I'm not preaching this message in any ill will towards anyone. My intentions are not to wound or to hurt anyone, but rather to send forth 'a light' to true sincere hearts. No man can preach the Truth without 'knocking down' error ... anymore than darkness can yet hold sway after light has come. In this message we do not mean to be unkindly or to criticize anyone, but LOVE FOR PRECIOUS SOULS CONSTRAINS US to expose this error in the light of the bible truths ... SO THAT honest truth seekers may make their 'escape' from the realms of deception. People so often have a wrong concept of the Church - and they're not conscious of that error. And we need to return to the bible for a re-examination of the basic doctrines of the Church. Christianity today suffers from a faulty concept of the church that Jesus built.
In setting forth the Truth, there's no desire or effort, on my part, to be uncharitable towards anyone who holds opposing views. And I trust that this series of messages will be received in the spirit in which I will endeavor to preach them. My purpose has been to defend the Truth, rather than to attack any brother. If you disagree, I'll be happy to discuss these things with anyone ... Only let us do it in an effort to find the Truth ... that the unity of the faith may be maintained and the unity of the spirit may not be broken. My prayer is: That the Lord will use this series of messages as a blessing to the Church! And may it be a source of light to many...may it prove to be a 'stumbling block' to NO ONE! - andůmay it not produce strife or contention between any who are brethren. May it enable some who have 'never seen' the Church, 'to see it' for the first time. And if division has 'blinded' some, may it be used of God to restore that vision.
Notice what the Bible says, Jesus said, "I will build MY Church" - SINGULAR! Christ is the ONLY ROCK! The institution of the Church of God is NOT OF MAN, but IS OF THE LORD! Jesus saw that the Church was essential in God's great plan ... and declared that it would be for time and eternity!
The Church is the body of Christ. To call an earthly building the Church is ridiculous! And to call an 'organized division' the Church, is subverting the Truth! THIS one body of saved people is the divinely organized Church that Jesus built. AND it has never been destroyed or put out of existence since Christ built it and divinely organized it by the holy Spirit. It shall never cease to be a reality so long as the world stands and when Jesus said the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church - WE KNOW that His statement is true!
In A.D. 33 Christ said, "I will build my church ... In A.D. 59 and after that, the apostles said, "...WE ARE God's building." So, the Church was built between those dates. The Church is the prize possession of the Lord. When He said, "I will build my church," it indicated that the erection of the Church was yet in the future. On the day of Pentecost the Church was set up and put in perfect working order!' Three thousand members were added on that very day. And at that very time, the Holy Ghost was poured out upon them and then shortly after Pentecost, five thousand more were added. All these were added to the original group of believers that went into the upper room to await the coming of the Holy Spirit.
God established His Church at Pentecost - And every religious body, which has come into existence since then, is not the Church that Jesus built. Any church that was founded before this; was founded TOO EARLY! Any church that was founded after this was founded TOO LATE!
During the earthly ministry of Christ, He was gathering material for His Church. He began actual construction of the church, I believe, when he selected and ordained twelve apostles. Further construction was involved with the selection of the seventy additional workers. As the people were converted, Jesus began to place these people into a working relationship with each other. The Church was being built, but it was not - and it could not be the Church until the redemption became a reality with His death on the cross. Everything was ready ... so that the brethren lacked only His 'atoning work' to become the Church!
Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church." The rock is not Peter, but upon the DEVINE REVELATION - Peter had received a divine revelation of who Jesus really was! The gates of hell shall not prevail against this church.
Look at the history of the Church ... how that God interposed on behalf of His church. How often when 'floods' had surrounded her and 'storms' beat upon her and threatened her entire destruction ... He has arisen and said to the 'unruly elements,' "Be still!" And immediately there has been a 'great calm.' He said the gates of hell should not prevail against it ... and we may be sure that the structure itself was as solid and firm as the very rock upon which it rested!
