Why are there so many different churches? With respect to those who consider themselves Christian, who claim to follow the Holy Bible for its doctrine (teaching) and guidance, one could very well wonder about this question. After all, if all of these use the same source (the Bible) as their reference, then why are they each so different? One would think that, having the same source, they would all come to the same conclusion, and practice the very same things all in the same fashion as each other. Why, then, are there so many differences among them?

Certainly, if they are all different, teaching variations of the same thing, then they all cannot be the church that is in the Bible. How can one tell which one, if any, is the church that is found in the Bible. As has been noted in previous articles, it is essential that one finds that one church, because it is necessary for his salvation to be a part of that blood-bought institution which was built by, and belongs to, Christ. Remember, “. . .And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” (Acts 2:47). There must be some markers to identify this church. What are those identifying markers?

Remember the parable of the sower from Matt. 13:3-9, which he later explained to his disciples in verses 18-23. From that parable we understand that different people will respond differently to the gospel message, depending upon their particular situation. How sad it is that so many reject Christ because of their cares for this world: they trade eternity for a few measly years of comfort upon this earth. How fortunate for those who have a heart of good ground, which readily receives the word of the gospel: they shall reserve for themselves a place in heaven. Take particular note that when Jesus explained the parable, the seed represented the word. When the seed of the gospel is planted in one's heart, if it is rich soil, it will yield the kind of plant from which the seed of the gospel comes. You plant corn seed, corn plants grow. You plant beens, been plants grow. You plant the gospel, the result is a crop of Christians.

Now, let us return to that day when the church was first established. The kingdom which had so long ago been prophesied, which John the baptist had preached that it was at hand (Matt 3:1-2), which Jesus had preached was at hand (Matt. 4:17,23), and which the disciples were sent out to preach, that it was at hand (Matt. 10:1-7), and for which the Jews had been awaiting (Jno. 6:14-15); it had finally appeared according to the prophecy of Daniel, that God would establish during the rule of these kings (the Romans, Dan. 2:44). Peter and the other Apostles preached the gospel message, and those who received it gladly obeyed the command to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” (Acts 2:38-41). Those who did so were added to that church for which Christ had died. It was not the Apostles who added them to the church. No! It was the Lord: Jesus Christ added those obedient believers to his church, the church of Christ. And, so it is, that when the seed of the gospel is sown, that fertile heart will yield none other than a Christian. If a different seed is planted, then it will yield a plant after its kind; but not a Christian.

So it can be accurately stated that those that are in the one church which belongs to Christ are the only Christians. Within the church there are only Christians. Outside of the church there are no Christians. The only Christians there are are those who have heard, believed, and obeyed the commands of the gospel which is found in the Holy Bible. Any other message which is not found in the Bible does not make a Christian. What about you? Have you heard the gospel message which saves? Jesus taught us that if we want to be saved from the guilt of our own sins we must 1) believe (Jno. 6:45-47), 2)Confess him (Matt. 10:32-33), 3) repent of our sins (Luke 13:3), 4) and be baptized (Mark 16:16). Note, Jesus never commanded anyone to ask him into one's heart, to pray a sinner's prayer, nor any other extra-Biblical falsehoods.

With this fundamental understanding (that one who is saved is one who has been converted by the true gospel message, and not some alternate plan from another source) then it is just a matter of learning what the Bible declares are those distinctive features of the Lord's church so that one can be certain that he is among Christians. Of course, any group or individual who desires to be that church for which Christ died can become that church by first being converted, and abiding in that form of doctrine whereby those Christians of the first century were saved (Rom. 6:17).

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX

Curtis A. Little
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