Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 10, 1964

Only One Church Has Christ As Its Founder

Edgar J. Dye

In our nation a multiplicity of churches or religious bodies exist, all of which are different in origin, doctrine and practice. That they were founded by someone is evident by their very existence. Another obvious fact is germane to our study: either they have a divine or a human founder. It is important that we know which. If one or more of these churches springs from a strictly human source, it or they are human churches, the work of man and not of divinity. If, on the other hand, only one of the many was founded by God, it is the only one that is divine and not human in origin.

Scriptural Testimony

According to Mt. 16:16, Jesus, while in the flesh and during his personal ministry, promised to build his church. The phrase "will build" in this verse means "to found, to construct, to establish," not "to restore by building, or to rebuild, or repair." Therefore, Jesus is not saying , "I will build up an existing structure." Furthermore, the future tense forces one to the conclusion that Jesus had not yet founded his church; that was yet to be done.

The word "church" is preceded by the possessive pronoun "my." "I," Jesus says, "will build my church." What he previously calls "the kingdom of heaven," "the kingdom of God," is here designated "my church." This church, he promised to build, is not to be ours, yours, Abraham's, or John's; it belongs to Jesus. Furthermore, "church" is singular, not plural. He promised to build only one, and that one was to belong to Him.

Is it not obvious, then that the only church belonging to the Lord would be the one He Himself, would build? No church can ever be the Lord's except it be founded by the Lord. Therefore any church founded on the doctrines of John Calvin, John Wesley, Martin Luther, Alexander Campbell, Joseph Smith, Jr., or any other man, is unquestionably human, and not divine.

Jesus further says, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." At the same time, and in keeping with his promise to build His church, He gave to Peter the authority to state the terms of admission to it.

Turning to the Book of Acts, chapter two, we find the inspired record of the fulfillment of Mt. 16:18-19. Acts 2:1-21 identifies the time, the occasion, the gathering, and the power by which these Ambassadors of Christ spoke. In Acts 2:22-36, Peter, using "the keys to the kingdom of heaven," declared that the "gates of hell" did not prevail against the crucified Lord. Rather, He was raised from the dead and exalted to God's right hand and crowned with glory and honor as "both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:41-47 proves that the Lord's church then became a reality. And Acts 10, 11 contain the inspired record of the Gentiles being added to the same body. Thus both Jew and Gentile were "reconciled unto God in one body by the cross." (Eph. 2:16). This body of the saved of all nations — both Jews and Gentiles — has been extant since that memorable day in the ancient city of Jerusalem. Christ was the builder; Peter was the key-bearer. Christ has only one; He founded only one; He promises to save only one. (Mt. 16:18, 19; Eph. 4:4; 5:23).

Not By John, Nor In The Days Of John

Scriptural testimony proves the Lord's church was not established by John the Baptist, nor in the days of John the Baptist. Many have assumed this; but the fact that the Lord established it refutes this erroneous assumption.

John the Baptist was dead when Jesus promised to build his church. Compare Mt. 14:10 with Mt. 16:18. John was a great man of God (Mt. 11:1-), the harbinger of Christ (Isa. 40:1; Mal. 3:1; Lk. 1:17), who prepared the way for the Lord; but he did not build the church. And no man can prove that Jesus, in promising to build his church, was promising to build an adjunct to, rebuild, or repair what John had previously established. For Jesus promised to build His church from the very foundation ("upon this rock I will build my church"), not add to or repair another.

Others To Be Destroyed

When we add to this the divine threats to root up all purely human plants (Mt. 15:13, 19), all God-fearing men will be satisfied with the one and only church founded by Jesus: the church belonging to Christ — the church of Christ. The warning is too plain and the penalty too severe for me to be a member of some church not designed by the Father, not founded by His Son, and not fully identified in His Word, the Bible.

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