Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 9, 1959
NUMBER 9, PAGE 8-10a

The Church

John H. Tull, Grand Prairie, Texas

The Bible tells us there is one faith and one body (Ephesians 4:4-5), and the one body is the church (Colossians 1:18 & 24); it further tells us that we must be in that body, for salvation is in Christ (1 John 5:11), and all spiritual blessings are in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3.) It is sometimes argued that the one faith is faith in Christ Jesus, and that all denominations teach that; however, faith is more than just believing the man Jesus to be the Son of God — it is believing everything Jesus taught.

It is further argued that the one church is composed of all the denominations, or at least some of them. Is it? Let us go to God's word and see.

The church is spoken of as God's family, and it is to wear the name of Christ. (Eph. 3:14-15.) We are the children of God (1 John 3:10) and sons of God. (Romans 8:14.) The members of a family wear the same family name. They laugh together, they cry together; they work together, they play together. In referring to the church as God's family, Paul is not speaking of one local congregation, but all of God's family in heaven and earth. (Eph. 3:14-15.) All Christians are one family, rejoicing together and sorrowing together; working together and playing together. Can we work together if each wants to work according to his own plan? We must be in agreement. We can not all agree on the Baptist Manual, the Methodist Discipline, or the Presbyterian confession; God knows that, so He gave us His Word as a pattern. We can all agree on that if each of us will submit himself to God's will always.

The church is also spoken of as the house of God, the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15, Hebrews 10:21, Ephesians 2:19), and the building of God. (Ephesians 3:20-21, 1 Peter 2:6-6.) Each stone of the building helps support the entire structure. Each individual Christian is a lively stone, making up the building, the temple of God. (1 Peter 2:5.) How can Christians be lively stones, making up one spiritual house if they aren't agreed — Amos 3:3 — "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"

We have already seen that the church is the body of Christ. Christ had but one body. (Eph. 4:4.) The body is composed of many members still it is but one body. (1 Cor. 12:20.) Each member is a part of that body and is nourished by the head, even Christ. (Eph. 5:29, Col. 2:19.) No one member of our body is the complete body, but it takes every member to complete the body. The members have the same care one for the other (1 Cor. 12:25); if one member suffers, they all suffer; if one is honored, they all rejoice with. it. (1 Cor. 12:26.) Paul points out that each member of the body is necessary in order that our bodies may function properly. (1 Cor. 12: 14-26.) So it is with the body of Christ, the church (see verses 12 & 27). It takes each and every member of the body of Christ, fulfilling his own obligation before God, in order for the body of Christ to function properly. Those of us who are members of the body of Christ, let us be more diligent to do those things which we are able to do, in the service of our Master.

The church is also called the bride of Christ. (Rev. 19:7 and 21:9.) Paul compares the relationship of the church to., Christ with the relationship of a wife to her husband. (Eph. 5:22-32.) In Rom. 7:4, Paul tells us of certain Jews who became dead to the law, so that they could marry another, even Christ. The wife is in subjection to her own husband (Eph. 5) — just so is the church in subjection to Christ. As I would not want my wife to wear any other name than mine, even so Christ wants His church (bride) to wear no other name than hip. In wearing the name Christian, we are glorifying God. (1 Pet. 4:16.) Can we fit the denominations into this picture of the church as the bride of Christ as given in Eph. 5:21-28?

Let us study carefully Christ's prayer in John, chapter 17. Christ literally poured out His heart to God, praying for the unity of the church. He earnestly prayed that His church might be one, just as much so as Christ and God are one. In verses 6-11, He prays for His apostles, that they might be one. In verses 20-23, He prays for those who hear Him (Christ) through their (apostles) words. That includes us. He prays that we might be one, even as He and God are one. This does not mean that we can become literally one, any more than the man and his wife become literally one; but as the man and his wife are one flesh, as god and Christ are one in mind and purpose, so are we one flesh with Christ. (Eph. 5:30.) Paul says in verse 32, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and church."

