THE ONE TRUE CHURCH
By Britt Gillette
Which church is the one true church of God? This is one of most debated questions in human history. While searching for truth, many people have struggled with this question. Literally thousands of churches, denominations, and religious organizations throughout the world and throughout history have laid claim to the title “the one true church of God.” Even today, many people remain convinced their denomination is the anointed one of God. As a result, it’s not difficult to see how people can easily become frustrated in regard to this question.
So how does a person searching for truth find the one true church? With so many options – Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and literally thousands of alternatives, the average Christian can not reasonably be expected to examine the tenets of each and every one. Yet each of these groups harbors a certain number of adherents who believe their church is the “one true church of God,” while all other groups are inferior or even outright evil. Some even promote such a declaration as their official position. In light of these circumstances, many will honestly wonder: does a “one true church of God” exist? And if it does, where is it?
To find the answer, one needs to consult the definitive authority on the matter – the bible, the very Word of God Himself. According to the bible, the one true church of God does exist, but it can’t be identified by man-made tradition or human declaration or doctrines or rules. And it doesn’t gather in a single building every Sunday. Such ideas are worldly conceptions of what the church should be.
The one true church of God is comprised of various individuals from every walk of life, who live in a multitude of places stretching from one end of the earth to the other. Each of these individuals is a part of the body of Christ, and the very Spirit of Jesus Christ resides in their hearts.
Christians In Name Only
One of the problems with identifying the one true church of God is that not all people who call themselves Christians are really Christians. The Lord Jesus Himself revealed that on the Day of Judgment, many will claim they lived their lives for Christ but will be exposed as “Christians” in name only:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV)
Who are these people? These are people who use Christ’s name here on earth for their own purposes, be it to acquire fame, wealth, adulation, or some other selfish ambition. Yet these same people actually reject Christ in their hearts.
This passage frightens many true Christians, who begin second-guessing their own standing with God. But such thinking comes from Satan. If you truly believe in Christ and trust in Him, you need not worry about your failure to adhere to some doctrine of which you are unaware. If you believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of the living God, who died for your sins, then your salvation is secure. And, in the words of Jesus, you are also part of His church:
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also 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.” Matthew 16:16-18 (KJV)
Some say these verses identify the Roman Catholic church as the true church of God. They claim Peter was the first pope, and the Vatican is built upon his final resting place in Rome. But this is a clear misinterpretation of the context and meaning of Jesus’ words.
Jesus didn’t intend to build his church upon Peter, a fallen human being. Rather, He announced He would build it upon this concept:
“Thou (Jesus) art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”
This is the central truth upon which every person’s faith should be built. It reveals that salvation isn’t found in buildings or church names. Neither is it found in the traditions or the doctrines of man, or through good works or a good heart.
Everything Must Point to Jesus
For members of the one true church, Jesus is central to all things. Any teaching, belief, tradition, or doctrine that fails to glorify Jesus is false.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 (KJV)
Jesus did not say, “This or that church is the way, the truth, and the life.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
If you want to call yourself a Christian, Christ must be the basis of your faith, not the pronouncements of a church. In fact, the very definition of the word Christian is “follower of Christ,” and Jesus Himself explicitly stated His criteria for all who wish to follow Him:
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Luke 9:23-24 (KJV)
To be a true Christian, you must replace your own selfish ambition and worldly desires with the will of God. Christ must be the dominate influence in your life, not human traditions. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their insistence that others follow their rigid and burdensome traditions:
“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Mark 7:6-9 (KJV)
Living for Christ requires suffering and an unyielding willingness to sacrifice everything that is not of Christ in order to serve Him:
“And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-62 (KJV)
Nothing is inherently bad about burying one’s father or saying goodbye to one’s family. However, the true Christian is outfitted with tunnel vision, his eyes focused solely on Jesus Christ. The true Christian doesn’t let worldly pursuits distract from the Lord’s will.
Few stories from the Gospels make this as clear as the story of the rich man who approached Jesus asking how to receive eternal life:
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21-22 (KJV)
This man possessed great earthly wealth, and he allowed his love for this wealth to distract him from what should have been his primary pursuit: the Kingdom of God. If you want to follow Jesus Christ, you must never allow anything else to take priority over His will. That includes church doctrine.