The word church means 'called out!'' The Church consists of believers 'called out' from the world. The term Church of God refers to a VISABLE group of people which CAN BE LOCATED and OBSERVED! "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints, which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:" We read this in Ephesians the first chapter and verse number one. The Church of God is the SPIRITUAL FAMILY, composed of ALL SAVED PEOPLE who are WALKING IN THE LIGHT!
NOW, the Bible makes it plain! "But there is ONE Lord, ONE faith and ONE baptism." The Bible doesn't speak of 'many faiths,' but rather ONE faith! THERE IS only ONE Lord, ONE faith; ONE church. Christ has but one flock, one fold, one spiritual kingdom, one army, and all his people are journeying one way ... AND THAT IS to God's heaven!
The UNITY of the Church, is indicated by the statement that there shall be ONE FOLD and ONE SHEPHERD! In the book of St. John, the 1Oth Chapter and verse number 16, We have seen that Christ is the head of the body the Church - Therefore, as there is but one head, there can be but one body ... And there is many scriptures that prove this. LET'S look at a few:
Romans 12:4, 5 says, "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office- So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." The Bible also says in I Cor. 12-.12,13. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body- so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be JEWS or GENTILES, whether we be BOND or FREE, and have been all made to drink into ONE Spirit." Verse 20. "But now are they many members, yet but ONE body." the Bible also says in the book of Ephesians in the second chapter and verse numbers 14 thru 16, "For he is our peace, who hath made both ONE, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us-, Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain ONE NEW MAN, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby;" Again, in Ephesians 4-.4-6. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Again, in the book of Colossians ... 3-.15. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Friend, these scriptures PROVE POSITIVELY that there is but ONE TRUE CHURCH, just as there is but one true God. And since we are called of Christ into one body, THE CALL TO JOIN various bodies, is CONTRARY to the word of God. Also, the Bible says in John 10- 1 6 "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."
Friend, Christ is not coming after his churches ... He's coming after His Church! He's not coming after His wives ... He's coming after His wife! Amen? He's not coming after the faiths ... He's coming after the faith! He's not coming after His bodies ... He's coming after His body!
NOW, FRIEND, We are not 'independent' as some say we are! We desire fellowship with ALL of God's people and 'we' reach our hands in fellowship to EVERY blood washed one!
IS THERE A RIGHT WAY? Friend, as we look about in the religious world today we see many different churches with different doctrines and beliefs. WHEN there are so many religions and so many churches ... ALL claiming to be right ... How can a person know the right way to heaven? Well, friend, this is an old question, and millions are still asking it! Many preachers and religious leaders step forward boldly with their opinions, but, eternity is TOO SERIOUS of a matter to trust opinions. Along time ago a man asked this question, "How can we know the way?" he asked. The answer was given by Jesus Christ when he said, "I am the way, and no man cometh to the Father but by me." Friend, although there are many theories and opinions about the way to heaven, they can all, I believe, be placed in two catagories--'man's way' and God's way! Christ is God's way...And no one can come to the Father any other way! In John I 0- I Jesus says that if anyone tries to climb up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber! Friend, there's plenty of religions, and the assortment is nearly unlimited! "Many roads lead to God," we're told, but Jesus didn't say so. Friend, the roads go in different directions ... and if ya take the wrong road, surely you'll reach the wrong destination! Only one road leads to heaven, and that road is JESUS CHRIST! Amen? Jesus is not the 'way shore,' He is THE WAY!
Religion is worldwide, and most people want a religion of 'some sort!' Now, my dear friend, if you can't trace your roots at the church you attend and or 'belong to,' back to A.D. 33, then you're in the wrong church.
You may ask, "How may I recognize the true Church of God? Friend, the true church of God, endeavors to FAITHFULLY TEACH and PRACTICE ALL the fundamental doctrines of Jesus Christ and the apostles. The true church of God is known by the way it BELIEVES and PRACTICES ALL the teachings of the Bible! It's not enough, I believe, to just 'preachum' and 'teachum,' ...'we' must practice all the teachings of the Bible.
