Why are there so many diverse, conflicting practices in Christianity? What truly is the Church? Learn the Bible's answer.
Where is the Church Jesus built? Did you know that today, there are over 2 billion people that claim to be Christians? Yet, Christianity is composed of hundreds of denominations and distinctions. How can that be?
Why are there so many different and conflicting practices in Christianity? Have you wondered why there are so many variations?
Now in the Bible, Jesus clearly promised that He would build His Church. Is it the Catholic Church? The Baptist Church? The Lutheran Church? Or, perhaps something else?
What does your Bible say? You need to find out. Are you attending “The Church Jesus Built?”
Jesus Himself promised almost 2000 years ago, “I will build my church” in Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
American King James Version×. Now what church was He talking about? What comes to your mind when you think about that true Christian Church of God, the Church Jesus guaranteed He would build? Perhaps, a magnificent cathedral or a church building with a huge spire?
The architecture of the great cathedrals is impressive. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, awes visitors from around the world. Isn't it amazing how the builders of such great structures accomplished such monumental tasks when technology was so simple?
There's also the Duomo in Milan, Italy. An imposing Catholic cathedral built to signify strength, piety, wealth and prestige. Is this the kind of church Jesus said He would build?
How about the Cologne Cathedral in Germany? Said to be the world's greatest Gothic cathedral, it's been the city's most famous landmark for centuries. In fact, it took over 600 years to complete and was once the tallest building in the world. It's still the world's largest church façade. But, is that the Church of God Jesus referred to?
Then there's Westminster Abbey in London and in America, St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.
These famous church buildings seem to symbolize the height of the Christian church, standing like monuments to ancient Christianity. Huge ornate buildings, with remarkable stained glass windows, spiral staircases, expansive interiors filled with religious artifacts and icons, topped with soaring spires that reach to the sky.
Yet, Jesus said He would build His Church. Does that Church exist in huge cathedrals? It may be shocking to hear, but none of these are the Church that Jesus prophesied He would build.
Why? Well most people view the Church as a building. But did you know that the Bible defines the term church differently. God's Word focuses on a totally different type of church. Do you know how Jesus defines the Church?
In the New Testament, church is translated from the Greek word ecclesia , which is defined as those that are called out, an assembly or a congregation. So c hurch, in the Bible, is not described as a cathedral. Church in Scripture, is not a building.
In fact, the practice in the early first-century Church was that Christians often met in members' homes (Romans 16:5 Romans 16:5Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 16:19 1 Corinthians 16:19The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
American King James Version×). The apostles met and preached and taught God's people and potential converts in Jewish synagogues. So you see, the building was not the thing that was important—it was the people.
In fact, the Bible uses the word church to represent God's people as “called-out ones”— the people who are called out and brought together. They're called out of the ways of this world and assembled together as God's people.
The apostle Paul demonstrated this when he began his letter to the members in Corinth. He wrote, “To the church of God in Corinth, to you who have been made holy in Christ Jesus. You were called to be God's holy people…” (1 Corinthians 1:2 1 Corinthians 1:2To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s:
American King James Version×NCV).
So you see, Paul was clear that the Church was the people God had called out—not a physical building. Revelation 18:4 Revelation 18:4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.
American King James Version×also reminds us of this fact. It says, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins…” ( Revelation 18:4 Revelation 18:4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.
American King James Version×NKJ)
So God is calling people out of the ways of this world.
There's an interesting book called, The Translator's New Testament. And in its glossary, it makes it very clear. It says, “'Church' in [the] NT never means [a] 'building.' It always represents either a group of committed Christians in any given locality [who] met to practice their religion, or the totality of these groups scattered throughout the world” (pp. 557-558).
Now this is a very important distinction: The Church is a spiritual organism, it's not a physical structure or even an organization. Yes, members of the Church go to the building where they meet, or a congregation meets in someone's house if the numbers are small, but the Church itself is the spiritual Body of Christ.
The apostle Paul uses that analogy, comparing the Church to parts of the body. Notice what he said: “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” … But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” And later he says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually (1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:12For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
American King James Version×, 20, 27).
Now that brings a vital question to mind: Since the Bible states that the Church is one Body—why are there so many different Christian church organizations today? They can't all be right. Church leaders all claim that Jesus built their church. But is it true?
How can you locate God's special called out people when Christianity is so splintered and fractured. There is no doubt that Jesus did build His Church as He said He would, and since that Church does exist today, where is it?
Well, I'd like to offer you a free booklet that will help you discover what happened to that Church Jesus promised. It's called The Church Jesus Built. Now in this important booklet, we'll help you find that the true Christian Church of God, that Church, the one Jesus promised. This booklet will help you examine the traits that Jesus and His apostles said would identify His Church.
So go online right now to BeyondToday.tv where you can read it online, you can download it, or order your free copy of The Church Jesus Built . Or call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632.
