Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 27, 1952

What Is "The Invisible Church"?

Fred A. Amick, San Diego, California

(Brother Fred A. Amick, preacher for the El Cajon Blvd. congregation in San Diego, conducts a regular weekly broadcast over Station KFMB. He reaches a great audience in southern California, and his lessons are doing much to spread the true gospel in that area. We present herewith a recent discussion on "the invisible church.")

1. Is the invisible church composed of members from all denominations?

It is quite generally believed that the real church of Christ is made up of all the genuine Christians out of all the various religious bodies. These so-called sincere "born-again" believers are distinguished from the run-of-the-mill Churchgoers who make up the great bulk of church memberships. They are represented as the true followers of Christ. They are often called the "Invisible Church," the great "unseen" body of Christ universal.

In recent broadcasts, we have seen that denominationalism is wrong. God commands us to "come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues." (Rev. 18:4) This condemnation is described as Babylon, and Babylon stands for all religious error and confusion. (Rev. 17:5 and 18:2) It includes both the Papal church and all of her daughters. These daughters make up the sum total of Protestant Denominationalism.

Not only are the leaders of any false religious movement in error, but all those persons who aid and encourage their program are also held responsible. To encourage a false teacher is just as sinful as to be a false teacher. This warning is repeated too many times for the honest student to miss. "Whosoever transgresses, and abides not in the teaching of Christ, has not God. He that abides (stays) in the teaching of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this teaching, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (2 John 9-11) Since every denomination is built, at least in part, on some religious error that Christ never taught, then it follows that all those who are a part of any denomination become guilty of spreading the same error. The inspired man calls this evil. We are under command to discourage any teaching not authorized by Christ; we are to teach only the "manifold wisdom of God?' (Eph. 3:10)

How could persons be following Christ while abetting the work of denominational error? That would surely be a house divided against itself. Jesus proclaimed that, "he that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with me scatters abroad?' (Matt. 12:30) One cannot now work for Christ and against Christ at the same time. Light and darkness cannot dwell together; truth and error can never be friends. They are diametrically opposed to one another. Christ's followers are never found in the camp of His enemies; His soldiers can never serve under the banner of any other captain.

The "Invisible Church" could not possibly be composed of members from warring factions. Christ's body stands united on the one faith.

2. Are not the many members of Christ's body the various denominational churches?

A few moments' careful study will show that this conclusion is not warranted. In the first place, these various denominations are bodies. They are not members of a body, but each of them constitutes a body complete in itself. For example, the Assembly of God Church is a body. It has its own name, creed, officers, and distinctive program of work. It is a church. This could be said of every denomination. In the aggregate, they are a group of churches; in the singular, each one is a church. If these churches banded together to form another organization, and yet retained their individual distinctions, they would still not be a church, but only a federation of churches, or bodies. They would be a union, but could not possibly be a unity.

The body of Christ is His church. (Col. 1:18) If He has many churches, then it necessarily follows that He has many bodies. What does Paul say? "For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one: so also is Christ. 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 of one Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:12,13) Every other inspired passage stresses the singularity of the body. One, one, one! Never is it even suggested that there can be two, or more. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph. 4:4-6) The New Testament only speaks of one church. Man has created many churches, but Jesus Christ created only one.

3. Is this one body invisible?

Jesus made a statement that speaks of the invisible quality of the church: "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, 'The kingdom of God comes not with observation (or with outward show): Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you'." (Luke 17:20,21)

The church is a spiritual institution. Its government feature is given the figure of a kingdom. A spiritual government could not be established, nor could it function, in the same manner of a civil government. The kingdom of God is not politically bounded; it is not geographically located; it did not come with worldly show and fanfare. It does not appeal to the carnal nature of man; it appeals only to the spirit of man. It does not accomplish its purposes by use of physical force, or worldly enticements, but it works its reforms by redirecting the thinking of mankind.

The church is invisible because it originated and draws its powers from an invisible source. It has no earthly headquarters. It has no earthly ruler. It has no connection whatever with any organization on earth. This does not mean that the church has no visible manifestations, or that it cannot be recognized. The church of Christ is easier to recognize than many of the organizations around us. It is distinctive and unique in all the realms of man's experience. There is nothing like it in all the world.