CALLED INTO AND
BEING THE LORDíS ONE
THERE IS ONLY one church
taught and found in the New Testament Scriptures (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians
4:4-6). Itís "membership" is constituted of those who are saved, as salvation
and being in the Lordís church in the true sense are synonymous. It is
not a man-made, human denomination. In fact, no man has the authority to
start a denomination or the right to invite anyone to join one. The only
authority that we have is to invite people to accept Christ to be a part
of this one church that has already been established in the first century.
A person may join a human denomination, but in reality no one can join
the church of Christ. To be acceptable to the Lord, we must be that church
and be in that church today. Are we being presumptuous, Pharisaical or
self-righteous in saying this? No, not at all, it is the Word of God. Actually
a person is being presumptuous in promoting and trying to defend denominationalism.
Let us consider this.
Religiously, we work under the authority of the Great Commission.
After his resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly gave this commission
to his followers. What he had to say was prefixed with the declaration,
"All power [authority] is given unto me in heaven and in
earth" (Matthew 28:18). "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the
world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth
and is baptized shall be savedÖ" (Mark 16:15,16). Matthewís account reads,
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost [Spirit]:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and,
lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world [age]. Amen" (Matthew
28:19,20). Luke 24:47 narrows it down another step, saying that "repentance
and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem."
Here in Jerusalem on the first Jewish Pentecost after his resurrection
(Acts 1:8 and chapter 2) the gospel was preached for the first time in
all of its fullness. Men who were convicted of their sins were told to,
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for
the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
[Spirit]" (Acts 2:38). "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:
and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand
souls" (2:41). Jesus had said, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18),
and now it was a reality. Consequently we read, "And the Lord added
to the church daily such as should be saved [Greek: were being saved]"
(2:47). In anticipation of this time, earlier in his ministry Jesus had
told Nicodemus that a man had to be "born of water and of
the Spirit" to enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
This church came into being as a result of preaching the gospel and
carrying out the Great Commission. It was simply the Lordís church, not
a human denomination or division. When people repented and were baptized
(immersed) for the remission of their sins, the Lord "added" them to his
church. When they did this, they were "born of water and of the Spirit."
They were "born" into the kingdom. You cannot "join" the church of the
New Testament, the Lord adds you to it; you are born
into it. Acts 20:28 speaks of "the church of God, which he hath purchased
with his own blood." Ephesians 5:23 tells us that Christ is "the saviour
of the body," the church. The same transaction that saves a person from
his sins thereby puts him into the one church we read about in the Scriptures.
Being saved and becoming a part of the one church are synonymous. Yes,
we are all "called in one body" (Colossians 3:15), and we are "all baptized
into one body" (I Corinthians 12:13), if we have accepted Christ in accordance
to the Scriptures. If we are working under the authority of the Great Commission,
we have no authority to invite anyone to join any denomination. In fact,
the promise of, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world
[age]" is only for those fulfilling the terms of the Great Commission.
Denominationalism and denominational doctrines are excluded.
It is so simple, becoming and being a part of the Lordís one, undenominational
church. One does not have to trace an unbroken lineage all the way back
to the first century. To grow watermelons in North Carolina, one would
not have to have a vine coming all the way from Georgia. No, we would simply
plant the seed. When the seed of the gospel is planted and men properly
respond to it, the Lord adds them to the one church already started on
the day of Pentecost. (However, the Lord said, "Every plant, which my heavenly
Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up," Matthew 15:13). Now being
simply Christians, the Lordís church (and that alone), we press on like
those on the day of Pentecost who "continued stedfastly in the apostlesí
doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts
2:42). We have divested ourselves of denominational names (Colossians 1:18;
I Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:4) and doctrines. The creed books and traditions
of men have been discarded (Mark 7:7-9; Galatians 1:8; II John 9-11). This
oneness and unity is practiced in the context of the local church as we
"keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). We
are simply being and doing what the Lord wants us to do. There is nothing
Pharisaical about this. To do otherwise is to be presumptuous.