The Church Jesus Built
Concerned reader, are you aware that there are thousands of different churches today with new ones being introduced every month? According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the number of denominations throughout the world have surpassed 33, 800, with an average of 10 new ones organized each week (these numbers were provided in January of 2001). These churches are all distinguished one from the other in origin, founder, doctrine, and purpose or goals. Some of these churches are obviously false and evil. For instance, the "Church of Satan." Some are admittedly based on the claim of extra (apart from the Bible) revelation such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Some are predicated on tradition and the alleged infallibility of some man Catholicism and the Pope. Within four miles of where I live, there are five churches that have attempted to have no identity but have absorbed the identity of all others (known as Community Churches, click on to read more), one which teaches "old fashionism" but inconsistently practices modernism (Mennonites), and one "gay" and lesbian Church. One church in my area has an ad in the local paper advertising their open disdain and rejection of the word of God and appealing to people who are bored with the word to come visit them! The gay/lesbian Church advertises their all lesbian choir and their all-accepting "love".
Jesus promised to build his church. " Upon this rock I will build my church ," Jesus promised (Matt. 16: 18, see "Upon This Rock" and "Kingdom of Heaven" in Great Truths, accessed from home page). Jesus did build his church or kingdom (Acts 5: 11, Col. 1: 13). We read of the origin and growth of Jesus church in the Book of Acts (Acts 2: 14-47, 5: 11, 14, 14: 23, see Isa. 2: 2).
The term church (ekklesia, Greek). The word translated church is a compound word, "ek, out of, and klesis, a calling" (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine). When "church" is spiritually used the idea is that of a called out people. Indeed, the gospel "calls" people out of "the world" (2 Thes. 2: 14, I Jn. 2: 15, 16). "Church" has a number of nuances in the New Testament but the two most common are the universal and local concepts. The church universal has no geographic location, organization, or work, as such (see Matt. 16: 18, notice the singular use). The church universal is simply the saved of all the earth (Eph. 5: 27). In this respect, there is only "one body" or church (Eph. 4: 4). The Lord adds one to his church by means of water baptism (Gal. 3: 26, 27, Acts 2: 47, KJV).
The Local church. The local church is Gods people in a given geographic location who have banded themselves together to constitute the local church and to perform the work assigned to the local church (Acts 9: 26). Hence, we read of the "church of God which is at Corinth" (I Cor. 1: 2). Unlike the church universal, the local church has geographic location, organization, and work (I Tim. 3: 15, see vss. 1-14). The baptized believer who is walking in the light must "join" the local church (Acts 9: 26, 27). Each local church is to have "Bishops and deacons" (Phili. 1" 1, Acts 14: 23). These men must meet certain qualifications (I Tim. 3: 1-13, Tit. 1: 5-11, the pastoral system of government is not taught in the New Testament). The church Jesus built knew nothing of governing boards or overseeing churches. Man later introduced these innovations. Each local church was autonomous or self-governing (Acts 14: 23, I Pet. 5: 1-3, see "Quotations" pertaining to autonomy, accessed from the home page).
Designations pertaining to Jesus church. The Lords church did not wear human names (human names such as Lutheran, etc. were introduced by man centuries after 30 AD, Acts 2, the origin of the church). As a matter of fact, the church wore no names at all. Instead, we find certain descriptive designations such as ""the churches of Christ""(Rom. 16: 16, see also Col. 1: 13, 18, Acts 20: 28). We must remember, denominationalism was nonexistent in the First Century, there was only Jesus church (see I Cor. 1: 10-13).
The work of the early church. The work of Jesus church was manifestly the edification of the saints and the preaching of the gospel to the lost (Eph. 4: 16, I Tim. 3: 15). When there was a financial need, the church relieved needy saints (I Cor. 16: 1, 2). The Lords church never engaged in effecting ecumenical unity, politics, secular education, universal and general benevolence, entertainment, the work of the family, or legislation.
The church of the Lord submitted to Jesus headship and authority. Jesus, not man, any man or men, is the head of his church (Eph. 1: 22, 23). That which governs the church and that which she teaches is the word of God, the "doctrine of Christ" (2 Jn. 9-11, Gal. 2: 14). She shuns and repudiates human creeds and traditions (Mk. 7: 6-13, see "Book, Chapter, and Verse Preaching" in Archives).
The plan of salvation is presented by Jesus church. The early church taught belief, repentance, confession of Christs deity, and water baptism for the remission of sin (Acts 16: 30, 31, 17: 30, 31, Rom. 10: 9, 10, and Acts 2: 38, see "Salvation," accessed from the home page).
The First Century church practiced limited fellowship. The fellowship was spiritual and guarded (Acts 9: 26, 27). Only those "walking in the light" were to be fellowshipped (I Jn. 1: 7-9). Those who did not bring the doctrine of Christ were not to be fellowshipped (2 Jn. 9-11, wee "Fellowship" in Great Truths, accessed from the home page).
Peculiarities of the early church. There are many characteristics, which distinguish the Lords church. The Lords church did not use mechanical music or choirs in the public worship, for instance (Eph. 5: 19, see "Quotations," accessed from home page). Each local church was to practice "discipline" (I Cor. 5: 1 ff., 2 Thes. 3: 6). Each local church separately financed the local work by the offerings of the members on the Lords day (I Cor. 16: 1, 2). The early church regularly partook of the Lords Supper on each Lords day (Acts 20: 7, 2: 42, see "Lords Supper" in Great Truths). Again, there were no external controlling boards or pooling of resources (such as is the practice of some churches of Christ today via the Herald of Truth organization). The early church did not build or contribute to colleges, hospitals, homes for the ages, etc., the "social gospel" is foreign to the New Testament church).
Beloved, Jesus overcame death to build his church (Matt. 16: 18, 19). The church is so important and essential that Jesus "purchased the church of the Lord with his own blood" (Acts 20: 28). Forsaking the "assembling of ourselves together" is willful sin (Heb. 10: 25). To sin thus means, "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" (vs. 26). Indeed, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (vs. 31).
Jesus church could be presently meeting in your area. Make plans to attend and investigate (if you need information, contact me, Don Martin, via email, go to the Comments page, accessed from Archives). Do not miss out on the salvation which is experienced "in Christ," in the church (I Cor. 12: 13, Gal. 3: 26, 27, 2 Tim. 2: 10). (For a more complete study, click on "What is the Church?" and "Membership in the Local Church." Additional relevant study would be, "I Timothy 5, Widows and Church Versus Individual Action")