Summary: The Study Of The Church Today
The Study Of The Church Today
Matthew 16:18 (KJV)
18 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.
The Lord's church was established almost 2000 years ago (Acts 2). It exists today just as it did then. "But how would this be possible?" you might ask? By simply following the New Testament pattern of the church.
Some are under the impression that in order to prove that the church today is the same church as was originally established by the Lord, we would have to trace it from year to year all the way back to the day of Pentecost. However, this is not true. In the first place, we have the Lord saying that His kingdom or church would never be destroyed, but that it would stand forever (Daniel 2:44; Luke 1:33; Hebrews 12:28). This means that the church has existed somewhere in the world since its beginning, even up to this time. It did not have to exist everywhere, all the time, for this to be true. In the next place, we have the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11) preserved in the words of the New Testament. If it produced Christians in the days of the apostles, it will produce Christians today. If those who became Christians in apostolic times made up the church, then the same would be true today. The Lord's church exists wherever the New Testament exists, provided those that have it will do what it says.
God has always given His people a pattern to follow.
• He gave Noah a pattern to follow in building the ark (Genesis 6).
• He gave Moses a pattern for the tabernacle, with the warning, "...See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain" (Hebrews 8:5).
In the New Testament we have unfolded the perfect pattern of the Lord's church. Noah and Moses were expected to follow the patterns that were given to them. We must follow the pattern for the church. Noah and Moses followed God's pattern for the ark and the tabernacle and God was pleased with the result. When we follow the pattern for the church, God will be pleased with the result. The church will exist just as He intended, without addition or subtraction (Revelation 22:18-19).
All of the marks of identification of the church are clearly laid down in the New Testament. The Lord tells what the church is, who built it, and when and where it was built. He also tells us the name of the church and its members. He tells us how to become a member of His church, and what its worship and work are. The New Testament tells us that Christ is the head of the church and that He purchased the church with His blood. It leaves no doubt as to what the church is and what its purpose is. The pattern is as clear as God's Word.
All we need to do is to study the Bible that we might know the one true church of the Bible. When we learn the truth about it, and follow it, then we will become members of it, and will be the same church that Christ originally established. Seed produces after its kind. The Word of God will produce Christians and members of the Lord's church today just like it always has in the past.
The church of Christ may be found around the world. It is here and everywhere. It will be found anywhere and at any time that man will do what the Bible teaches. It will stop being the Lord's church when people stop doing God's will.
The church of Christ today is growing and spreading because it follows the Bible only. It condemns division. It exalts Christ. This is the one church you can read about in the Bible. It is not a denomination or a combination of denominations. It is not Protestant, Catholic, or sectarian. Then what is it? Simply the Lord's church. That is all!
The Lord's church has no head on earth. The Lord's church has no headquarters on earth. We exalt no man. We have no super organization styled by man's wisdom. Each congregation is independent. It has its own local organization of elders and deacons, preachers, teachers, and members. One member is not elevated about the others.
Christ's church has always had its enemies. It has enemies today. The religious organizations of men oppose it. They resent a church that will not follow their example. They resent us because we will not fellowship them and bid them Godspeed. They are aware that there is someone trying to follow the Bible only, while they are only following the teachings of men. They are conscious that we follow Christ and wear His name only. They follow men and wear the names or men. Their weapon against us is not truth. Their weapon against the church consists of prejudicing the hearts of the people, misrepresenting us. But their labors are in vain.