Archive for May, 2019

Unity

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Conditions as they are found now are confusing to people. To what conditions am I referring?The state of Christendom, as it is commonly called. Here’s what I mean. Look around and you will find, under one Christ, and one Bible (mentioning but one church); factions, parties, sects, denominations galore! As though you can go through a buffet line and simply choose which brand of discipleship you prefer. It has become THE church v. A church. And we ask each other, “which church are you in?”

Godly, thoughtful people must consider this issue as all others, by the standard of God’s word; accepting or rejecting according as it corresponds therewith.

With all this in mind, the question before us is this. Is there, in fact, only one church mentioned in scripture; does it exist today; how can you know?

The apostle Paul spoke of the singularity of the church. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:23-27). And again, in Col. 1:18 Paul declares, “And he is the head of the body, the church;…”.

Our Lord promised to build His church in Matt. 16:18. If you had been there when He said this unto you—how would you have understood? What did He mean? It wasn’t what we see about us today; buildings with steeples, etc., or many religious groups, denominations, traveling concerts & fundraising lollapaloozas! The Greek word is clear; Jesus was speaking of an assembly of people who would obey His gospel.

Here is a good way to understand. View the church by seeing the Lord and His Apostles preaching the proclamation of the creation of a special gathering together of all who truly love God and seek to serve Him and acknowledge their submission to Christ as Savior and King. During the lifetime of the Apostles and for a few centuries after, there was in fact, an institution known as the church of Christ. He was the head of it, the Holy Spirit was the life of it, and God’s love was the governing power it possessed.

N. B. Hardeman expressed these sentiments. “Is the church a reality today? Does it exist only in the mind, or is it reality? As real as U.S.A.? The republic of France? Does it have a within and without? Can one be conscious of the transition and have definite knowledge that he has passed from the outside, into it? If it does exist today, we must find it! Not something close, but not quite the same. Not a church, but the church. This is important because God created us. He revealed the church to us, His method of salvation and His method of worship.”

How can we know it exists today? Using the identifying characteristics found in the New Testament we can test the message proclaimed—Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). We can learn how one enters—obedience to the gospel (cf. 2 Thess 1:7-9; Rom. 10:16). Its practice: in the lives of its members and their worship. Its divinely appointed work—to convict & save sinners. And its creed—Christ, and His New Testament as their only rule of faith and practice.

There is no authority in Scripture to join any church. No joining process! One is born into the church (family of God) through the new birth, consisting of both water and the Spirit (John 3).
Being led by the Spirit’s direction in the word (vocal or read) one is immersed in water for the remission of sins. As done, Christ adds you to His church (Acts 2:38,47; 18:8).

Are you a Christian? If so, which Christ do you follow? …Huh? Only one Christ mentioned in N.T.! Just so! Likewise, to which church do you belong? Just one mentioned!

Sources:
Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons; Vol. 2; The church—its identity; Freed Hardeman University