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Volume 21, Number 2, March / April / May 2003 Editor: Robert Johnson

Finding The New Testament Church: The Answer To Jesus' Prayer
A Review Of The Establishment Of The Church:
An Inspired Pattern: A Way That Is Right And Cannot Be Wrong:
What About Church Membership?
What About Worship In The Church?
What About Church Organization and Leadership?
What About The Churches Standards Concerning Sin?
What About the Church's Authority In Their Teaching?
Conclusion: God's Church Or Man's Churches?
Some things you would not find in the faithful congregations of the church of Christ in the Bible:

In our past few papers we have noted some important truths about the New Testament church. (The Lordship of Jesus: Vol. 20, No. 4; What The Bible Says About Divisions: Vol. 21, No. 1). If Jesus is to be Lord of all and we are to live and worship as His Word teaches, we must have courage to ask His truth detecting question; “Is it from heaven or from men?” (Matt 21:25). Is all that we believe and practice authorized and taught by Jesus through the inspired New Testament. The denominations of today are a result of men trying to make corrections in a religious world that has been falling away from God’s truth for over thousands of years: Their origins cannot be traced back to the New Testament. We know that Jesus prayed for His followers to be one without divisions just as He and the Father are ONE (John 17).
In this paper, we will discover the only way that the prayer of Jesus can be answered: By restoring the faith once delivered and the church that Jesus built by believing and practicing only what the Bible teaches. When we are finished you should know how to recognize the one church that Jesus established and how you can become a member and remain faithful to Jesus as Lord in that church.

A Review Of The Establishment Of The Church:
The church of Jesus Christ is not a creation of men. The establishment of the church was foretold by the scriptures as an essential part of God's plan. In Daniel, it is described as a kingdom that would be established in the days of the Roman empire that would never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44). Jeremiah speaks of the church when he foretells a “new covenant” that God would make with the people of Israel with laws not written in stone, but on their hearts (Jer 31:31-34). Isaiah speaks of it as the “Lord’s house”, “the house of God” established in and going forth from Jerusalem teaching the way of the Lord (Isa. 2:2-3). He also noted that “...All nations (people from all nationalities) would be a part of this house” (Isa. 2:2).
In the New Testament, we see that the church is the fulfillment of these prophecies. Paul says that the House of God is the “church of the living God” (1 Tim 3:15). According to Jesus and John, the kingdom was “at hand” (Matt 3:2; 4:17). Jesus said He would build this “kingdom/church" and that some of His disciples would witness its coming in their lifetime (Mark 9:1; Matt 17:28). After the death, burial and resurrection, the kingdom is always spoken of in the present tense (Col 1:13; Rev 1:9), because it was now in existence (It is the church of Christ).
The Official beginning of the church was probably the moment Jesus died on the cross, establishing by His blood, a “new covenant” (Heb 12:24). But the door to the church/ kingdom was first unlocked to the people on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (Peter given keys). After His death, Jesus ordered that repentance and remission of sins (the Gospel) be preached to all nations beginning in Jerusalem (Luke 24:46,47; Mark 15:15,16). That day, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles began preaching the gospel of Christ in Jerusalem. By inspiration, they gave the people God’s authorized terms of Salvation in Jesus Christ:
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation." (Acts 2:38-42)
Those that gladly received the truth of God were immediately baptized for the remission of sins confessing their faith in Christ as the promised One, sent from God. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”(Acts 2:41). Those who were converted were united and added to the church by God. They then devoted themselves to learning and obeying all the teachings the inspired preachers had to give them.
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers....And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart...Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:42,46, 47).
The book of Acts continues to record the history of the Apostles’ preaching, the early conversions and the congregations of the church which were established in various locations. The remainder of the New Testament contains inspired letters to guide the new Christians in what they were to believe and how they were to organize, worship and conduct themselves in the church (*1 Tim. 3:15).

