FOF-04 - The Church

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Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,”
Matthew 16:18.
Today we think about the importance, the fundamental subject of the Lord's
church. We began with just a several questions related to the church. Think about this
with me. Why are there so many religious groups today? Why are there so many
churches in the world's view today? Where’d they all come from? How do they all get
here? Do all of them belong to Christ? Do any of them belong to Christ? Or does it even
matter? Does it matter what church one goes to? Friend these are subjects that
throughout the lesson, we’re going to let God's word address. Again, they’re questions
that a lot of people have. There's a lot of confusion, and there is not the unity that Christ
wants within his church. What's the reason for that? And how do we solve that problem?
Let’s begin by realizing that man's standard is not God’s standard. Proverbs
14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 says this, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the
end thereof is the way of death.” It's not what man thinks or man's standard or man's
ideas that's going to be the final word. God’s standard is what we must look to.
Remember Jesus’ words, John 12:48 “He who rejects me,” Jesus said, “does not
receive my word has that which judges him.” Well what is it? “The word that I've
spoken,” Jesus said, “will judge him in the last day.” Let's consider, if we were thinking
about something’s nature, something’s identity, how is identity, we’re talking about the
identity, the nature of the church in the Bible, how is identity determined? I want you to
think about John 20:25. Thomas is here wondering about the Lord, and is this the risen
Savior, is this really Jesus? And Jesus says, ‘See the nail prints in my hand, feel the
piercing in my side, I am He,’ in essence. What did Jesus do to express to Thomas that
his identity really was the Savior? He said, ‘Look, see, touch, and feel identify me and
you'll know.’ You identify things by their traits or characteristics. The nail print in his
hand, the piercing in his side, definite, definitive answer that Jesus was the Lord and
Christ. Well what about with the church? Friend, the church that you read about in the
Bible has qualities and characteristics; its nature is clearly laid forth in the Bible. I can
come to the Bible. I can see what the nature, unique identity, of the church is. I can
know based off of Scripture, if a religious group that claims to be that church really is the
church you read about in the New Testament.

Let’s look at the nature of the church and determine if it is truly the church you
read about in the Bible. We begin by thinking about who started, who founded, who is
the beginner of the New Testament church you read about in the Bible? Of course the
natural answer from Scripture is Jesus Christ. Jesus started, founded, and began his
church. Do you remember, 1 Corinthians 3:11? Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that
was dealing with a great amount of confusion. He said, “No other foundation can any
man lay, except that which is laid which is Jesus Christ.” Who is the foundation, the
founder of the Lord's church? Jesus is. Matthew 16:18, Jesus promised, “I will build my
church the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He’s said to be the founder. He
promised to build it. Mark chapter 9:1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Assuredly I say to you
that there are some standing here today who will not taste death until you see the
kingdom present with power.” The kingdom and the church are the same thing; Matthew
16:18-19. And thus, Jesus promised it would start. He's the foundation stone it’s built
on. He began his church. Acts 4:11-12 says this, “Nor is there salvation in any other
name for there's no other name given among Heaven given under Heaven among men
by which we must be saved.”
Now let's be practical as we asked this question. Who founded the New
Testament church? The Bible’s answer is Jesus Christ. Now friend, we wouldn't do
ourselves any favors if we didn't asked this question, who founded most modern
religious groups that exist today? Whether be John Wesley, whether be Martin Luther,
whether be John Calvin, John Smith, men founded and are notably identified with in
these groups themselves, as being the founders of them. The only founder of the Lord's
church is Jesus Christ himself.
Let's then think about a second and unique identifying trait about the church of
the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's asked this question, when does the Bible say the church
you read about in the New Testament, when was it founded? Well according to Daniel
2:44, Daniel prophesied that during the time of the reign of four kingdoms, God would
set up an eternal kingdom, which would never be destroyed. Now we from history know
what those kingdoms are. You’ve got the Babylonian, you’ve got the Medo Persian,
you’ve got the Greek kingdom, and the Roman kingdom. During the Babylonians, the
meads, and the Greek kingdom, the God is still reigning through Israel. No new
kingdom has been set up yet. And then Jesus comes on the scene during that fourth
kingdom, promises his kingdom reestablished, Mark 9:1, and identifies the church as
the kingdom. The words of Acts 2:47 say this, “And the Lord,” for the very first time,
“added to the church daily those who are being saved.” When did the New Testament
church begin? When was it founded? In that fourth kingdom, as prophesied, during the
Roman era. Colossians 1:13 Paul said to the Christians in Colossae, in the first century,
“God had translated them out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his
beloved son.” Did the kingdom exist in the first century? Absolutely it did. People were
in it, according to Colossians 1:13 and Paul was preaching it as a reality Acts chapter

