One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

Part 1

 

 

John 17:3

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yahoshua the Christ {Jesus} whom You have sent.”

 

What is a church? 

The online version of the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines church as:

Church noun \ˈchərch\

1: a building for public and especially Christian worship


2: the clergy or officialdom of a religious body


3often capitalized: a body or organization of religious believers: as

          A: the whole body of Christians

Bdenomination 

Ccongregation


4: a public divine worship 


5 the clerical profession 


This is the basic definition that I grew up with and I believe most people would agree. I was taught that a synagogue is where Jewish people go to worship, a temple is where Muslims go to worship, and a church is where Christian go to worship.  There are many places of worship in this world.  Near my home there is a Muslim temple, a Jewish synagogue, and varying Christian denominations with their own churches.  I have been to some cities where in certain areas there seems to be a different denominational church on every corner.  Upon first impression I suppose this is a good thing. Since all these churches profess to, read from the same book and worship the same God, one would think that the teachings of the one they all call their Savior would be the same in each denomination.    Yet this is not the case.  Why do they not teach the same things?


It is not my intent to debate the authenticity or validity of other religious doctrines or beliefs.  I am speaking to those who claim to be Christians, who claim that Yahoshua {Jesus} is their Savior.  I am speaking to those who claim to receive their spiritual teachings from the Christian bible.  


Hebrews 13:8-9:

” Yahoshua {Jesus} the Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.


The Savior whom Christians claim to worship does not vary in His message. He does not give one denomination a certain message and then another denomination another message.  There is only one God the Father. There is only one God the Son. There is only one Holy Spirit, and there is only one book that is common to all denominations of the Christian faith.  There are some denominations that use other books they claim to be holy in nature, but they also use what we know as the Christian bible.  So why are there so many “Christian” churches claiming to pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, professing to have the Holy Spirit, and using the Bible as their guide, but teaching different doctrine?  This to me is confusing.


1 Corinthians 14:33:

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

So let us see what the Holy Bible has to say on the subject of all these different denominations and all these different teachings, which take place in what we call; “His Church”.

The first time the word church appears in scripture is in Matthew16:18.


Matthew 16:18:

”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”.


The Messiah states emphatically that He shall build His church.  Not His church’s, not His denomination’s, not His splinter groups, but His church; singular.  Since we know that He will build His church, the next logical question I presume would be, what did Yahoshua mean by church?  I gave you a definition from the dictionary’ earlier in the article, but let us get the Biblical definition.

 

 The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines church as:


1577: ekklésia:

 a calling out, a popular meeting ,an assembly, a (religious) congregation

This word comes from the two Greek words ek and kaleó


1537: ek or ex:

 denoting origin the point from where motion or action proceeds, from out of


2564: kaleó: to call, to call forth, to summon, to invite, whose name was called

This word kaleo is akin to the base of the word keleuo-; reference number 2753

keleuó: to hail, to incite by word, order, to command

 

According to these definitions when the Savior said that He would build His church; He was saying that He would call out, or invite, by name, a group of people to leave from one place and go to another. 

Let us look at this carefully:


1: He will call out or invite a group of people.


Matthew 10:1

“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him…”


Mark 3:13-14

And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. “


John 6:44:

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”


John 15:16:

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.”

 

2: Next He calls them by name:


Isaiah 49:1

 “Listen, O coastlands, to Me, And take heed, you peoples from afar! The Lord has called Me from the womb; From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.


Isaiah 43:7:

Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”


Revelation 2:17:

“And on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

 

3: They are to leave one place and go to another:


If this were the Old Testament it would be easy to apply this part of the definition.  Ancient Israel was called to leave Egypt and commanded to go to the land of Canaan, but can we apply this to the New Testament church?  We first must determine where the people He called are to come out of.  In my previous articles I have stated that the physical things of this earth are but a mere copy or shadow of the spiritual things of heaven.  The Old Testament is the physical representation of the New Testament.  The old is physical the new is spiritual.  With this in mind; if the people of the Old Testament, physical Israel, were called out of physical slavery, the people of the New Testament, spiritual Israel, must be called out of spiritual slavery, which the bible defines as slavery to sin.

 

John 8:34

” Yahoshua {Jesus} answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.’“


Romans 6:6

”Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves of sin. “


Romans 6:20:

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. “

The ancient Israelites were no longer to be slaves to the Egyptians; they were to become slaves to God. 


