The One True Church
Throughout His ministry Jesus taught that our faith must be founded upon His word. In Matt. 7:24 Jesus’ words are pictured as the rock upon which our house is to be built. This is the same principal that Peter brings out in 2 Peter 1:8-10. Because the will of God needs to have prominence in the lives of God’s people Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:10, 11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Christ Jesus.” Therefore we find that Jesus Christ, both the man and His teachings, are the foundation upon which His church is built. But in order for this fact to be true one other thing must also be true above all else: Jesus must be the Christ the Son of God. To the glory of God and the blessing of men we find in the scriptures that Jesus is of truth the Son of the living God.
When Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ the Son of God in Matt. 16:16 Jesus responded in verse 18 saying, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” In the Jesus places Himself as the builder of His church, He places Peter at the gate with the key to the kingdom (which he uses in Acts 2 and Acts 10) and He places His divinity (Peter’s confession) at the foundation of the church as the rock upon which His church is built.
In 1 John 2:22, 23; 4:2, 3; 2 John 7 John establishes the utmost importance of believing that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God where he says that any who deny this fact are the antichrist. But why is this so important? Because if Jesus is not the Christ then our faith is futile, for it is the foundation upon which our whole faith rests. It is upon the basis of our faith in Jesus as the Son of God that we are saved (John 8:24) and in no other name is there salvation than that of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Therefore the only way we can enter into Christ’s church is if we firmly believe Him to be the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16).
Built Upon the Foundation of the Apostles (Eph. 2:19-22).
There are many who say that “because the church is built upon the foundation of Christ’s deity every church that confesses Him to be Christ and Lord is a part of the true church.” However, we will find from the scriptures that the church that Jesus built not only confesses Him as Lord, but also lives and functions before Him as servants before their Lord and King. To illustrate this let us consider some of Jesus’ teachings.
Matt 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
John 14:23-24: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.”
1 John 2:3-6: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
Here we have it! Not every one who confesses Jesus as Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only those who are obedient to His will can have that privilege. The prerequisite of belonging to God is to do His will! John spells it out for us in 1 John 2. If anyone does not do the commandments of Jesus then the truth is not in Him. This fact cannot be made more clear! Therefore the church is founded upon Christ’s deity because as Lord’s called out body only those who live for Christ, obey His will and hold Him up as King and supreme ruler can be a part of His church (Heb. 12:28)!
Having this understanding in hand we are then told that Jesus delivered His commandments by the Holy Sprit through His apostles and prophets. In John 16:12-15 Jesus said that He did not command all things while He was on this earth, but sent the Holy spirit to finish it after His ascension. By the Holy Spirit the apostles and prophets were to then take the word of truth (the word which we are to obey, John 17:17) to the whole world. Having that word in their mouths they were to disciple all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commands (Matt. 28:19-20).
Paul writes of this principal in Eph. 2:19-22. It is because the apostles and prophets revealed the will of God by the power of the Holy Spirit that the church is said to have been “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” From this we must conclude that these men, speaking by the authority of Jesus Christ, preached that which governs the church (1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Thess. 4:1, 2; 2 Pet. 3:1, 2). Therefore when men receive the word of God and obey the will of God by submitting themselves to Christ as Lord in baptism then they are added to His church (Acts 2:41, 47; 1 Cor. 3:9-11).
The One True Church
How does all of this help us to better understand “The One True Church?” The church is made up of all the saints who are faithful to the Lord’s will as we have discussed. These faithful people are commanded to assemble together with other faithful saints in their local vicinity (Heb. 10:24, 25). These smaller congregations of saints make up what we might describe as local churches, thus we understand why Paul was able to say, “The churches of Christ greet you” in Rom. 16:16 even though there is only one church. As individuals we each have the responsibility to become and remain part of the one true church. At the same time we also have a responsibility to search out other members of Christ’s body in order that we might encourage and build one another up in the Lord.
However, the deceiver is in the world and has caused many to go astray so that there are so-called churches in the world but these do not walk according to the Lord’s commands. These are say they to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” but are not His for they do not do the work of the Father in heaven. Therefore John writes in 2 John 9-11, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.” But the one true church remains faithful to God to obey His word. She not only claims Christ as Lord but also abides in the doctrine of Christ which was delivered both by Christ Himself and by the apostles and prophets. And so, as we search for the one true church we know that when we read the scriptures we see a pattern for that. Today, any congregation that conforms to the New Testament teachings is the Lord’s church.
If you have not been baptized into Christ you should know that you can search for the true church all you want, but unless you obey the Lord’s commands starting with faith, repentance, and baptism you cannot enter into that church (Acts 2:38). Therefore, Christ invites you to be baptized today and become a part of the glorious church which will be glorified at His coming.