WHAT IS A CHURCH?
The word “Church” is a translation of the Greek word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia). Greek is the language in which the New Testament was first written. Ἐκκλησίαmeans “a called out assembly,” “a congregation.” It refers to God’s people who are called out of the world into fellowship with Him (I John 1:3; Acts 26:16-18;Colossians 1:13, I Peter 2:9-10). The church is God’s redeemed people (Acts 20:28; Titus 2:14; I Peter 1:18-19). It is a holy nation (I Peter 2:9). Members of the church are citizens of a heavenly kingdom (Colossians 1:13; Philippians 3:20-21). The church is part of God’s eternal purpose in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:8-11). When Jesus said: “I will build my church,” He meant to establish His redeemed people who would be a holy nation, citizens of his heavenly kingdom (Matthew 16:18).
Since Jesus Christ Himself established His church, then no man on earth has a right to establish a church. Jesus said: “But he answered and said, Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up.” (Matthew 15:13). The Psalmist wrote: “Except Jehovah build the house, They labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1).
WHERE CAN ONE FIND SALVATION?
Since no man has a right to establish any church, it follows that only in the church which Jesus established is salvation to be found. Then Jesus promised, “I will build my church,” note that He was promising to build one church, not many. This one church began in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost day after His resurrection. Three thousand people heard the gospel. They believed and were baptized and the Lord added them to His church (Acts 2:36-38, 42, 47). Jesus Christ is the Saviour of His body, which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23).
According to Acts 4:4, the church soon grew to number 5,000 souls. Jesus meant for His church to continue and to overcome all opposition. It was to go to the whole world (Matthew 8:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). But he intended for His church to be one (John 17:20-21). He intended that all believers should be of the same mind and the same judgment (I Corinthians 1:10).
HOW CAN WE KNOW THE CHURCH THE LORD BUILT?
This is an important question for one who wants to be saved. Jesus said: “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32). No man can bring any truth today except that which is revealed in the Bible. The Lord only speaks to us in His Book (John 12:48; Hebrews 1:1-2). The Bible is a complete book. It has everything needed for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16-17). Speaking to the Father, Jesus said: “thy word is truth” (John 17:17). We must measure a church by the Word of God to see if it is the true church of Christ!
Please note the following:
- The church which did not begin in Jerusalem is not the true church (Acts 2:5;Isaiah 2:1-2; Micah 4:1-2).
- The church which has women in authority, or allows them to preach, is not the house of God (I Timothy 2:9-15).
- The church which sprinkles or pours water instead of immersing or dipping in water for baptism cannot be the Lord’s church (Romans 6:3-4; Acts 8:38-39).
- The church which has elders who are unmarried, and who do not have well behaved children who believe, is not the Lord’s church (I Timothy 3:2-5; Titus 1:5-9).
- The church which permits a man to marry more than one wife at a time is not the church of Christ (Matthew 19:4-6; I Corinthians 7:2).
- The church which uses instruments of music (such as drums, guitars, organs, etc.) in its worship cannot be the church of Christ (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 13:15).
- The church which requires its members not to eat certain foods is not the church of God (I Corinthians 8:8; I Timothy 4:1-5).
- The church which calls its preachers “Reverend” or “Father” cannot be the bodyof Christ (Matthew 23:-12).
- The church which baptized babies and little children cannot be the church which the Lord built. Only those old enough to hear, believe, repent, and confess Christ can be baptized (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19 Romans 10:8-10; Acts 2:37-38;8:12, 36-38.
- The church that teaches it has the power to pray so that its members can receive miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit is not the church of Christ. The Bible shows that only the apostles had the power to impart the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This was done by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-21; 19:5-6). Since the apostles are all dead, we know this does not continue today. When the complete New Testament was revealed and confirmed, the need for miraculous gifts ceased (I Corinthians 3:8-13).
The Bible teaches that if one is wrong on one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10). Therefore, any church which is wrong on any of the above points is not the true church of Christ! Do not teach the doctrines and commandments of men, but follow the Bible. Only those who do the will of God will be saved (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46). Obey the truth today and be added by the Lord to His one, true church (II Corinthians 6:2; Acts 22:16).