Romans 6:16:

”Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? “

When the Israelites obeyed the Egyptians they were slaves to the Egyptians.  When the Israelites vowed to obey God, they became slaves to God.


Exodus 19:8:

“Then all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord. “

We as spiritual Israelites are no longer to be the slaves of sin but become slaves to God.


Romans 6:18:

And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. “

The ancient Israelites were led out of slavery through the redemption of God. They were then led into their kingdom, where God was to be their king.


 Exodus 15:13:

“You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation.”

 We are also to be led out of slavery through the redemption of our God and be led into our Kingdom, where Yahoshua {Jesus} will be our king.


Colossians 1:13-14:

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”


God knows us from birth and when He calls us He calls us by name.  It is then our choice to obey and follow Him or to disobey and reject Him.


This is His church!!!!!


A group of people He has called by name.  They are called to come out of the slavery of sin and be led by Him into His kingdom.


According to the definition given to us we see that Yahoshua {Jesus} fulfilled all the criteria for beginning His church.  His church is not a building.   His church is the people who follow His teachings.   There is only one teacher and only one message.  The people who came to listen to His teachings while he walked the earth all heard the same words. There was no division among them!!!!


So how did we, those who claim to follow the teachings of Yahoshua {Jesus}, get to the position we are in today?  As I look around to those who call themselves Christians all I see is division.  One group of Christians call themselves Catholics, another Episcopalians, yet another Presbyterian, ect.,ect. We can go on and on.  How did this division, come about?  Is this truly how Yahoshua wants His church? 


After His death and resurrection Yahoshua {Jesus } came to His disciples.  He spoke and taught many things.  Before He ascended back into heaven He commanded His disciple to stay in Jerusalem, and to wait for the promise. {Acts 1:4} They went to a room in Jerusalem and waited as commanded.  Remember; these people were the church; they were the disciples of Christ, and they had been commanded to wait for the promise.


Acts 2:1:

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”


They were all in one place and they were all in agreement; there was no division among them.  The church at this time was completely unified, and they all spoke the same word, taught the same Christ, and believed in the same Gospel.  It was at this time, on the day of Pentecost, that they were given the Holy Spirit.   Once the Holy Spirit was given the church grew quickly.  You can read about the growth of the church in the book of Acts chapters two through seven.  Beginning in Acts chapter eight we are introduced to a man named Saul.  Saul was a Pharisee, a Jewish minister, who was persecuting the church until he was called by God to become part of the church.  The Lord changed his name to Paul and he became an apostle to the Gentiles.  I will teach more on the Gentiles in another article but for this teaching we must understand that before this point the Gentiles were considered unclean, and the Israelite’s were to have nothing to do with them.


Matthew 10:5:

“These twelve Yahoshua {Jesus} sent out and commanded them, saying: ‘Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.’  


And how did many in the church react when Gentiles were accepted?


Acts 11:1-4:

“Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.  And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision{Jews} contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men{Gentiles} and ate with them!”


The people who confronted Peter in this verse were also the disciples of Yahoshua {Jesus}.  They were angry because Peter was preaching the gospel to Gentiles.  


This is where the schism first begins!!!!

 

It was also during this time that the church, or the disciples of Yahoshua {Jesus}, began to be called Christian. 


Acts 11:26

And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. 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.”


This is important!!!!

 

When the church first began it was made up entirely of Israelite’s, more commonly known as the Jewish people.  They we called Israelite’s because they were the children of their father Jacob, whose name was changed, by God, to Israel.  His father was Isaac, and his father was Abraham.  The lineage of the disciples had not changed because they were following the teachings of Christ.  When the people began calling these disciples of Yahoshua, Christians, it was almost like they were taking away their heritage.  No longer were they to be considered children of Israel by their people, now they were children of the Christ.  They were something different; they were no longer Jewish; they were no longer to be considered part of the Israelite’s nation, they were now Christians. They had been kicked out of the family. 


It could be that this name change, from Israelite to Christian, was one of the reasons why the Jews who had been converted to this new theology believed that for the Gentiles to be a part of the church they must continue with the old mosaic laws.  These are the laws of animal sacrifice, circumcision, the washing of the dishes, and many other physical rituals that were given to them by God, through Moses, for the absolution of sin.


