Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 13, 1955
NUMBER 23, PAGE 1,3b

Which Church Did Christ Build?

John T. Hinds

That there are several hundred religious bodies each claiming to be the church of Christ, or a denomination of the church of Christ, is a fact too plain to be denied. That these religious bodies disagree with each other in doctrine and practice is also plain to any one that wants to see. Did Christ establish all these bodies? If so, why do they disagree, seeing they all have the same Bible? Did he establish any of them? If so, which one? If more than one, how many? "It makes no difference which church you join," say many. If this be true, does it make any difference how many churches you join? Men join lodges — Masons, Odd Fellows, etc. — to get the benefit of all of them. If it makes no difference which church you join, what valid reason can you give for not joining several churches, so as to get the benefits of several? "It would not be right," says one. How do you make this, when it makes no difference which you join? Is it right for A to join a certain church ? You think so. Is it right for B to join another church? You guess so. Then, why would it not be right for A to join both of them? No logical reason can be urged against it, provided we have the right to join different churches. In this way the Saviour's prayer for union (John 17:21) could easily be answered and Paul's instruction for all to speak the "same thing" (1 Cor. 1:10) could easily be followed. It would consist in each one's joining every church he could find. Then all could speak the "same thing" by each speaking "everything" even if he did have to contradict himself at every point But this would be absurd and ridiculous," says one. Certainly, and that is the very reason it makes a difference which church you join.

If it makes no difference which church you join, it will be all right to join the Catholics, Latter-Day Saints, or Universalists. What do you say to this? Then it would make no difference if a man did not join any church. If one man can stay out of one church and be saved. Then that church is useless. If it makes no difference which church you join, then all churches are useless for humanity can be saved out of all of them.

1. How many churches did Christ establish? What does the Bible say? Did Christ and his apostle mean what they said, or were they simply joking? Christ said that whatsoever the apostles bound on earth should be bound in heaven. See Matt. 16:19; John 20:23. Paul says: "There is one body" (Eph. 4:4). "But now are they many members, yet one body" (1 Cor. 12:20). What is this body? It is the church. "And gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body" (Eph. 1:22, 23); "for his (Christ's) body's sake which is the church" (Col. 1:24). The body is the church. Paul says: "but one body," hence but one church. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church" (Eph. 5:23). "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ" (v. 24. See also verses 25, 27, 29, 32). Paul does not say "churches," but "the church." As Christ established but one church it makes a difference which one you become a member of, if you wish to be united with Christ, for he is head of the one church.

Can any one show that it is right for four different men to teach and practice different things religiously, and at the same time it be wrong for one man to teach and practice all of them? To illustrate. Suppose it be right and pleasing to God for A to preach "once in grace always in grace." B to preach "you can fall from grace," C to preach that "immersion only is baptism," and D to preach that "sprinkling or pouring will do as well." Would it also be right for A to preach all these doctrines? If not, why not? If four men preach four different doctrines, the people say God is pleased: if one man should preach them all, they would say the preacher was insane. Consistency, did you say? If four men preach these doctrines, people say they are preaching the Bible; if one man should preach them all, they would call him a simpleton. It is no wonder we have infidels.

Can two or more be right when they disagree? If one school teacher says 2 and 2 are 4, another 2 and 2 are 5, another 2 and 2 are 6, another 2 and 2 are 7, would you say all are right? How long would it take the directors to dismiss three of them? Are all of them correct? One church says do one thing; another says do something else. Are they both right? Not unless 2 and 2 are 4, 5, 6, and 7. If God accepts all denominations, and they disagree on what to do to be saved, then God is as well pleased with falsehoods as with truth, for when one man positively denies the statement of another both cannot be right. The Bible says God cannot lie; Christ says the truth makes free. See John 8:32.