This should not be viewed lightly. When our loved ones depart, do not we make every effort to fulfill their dying requests? The seventeenth chapter of John is the prayer the Lord prayed the night he was betrayed — it is His dying request. Let us make every effort to harmonize our lives and our faith with the teachings and admonitions of Jesus and His holy apostles that are revealed in God's word, the Bible. I ask, in all sincerity, are denominations one as God and Christ are one, when one sect opposes another; when one teaches this opinion, another that; when one teaches the Bible is incomplete, one teaches it is faulty, another teaches it is dead, another teaches it is insufficient, still another — indifferent? Friends, is this unity?

The one church — the body of Christ — cannot be composed of several denominations and still be one, as God and Christ are one. Neither can it be a denomination itself. One can be a Christian without joining any denomination, but the very process that makes him a Christian, makes him a member of the Lord's church. We do not join the church, we are added to it. We need never join any denomination, they were all started by man anyhow. Jesus said. "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."

When one becomes a Christian, he will worship with other Christians. These Christians make up the church in that location. But the Lord only gave the church one doctrine or system of faith — the doctrine of Christ — and we are not to go beyond it (2 John 9-11), yet we are to declare this whole counsel of God. We have the assurance that if we do transgress and go beyond this doctrine, we don't even have God.

Is The Bible The Word Of God? Then Let Us Stand On The Bible, And The Bible Alone, Perfectly Joined Together In The Same Mind And The Same Judgment. (1 Cor. 1:10.) Entering The Church

II. Having briefly discussed the unity of the body of Christ, let us now see how we enter that body. In Gal. 3:26-27, Paul tells us, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." 1 Cor. 12:13, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." Rom. 6:3, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death."

Peter says, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever." (1 Peter 1:22-23.) In John 17:17, Jesus says, "Thy word is truth". Your souls were purified when you obeyed the truth, which is God's word, and in doing this you were born again by the incorruptible seed, which is to remain forever. If Christians then were born again when they obeyed the truth, and God's word (truth) remains forever, why are not people today born again when they obey the truth, and not before?

In referring back to Romans 6:3-4, we find Paul reminding Christians of the meaning of their baptism. We note that they put to death their old bodies of sin, then they were buried by baptism into the death of Christ, then they were raised a new creature, to walk in newness of life. Baptism is a form or image of the gospel of Christ. In 1 Cor. 15:1, 3, 4, Paul tells us the facts of the gospel, "Moreover, I declare unto you the gape] which I preached unto you For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Those facts of the gospel then are the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. When we are baptized, we are obeying a form of that gospel. In Rom. 6:6, Paul says the old man of sin is crucified with Christ, we are then buried (v. 4) with him, and we are raised by the glory of the Father, to walk in newness of life. Sprinkling water on a person's head will not bury him — he must be completely immersed in order to complete his obedience to the gospel. The alien sinner, who is dead in his sins but who comes to believe in Christ as the Son of God, and who repents of his sins must be buried with Christ, then he can be raised to walk in newness of life. Today, man says that he can walk in newness of life before baptism; God's word says that we walk in newness of life after baptism. Will you believe man or God? Paul told these same Christians that they were made free from their sins when they obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered them. (Rom. 6:17-18.) Not the doctrine of men, but the apostles' doctrine. (Acts 2:42.) There is only one doctrine taught in the New Testament — the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9 and Matt. 6:17-18), sometimes called the apostles' doctrine, because it was spoken by the Spirit-inspired apostles. The early church wad steadfast in this doctrine. (Acts 2:42.) It was the same doctrine the Roman brethren had obeyed. Then they were made free from sin (after obeying it from the heart), and they became servants of righteousness.

The believers on Pentecost were added to the church or body of saved people when they were baptized. (Acts 2:41 & 47.) Their hearts were cleansed by the blood of Jesus. (1 John 1:7.) Their hearts were sprinkled by the blood of Jesus from an evil conscience when their bodies were washed in pure water. (Heb. 10:22.) By faith, they were baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27), into his death where his blood was shed (Rom. 6:3-4), thereby contacting his blood.

