|The word church (ekklesia) occurs possibly 100 times in the Bible. The more frequent use refers to a local congregation or local church. The word church in the Bible usually means a called out assembly, or a local congregation, such as the church at Rome, the churches of Galatia, the seven churches of Asia, etc. The Bible makes no issue of the names by which churches call themselves. The Bible does not even mention a denomination. It is not especially important to prove a denominational succession down through the ages. Joining a church of any denomination will not save anyone. To be saved one must turn from their sins and trust Jesus to save them. I don't think anyone can prove exactly when the Church started. The important thing is to believe all that the Scriptures reveal to us about the Church. There are a lot of things we cannot fully understand in the Bible, but we should firmly believe all of it. Christ said to Peter in;
Matthew 16:18. And I say also unto thee, That thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The church was not built upon Peter. ( Petros, a little piece of rock).
The Rock is Christ. The Church is built upon Him. He is the foundation.
I Corinthians 3:11. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ.
Christ said, "I will build My Church." Some people say, the Church started at that time, others say it started with John the Baptist, and some believe it started at Pentecost. The latter seems to be the time of its beginning. But I am not going to argue with people about when it started. The most important fact is, Jesus started it and He will finish it. When it is finished He will call it out in the Rapture of the saints.
Rapture; speaks of being "caught up" to meet the Lord in the air. This could happen at any moment. No one knows the day nor the hour when He will appear. But He is sure to return for His own as He said He would. After the church is caught up the Tribulation period begins, a period of seven years. At the end of the latter part, 3 1/2 years, called the Great Tribulation, Christ will return with His Saints to bring to an
end the battle of Armageddon, and set up His Millennial Kingdom. In Dr. John R. Rice's book "Dr Rice, Here Is My Question", he stated, "Whether you call the bride of Christ an "invisible church" does not matter. It is not invisible but it is not yet called together all in one place." I believe he was right, because the true Church will not be called together until the Rapture, then we will be called together at the Judgment Seat of Christ, to give an account of our stewardship to Him. God knows even now, but we will know then, if we have any rewards, or suffer loss. The Church, one Body;
I Corinthians 12:12. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
Every true born again believer is a member of Christ's body (The Church). "The Church Is A Temple For The Habitation of God Through The Spirit."
Ephesians 2:19-20. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The foundation of the Church is composed of the Apostles and Prophets, its Chief Cornerstone is Christ, and its superstructure is composed of the saved, the true born again believers in Christ. The Church is made up of all the saved united to Christ and each other. Each believer is a temple and all united together make up the One Temple, the Church.
I Cor. 3:16. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
I Peter 2:5. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, and holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
The Church has one Head, CHRIST; Ephesians 1:22-23. "And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth
all in all."
Since the beginning of the church all born again believers in Christ are members of the church, the body of Christ, and Christ is the head.
Ephesians 5:23. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and He is the Saviour of the body.
ONE BAPTISM: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." (I Cor. 12:13)
This baptism is the work of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is God's commandment for men to perform, as it is given in the great commission;
Matt. 28:19-20. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The Holy Spirit baptism takes place when one is born again. We certainly cannot be baptized by water into the Church, which is His body. His body is not a certain group of baptist people. It certainly is not the Catholic denomination, or any other denomination. The true born again believers in all baptist churches, and others who do not call themselves baptist, and have truly been saved, are members of the True Church purchased with Christ's precious blood.
Acts 20:28. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.
In the 'Polyglot' New Testament published by the American Tract Society and printed in 1872 or earlier. Let's look at the following verse and notes.
John 3:29. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
The notes; ("Hath the bride" is the Bridegroom; in these three words John teaches that Christ's relationship to the Kingdom of Heaven is that of the Bridegroom to the Bride. The Church is His own, and ought to render to Him supreme honor. John, on the other hand, is only the Bridegroom's friend. He was sent to foretell His coming, and now rejoices to be lost sight of in His greater glory.") John was the last of the Old Testament Prophets who walks out of the O.T. onto the pages of the New Testament to announce the coming of the Messiah. Being a friend of the Bridegroom, he will be present at the Marriage Supper of the
Lamb, according to my understanding of this verse. Sometimes we try to read between the lines, when we don't fully understand the lines. All any of us know are the things God has chosen to reveal to us in His precious Word, as the Holy Spirit enlightens us. In eternity, I believe, God will reveal all the answers to our questions.
I certainly believe in discipline of members in the local assemblies. If a person isn't living right and doesn't repent, he should be refused the privilege of partaking of the Lord's Supper until he has repented and gotten right with the Lord. And he should also be dismissed from
membership in the local assembly until he gets his life straightened out with God and the church. I'm afraid this is something that isn't practiced very often in churches today. Churches failing to practice discipline, disobeys God's precious Word, and the result is the loss of the Holy Spirit's power. Sad but true.
The Lord's Supper is described as Communion in I Corinthians chapter 10, verse 16; " The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
(communion: Lit. fellowship).