Again, another practical question begs our asking. When did most religious
groups today have their start? Most of them started just in the last 200- 300 years; some
of them maybe go back as far as 500- 600 years. But you know what? The Bible, the
church of the Bible, started in the first century. It started during that Roman time period.
And friend, a religious group did not start, according to the blueprint of the Bible, was
not founded in the first century just as Scripture prophesied and reveals. Can it be
identified as the church of the New Testament?
Then a third unique characteristic about the church, we ask where did the Bible
say, where does the Bible say that the Lord's church would start at? And of course
Scripture reveals to us. Isaiah 2:2-3, God prophesied that his house would be
established in Zion and that all peoples would go to it. God already had a house during
the time of Isaiah, so we know is looking forward to a future event that's going to come.
Not all people, only the Jews went to that. What kind of house is this? Well we learn a
little more about it as we open our Bible to 1 Timothy 3:15. Paul said, “These things I
write to you though I hope to come to you shortly, but if I'm delayed I write so that you
may know how to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living
God, the pillar and ground of truth, prophecy, Scripture prophesied, the church would be
founded in Jerusalem, that’s where Zion was, according Isaiah 2:2-3 and Micah 4:1-2.
Paul mentions the church as that house of God, and when you open to Acts 2 exactly
what was prophesied prophesied is what occurs. They have killed the Messiah. Peter
now stands up with the 11 and proclaims, ‘This Jesus whom you crucified, God has
made both Lord and Christ.’ The Bible says they’re the heart. Why? They realized they'd
killed their Messiah. They cried out, ‘Men and brethren what shall we do?’ Peter
responds by saying, ‘Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins,’ verse 38,
‘those who gladly received his word were baptized,’ verse 42 following. And then listen
to verse 47, ‘In Jerusalem just as was prophesied, for the first time the Lord added to
the church daily those are being saved.’
Where did most religious groups begin at? Most of them began in England or
America thousands of miles from the place the New Testament identifies as a trade of
the church. If a religious group started in Springfield, Missouri, or Brooklyn, New York,
when the Bible says the New Testament church would begin in Jerusalem, can it be the
church you read about in the New Testament? Friend, those are clear identifying traits
that we learn about the church. Now let's address some other ideas that relate to this
very fundamental subject about the church. Who does the church belong to? Well we
naturally realize the church belongs to Jesus Christ. He's the owner, and He is the
founder of His church, right? I want you look in your Bible in Matthew chapter 16:18 with
me. We’ve mentioned this several to several times, but I want you to see the clarity with
which Jesus spoke about his church. Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “And I also say to you
that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall
not prevail against it.” Who does the church belong to? Jesus did not say I’ll build John's
church. Jesus did not say I'll build John the Baptist Church. He did say I'll build Martin
Luther's church. He didn’t say I'll build John Wesley or John Calvin or anybody else's

