The Church Is One

That men should serve God in the one church was the eternal purpose of God: "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:8-11).

The church was made for all nations: "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:2,3).

How often we have quoted this passage to prove that the church began in Jerusalem. It proves this beyond a doubt, but it also shows that ALL NATIONS would flow into the Lord's house. The Telugo language has no definite article but it has the word 'it'. "All nations shall flow to it." There is only ONE CHURCH for all nations and, as we shall see, for ALL TIME.

One body

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling" (Eph. 4:4). The one body is the church. Christ who reigns at the right hand of the Father is head of the church. God's power worked "in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:20-23).

Members of this one body, the church, are in the kingdom of Christ. If the church and the kingdom were separate, as some claim, then you would have two bodies. Entrance into the church places one in the kingdom, as indicated by Christ's statement to Peter: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18,19).

The one body is called the church in Colossians 1:18. "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." According to Colossians 1:13,14 saints are in the kingdom: "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins."

False teaching by men has caused some to think of the church and the kingdom as two different organizations. The traditions of men make void the law of God.

We shall now look at two other passages from the Old Testament showing the nature of this divine body.

After telling about four world powers, of which Rome was the last, Daniel said: "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Daniel 2:44). Notice the singular: IT shall stand forever. So the idea that the kingdom lasts for a thousand years is false.

Jesus received the kingdom when He went back to the Father (Acts 2:30-36). We read of His coronation in Daniel: "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!" (Daniel 7:13a). Note that he was coming WITH the clouds. In the description of Christ's ascension in Acts 1:9 we read: "Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight." In Daniel we see what happened on the other side of that cloud: "He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Hem. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13b,14).

After the resurrection just before He ascended to the Father, Jesus said: "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18). He was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4).

The church was purchased by the blood of Christ: "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28).

The church had its beginning on the day of Pentecost as described in Acts, chapter two. People were told to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). These people the Lord added to the church (Acts 2:47).

The church began to function as a single congregation in Jerusalem, but the Lord did not intend for it to stay there. Members of the church had to flee from Jerusalem to save their lives (Acts 8:3,4). Some of these refugees went to the city of Antioch (Acts 11:19,20). They did not set up a mission there. THEY SET UP THE CHURCH, for we read: "So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26).

After Paul and Barnabas taught there for more than a year, the Holy Spirit had a new work for them (Acts 13:1-5). They were to carry the gospel into regions where it had not yet gone. They did not start missions, but full-fledged congregations. They left CHURCHES with elders (Acts 14:23).

The Lord sent them from Asia to Europe. There they set up churches. Philippi had its elders and deacons (Philippians 1:1,2). They went to Thessalonica and set up the church (1 Thes. 1:1).

For men to work through the church was God's purpose, for we read: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Eph. 3:20,21).

J. C. Bailey

Published in The Old Paths Archive (