2. Are denominations branches of the church? Paul says God has set the members in, and tempered the body together "that there should be no schism in the body" (1 Cor. 12:18, 24, 25). Is there schism or division among denominations? Certainly. Then they are not pleasing to God. "God set the members every one of them in the body as it has pleased him" (v. 18). Did God set the various denominations in? If so, he failed to tell us about it. The Bible does not once name them. If God set in such churches, it is strange that he never said anything about them. If he did mention them, will some one tell where?

Can a man be saved and go to heaven out of Christ's church? If so, what is the church good for? Can a man be saved and go to heaven out of the various denominations? They say he can. Can he be saved and go to heaven without believing and obeying the gospel? No; for it is God's power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). Then, denominationalism is not the gospel or any part of it, for God's power (gospel) gives us all things that pertain to "life and godliness"; in fact, they were never heard of for hundreds of years after the church was established and the gospel revealed.

But some one inquires if Christ did not speak of the vine and its branches. Certainly he did, but who is the vine and who are the branches? Christ says: "I am the vine" (John 15:1). As Christ is the vine, who then can be the branches? Denominations? Let Christ answer: "I am the vine and ye are the branches" (V. 5). Ye, who? "He that abideth in me, and I in him." Do we speak of denominations as "he"? No, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch" (v. 6). This is the key; men, individuals, are the branches. Denominations are not hinted at in the passage.

Can there be branches without a vine, or branch rivers without a main river to branch from? If denominations be branches of the church, where is the church from which they branched? The unchangeable law of nature is that all natural branches of the same tree bear the same kind of fruit.-Who ever saw a grape vine bearing grapes on one branch, apples on another, peaches on another, and plums on another, melons on another, and pumpkins on another? Such a sight would be no more unreasonable than to suppose all the denominations with their different doctrines to be authorized by Christ. As denominations came into existence hundreds of years after the days of Christ and the apostles, they must be of human origin and no one has a right to belong to any of them.

3. Which is the church Christ established, and who compose it? It is called the "church of God" (Acts 20:28). Christ says, "my church" (Matt. 16:18). Paul calls congregations "churches of Christ" (Rom, 16:16). What about the expression, "Christian Church"? The Bible does not use it; the Bible speaks of God's church. The church is composed of Christians, but does not belong to them, they belong to it. Are men Christians outside of this church? No more than men are Masons outside of the Masonic Lodge. Reconciliation is in the one body which is the church (Eph. 2:16; 1:22, 23).

What are the characteristics of Christ's church? (1) It accepts the Bible as furnishing all instructions needed or allowed (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Rev. 22:18, 19); hence, rejects all human creeds and names. (2) It accepts the apostolic teaching that people should believe, repent, confess and be baptized to become Christians (Acts 16:31; 2:38; Rom. 10:10; Acts 22:16). (3) It teaches that the Scriptures thoroughly furnish the man of God "unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Hence, it rejects all human aids to the worship and work, such as the organ, church suppers and societies. Can anyone show where the apostolic church ever wore a human name, made a human creed, gave a church entertainment, used instrumental music in worship, formed societies, taught sprinkling or pouring to be baptism, or that people were saved without baptism? It can not be done, and very few will undertake the task.

In the apostolic church, no preacher was ever called "Reverend" or "the pastor." Every scholar who has carefully investigated knows that the words "elders," "pastors" and "bishops" all refer to the same class — the overseers (elders of each congregation; Acts 20:17, 28) — and not to preachers as a class. "Rev. Paul," "Dr. James, the pastor of our church," is not the language of God's book. Peter says, "Speak as the oracles of God." (1 Peter 4:11). Why disobey him?

Are you a member of the church Christ established? Read the following: (Matt. 7:21-23; Heb. 5:8, 9; Gal. 1:610; Matt. 16:13-20).

The church of Christ pleads for a return to New Testament Christianity. We speak where the Bible speaks and keep silent where it is silent, call Bible things by Bible names, and do Bible things in Bible ways.

Attend The Services Of The Church Of Christ In Your Community.