The True Church

Many people have claimed the status of being the one "true" Church left on this earth. But what exactly does that mean?

"There is one body and one Spirit (Eph. 4:4). It is true that there is only one true Church, but that is not what people are claiming. They are claiming that the group of people they associate with have been given a special position by God. Some of these groups may deny the reality of other believers, but that is clearly adding to the gospel. The only requirement to being a Christian is belief in Jesus Christ. You do not have to be part of a specific group of people in the Church although you do have to be part of it in some way. The remaining claims are centered around the governmental function of the church.

The responsibilities of Christians are primarily moral. A Christian does not have to perform any rites or rituals to be acting as a Christian, although it can be beneficial (1 Cor. 11:17-33), their only responsibility is to act according to God's commands. There are no scriptural directions on how to build churches or sing songs, although  certain principles can be applied. The point is that God is mostly concerned with the moral character of those in the Church. The moral concerns are greater than the structural concerns. If there is a "true" church then the claims must be of a moral nature if they are to hold any weight.

God would not designate a church as being the "true" church simply because of structural correctness, since it could be devoid of Christians. If that were the case then the Jewish people might still be the "true" church, but we know that we now worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23). It is no longer the structure of our worship, but the reality of it.

This whole line of reasoning has only established that if there is a "true" church then it must be full of Christians, which we already know is the case. However, we have yet to discuss the governmental function in the Church, specifically regarding discipline.The issue is usually framed in the context that if one group of people disciplines someone then it is binding and no other group can challenge that. The proof text for this is found in Matthew 18:18. "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." If a certain decision is bound in heaven, can another group bind the opposite decision in heaven as well? Clearly this would lead to confusion.

Heaven is the house of God and it is not the house that makes a decision but the Master of the house. Does God then only bind the first decision made? Heaven is not controlled by earth. God is not controlled by man. Decision are not bound in heaven because of time but because they are right. Sinful decisions are not bound in heaven because heaven is holy (Heb. 9:24).

The key to interpreting this correctly is the verse that follows which says, "for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them (Matt. 18:20)." To be gathered in someones name means that you are acting according to how they would want you to act. If you have a concert for someone who passes away and they detested concerts you are not gathered in their name. If you act in pride and not in a spirit of love you are not gathered in the name of Jesus. Decision that are right are already bound in heaven because that is where it was determined in the first place. The clay does not mold the potter, but the potter molds the clay.

There is only one true Church. "There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:4-6)." Because there are so many different Christian sects, the unbelieving world no longer hears a clear message. They say which Jesus should I follow? This is a call to all of the churches who claim they are the "true" Church or act like it to repent.

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