Q: #323. What is the one true church?
A: Many groups of people have laid claim to being the “one true church” of God or Jesus: Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and the International Church of Christ to name a few. However, these claims are false. Let’s look at why.
The Greek word for “church” in the Bible is “ekklesia” (used 115 times). This is made up of two words: “ek” meaning “out of” and “kaleo” meaning “to call.” Putting these together, we see that the church is people who are “called out.” Who are the “called out?” The Bible makes it clear over and over that they are those who have been believers in Jesus Christ throughout the ages.
(Rom 1:6) among whom you also are THE CALLED of Jesus Christ
(1 Cor 1:2) Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, CALLED to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s:
(1 Cor 1:24) But unto them which are CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
(Rev 17:14) These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are CALLED, and chosen, and faithful.
(*** Caps emphasis on “called” mine)
Also see: (Jude 1:1)(Rev 7:20)(Eph 4:4)(2 Tim 1:9)
Several other places in the Bible also point to the “church” being made up of believers in Jesus Christ.
The “church,” is referred to as “the body of Christ” and Christ is referred to as the “head” of this body (Eph 1:22-23)(Col 1:18,24)(Col 2:19)(Eph 5:23)(Eph 4:15-16)(Col 3:15). The Bible also discusses the functions of the various members of the body (1 Cor 12:12-31)(Rom 12:3-8).
The “church” is pictured as a physical building, with Jesus being the “foundation” or “cornerstone” of the building (Acts 4:11)(1 Cor 3:10-11)(Eph 2:20)(1 Pet 2:4)(Mt 21:42)(Mt 16:18: See Note), and believers being the building itself (1 Pet 2:5)(Eph 2:21-22).
***Note: To teach that (Mt 16:18) refers to Peter being the “foundation” of the church, as the Catholic church does in making him the first Pope, runs contrary to many other places in the Bible, but this is for another discussion).
Once a person places their faith in Jesus Christ, they are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13-14)(Eph 4:30)(1 Cor 1:22). They become a child of God, being “adopted” into His family (Eph 1:5-6)(Rom 8:15)(Gal 4:5-6). They become a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). Their bodies become “God’s Temple” (1 Cor 3:16-17)(1 Cor 6:19-20). Jesus becomes their bridegroom, and they become His bride (Rev 21:9)(Rev 19:7-9)(Mt 9:15)(Mt 25:1-13)(Jn 3:29)(Eph 5:22-32). They are called “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; ” (1 Pet 2:9). AND, most importantly for this study, they become a a member of God’s “church.”
This “church” was founded on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and consists of all “saved” people (Acts 2:47). Jesus gave His life for the “church” (Eph 5:25) and “purchased (it) with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28). It is NOT made up of any one specific “religion” or “organization.” It is made up of ALL believers in Christ, who are united around the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, be they Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc… These essentials are:
The Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God.
There is one God manifest in 3 eternal, distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is God and Savior, who became man and came to the Earth, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life while on the Earth, and His life was ended when He was crucified on a cross. Through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, He paid for the sins of all mankind. On the 3rd day, after His death, Jesus arose from the dead, spent 40 days on the Earth, and then ascended into Heaven, where He is now seated at the right hand of the Father as our High Priest and advocate.
Each person is a sinner who is lost and faces God’s judgment for his/her sins. This judgment requires all sinners to spend eternity in Hell, eternally separated from God. However, by the grace of God, we can avoid this penalty by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. When we do this, we are justified before God, and begin a new life as a child of God.
Any person or “religion,” that does not hold to these, is not a part of the “church.”