Vol. 7, No. 9
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Numerous "churches" exist in the world today, but where did they all originate? Did all these "churches" come from God? Are they all biblically correct? A study of the New Testament will show the true nature and origin of the one true church as well as where it began.
The first thing that must be established is that the "kingdom," prophesied in the Old Testament, and the "church," fulfilled in the New Testament, are one in the same. Proof of this fact lies within Matthew 16:18-19 where the two words are used interchangeably. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19). Notice also from this text the use of the singular words "church" and "it." The use of the singular indicates that Jesus founded only one church. Only one church, established on the day of Pentecost, came from God (Acts 2:47).
A unique characteristic of the New Testament church is its beginning. Only the New Testament church was founded by Deity. Every other "church" that ever was, is or will be cannot claim this distinction. The main proofs are (1) Christ is the foundation on which the church was built, (2) Christ is the Head and Savior of the church, (3) God planned the church before the creation of the world or man, and (4) it was established in Jerusalem.
The church of the New Testament was founded by and on Christ, based on the confession of Peter, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). The significance of Jesus founding the church and residing over it as Head is that he is divine. John 1:1-2 declares that the "Word" and God are the same. The verses further proclaim that the "Word" was with God in the beginning. In this text, the "Word" is none other than Jesus Christ. Romans 1:4 plainly states that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the Son of God, and therefore Deity.
As quoted earlier, Matthew 16:18 records Jesus himself foretelling the foundation of his church. Notice the use of the personal pronoun "I." The fact that Jesus is the Son of God is the rock foundation upon which the church was built. The record of the fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded in Acts Chapter Two where the apostles preached the Gospel of Christ and added about three thousand souls to the church through obedience to the Gospel. First Corinthians 3:11 says, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." First Peter 2:4 likens Christ to "a living stone." Verse six then calls him a "chief cornerstone" while verse seven (and Acts 4:11) calls him "the head of the corner." The church of the New Testament was founded by Jesus Christ, thus showing the divine origin.
Christ is the Head and Savior of the church. Ephesians 1:22 states that all things were put under the feet of Christ and that he is Head and "over all things to the church." Verse twenty-three goes on to say that the church is also the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:4 then states that there is only "one body," showing that there is but one true church. Ephesians 4:15 once again refers to Christ as the Head. In Ephesians 5:23 Paul simply states, "Christ is the head of the church." The above verse goes on to say that Jesus is the Savior of "the body," which is the church. God's plan has always been for Jesus to redeem man through the church (Ephesians 3:3-12). First Peter 1:18-20 says that we are "redeemed by the blood of Christ" who was "foreordained before the foundation of the world" to die for the sins of the world. The New Testament church owes its origin to Deity, as Christ who is Deity is the Head and Savior of his body, the church.
The New Testament church was established by God who planned it before the creation of man or even the world (1 Peter 1:18-20). This is the most prominent quality showing the divine origin of the church. The first recorded promise concerning this quality is in Genesis 3:15 where God prophesied that the seed of woman would bruise the head of Satan while he would only bruise Christ's heel. This prophecy takes place near the beginning of time. In 1 Corinthians 1:27, 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2, Paul records that God planned the church "before the world." God had the New Testament church in mind before he created the world and man. This fact shows that the New Testament church owes its origin to Deity, not to a mere human.
The New Testament church was established in the city of Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah prophesied the establishment of the church in Zion (Isaiah 46:13). In Luke 24:46-49, Jesus reminds his apostles of the prophecy that the church would begin in Jerusalem, another name for Zion. Acts 2:1-5 then records the establishment of the church in the city of Jerusalem. No other religion can claim this fact.
The denominations of the world (past, present and future) all owe their origin to a human being. Joseph Smith invented the Mormon doctrine in 1840 in Seneca, New York. The Baptist religion has been traced to 1607, created by John Smyth in London, England. Charles T. Russell created the Jehovah's Witnesses in Pennsylvania in 1874. Individuals throughout time have organized numerous other denominations across the world. Clearly, God did not have a hand in any of these so-called religions. Deity did not found them, nor do they have Deity as their head and savior. Neither did Deity plan these denominations before the existence of the world and man. Though it is possible for a denomination to have been created in Jerusalem, no denomination can contain all the mentioned qualities, which are relative to the origin of the true church of Christ. They, therefore, cannot claim divine origin. Denominationalism is not authorized by God in any way.
The New Testament church alone owes its origin to Deity. It was planned before the world and man ever existed. The New Testament church was established in Jerusalem based on the foundation of Jesus the Christ who is also the Head and Savior of it.