How to Find the Church Jesus Built
In the world today, there are thousands of different churches. Most of these churches claim to be the church Jesus established, or at least one of the “branches” of the church. Jesus came to the earth to build His church. He only built one. He did not build hundreds or thousands of churches. If Jesus only built one church, why are there so many different churches?
The New Testament tells us that people would leave the truth (Acts 20:28-31; I Timothy 4:1-4; II Timothy 4:1-4). Since the church began, people have gone away from the truth. This has resulted in hundreds of denominations. Jesus does not approve of these churches. He did not build them. Many people make the statement, “all churches are alike.” Is this statement true? Because churches seem to be the same does not mean they are!
How do we find the church Jesus built? We can find it by looking for the marks of identification that are recorded in the New Testament. People are identified by name, description, family and address. People can even be identified by their fingerprints because no two fingerprints are the same.
If your child became lost, how would you find them? You would ask for the help of the police. The police will ask you what the child looks like. For example: suppose your child is a ten-year-old boy with blue eyes, blond hair, weighing about 75 pounds. Would you be satisfied if the police brought you an eight-year-old girl with brown eyes and red hair? Why not? She’s a child, isn’t she? Are not all children the same? Once the child with all of your child’s identification marks is found, you will stop looking for him. The child found must have all, not just a few, of the identification marks for you to be satisfied that he has been found.
Just as children are not all alike, cars are also not all alike. What is the difference between a Mercedes and a Volkswagen? They both have motors, windows, doors, tires, etc. They are about the same, right? No. They are similar, but they are not the same.
This is also true with the church. There is only one church that Jesus built. Even though it may seem to be like other churches, unless a church has all the identification marks of the church we read about in the New Testament, it cannot be the church Jesus built. The New Testament tells us the identification marks of the church. Once we know them, we can compare the churches in the world and see which one has the same marks as the church Jesus built. The angel Gabriel said,
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:33). The church Jesus built still exists. By using the identification marks found in the Bible, we can find the true church and become a part of it. Jesus only promised to build one church. Therefore, the rest of the churches that are here today were started by men, not God.
When was the Lord’s church built? We can learn the answer to this question by studying the following Scriptures.
And I say 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). Jesus tells us that at this time the church has not yet started, because He said,
I will build my church.” Also, He tells us the kingdom and the church are the same.
Verily I say unto you, That there shall be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). The kingdom had not yet come when Jesus made this statement. It was still in the future. It was also still in the future when Jesus died on the cross because Joseph, who buried Christ, was still waiting for the kingdom (Mark 15:43). Jesus told his apostles to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the power to come (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:5-8). As the first chapter of the book of Acts closes, the church/kingdom had not yet come.
In Acts 5:11, the Bible records:
And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” We see in this passage the church had already started. Later, Paul wrote:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). In this passage Paul tells us the kingdom is already here. Even later, the apostle John wrote:
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9). The kingdom had not yet started at the death of Christ, but in Acts chapter five, the church/kingdom was already here.
The church started some time between the death of Christ and Acts chapter five. To find the time, we turn to Acts chapter two. It was the first Pentecost after Jesus arose from the dead in A.D 33 that Christ kept His promise to build His church. If a church had its beginning at any other time, it cannot be the church Jesus promised to build (Acts 2:1-4, 36-42, 47).
Upon learning when the church began, it becomes very easy to see where it began. We just have to see where they were when the church began and we have the answer. In Acts chapter two, they were in the city of Jerusalem. This was according to prophecy (Isaiah 2:2-3; Luke 24:47). The church Jesus built began in Jerusalem. If a church started in a place other than Jerusalem, it cannot be the church Jesus promised to build (Acts 2:5, 14).
I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). He used His own blood to buy the church (Acts 20:28). The apostle Paul called it
the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16). It has to have the right name to be the church Jesus built. Of course, it could have a Bible name and not have the other marks of identification. Remember, a church must have all of these marks to be the church Jesus built.
Jesus is the founder of His church and the only founder (Matthew 16:18; I Corinthians 3:11). If a church has a founder other than Jesus, that church cannot be the church Jesus built. Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). His church does not have any earthly headquarters. Instead, Jesus’ church is organized into independent, self-ruling congregations. Each congregation has a group of men to lead the congregation under Christ. The names or titles given to this group of men are: elders, pastors, and shepherds (Acts 14:23, 20:17, 28; I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). These congregations also have deacons to serve under the elders (I Timothy 3:8-13; Philippians 1:1).
The Bible says nothing about one man ruling over one or more congregations, a conference, or a pope. If a church has a headquarters here on earth, conferences and councils, it cannot be the church Jesus built.
Please remember, just because things are similar does not mean they are the same. All churches have some of the same items of worship, but they are not exactly the same as the church Jesus built. Most churches pray and preach in their worship services. What they pray and preach might, on some occasions, be right. But it is not enough just to be right in some areas. We have to do all things the way the way the Bible teaches.
Jesus commands us to observe the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:26-29). When are we to eat the Lord’s supper? We are commanded to assemble (Hebrews 10:25). The church ate of the Lord’s supper when they assembled (I Corinthians 11:33). They ate the Lord’s supper when they assembled on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Just as the Jews kept every Sabbath, Christians eat the Lord’s supper every first day of the week. If a church does not take the Lord’s supper every first day of the week, it cannot be the church Jesus built.
The Bible clearly teaches us we are to sing in worship (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). There is no authority found in the New Testament for using instrumental music in worship. Yet, almost all religious groups use it in their worship. The church Jesus built does not use instruments of music in worship. If a church adds instrumental music, it cannot be the church Jesus built.
Paul taught us to give of our income “every first day of the week” (I Corinthians 16:1-2). These contributions are free-will offerings (II Corinthians 9:5-7). This is the way the church Jesus built gets the money to do its work. If a church uses any other method to raise funds, it cannot be the church Jesus built.
The Bible teaches us to hear, believe, repent, confess Christ, and be baptized (Romans 10:17; John 8:24; Acts 17:30; Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 22:16). The Bible clearly shows us that baptism is essential to salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21; Romans 6:3-4). Bible baptism is immersion (Acts 8:35-39; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). The purpose of baptism is to wash away our sins (Acts 22:16), and cause us to enter Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27), where all spiritual blessings are found (Ephesians 1:3). If a church does not teach this way for man to be saved, it cannot be the church Jesus built.
Jesus built only one church. We must be members of that one church to be saved (Ephesians 5:23). We can identify His church. If you are in a church that does not have these marks of identification, you are not in the church Jesus built. Let us all become members of His church, and not some man-made church!
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