Ephesians 5:25 reads, "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;". So what is a church? As stated in our last post, when one looks up a church in a dictionary, phonebook, or google search, one will find thousands of different answers to that question. We have already seen in Scripture that there is one faith and one baptism. So if there is only one faith and one baptism, then will the true one church please rise?
We can eliminate a vast majority because they do not stand for nor believe in the doctrines found in the Word of God. Jesus said in John 8:47, "He that is of God heareth Go's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." Those churches that are true churches are those that read, hear, and obey the Word of God. I have head many people say statements like, "Well, I don't agree with my church in this area, but..." If that church is wrong in accordance to God's Word, then it is not a church; or if you are wrong and the church is right, you need to get right.
In order to understand what is a true church, we then need to study and see when the church began. There are many philosophies as to when the church began, but we will look at it afresh in the Word of God.
As stated in our last post, Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church..." The Lord Jesus began the church Himself with His disciples. Thus, true churches, must have descended from that first church. The church has a Divine Founder, whose name is Jesus. That is why, as suggested in our letter to Adam Metzger and the Kingsway Fellowship, the church is not ours for "redesigning." Our Lord designed it nearly 2,000 years ago, and it is still perfect today!
The church was not founded upon a man, a pope, or a prophet; but our Lord, Jesus Christ.
When starting this church, Jesus gathered the disciples of a man, John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a man who preached the Gospel of repentance and faith, baptized his converts by immersion, and taught them that the Lord would soon appear. (Mark 1:1-8, John 1:29-37, John 3:25-30).
It is this "Baptist" preaching and "Baptist" baptism that set the standard from that time on. Sadly today, not every church with "Baptist" on the outside is true to New Testament doctrine. The Word of God is being pushed aside for flesh-friendly doctrine. Those churches have lost their first love, and as a result have had their candlestick removed.
A true, New Testament, church, the object of God's love, is therefore a descendant of that church which He began. Our Lord's church was therefore a Baptist church, the church at Jerusalem was therefore a Baptist church. Matter of the fact, there were not other kinds of churches. The Catholic church was begun years later. Baptist are not Protestant. The protestant movement began as a result of Catholic heresy and abuse. Men like Martin Luther, while seeing some of the errors of Catholicism, did not begin nor found true churches. They merely founded "less corrupt" churches. Nonetheless, they were still not churches, and taught a false salvation. Baptist should never make a hero out of men like Martin Luther. If we had lived in his time, we would have been persecuted, if not put to death, by Catholics AND MARTIN LUTHER. Thus Catholic churches, protestant churches, and all men originated churches are not true churches. There is ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM!
I am not saying that all those in churches other than Baptist are not going to Heaven, as long as they have been saved by grace through faith. Just as I am not also saying that every person in a Baptist church is going to Heaven, they too must be saved by grace through faith.
We live in a politically correct world where it is frowned upon to every offend anyone. It is not this author's desire to offend anyone, but to point towards the truth.
The true church is an object of God's love, and while going to church will not get you to Heaven, it is our Lord's desire that we serve Him "lawfully," that is, it does matter what you believe and what church you attend. Many will stand before God and will not receive the rewards that they could have, because they did not serve Him through the local church, the true church, a New Testament Baptist Church.
2 Tim. 2:5 reads, "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."