Communion: Observing The Christian Sacrament; There is absolutely no mention of using fermented wine as some do. In fact wine is not mentioned in relation to the Lord's Supper. Fermented wine cannot possibly represent the blood of Jesus since the process of fermentation is a decaying, corrupting process, it could not possibly represent Jesus blood, for it saw no corruption. It was pure, innocent blood with no taint of sin or corruption. The Fruit Of The Vine, or pure grape juice, is symbolic of the blood of Christ that was shed for the remission of sin. The unleavened bread speaks of the body of Christ. We are to observe
this Sacrament in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ until He returns, remembering what He has done for us, in taking our place on Calvary, dying for us that we may forever live by trusting in Him as our personal Savior. The Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ as we see
in Matthew chapter 26 and verses 26-29; "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I wil l not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."
Luke 22:19. And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
BAPTISM: (water baptism)
We are to follow the Lord's commandment to be baptized, after being saved. We are to carry out the Great Commission as given in Matthew 28:19-20 as I have already stated above. Biblical baptism is by immersion. It is an outward confession of the inward possession,
representing the death, the burial, and resurrection of our Lord. All fundamental Baptist churches require a person to be baptized to become a member of their church or local assembly. But it does not have anything to do with salvation. It is to be done in obedience to
the Lord's command. Baptism is to be performed by qualified men of God. I was baptized before I joined a local assembly. I am totally satisfied with my baptism. I wasn't sprinkled, I was immersed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by two
preachers of the gospel. Therefore I was Scripturally baptized.
SPIRIT BAPTISM: (The Holy Spirit Baptism)
The saved are baptized by one Spirit, the Holy Spirit; into the body, the Church, when the New Birth takes place. Water baptism is an answer of a good conscience toward God after the Holy Ghost has done His work of Spirit baptism.
I Corinthians 12:13. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
I repeat, the Bible says nothing about denominations. No denomination is the Church. Some claim to be the Church, such as Roman Catholics, and several others. Another thing, Peter was not the first Pope, in fact he was no Pope at all. Pope is the invention of man, and the Pope is
certainly not the 'Vicar of the Lord Jesus Christ.' Jesus is the Only High Priest, and we christians have direct access to God the Father through God the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Since I have gotten into this, may I say, Mary has never interceded for anyone at any time.
I Timothy 2:5. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Jesus said to Thomas and is speaking to the whole world in John 14:6 "......I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."
Mary was to be called blessed, and indeed she was, but she was not divine. She was a chaste virgin, not having known a man, chosen by God, to bring forth His only begotten Son into this sinful world. He then gave Him up to die for our sins on the old rugged cross, by shedding His precious, innocent blood, as He took our place, paying our sin debt, that only He could pay.
Isaiah was inspired to write in Ch. 7, vs.14; Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel." Matthew 1:23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
This was God's means of coming to the rescue of man. Edward Mote's song says, "My hope is
built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. George Keith wrote; "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled? The Bible says nothing, absolutely nothing, about saved people in this Church age being outside the body of Christ if they haven't joined a certain group of believers. Praise God I am a member of the body of Christ, and all who are truly saved are members of the body, the Church, called the "Bride of Christ", and the Bridegroom is coming for His own, perhaps soon. In the mean time we should faithfully serve the Lord while we are looking for His Return. The edifying of the Church is to continue till we all come in the unity of the faith. Since there will be new christians added to the Church, this objective of edifying will continue and not fully realized until the Lord returns. Let's keep on keeping on for the Lord. For the benefit of all who read this message, and are not saved, my prayer for you is, that you will put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ now, five minutes from now may be forever too late. None of us know when we are going to have to leave
Matthew 24:44. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
There is only ONE WAY of SALVATION for all people, both Jews and Gentiles.
Acts 4:12. Neither is there salvation on any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
We Christians have an awesome responsibility to witness to the lost, and edify each other. We also have a responsibility to go to the aid of so many hurting, bereaved, and troubled people. We preachers have a great responsibility of declaring the precious Word of God He has intrusted to us. As the Holy Spirit empowers us, we are to boldly declare the gospel with great compassion. The need of the gospel is greater now than ever before. Some may say, "I don't have the ability" to do these things. Someone has said, "the greatest ability is availability." If you are available, God will provide grace, and equip you. Therefore you are inexcusably. Christ is the head of the Church. We who are saved make up the Church. Therefore God has a job for each of us, every individual. I believe it was Daniel Webster, if I am not mistaken, was asked the question, "What is the greatest thought to enter your mind?" He answered, "my accountability to God." The Church, the saved, will answer to Lord Jesus Christ at the "Judgment Seat of Christ" to receive rewards, or suffer loss of rewards. The unsaved will be at the, "Great White Throne Judgment", judged and cast into the lake
of fire. What a person does with Christ here, determines his eternal destiny.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. email@example.com Evangelist R. E. Layne, Th.D.