church. Jesus said, ‘I will build my church.’ That is so essential to understanding the
unique nature of the church. The church only belongs to Jesus Christ.
Now let's make that practical. If the Scripture reveals that the church does belong
to Christ, whose name should it wear? Well just take an everyday illustration; let's say
that you buy a home. You’ve been in the bank, you make a loan, buy a home, you paid
that off, and the deed is signed over; it’s yours. Whose home is that? Are you going to
put your neighbor's name on the deed? Are you going to put your best friend’s name on
the deed? Who does that house belong to? You! You paid the note. You paid the price.
It was your sweat and tears of blood the purchased that house. It belongs to you. Why
is it different then, for the Lord's church? It’s not. Acts 20:28 the Scripture says, “Christ
purchased the church with his own blood.” He shed His blood on Calvary for the church.
It belongs to Him.
Let's make it practical. If the church belongs to Christ, whose name ought to be
on the deed? The church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not some man, not some religious
act, not some newfangled idea that people may have today, the church of the Bible
belongs to Christ. If Christ said, “I will build my church,” and you replace ‘the my’ for
whose church it is, whose would it be? ‘I will build Christ church,’ it is the church of the
Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 16:16 Paul said, “Greet one another with a holy kiss the
churches of Christ, greet you.”
As we think then about Christ’s church, there's another very important principle
and unique identifying trait that we want to look at from Scripture. Today you go out into
the world, you go into the community or town, and you're going to see a multiplicity of
denominational groups. How many churches does the Bible say God has? I hope you
listen very carefully, we’re saying it in love, with all kindness, we want people to go to
heaven, but the Bible plainly declares Christ has one church. Let me illustrate it to you.
Look in Ephesians 1:22-23. Does the Bible teach Christ just has one church? It
absolutely does, and I want you to see from Ephesians 1:22-23. The Bible says, “And
he, God, put all things under His feet, Christ’s feet, and gave Him be head over all
things to the church, which is His body the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Now from
Ephesians 1:22-23, we notice Christ is head of the church, and we notice the church is
also called His body. Body and the church are used synonymously, for that same group
of believers who obeyed the gospel and are now part of God's family. That’s equated
together body and the church.
I want you look at Ephesians 4:4. The Bible records, “There is one body and
one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling one Lord, one faith, one
baptism, one God, and father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all.” How
many God's are there here? One. Does one mean one? Absolutely. How many Lords?
One. Does one mean one? You bet it does. How many Holy Spirits? How many just
means one. Now look at Ephesians 4:40, “There is but one body.” Now remember, if the
body is the Church, according to Ephesians 1:22 and 23, and there is ‘one body’
Ephesians 4:4, how many churches are there? God only ever built one. Jesus did not

say in Matthew 16:18, ‘Upon these rocks I'll build my churches,’ not what he said. “Upon
this rock,” singular, “I'll build my church,” singular. The church of the New Testament is
singular in its identity. It belongs to Christ. He, himself is the head of the church, and it is
unique in that way.
We also want to illustrate from the Scripture that the confusion, the division, and
the denominationalism that exists today, it was never a part of God's plan.
Denominationalism is contrary to the will of God. I want to direct your attention to 1
Corinthians 1. I want you to look in verses 10 through 13 with me, as we think about
denominationalism being against what God wants. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:10,
“I plead with you brethren,” Paul is speaking, “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that
you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you all
be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it is been
declared to me concerning you my brethren, by those of close household that there are
contentions among you. Now I say this each of you says ‘I am of Paul or I'm of Apollos
or I'm of Cephas or I'm of Christ’ is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were
you baptized in the name of Paul?” Does God from this context want division? “I plead
with you brethren by the name of Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing,” listen
now, “let there be no divisions among you.”
What is it that that God is trying to get across here? The seeds of
denominationalism had some of the beginning right here. What do I mean by that?
Some were saying, ‘Yes I'm a part of that a part of the body we just like Paul and so
we're followers of Paul. We like Peter, or Cephas, we can relate to him, I’m of Cephas
or Apollos was eloquent man, you know we’re not part of the big body, we’re just
followers of Apollos, we’re Apollos Christians, we’re Cephas Christians, we’re Paul Iike
Christians.’ What’d the Bible say about that? “Let there be no divisions among you.”
Now friend I want you listen real carefully, think practically with me, if in the first century
it was wrong to be a follower of Paul or Cephas or Apollos, how can we call ourselves
by men's names today and think that's right? Martin Luther wasn’t trying to make
Lutherans. When we think about John Smith, he didn't want his people calling
themselves Baptist. Where do all these names come from? John Wesley, was he trying
to make Methodist? That is not the idea. Are men's names, to follow those, to name the
religious group, is that approved by God? “Let there be no divisions among you.” Friend
denominationalism was wrong in the first century. It is at the heart and core, and part
the problem in Corinth, and it’s just as wrong and creates division today.
Let me ask you think about this, what church would the Bible alone produce?
Think about that for a moment. If we just took the Bible, we don't know anything about
Reformation history, we don't know the restoration history, and that's not important,
because this is our judge. If I just took this book and this book alone, and I went to it and
I said I want to be a part of the church you find in this book and this book only. What
church would come out of this book? Could you just take the Bible and get a Catholic, or
a Baptist, or a Presbyterian, or a Methodist, or a Lutheran, or a Mormon church? Not in
there. Could you take this book alone and get the Lord's church? Jesus said, “I'll build