The Jews of that day were not to socialize, interact, and especially not worship with the Gentiles.  Remember before they were called Christians, and before the Gentiles were called into the church, the people who followed the teachings of Yahoshua were all Israelite’s.  They were the children of Abraham and many continued to follow the Law of Moses.  They believed that the newly converted Gentiles must also follow the Mosaic Law. It was this disagreement which Paul was referring to when he wrote to the church at Galatia.  Remember Paul is writing to a Gentile congregation. 


Galatians 1:6-9:

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”


This is the first schism!!!!


It began when the Gentiles were preached the gospel.  Many of the Jewish people at the time did not agree with this practice even though it was actually Peter, a Jew, who baptized the first Gentile.  {Acts: 10}  They did not understand that the rituals which were associated with the Mosaic Law were simply physical symbols or types of the spiritual character that God desires for His people.

 

Hebrews 10:6:

In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.”


Mark 12:33:

And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

 

Many of the Israelite’s believed the Gentiles should keep the Mosaic laws, the most common example being the circumcision. They did not understand that circumcision of the male foreskin was simply a physical representation of the spiritual opening of your heart to God’s love.


Romans 2:29:

“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”


Here we see the first division within the church.  It was between the disciples that were born Jewish, and the disciples that were born Gentile. Due to their disobedience the Israelites were scattered into slavery and eventually lost their identity.  This had been prophesied.  It was during this time that the Gentiles began to make up the vast majority of the church and took it over.


As time went on other divisions began to take place within the church. Remember the church is the people; the church is not a building.  Paul, being the minister to the Gentiles, was very clear on how he felt about these divisions.


1 Corinthians 1:10:

”Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”


Paul was pleading with the church not to be divided, he wanted them to all be thinking saying and doing the same things.


1 Corinthians 1:11-12:

”For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren…. that there are contentions among you.  Now I say this that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos’, or ‘I am of Cephas’, or ‘I am of Christ.’”


People in the church were beginning to divide themselves into little denominations!!!!


They began to take the name of the one each believed to be their leader.  They could have been calling themselves “Paulites”, or “Apollonians”, or “Christian’s”.  Whatever they were calling themselves, Paul made his opinion to the division in the church very clear.

 

1 Corinthians 1:13:

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”


1 Corinthians 11:18:

“For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.”

Is Christ divided? 


I ask that same question today, is Christ divided?  There are those who call themselves by the names of people who founded their particular denomination, or perhaps they take the name of a ritual that they use.  Whatever people call themselves, we can plainly see that the use of different names was clearly looked down upon by Paul.  What was going on?  Where did these divisions come from? 


Paul warns the church about the origin of these divisions.


1Timothy 4:1-5:

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy….”


2 Corinthians 11:3-4:

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!”


There were to be men who would preach a different gospel, teaching a different Yahoshua {Jesus}, and bring a different spirit. Paul plainly states that these teachings, these different doctrines, are the doctrines of demons, and that they are lies.


2 Corinthians 11:13:

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.”

What were some of the lies that we’re going to be taught within the church which would divide it?


1Timothy 4:1-3:

Having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”


Do these teachings sound familiar?


Even Yahoshua warned His disciples about these doctrines which would cause schisms in his church.


Matthew 24:24:

“For false Christ’s and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”


There can only be one truth, and the truth of this matter is that God’s church is not to be divided.  It is to be a unified group of believers, called together under his name, preaching the same gospel, and teaching the same Christ.  Yahoshua { Jesus }knows the peril of division.  He taught that any institution which is divided would fall.


Matthew 12:25:

But Yahoshua {Jesus} knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.’ “


During times of uncertainty people naturally look for answers from their leaders.   Whether those leaders are political, material, or spiritual in nature the people turn to them for hope.  We do not have to look any further for an example of this, then the government of the United States. The current President ran his election, and won, campaigning on the theme of hope.  Yet even with this theme of hope, his charisma, and his charm, not even he can overcome the divisive nature of the body politic.  Is it any wonder that people are losing more and more hope in the governments of the world?


Is the church any different?  How can people turn to the church for hope when there’s so much divisiveness, even within the different denominations themselves?  The simple answer is they cannot.  Only when the unifying message of The Gospel of the Coming Kingdom is heard throughout the world will there be true hope for mankind.


Amos 3:3:

Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”


Well my friends, as usual, there is so much more to this subject that I must stop here and continue in my next article.  So until next time; please remember the words of Paul to the Corinthians. 


1 Corinthians 7:19:

”Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. “

 


Peace

 

 All scripture referenced comes from The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. unless otherwise noted.  All emphasis added is mine.  The name Yahoshua is added by me.