The biblical church, does not ADD to, or take away from the teaching of God's word, but holds them even in the 'face of' opposition, ridicule and death. Jesus said in John 14-15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments." The presence of the Holy Spirit is MANIFESTEE) WITHIN the church that Jesus built. There's a unity of the spirit manifested by kindred spirits and a love one for another. This is what Jesus said in John 13-35 "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." This love and humility instills the desire in one's heart to be united with the children of God! The Lord abides where his word dwells.
Somebody said, "I'm trying to find out who's right." Friend, when ya find out 'what's right, 'then you'll know 'who's right.'
The church of God is a gospel preaching church. If we want to know which church is right, we must go back to the ORIGINAL spring and fountain of TRUTH and Christianity. THE FOUNTAIN IS CHRIST! You must come into vital contact with Him! Partake of Him, His holiness, his righteousness! True religion, I believe, is where divine approval crowns a sinless life--where people are earnest, diligent, real, 'solid deep,' and entirely void of hypocrisy, shame and 'shallowness.' A real bible believing church will focus on God, His Son, His Word, His Holy Spirit ... as being the supreme infallible and omnipotent in ALL aspects of its purpose, mission, function and administration. ANY church that DENIES any part of the scripture or denies any part of the trinity or denies that Jesus is both fully man and fully God or tries to add to or take away from the scripture, should, I believe, BE AVOIDED!
Friend, there's no other church that can preach the whole truth of God's eternal word, but the church that Jesus built. God abides where his word is accepted and practiced, and where the unpopular doctrines of the word of God are NOT DELETED! See, my friend, God has a true people who are separate and who are standing upon the word of God as their ONLY governor. The basis for all doctrines taught and practiced by the church that Jesus built is the firm conviction that the bible IS the infallible inspired word of God-- containing ALL things needful for salvation, faith and practice!
LISTEN to me, friend, To REJECT or to choose to IGNORE the bible as the final word on ALL matters pertaining to religion and spiritual things is to open the door to CONFUSION! ... And who could DENY, that is what we're faced with today in this world. Friend, the Devil has COUNTERFEIT religion! The Devil is the father of ALL counterfeit religion! Beware of counterfeit religion...because it will only take you in one direction, and we both know where that is ... straight 'down 'to a devil's hell.'(?) WE CAN CHECK and see when someone has counterfeit money. And, thank God, there is a way we can check and see if we have pure religion or if we have been deceived into adopting a counterfeit one. The ONLY authority we have on this, is God's holy word the Bible! Counterfeit religion does not take the whole counsel of God.
Any religion that has not it's origin in God, and does not harmonize with the Bible, is false religion. A religion that rejects any part of the truth is false. And any religion that will not completely save and keep from sin is false. False religion makes VOID the commandments of God through their traditions. They cause people to OPPOSE the Truth! False religionists caused the Jews to oppose and crucify Christ, didn't they? False religion caused Paul to persecute Christians. False religion caused the Jews to stone Stephen! Friend, it has martyred millions of the saints--And the bulk of opposition to cling to false religion today is from PROFESSORS of religion. You can step on a man's 'political toes,' and he will 'take it gracefully,' but the moment you touch his religion, he's ready to fight. False religion blinds people to the Truth!
A mere outward religion without the inward grace is like a coal engine without fire and steam. It's like a shell without the kernel ... like the body without the soul.
Painting the outside of a house will not make the dwellers clean. The Devil sometimes dwells in garnished houses. And you cannot PURIFY the water by painting the pump WHITE!
Much of 'our' religion today is an external FORM. False religion has cursed the world from its beginning. False religion originated in Satan and has been introduced into the world through men.
TRUE RELIGION has its origin in God, and is divine! False religions are VAIN, EMPTY and EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!
Well, I see that our time has 'come and gone'...May God richly bless each one of you ... is our prayer!