What is the one true church?
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“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” (not three, as a lot of people are depending on, and that’s not what the Book says now as you can see. We’ve moved on into another administration or dispensation) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
“Which in other ages (generations) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ (how?) by the gospel”.
Not by works, or baptism, or some other phenomena. Just by the Gospel. That’s the only way. The Gospel, how that Christ died, was buried and rose again as we find in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 10:9-10. Now let’s come across to Chapter 4, still in Ephesians. Now this is an interesting series of verses.
“There is one body, …” There it is again. You don’t see that in Peter’s preaching. You don’t see that in Christ’s earthly ministry. But all through Paul’s writing you find this term, “the Body”. Let’s read on.
“… and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, (absolutely, there’s only one Name given among men whereby we must be saved) one faith, one baptism,”
I always smile when people say, “Well, I’m of the Catholic faith,” “I’m of the Methodist faith,” “I’m of the Baptist faith,” “I’m of this faith.” What do they do with a verse like this? There aren’t all that many faiths. There’s one faith and only one. That’s what The Book says.
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“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23. Which is the body…”
Most people think that last verse should read, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the King over all things to the church.” But you see that’s not what it says. But rather “God hath set Him to be head of all things to the Church, which is His Body.” Now if we are the Body, are we decapitated without a head? No! Now let’s come back to I Corinthians chapter 12, and look at that. In these verses we’re going to look at, he gets down to such simplicity that it’s almost ridiculous, but Paul is trying to drive the point home. What is the Body of Christ? Well it’s just like this human body, it’s composed of billions of cells. And every cell whether it be a fingernail, or an eyeball, or an ear drum has a different make up and each is important. So you see Paul is using the analogy of a human body as an example of the Body which is His Church. Now let’s look at it.
I Corinthians 12:12
“For as the body (the human body) is one, and hath many members, (hands, feet, eyes, etc.) and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: (before we go any further, what controls the body? The head!) so also is Christ”.
Paul is making that same analogy. You and I as believers are members of a Body of which Christ is the head. And we’re just as connected in this Body of Christ, as our head is to our own human body. Looking at some more of the analogy in verse 15.
I Corinthians 12:15
“If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body: is it therefore not of the body?” Then let’s see what Paul says in verse 18.
I Corinthians 12:18
“But now hath God set the members (that is you and I as believers) every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”
Now in our mother’s womb, and I’ve used this analogy often. One of the miracles of reproduction is that as the mother prepares that little baby in the womb you don’t have fingernail cells going any place but to the fingers. And all these separate cells go exactly to the right place. And at the end of that 9 months whenever the baby is complete, then you have birth. That’s miracles of miracles. Well God is doing the same thing in a Spiritual realm. He is building the Body of Christ of believers from every walk of life from around the planet. The Chinese, or Jew, or any other nationality when they become believers are just as much a part of the Body of Christ as we are. And we’re all connected to that one source, which is Christ the head. Now come on down to verse 27.
I Corinthians 12:27
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
God never loses sight of our individualism. God hasn’t lost us in the crowd, we’re not just a number in God’s mind, He knows us as an individual. Now that’s the Body of Christ. Now come back again to the Book of Ephesians chapter 1.
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23. Which is the body, the fulness…”
Now if you have a marginal Bible, the other word for fullness is complement. As members of the Body of Christ we have become a complement. Now the best way to explain that is to go all the way back to Genesis where everything begins. We’ll start in chapter 2.
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
Now you take the Hebrew root, and what do you suppose that word help meet is in our English? Complement. Or a better definition for it would be, “Someone called along side to help.” Do you see that? That’s the whole idea of a husband and wife relationship even to this day. The wife is that complement to the man that really completes him and brings the help that he needs, and that’s what Eve was to Adam. This was all set in type of course looking forward to the greatest union that could ever take place which was the marriage between Christ and the Church. Now for a moment let’s go back to the Book of Romans chapter 7. My how these verses just drop into place. Remember Paul is writing to believers.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; (His physical body that was crucified) that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead,(not just to escape hell fire, but also) that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
We’re to be worth something to God, we’re not to be deadwood. We’re to be working, and bring forth fruit for His honor and His glory. Now coming back to Ephesians chapter 1.
