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Vol.  9  No. 8 August 2007  Page 18
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Examine Yourselves Whether Ye be in the Faith #2: The Church

Previous article in this series: http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2007/jun/page18.htm

By Ernest Underwood

Ernest Underwood

    That the Holy Scriptures plainly teach that there is one, and only one church, cannot be successfully denied. Paul, in Ephesians 4:4 wrote: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.” In this same epistle, he wrote: “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23). By reading the writings of any standard church historian, one can follow the fortunes of this one church. Soon after the close of the first century, the apostasy began, culminating some five hundred years later in an organization with one man claiming to be the head of the church. Many centuries later, men arose with the idea of reforming that apostate organization. These actions resulted in the Reformation Movement. Conceived and born in this movement was the concept of denominationalism.

    In our nation today, there are more than four hundred denominational organizations or churches. Since the admonition of the inspired apostle is to “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith,” it seems reasonable that each one should, yea must, question himself about the church of which he is a member. In other words, can I prove by the Scriptures that the church of which I am a member is that one body spoken of by Paul? Is the church of which I am a member the one that Jesus said he would build, and the one he purchased with his blood (cf. Acts 20:28)? Would your preacher be willing to make the statement: “The church of which I am a member is the one church of the New Testament, and I can prove it by the Scriptures?” Do you as a member of that church have a right to ask him that question? If not, why not? The New Testament describes the church in such a fashion that one can certainly take that body of Scriptures and identify that one body.

    Let’s look at the church of the New Testament. In the New Testament, the word “church” never refers to any kind of physical building, but to those who have been called out of sin by their obedience to the Gospel. Thus, the church consists of the saved (cf. Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13-14).

    Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Any student of the language recognizes that the “will build” of that statement is future tense. In Acts 2:47, according to the King James Version, we find the saved being added to the church. Some time between Jesus’ statement and the events of Acts 2, the church had its beginning. In Mark 9:1, Jesus told his disciples that the kingdom would come with power in their lifetime. In Acts 1, he identified that power as the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles. This event occurred on the Day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, as recorded in the second chapter of Acts. On that day those who obeyed the commands of the Holy Spirit, as spoken by Peter, were added to the church. Is this the church of which you are a member? Can you take the Scriptures and prove it? Does God approve of the way that you use his Word to prove it? In other words, am I wresting the Scriptures, or am I taking them in their context to prove by them that the church of which I am a member is that one church?

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