THE CHURCH - HOW MANY? #1
The writers of the Bible gave many teachings peculiar to the church; and I know that these teachings are all in harmony with each other. Likewise, in the religious world today, there is a lot of teachings done on the church. However, unlike the teachings found in the Bible on this subject, those of the religious world are not in harmony with each other.
Now, inasmuch as we know these two facts, well we also know that some of the teachings of the religious world are not in harmony with the teachings of the Bible. One portion of the religious world teaches God has only one church; but another portion vows he has many.
What saith the scriptures? From my study of the Bible, I have found (I believe) that it teaches he only has one church. So the purpose of this article and a few to follow, will be to present scriptures which I believe will confirm this.
Question #1 - Was God's purpose from the beginning to give unto the world more than one church? No. Paul, in Eph. 3:10-11, does not teach that the churches were. but that the church was. in God's eternal purpose. So according to Paul, God's purpose was that his wisdom would be made known unto the world by one church.
Question #2 - Did God through the Old Testament prophets foretell the coming of more than one church? I know of no Old Testament prophet through whom God foretold the coming of the churches. However, I do know more than one through whom he foretold the coming of one church. According to Isa. 2:1-3 and Micah 4:1-2, God through those two prophets said God's house shall be established in the last days. Through them, he also said.people will say, let us go to the house of God, the church of God (I Tim. 3:14-15). Daniel, after predicting the coming and going of world powers, said: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44). Again, Daniel in Dan. 7:13-14, says that he saw God give unto Christ a kingdom which would never be destroyed. Now finally we hear the prophet Zechariah declare; that the Lord will grow up out of his place and build the temple of the Lord (the church) of the Lord (Zech. 6:12-13). Yes, my readers, these scriptures beyond any doubt show that God through the prophets foretold the coming of one church. However, neither they nor any other Old Testament scripture has one word to say about the coming of churches.
Question #3 - Did God through John the Baptist in Mat. 3:1-2, and Jesus in Mat. 4:17, Mark 1:15 and Mat. 10:7 say: The kingdoms or churches are at hand? No, and a thousand times no. According to those scriptures, God through them said: The kingdom (church) is at hand.
Question #4 - Does Jo. 3:29 say that God through John the Baptist said: Christ was to have brides? No. He said he that hath the bride (the church) is the bride groom.
Question #5 - Does Luke 12:32 reveal that Jesus assured his discouraged disciples, God would give them the kingdoms, (churches?) No. His words of encouragement unto them were "Fear not, little flock: For it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Question #6 - Does Luke 22:29 say Jesus said: God hath appointed unto me more than one kingdom? No. His statement was not: He hath appointed unto me kingdoms, more than one; but he hath appointed unto me a kingdom.
Question #7 - Do we in Luke 22:29 hear Jesus promise to appoint unto his apostles more than one kingdom? No. His promise was, I appoint unto you a kingdom. How could he appoint more than he was appointed?
Question #8 - Is it recorded in Luke 22:30 that Jesus promised his apostles they would eat at his table in more than one kingdom, (church?) No. If we can understand that Jesus (in this scripture) spoke of only one table, then it seems to me we should be able to understand he also spoke of only one church.
Question #9 - Did Jesus promise some of his disciples they would live to see more than one church come with power (Mark 9:1)? No. The word kingdom, which is the church (Acts 2:47, Col. 1:13), found in this passage is not spelled kingdoms but kingdom. So if they lived to see more than one church, then they lived to see more than Jesus promised.
Question #10 - Do we read in Mat. 16:18 that Jesus said he would build more than one church? No. Jesus in this scripture did not say upon this rock I will build my churches; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. What he did say was: "Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." If we were to hear a man say to a painter, upon this land I shall build my house and I want you to paint it. Would we say: Sir, I would like to see your houses when they are finished? So, you tell me, how many churches did Jesus say he would build?
Before presenting the next question, I ask you to recall with me a few Biblical facts. Before Christ died. God had two churches, one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles. This was necessary, because he had two convenants (Deut. 5:1-3). However, after the death of Christ, the first covenants were taken away (Eph. 2:11-16, Col. 2:13-16). After those covenants were abolished, the Jeremiah promised covenant was estab- lished (Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:6-13, Heb. 10:9). This covenant was to govern both the Jews and the Gentiles (Acts 10, Acts 11, Mark 16:15). Now to our next question.
Question #11 - Did Jesus, in Jo. 10:11-16, say there will be one church? We know he said he would be the one shepherd for both the Jews and the Gentiles (Jo. 10:16). We also know the new covenant was given through him (Heb. 1:1-2). Then too, we know that the fold or flock is the church (Acts 20:17-18; 28). Likewise, we know that Jesus said when I become the shepherd for both groups of God's sheep there shall be one fold or one church (Jo. 10:13-16).
Did he make a mistake? I hope not. Because if he did, he was a false prophet (Deut. 18:18-22).
By: Tommy Hodge
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