Know Your Bible
HOW MANY CHURCHES DID CHRIST BUILD?
"How man churches did Christ build?" is a question in some circles with as many answers as man has been able to devise. Man is not always the best source of information. Man may be called upon to testify to most anything. However, there is one witness on whom we may rely: God, His Word. Just how many churches does God's Word say He built?
Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church." (Matt. 16:18). The Jews, when speaking of the same thing, referred to it as a sect. "For as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against." (Acts 28:22). A sect is a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith, sometimes a party regarded as deviating from the general religious traditions. His church is a body of people banded together by a common belief: the divinity of Jesus, that He is the Son of God. The great body of Jews rejected the divinity of Jesus, thus referred to His church, His body of disciples, as a sect.
"So we being many, are one body in Christ." (Rom. 12:4,5). And "he is the head of the body, the church." (Col. 1:18). These statements were made to those who believe in the divinity of Jesus.
These believers were referred to as a building (1 Cor. 3:9), the reason being "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 3:10,11).
Paul said again, "For I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2). As long as this is preached, men believe it, and are obedient unto His commands, they are built on that foundation, or constitute the building. The house of God is the church. (1 Tim. 3:15).
When nothing else is preached there can be but one body, as the apostle says in Eph. 4:4. We have noticed that the body is the church, and Christ is its head. For there to be more than one body there must be something else preached, believed, and obeyed. As long as Christ is preached, men believe it, and obey His law of induction into that body, they are one body and it would be impossible to be more.
Belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ gives us hope in the promises which He made. We have only one hope. That hope is anchored in that which is within the veil, into heaven itself. We have only one hope, a hope of life after awhile. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling." There can be no more bodies than hopes.
True, there are many churches in the world today. There are many different seeds being planted. Each seed brings forth after its kind. Christ gave only one seed, the Word of God. When something other than the church of Christ is produced some seed other than the Word of God has been planted. Jesus said, "I will build my church," not churches. All of His followers are in one body.
There is but one house, one body, or one church which was built by Jesus. He only promised to build one. "Upon this rock I will build my church." It's His body, His bride. As the church is subject unto Christ, so must the wife be to her husband. Christ is not a bigamist. He has only one bride. John the Baptist said in Jn. 3:29, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled."
Friends, do not be deceived, the Lord built only one church.
IDENTIFYING THE LORD'S CHURCH
There is much religious confusion in the world today. Each church claims to be the one true church, and yet, has conflicting doctrines, practices, and origins with one another. How can one know which church is the "church of Christ?" The answer to this question is found in the Scriptures. In order to find the answer, one must diligently study the word of God and be able to correctly apply what he has learned. Paul, in 2 Timothy 2:15, said, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Also, "whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him". (Colossians 3:17).
The church of Christ was not established during the Restoration Movement in the United States of America, as many contend, but in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 33. Its membership began with the baptism of approximately three thousand souls. Acts 2:41 says, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." From that time onward, the Lord has continued to add to the church "such as should be saved," (Acts 2:47). In Matthew 16:18, Christ prophesied that He would build only one church. He said, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." This prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Therefore, any other church that came into being after A.D. 33 does not belong to Christ, for Christ himself said, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up," (Matt. 15:13).
The word "church" is derived from the Greek word ekklesia which means the called out ones. Peter says that the church is a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9). Other Biblical references to ekklesia include "kingdom" (Jn. 18:36), "children of God" (Gal. 3:26), and "sheep" (Matt. 25:33).
God's word makes a clear distinction between the universal church and the local church. Whenever we speak of the church in the universal sense it means that all of the saved make up the church. An example of this distinction is found in Romans 16:16, where Paul uses the phrase "churches of Christ." Using the plural noun, "churches", he alludes to all the saved in every city. The saved are called Christians (Acts 11:26). When an individual obeys the gospel through hearing (Rom. 10:14), believing (Rom. 10:17), repenting of his sins (Rom. 10:9, 10), confessing the name of Christ before men (Rom. 6:4), and being baptized (immersed) in water (Acts 2:38), God adds them to the church.
The Bible also uses the word church in the local sense. When the early church was established at Jerusalem, it was the universal church. There were no local churches until after they began to be persecuted. The Scripture says, "And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word" (Acts 8:1, 4). Examples include the church at Rome (Rom. 1:6, 7), the church at Ephesus (Eph. 1:1), the church at Galatia (Gal. 1:1, 2), and the churches of Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thess. 1:7).
The structure of the Lord's church is vastly different than denominational churches. First, the head of the church is Christ. Paul, in Ephesians 5:23 says, "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." Since Christ is the head of only one body, the church, it stands to reason that He is not the head of many bodies or churches, for Paul said that "God is not the author of confusion" (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Second, the Bible is the foundation upon which the church is built.Without the proper foundation, the church will drift away into apostasy. Jesus illustrated this truth in the parable of the two builders in Matthew 7:24-27. "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
Last, the body of Christ is comprised of Christians. Paul, in Ephesians 5:23, states that Christ is not only the head of the church, but is also the "Savior of the Body."He purchased the church with His blood that He shed while enduring an agonizing crucifixion on the cross (Acts 20:28).
Back To Know Your Bible Home Page