Is There Really Only One Church? – Alan Brown

Alan Brown

In light of the confusion that so obviously exists in the religious world today, many people ask such questions as: “Are all churches pleasing to God, or should I join the church of my choice?” The majority of the religious leaders of today would answer “yes” to these questions, believing themselves to be a branch of the one true church and not the true church of the New Testament. An examination of this position is necessary before it can be ascertained if there is really only one church that all people must be members of in order to receive salvation.

In order for the majority of the religious world’s doctrine to be true concerning the oneness of the church, they must assume that Jesus is discussing His relationship to the church in John 15:1-5. While I will not go into detail about why this is a false doctrine, I will show some of the consequences of this false position if one assumes it to be true. We recognize that any doctrine which implies a false doctrine must itself also be false. If this doctrine implies one false doctrine, it must be false, and, therefore, unscriptural.

In Acts 2:47 we read, “ …and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The Lord adds only saved people to the church. Since it is quite obvious that the religious world teaches contradictory doctrines, and since it is impossible for all of these to be in harmony with the New Testament, it must be the case that there are some in the religious world who are teaching false doctrine. Now if all churches are members of the one church, and if the Lord adds to the one church all who are saved, and if salvation is in anyone of these “branch” churches, then it must be the case that the Lord will add to the church those who are accursed. There is only one gospel or doctrine, and Paul said that if anyone preached another gospel other, than the one he preached, then that person was accursed. It is obvious that there are doctrines different than the doctrine Paul preached being preached among these so-called “branch” churches. It must be concluded then, that if the assumption of the “branch” advocates be true, then the Lord adds to the church those who are saved by a different doctrine or gospel. Could any doctrine be more absurd or blasphemous to the church that the Son of God gave up His own life to purchase (Acts 20:28)? Could a devil invent a worse doctrine?

If the basic assumption of the “branch” advocates be true, then the Lord adds to the church those who have not God. By the above we see that some of the so-called “branch” churches transgress the doctrine of Christ. John said that those who transgress the doctrine of Christ have not God (2 John 9). If salvation can be obtained in these “branch” churches that transgress the doctrine of Christ, then the Lord adds to the church those who have not God. Can a person hold to this doctrine in all good conscience and knowledge knowing it is not in harmony with God’s will? If the basic assumption of the “branch” advocates be true, then the Lord adds to the church those whose names are, not in the book of life. It is obvious that some of these “branch” churches do not abide by all of-the New Testament—they take away from it. Such practices as denying the necessity of baptism, denying the necessity of partaking of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, or denying the return of Jesus at the end of time are obvious examples of taking away from the word of God. However, if the “branch” doctrine be true, the Lord will add to the church those whose names are not in the book of life (cf. Rev. 22:19). It should be obvious to any thinking, rational person that the basic assumption of the “branch” advocates is not ‘only false, but it implies that the Lord would do things which are blasphemous to the church of which Jesus is the savior (Eph. 5:23).

When we depart from the New Testament teachings and turn to man’s wisdom, we have rejected God and have placed ourselves above God. Can we not hear the words of Jeremiah: “O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Have the words of Paul lost their meaning? “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Do we no longer appeal to the law and to the testimony? Are we to look to man’s wisdom for our authority in religion? Obviously the only authority we have in religion is the New Testament. Man’s doctrine creates false “branch” churches. Obviously the “branch” advocates have a false doctrine. So the theory that all churches are really “branches” of the one church is a false doctrine.

This false doctrine is seen to be more absurd when we see that where a church does not claim to be “the church,” but simply a branch of the church, the members are only members of a branch, and the officers are only officers of a branch, and not members and officers of the body of Christ. These branches, and officers in them, are as separate and distinct from the kingdom of Christ and the officers in it, as Great Britain and Russia, and the officers of these respective governments. These different branch communities are distinct, separate, and independent kingdoms, with different laws, officers, names, foundations, times, and places of origin. They are not built on the same foundation, did not originate at the same time and place, have not the same law and officers, nor the same ecclesiastical organization, and are, to all intents and purposes, independent and distinct communities. 1.

Men today who think they can take the gospel of our Lord and interject their creeds, doctrines, confessions of faith and warped interpretations into that message “which was once for all delivered unto the saints” are of the same spiritual, moral and intellectual lineage as Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Just as Jeroboam set up at Dan and Bethel a worship contrary to the true worship of Jehovah, a worship that had a form of the true worship (2 Kings 12:25-33), but which was not the true worship, the worship of those who worship in another church or a “branch” church are displeasing to God (cf. 2 Kings 13:1-5). God is displeased with those who think they can worship as they please and still be acceptable to God. He does not tolerate the worship of those who change any part of the plan he has lain down (cf. Nadab and Abihu, Lev. 10). No one on the face of this planet (not even the Pope or a Supreme Council) has the authority to change God’s pattern for worship. No one has the authority to build and worship in a church which God has not authorized. God does not change His will and pattern for man’s salvation. Neither does He change His basic nature (Mal. 3:6). God does not ever accept those who are in disobedience to His will.

What about those churches which do claim to be the one true church of the New Testament? Does the claim alone make these churches acceptable in the sight of God? For the same reasons given previously, those churches not in harmony with the New Testament are not acceptable to God. Such doctrines as the papacy, confession, infant baptism, worship of so-called saints or the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship to God are not to be found in all the pages of the New Testament. Where is the authority for women leading men in prayer, soul talks, quiet periods, prayer partners and the like? The authority is certainly not to be found in the New Testament. What about gymnasiums, divided worship, Children’s Church (Bible hour) or taking the Lord’s Supper on Thursday? Again there is not to be found one single verse to support these false doctrines and practices. Equally unacceptable to God are those individuals who will knowingly fellowship a congregation that teaches false doctrine or individuals who teach false doctrine; those who do not give as they have been prospered, elders, preachers and members who know more about little league, soap operas, Girl Scouts, football, baseball, etc., than they do about the Bible. Tied in with this group are congregations who take more pride in building up huge bank accounts than in seeing the money go for the propagation of the gospel of our Lord that souls might be saved, and congregations and individuals who just don’t care. Brethren, we are quick in pointing out the error of denominationalism; however, are we not guilty of spitting in the face of a Holy and Almighty God when we have some of the same sinful practices in our own camp? Shall we escape the fires of Hell if we also reject God’s plan?

Jesus only built His church (Matt. 16:18). It was not a Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal or Roman Catholic Church. He died for His church only (Acts 20:28), and not for any denominational church. He is the Savior of His church only (Eph. 5:23). Paul said that there is only one body (Eph. 4:4) and that the body is the church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). If there is one body, and if the body is the church, then there.

Work Cited

1. Franklin, Benjamin, The Church-Its Identity, a sermon delivered in 1868.

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