“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) The Oneness of the Church (Harold Fite)
The Oneness of the Church
The oneness of the church is unique. There is only one! It far transcends religious organizations founded by men.
The church belonging to Christ was conceived in the mind of God before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and brought into existence by his power through Jesus Christ. The church was not a substitute for the Kingdom as the Premillennialist would have us believe. It came into existence according to God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10, 11). Man cannot thwart the purpose of God. God envisioned a people that would know him, from the least to the greatest, and would have God’s laws written on their heart. He would be their God and they would be his people (Heb. 8:10, 11). “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will (Eph. 1:4, 5). To foreordain or predestinate is to “decide and design prior to acting; making out boundaries or setting limits beforehand; to determine before.” To illustrate the above: He who would be President of these United States must be a natural born citizen, being thirty five years of age, having lived in this country fourteen years, and be willing to take the oath of office, upholding the Constitution. It could be said that the framers of the Constitution foreordained—chose those who would sit in the President’s chair. In like manner, God foreordained those whom he would adopt as sons. God did not choose or foreordain individuals—consigning some to salvation and others to damnation—but as a class of people for his own possession (1 Pet. 2:9, 10). The chosen are those in Christ by virtue of their obedient faith. They fulfill the requirements of adoption.
The Church Becomes a Reality
When Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he announced, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). Approximately six months later the church had its beginning. Peter preached Christ on that occasion and 3,000 obeyed the gospel and were added to the church (Acts 2:41, 47). Note the definite article “the.” Not “a” church, but “the” church! Christ said “my church.”
Christ purchased the church with his blood (Acts 20:28). The word “purchase” means “to gain; to get something for oneself.” It conveys “possession.” When Christ purchased the church, he purchased people: “for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9). He possessed those whom he purchased. He “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession” (italics mine), zealous of good works” (Tit. 2:14). Peter echoes the same truth in 1 Peter 2:9: “But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” He presented the church unto himself (Eph. 5:27).
There is only one church recognized by the Lord. From the time God planned the church, until it was born, only one church was in his mind. It was never God’s intention to bring forth a multiplicity of churches (denominationalism). Christ built one church, and he is the head of it: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). He is “head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22, 23). That being true, Paul dogmatically declares that “there is one body” (Eph. 4:4). If the church is the body, and the body is the church, and there is one body, it logically follows that there is one church! Denominationalism has no scriptural foundation! It is made up of many bodies (churches), founded by man, wearing different names and adhering to different faiths. This is not what God planned from the foundation of the world. We “were called in one body” (Col. 1:15). We are “baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). “But now there are many members, but one body” (1 Cor. 12:20).
Oneness of Those in the One Body
As the church is one body, there is oneness among those who compose the one body. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the analogy of the physical body in explanation and application of the diversities of gifts. There are diversities of gifts, but one Spirit. There are many members, but one body. Note the following verses, beginning with verse 12: “For as the body is one, and hath many members. And all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.” “For the body is not one member, but many” (v. 14). “But now there are many members, but one body” (v. 20). The human body is made up of various members operating in conjunction with the head. Each member has its work to do, but all work together for the benefit of the body. This shows the interdependence of the different members of the body on one another. “The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee” (v. 21). The different members complement one another. Thus the spiritual body of Christ is one body, but made up of different members, working together as per instruction from the head, Jesus Christ. The spiritual body of Christ is “knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part” (Eph. 4:16). This contributes to the increasing of the body. There is a oneness there, a mutual supportiveness, kinship, and like-mindedness. This is the reason why we “bear one another’s burdens.” When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. When one member is honored, all rejoice (1 Cor. 12:26). If one member of the physical body is injured, the entire body is affected. Whether one suffers or is honored, it touches other members of the spiritual body. We “rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep” (Rom. 12:15). This could be called sympathetic vibration: “vibration produced in one body by the vibration of exactly the same period in a neighboring body.” Strike one prong of a tuning fork and the tone is transmitted to the other prong, hence the musical term sympathy.
The believers gathered in Jerusalem “were of one heart and soul . . . they had all things common.” The apostle Paul exhorted the Philippians to “stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). “Seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17).
Denominationalism has no justification in the Scriptures. Those who are being saved are in his body, the church (Eph. 5:23). “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1). May we strive earnestly to attain that ideal oneness in the one body.
“All the churches of Christ salute you” (Rom. 16:16).
— Via Truth Magazine, March 2007, Volume LI, Number 3, pp. 14-15
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)