my church,” Matthew 16:18. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the church that you
find within the pages of the New Testament.
Now let's then think about this as it relates to the church, what with these people
inside the body, what would they call themselves? Would they call themselves by
denominational names? In the New Testament it was called the church, Acts 8:1. In the
New Testament it was called the church of God at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 1:2. It is called
the church of the Lord, Acts 20:28. It's called the churches of Christ, congregations,
churches of Christ in Rome. Notice the thing that binds all these together, Church of
God, church the Lord, church of Christ, all those names, who do they honor? Who do
they bring glory to? God, the Lord Christ. That's who the church belongs to. And so,
that's what the church was called in the New Testament.
Let's think about even more practically. What would the members inside that
body called themselves? How would they be identified according to Scripture? They
were simply called ‘Christians’ Acts 11:26. They were called Christians first at Antioch.
Who does that name honor? You can’t say Christian without saying Christ. It brings
honor to Him. They were disciples of Christ, Acts 20:7. Disciples came together the first
day of the week to break bread. Disciples who? Learners, disciples of Christ. They're
called children of God. 1 John 3:1, the Bible identifies us as children of God. We’re
God's children. We’re servants of God and Christ. Romans 6:16, we’re servants of
Christ. We’re called brethren, 1 Corinthians 15:6. The family of God, Ephesians 2:14-16.
Again, you don't find these denominational names attached in the Bible. All you find:
Christians, disciples, servants, members the body of Christ, those are names that bring
honor to God and to Christ and leave men out of the picture. God's the one who
purchased the price; he's the one who paid the ultimate debt. He's the one deserving of
our honor and our glory.
Now as we think about this idea, there's another very important question that
uniquely ties to the nature of the church. It's this: what doctrine would people who
followed the New Testament church follow? You can turn to the Bible and clearly see
they follow biblical doctrine. Acts 2:42 it is said of the New Testament church, “They
continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and in
prayers.” How do we know God's church is the church of the New Testament? Are they
following what the Bible says? Let’s just say somebody has a name on it that says
church of God, can I be 100% sure that they're doing what’s right in that group? If when
we go, we find their following the apostle's doctrine, are they staying true to the teaching
of Christ? Are they worshiping God in spirit and in truth? John 4:24. Are their lives being
lived to the honor of God every day? Are they living like they ought to live? When they
pray, do they pray to God? Do they not bring things inside God's house that are not right
and approved in his sight?

We encourage you today to think practically about the identity of the church. Can
one look in the pages of this book and find out what the church is? Absolutely! Jesus
said He built it, Matthew 16:18. It belongs to Him, 1 Corinthians 3:11. It is not a
denominational organization. And friend the church Lord Jesus Christ brings honor to
God in what it says and does.
We ask you today are you a member? Are you a member of the Lord's church,
just simply the church that you read about this Bible? I understand that some of these
things may not be popular. I understand that some of these things are maybe different
than what someone may have heard before. Please listen carefully, we’re saying these
things because we love you, we want you to go to Heaven, we want men and women
everywhere to go to Heaven. Our motive of speaking about the church and against
denominationalism is so that people can go to Heaven.
If Christ is coming back to take his church home with him, and he is, 1 Corinthians
15:24, it's essential that men and women be a part of that. If you've never obeyed the
gospel, we encourage you today to become a Christian. If you'd like to learn more about
God's plan of salvation, please write to us. We'd love to study the Bible with you and
may we always do everything possible to glorify God and His church.