“…and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23. Which is his body,…”
And that’s a concept that few believers, I think, have any idea that we’re members of a living organism. Now you know as well as I do that as long as we’re living our body is a composite of living things. Our cells are alive, our enzymes are alive, and as soon as they die, we dead. All right it’s the same way with the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is not an organization like the country club. I know that’s what most Churches are getting to be like I’m afraid, but that is not the true scriptural definition of a local Church. We are to be a living organism, with life. Not physical life, but rather spiritual life. And that life is enhanced by fellowship, by the Word, by prayer, and all because we’re connected to the head who is in heaven. God knows we’re waiting for the day when there won’t be that huge space between the head and the Body. Why? Because one day we’re going to be brought into union with Him, and we’re going to revel throughout all eternity in His presence, and that’s something to glory in.
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“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.”
Now always remember that the word “Church” does not mean that building on the corner. As I was thinking about these things last evening, I remember when Iris and I were first married. She was from Oklahoma and I was from up in Iowa, and her expression always was, “The Church house.” “We’re going to go to the Church house.” Yeah, I see you nodding your head. Well up North in Iowa, and for most people today, that’s almost an unknown term. Oh I used to ride herd on her for saying that, and would ask, where do you get that? Well she would say, “that’s what it is!” But I had never heard of such a thing, we just called it the Church. But you know what? She was right, it is the Church house, that building is not the Church.
That building is just brick and stone. The Church is made up of the true believers who meet in that Church house. So I was completely wrong on that one, but according to our culture this is the way we’ve come to look at it. The Church is made up of the believing element, “the Body of Christ.” and that’s the way Paul always uses the word Church. The word in the Greek is “Ecclesia” and you can spell it with k’s or c’s, it doesn’t make any difference, and is always translated with one or two exceptions, as Church, but it should be defined as “A called out assembly.”
So the called out assembly is the Body of Christ when Paul uses it, but it’s not that way in other passages. For example in Acts chapter 7 we find Stephen speaks of the Church which was in the wilderness. Well now it wasn’t a building with a steeple, you all know that. Neither was it a Church that practiced the Lord’s Supper, and had pastors, bishops, and deacons. But rather it was the children of Israel, recently come out of Egypt. So why in the world does the New Testament call them a Church? Well they were a called out assembly of people recently in Egypt and now around Mount Sinai, but for goodness sake they weren’t a Church as we think of the word Church. So when you see the word Church, this is why Paul almost always identifies it as “The Church which is His Body,” which makes a big difference from the word Church that’s maybe used elsewhere in Scripture.
“…even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24. Therefore as the church…”
This composite of believers around the whole world that makes up the True Body of Christ, whether we’re Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics – that’s moot. If we’re born again and children of God, we are automatically in that Body of Christ, and that Body of Christ will be meeting in Church buildings. But always remember that not all people meeting in those Church buildings are in the Body of Christ. That depends of course how much of the “Truth” is promoted. If the people in that particular building believe for their salvation that Jesus Christ died for their sins, was buried and rose again, + Nothing, then these people are what are called “true believers, and are part of the Body of Christ!”
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“The woman saith unto him, `Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.’ Jesus saith unto her, `Go, call thy husband, and come hither.’ The woman answered and said, `I have no husband.’ Jesus said unto her, `Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?) in that saidst thou truly.’ The woman saith unto him, `Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.'”
We’ve got to go back into Israel’s history, when the Kingdom was divided under Rehoboam and Jeroboam. The Temple was in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and it carried on as usual. So what did the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom set up? A secondary temple worship. They had their own counterfeit as it were. The presence of God wasn’t in it. It was another man-made religion. They didn’t realize that God was dealing with Israel at the Temple in Jerusalem. Now I need to make another point as we go along. All through Israel’s religious history, Jerusalem is the headquarters of God’s operation. For the New Testament Church there is no earthly headquarters. That’s the vast difference. The Church today is headquartered not on earth, but in Heaven! And even though Antioch was more or less the fountainhead of where the Gospel went out to Gentiles, yet the Scriptures never place Antioch as the headquarters of the New Testament Church. Nor is Jerusalem. There is no headquarters of the New Testament Church.