Jesus As High Priest of the Church
The one true church of God is not dependent on a worldly leader as its final authority on spiritual matters. The true church of God gives final authority to its High Priest, Jesus Christ:
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Hebrews 9:11-12 (KJV)
Only worldly churches seek out human counsel as a final authority. When they do this, one blind man leads another, and they both fall in a ditch.
If this is the case, where can mankind turn for wisdom in a time of confusion?
God has sent us a Counselor, the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit
If earthly organizations are not responsible for salvation, then who are the members of the one true church of God? No matter what worldly church a person attends (if any), the only way they can become members of the one true church of God is if they allow the Holy Spirit to enter their lives. Members of the one true church of God must be born again. Jesus explained this to Nicodemus nearly 2,000 years ago:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8 (KJV)
When you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, accepting His blood as payment for your sins, you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You then become part of the Body of Christ, the one true church of God:
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14 (KJV)
The Holy Spirit is the very Spirit of Christ. It is the means by which He identifies the members of His church:
“Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (KJV)
If belonging to Christ requires the Holy Spirit, how can you know for sure if you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit? This is a good question, and it requires a personal examination of your relationship with God.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in your life will lead to great transformation. Being “born again,” you will become a new creation, meaning the sinful desires of your old life will give way to the desires of Christ. It isn’t necessary to be struck by lightning or to have some Hollywood epiphany. The transformation may be gradual, but it will be noticeable:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
The Holy Spirit provides wisdom and council to those who listen, and the Holy Spirit gives glory to Christ. This is how you will know if the Holy Spirit is your advisor:
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:13-15 (KJV)
Does the Spirit within you glorify Jesus and the Word of God? Does it remind you that you’re a sinner in need of Christ’s saving grace? Does it continually speak to you, directing you to follow God’s commandments and love your neighbor as yourself? If so, this is confirmation that the Spirit of God is within you.
The Holy Spirit also reveals God’s will to members of His church.
“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 (KJV)
The Holy Spirit also reminds us of the teachings of Jesus Christ. In this way, we are never without His counsel:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26 (KJV)
Many earthly churches and religious organizations claim to have a monopoly on salvation. But only one path to salvation exists, and it has nothing to do with the doctrines of earthly churches and religious organizations:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13 (KJV)
Salvation is equally available to both Jew and Gentile. Even though they may observe different religious traditions, both are saved when they “call on the name of the Lord.” For salvation comes not from the traditions of man or from his good works, but only from God’s mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ:
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5 (KJV)
The ability to wash away sins and give new life through the Holy Spirit is NOT a power enjoyed by self-righteous humans or earthly religious groups. It is the exclusive domain of God Himself:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
Earthly religious organizations should never boast of their ability to save souls, because salvation doesn’t come from churches or mosques or synagogues. No earthly organization can take credit for God’s amazing grace. Salvation is a gift from God, bestowed by His saving grace for all who believe in Christ.
Salvation is not a complicated matter. It doesn’t require years of theological study. It doesn’t require good works or religious rituals. No traditions of man are necessary, nor is membership in a religious organization, or weekly attendance in a fancy building.
All that is necessary is a personal relationship with your Creator:
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3 (KJV)
This relationship is available to everyone willing to trust in Christ – don’t let anyone convince you otherwise! For what man can close a door which God has opened?
Members of the one true church of God live by the laws of God’s Kingdom, not by the human laws of this earthly kingdom. This isn’t an indictment of the churches here on earth, only a reminder that a church is not an end unto itself. A person’s focus should be on Jesus Christ, and a church is worthless unless it aids in furthering this purpose.
The one true church lives through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of individuals of varying circumstances. Some are rich; some are poor. They are people of many different races, languages, and nations. And they are people of many different religious upbringings, members of many different earthly religious denominations. Some are Catholic. Some are Protestant. Some are neither. .......(They are born again Christians "in spite of" the errors of their denominations or upbringings, because of their faith solely in Jesus Christ for their salvation.......Keygar)
Do you find this concept difficult to accept?
Then ask yourself where your true allegiance lies. Is your ultimate authority a religious group? Or is your ultimate authority Jesus Christ? For a person can only obey one or the other:
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16 (KJV)
Do you believe the church you attend on Sunday is infallible? Do you believe a particular denomination is the only path to truth and salvation? If so, you’re putting your faith in a human created organization and not Jesus Christ. According to Jesus, this is not the road to Him:
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24 (KJV)
Which is your master? The traditions of man, or Jesus Christ?
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