An Inspired Pattern: A Way That Is Right And Cannot Be Wrong:
The only way to the unity and oneness that Jesus prayed for in John 17 is to forsake all denominational, names, creeds, human doctrines, organizations and worship practices and devote ourselves to imitating the original church. If you can answer these questions you will understand why this restoration of New Testament worship and practice is a “way that is right and cannot be wrong.”
What About Church Membership?
Did Peter and the Apostles tell the truth about how to be saved and added to the church? YES! Does the same Gospel message apply to us today? Yes! A study of Acts reveals that every example of conversion involved an immediate immersion in water for the remission of sins (This is rarely taught to be necessary to salvation by denominational churches). The Bible contains no examples of “faith only” salvation (teaching that baptism is not required for salvation) after Jesus' death and resurrection. The Apostles taught that one's submission to God in baptism was the point of faith in which God promises to wash away sins (Acts 22:16). Neither does the Bible have any commands or examples concerning the "baptism" of infants.
What About Worship In The Church?
Did the inspired Apostles reveal the truth about how the Christians were to worship God? YES! They taught Christians to participate in the Lord’s supper (communion) every first day of the week to remember Jesus (Acts 20:7; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25). They taught the need for prayer: (Acts 2:42; 12:15; 1 Thes. 5:17; 1 Tim 2:1; Romans 8:26). Preaching the Word of God was an essential part of their assemblies (Acts 20:7; Gal. 1:6-8; 1 Cor. 1:21). They were also taught to teach and encourage one another in Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (No mechanical instruments were commanded or used, they used the voice God gave them: Eph. 5:19; Col 3:16). We also find them laying aside a contribution for the work of the church as they had been prospered on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:2).
What About Church Organization and Leadership?
Did the inspired Apostles teach the truth about how the church was to be organized? They taught that Christ is the only head of the church (In heaven or on Earth) (Eph. 1:22,23). They taught the church to choose a plurality of “elders” in every congregation. Elders are to have the oversight of the flock and be are accountable directly to God. (Tit. 1:5; Heb 13:17). These leaders were to be men who met exact qualifications (“husbands”, with believing children, Bible knowledge, etc. 1 Tim 3; Tit. 1). These leaders were called elders, but were also referred to as "bishops" or "pastors" (shepherds). The congregations were also taught to appoint qualified men ("husbands") to the office of Deacons. Besides elders and deacons the church was then composed of prophets, evangelists and teachers. (Eph 4:11).
The inspired Apostles recognized and honored the work of women in the church, but directed that they not be appointed to these leadership roles where they would have authority over men.(1 Tim. 2:12). No inspired Apostle ever accepted the title of "Father" or "Reverend." (Matt 23:9; Psa 111:9).
What About The Churches Standards Concerning Sin?
Did the Apostles tell the truth when they identified the sins, which if unrepented of, would keep a soul from entering into the kingdom of heaven?
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexuals), 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor 6:9-11)
What About the Church's Authority In Their Teaching?
Were the inspired Apostles telling the truth with the authority of Christ when they said that the scriptures supply us with everything we need to please God?
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim 3:16-17)
Were the Apostles speaking with the authority of Christ when they told the church to test all teachings (spirits) and to avoid keeping company with those who did not teach the doctrines which came from God? (1 John 4:1, etc.).
"If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:" (2 John 1:10)
If the Apostles were being true to their Lord in these and other teachings, then we can be sure we are not in rebellion to God if we teach the same things and worship in the same way? In fact, if all who claimed to follow Jesus would submit themselves to the pattern and truths revealed in the New Testament, the Lord’s church would be restored to its original purity as before the great apostasy. If men stubbornly remain loyal to human organizations and teachings, they will never be a part of the answer to Jesus' prayer or the original church which He established. Be assured that if "your" church does not teach the Biblical plan of salvation and other teachings mentioned above, it is not the church of the Bible.

Conclusion: God's Church Or Man's Churches?
The Church Jesus Built is the one we can read about in the Bible! All others are man’s attempt to improve God’s plan, teachings and organization! They may be sincere, but they are sincerely rejecting the revealed teachings of God concerning the church which Jesus has established!
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Prov 14:12)
We can only be pleasing to God if we devote ourselves to restoring the faith and practice of the inspired New Testament, submitting ourselves to the authority of the Lord and His Word.
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 1:3)
As the prophets exhorted the Jews who had wandered from God’s Words, we must seek the “old paths”, though in reality we might find very few who are willing to walk in those ways with us.
"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein." (Jer 6:16)
If you are willing to be united with all those who believe God to be true and every man a liar, you will then become the answer to Jesus’ prayer. Remember that you can search the scriptures till the cows come home and you will never read about any "Protestant" or "Catholic" denomination, or what is required to become a member of one of these human churches. But, you will read how you can become a "Christian" and how to become a member of the church Jesus established.

R. Johnson

Some things you would not find in the faithful congregations of the church of Christ in the Bible:

1. You would not find preachers telling people they do not need to be baptized to receive the remission of their sins.
2. You would not find anyone baptizing infants or other unbelievers.
3. You would not find anyone sprinkling or pouring water on a repenting believer and calling it a "baptism." (Only immersion was practiced in the Bible church).
4. You would not find instruments of music being used in the worship of the Bible church.
5. You would not find women serving as elders or preachers over a congregation of the Bible church.
6. You would not find true Christians celebrating the Lord's Supper monthly or only on Christmas and Easter, but they did so every Sunday. (The original Christians did not celebrate these holidays which were created by men many years later.)
7. You would not find preachers in special clothing or allowing themselves to be called "father", "padre" or "reverend."
8. You would not find faithful Christians who called themselves Methodists, Lutherans, etc.
9. You would not find preachers telling people that they will be saved if they say the "sinners prayer."
10. You would not find faithful preachers saying that it does not matter what church you belong to as long as your are sincere and a "good" person.

What you would find in the church of the Bible:

People who had purified their souls by obeying the truth of the scriptures, having been joined with Christ in baptism and striving to remain faithful unto death. (1 Pet 1:22-23; Rom. 6:3-6; Rev. 2:10).

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