Text: Matt. 16.18; Eph. 4.4
Thesis: To prove that the Lord only has one church and that a person is to be a member of that
(1) Have you ever experienced this?
(a) Someone may ask you, “Do you go to church?”
(b) You respond, “Yes, I do.”
(c) The other person then ask, “Which one?”
(2) We can look out and see numerous “churches” today, but is that how it should be?
I. The original scene (Acts 2):
A. One was either a Christian or not.
1. Paul tells us that there was/is “one body and one Spirit, just as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in you all” (Eph. 4.4-6).
2. There were problems (e.g., Corinth), but they were all Christians belonging to the Lord’s church.
B. Jesus Himself had promised to establish His church (Matt. 16.18).
1. Obviously, He did just that (Acts 2).
2. This was a fulfillment of prophecy (Isa. 2.1-3).
II. The falling away:
A. Unfortunately, problems begin to arise, contrary to scripture, which led to the development on the RCC.
B. Afterwards, Martin Luther opposed the RCC with his nailing of the 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.
1. This began a period of time known as the “Reformation Movement.”
a. The intention was to reform the RCC not to restore AD 33.
b. Many leaders arose during that time along with Luther (e.g., John Calvin, Zwingli, etc.).
2. After this period began, all protestant denominations began from and after this time.
a. Obviously, the Lutheran church came from the followers of Luther.
b. The Methodist church was established by the Wesley brothers.
c. The Baptist church was established by John Smyth.
d. Et. Al.
C. During the 1800’s, that was a sense of spiritual revival that swept our nation and a movement began which came to be known as the “Restoration Movement.”
1. Famous men such as B. W. Stone, Thomas Campbell, and Alexander Campbell rose up to take the led in restoring the church of the New Testament.
2. They and many others gave up their denominational ties and beliefs and went back to the Bible as their sole authority and began striving to teach and follow only what was contained in the Word of God.
a. This movement helped to restore much of what was originally practiced and taught in the NT church.
b. Nevertheless, problems did arise and a major split occurred in 1906 over, mainly, whether to use a mechanical instrument during worship.
III. The solution today:
A. What are we to do in this time where so many “churches” exist?
1. Is it the name on the door that makes it right?
No, but we should call Bible things by Bible names.
2. Is it the nicest building, largest attendance, etc.?
B. We must be the church of the 1st-century, the Lord’s church.
1. What of its membership?
a. The Lord adds people to the church, we don’t vote them in, etc. (cf. Acts 2.47). “Those who were being saved:”
b. That includes:
(1) Hearing (Rom. 10.17)
(2) Believing (John 8.24)
(3) Repenting (Luke 13.3)
(4) Confessing (Rom. 10.9-10)
(5) Being Baptized (Acts 2.38)
2. What of its worship?
a. Lord’s Supper every 1st day of the week (Acts 20.7)
b. Contribution every 1st day of the week (1 Cor. 16.1-2)
c. Preaching (2 Tim. 4.2)
d. Praying (1 Thess. 5.17)
e. Acappela singing (Eph. 5.19)
3. What of its organization?
a. The Lord is ultimately over His church (Eph. 1.22)
b. The elders lead the congregation (Acts 20.28)
c. Deacons serve under the elders carrying out specific jobs assigned them (e.g., Acts 6)
d. The rest of the body serve under the eldership working with them and each other carrying out the work of the church
4. What of its teaching?
a. Simply, “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4.11).
b. The Old Testament is no longer in effect today, though still important (Rom. 15.4).
c. The New Testament, being inspired and in effect today, is the sole authority of the church; thus, no creeds are needed.
5. What of its origin?
a. It is not a church that was established by some man whether John Smyth or Alexander Campbell.
b. It is established by the Lord Himself (Matt. 16.18).
(1) Corruptions of it by mankind does not change the Lord’s teaching.
(2) We, therefore, go back and be a member of the Church Jesus built.
c. Is this possible today?
(1) First, do we have the pattern today?
(a) Yes, we have the inspired Word today.
(b) They Played by the Same Rules: It was historic! It had been more than forty years since it had last happened; but, in this generation of seeing walls come down and records broken, it was not really surprising. Perhaps you saw some of it. I speak of the baseball game between the Cuban National team and the Baltimore Orioles. It happened on May 28, 1999 in Cuba. Fidel Castro himself attended, attired in his official garb, and watched the activities with the mostly solemn crowd of by-invitation-only fans. The Orioles eventually won. What was amazing was that both teams played by the same rules and no disagreements broke out. Why was this amazing? Because these teams came from different cultures, lived under opposite forms of government, and spoke different languages. Sure, a few could speak the other’s language, but, by and large, they were from different worlds. Yet, the game went off and without a hitch. Why? The reason is simple: they had one rule book to govern what they did. The standardized rules of baseball are the same in Cuba as in the US; they are the same in Spanish as in English. The language barrier did not prevent them from playing the same game. The culture barrier did no hinder their competing in the same fashion.
(2) Second, we go to the pattern and follow it and we will be the church that Jesus built.
Will you be a member of the Lord’s church?