By one Spirit the Corinthians were baptized into the one body. (1 Cor. 12:13.) In 1 Cor. 1:14-16, Paul declares that he baptized Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanas, Yet, they were all baptized by one Spirit, and there is one baptism. (Eph. 4:5.) We conclude then that it is water baptism according to the instructions of the Spirit, and the Spirit acts on our spirit and purges our souls from an evil conscience. Jesus himself said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16:16.) Matt. 28:19, baptism is to be in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and Acts 2:38, for the remission of sins. This is the one baptism of Eph. 4:5. It must be, for it is the baptism practiced by the apostles, and it is the only baptism commanded in the Bible. (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21, etc.)

Final Admonitions

III. Consider This: If I Make The Confession Found In The Bible, "I Believe Jesus Christ Is The Son Of God" (Acts 8:37), And I Am Baptized, As A Penitent Believer, "In The Name Of The Father, And Of The Son, And Of The Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19), And "For The Remission Of Sins" (Acts 2:38), Of What Denomination Will I Be A Member? On The Other Hand, If I State That God Has Already Saved Me, And Then I Am Baptized, Because I Feel That My Sins Have Been Forgiven, Then Am I Not Following A Human Plan? Jesus Told Of Some Whose Worship Was Vain, Because They Taught For Doctrine The Commandments Of Men. (Matt. 15:9.) Have I "Obeyed From The Heart" That Doctrine Taught In The Bible (Rom. 6:17:48), Or Have I "Obeyed From The Heart" The Commandments Of Men? Would I Be A Child Of God Before Being Baptized Into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27)? If That Be So, Why Did John Say That The Believer Has Power To Become A Child Of God (John 1:12)?

Those who were baptized on the day of Pentecost were added to the church (Acts 2:41 and 47); moreover they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine or teaching, in fellowship, in breaking of bread (Lord's Supper), in prayer, and in praising God. (Acts 2:42 and 47.) They sang praises to God, (Eph. 5:19,'James 5:13.) They were of one accord. (Acts 2:46.) In Acts 4:32, they were of one heart and soul. In Acts 20:7, the disciples came together to break bread on the first day of the week — they remembered Christ's death and resurrection each Lord's day by partaking of the communion. (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 10:16; 1 Cor. 11:22. God didn't have to tell the Jews to remember every Sabbath day; he merely told them to remember the Sabbath day. (Exodus 20:8.) Every week had a Sabbath day. Every week also has a first day — it is the day Christ arose. Let's remember his resurrection every first day of the week by partaking of His Supper.

Let us wear only the name of Christ — "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12.)

Let us "speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent." Since the New Testament is silent on using instruments of music in the church, let us not add our own fancies and desires to the word of God. The command is to sing. (1 Cor. 14:15, Eph. 6:19, Col. 3:16, James 5:13.) True, there is no commandment not to play, but consider this: If God had to specifically condemn every type of practice that he disapproves of, the Bible would be so big, we would have to have a freight train to carry it around! But God solved this problem in a much simpler way than man could have solved it. He told us the simple form of worship He did approve of, and told us not to add to or take from His word (Rev. 22:18-19), and told us to abide in His doctrine or teaching (2 John 9), and expected us to be satisfied with it. We conclude then that we are to practice only those things religiously that are directly commanded or taught in the New Testament.

God has always demanded that men worship him according to the pattern he has given. Hebrews, chapters 8 and 9, show that the tabernacle was a type or figure, of the church. Just as Moses was commanded to make all things pertaining to the tabernacle according to the pattern shown him in the mount (Heb. 8.5) — so also are we to make all things pertaining to the work, government, and worship of the church according to the pattern shown by the apostles.

Deut. 18:20 tells us that any prophet that presumes to speak that which God has not commanded, even that prophet shall die. Let us not presume something is pleasing to God just because we like it. If God hasn't authorized it, let us leave it off.

We are not asking you to leave one denomination and join another. We are pleading for people to leave all denominations, to believe and accept the gospel of Christ in its purity and its simplicity (2 Cor. 11:3), that the Lord may add them to His body or church. We can not be saved on our own terms, we must humbly accept God's terms. May God bless you as you study this, and with an open mind, compare it with God's word, and may you render complete obedience to Christ is our prayer in the name of Christ. Amen.