, the reference is not to preachers, but to elders, as the context clearly shows. The word “pastor” refers to the shepherding function of the eldership. In his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders, Paul urged them to “shepherd the church of God” (Acts 20:17, 28). Peter, who was an elder as well as an apostle, instructed his fellow elders to “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight” (1 Peter 5:1-2).
In order to call Bible things by Bible names, let’s be careful that we use biblical terminology in a biblical manner.
Another common mistake is made in describing ourselves to our neighbors and friends in this fashion, “I’m church of Christ.” The phrase “church of Christ” is a biblical one (Romans 16:16) and properly points to the one to whom the church belongs (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:23). However, the above phrase is used in an unbiblical manner. It is used as if the Lord’s church is a denomination to be distinguished from other denominations. The Lord’s church has never been a denomination and never will be. It is biblically accurate to refer to oneself as a Christian and not leave the impression that one is a member of a “church of Christ” denomination.
I have frequently been asked by Christians as well as non-Christians, “What is the church of Christ doctrine on this matter?” Contrary to what is common among man-made religions, the church does not formulate doctrine. God does, through the Scriptures. They are the living oracles of God (Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12) by which man shall be judged at the last day (John 12:48). Man should ask, “What does the Scripture say” (Romans 4:3) rather than, “What does man say?”