Now you'll discover how many church organizations are influenced by a different spirit and preach a different gospel. You won't learn this from some human tradition or opinion, but instead you'll learn directly from God's Word—how to recognize His true Church.
So call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv right now to download, read or order your free copy. It will help you understand the incredible truth of why hundreds of denominations and schisms of Christianity exist and the plain truth about the Church Jesus built.
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So as we begin to think about this topic, Jesus certainly said that He would build His Church and that it would never die out. Yet, today's Christianity, it has hundreds of denominations, conflicting beliefs and practices. It's not the Church Jesus promised that He would build.
So, how do you find that body of true believers? Surveys have shown that you might be one of those searching. Some 20% of churchgoers change churches every year. So you need to know the key characteristics that identify God's people. And how do you start?
Well Jesus said that the people of His Church would be known by what they do. In Matthew 7:20 Matthew 7:20Why by their fruits you shall know them.
American King James Version×, He said this: “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
You see, Christ was telling us, you need to find other people who are special to God because they do God's will. That's the fruit that Jesus says is most important. He also says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×). You see the special people of God not only do God's will, they do it because they have the love of God (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
American King James Version×).
You see to God, love and obedience are inseparable. He makes this clear in 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×. Notice what He inspired: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” Believing and doing what God teaches in His Word is a vital sign of the Church that Jesus built.
The George Barna Research Group did an interesting survey recently. They asked churchgoers what they preferred in a church. Do you know what was at the top of the list? Beliefs and doctrines. That's perfect! That's the best place to begin! What could be more important than that?
So here's something critical: Remember the Bible definition of the word church ? It's the people called out and brought together by God. So it's no wonder that the New Testament instructs Christians to assemble together regularly. Hebrews 10:24 Hebrews 10:24And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:
American King James Version×tells us: “…Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
You see that's also an Old Testament expression. This tells us the same thing but it puts it in the form of a command. Leviticus 23:3 Leviticus 23:3Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
American King James Version×says this, “You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week is holy because it belongs to me. No matter where you live, you must rest on the Sabbath and come together for worship. This law will never change.” (CEV) Jesus showed that the Church of God would be observing His Saturday Sabbath even today! Most churches say that the Sabbath law is no longer binding or that God caused Sunday worship to supersede it. But that is not right.
Jesus inspired His Word to show the way to His Church. When searching for His Church, it has to be based on key foundational biblical beliefs. You see observing God's Saturday Sabbath is one of the most basic. How basic is it? Well it's so basic that it's one of the top ten—it's in the Ten Commandments.
So how would you sum up the importance of beliefs and doctrines? The Bible makes it clear that God's Church keeps His law. The Church Jesus built is described as a group of people “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×).
Members of the true Church, they don't try to get around or do away with the requirements of God's way of life. They follow what Jesus described as the difficult way, the narrow way and at times, maybe an unpopular way. Not the wide, easy path that eventually leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13 Matthew 7:13Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
American King James Version×).
Think of it this way: Would the Church Jesus built have teachings that are contrary to His very own instructions? Thomas Jefferson put it in an interesting way. I ran across this quote a little bit ago. He said, “The greatest enemies of Jesus are the doctrines and creeds of the church.”
In other words, our first and foremost loyalty is to the true teachings and practices of Jesus; the ones that He taught His followers—not the traditions that have been adopted, or added or changed. You see if you take the time to look into it, it's not difficult to document that most of Christianity's branches have adopted many non-biblical traditions, philosophy, pagan religious customs, cultural traditions. These things oppose the Church that Jesus built.
It would be helpful for you to ask: How well do I know the teachings and practices of the New Testament Church? The Church Jesus built rejects the doctrines of men, the things that they've added or changed. It holds strong to His teachings. In Jude 3, it says: “I want to encourage you to fight hard for the faith that was given [to] the holy people of God once and for all time.” ( NCV) That's the original truths of Jesus, the authentic teachings of the New Testament Church, the faithful Word of God.
Now, remember that survey I mentioned from the Barna Group? It concluded that “the Christian Church has stagnated, largely due to its comfort with routines and rituals that are neither challenging nor relevant for millions of people.” Does that describe your church? Do you want to be challenged? Are you motivated? Do you want to make a difference in this world? That's exactly what God expects of you. There is a job to do!
You see the Church Jesus built has a commission. He gave marching orders to take the good news of the Kingdom of God to the world and faithfully teach others God's way of life.
Now Jesus didn't give a suggestion in Matthew 28, He gave a command. Notice what He said: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×NIV).
Most churches don't preach the gospel that Jesus did. Any church that's not dedicated to carrying out this task cannot be called the Church of God.
Where is that hope in His preaching? Do you long for that kind of meaning in your life? Do you desire a closer relationship with God? Maybe you're just learning the importance of following Him and keeping His commandments and beginning to recognize the Church of God that Jesus built.
Well that's why you should request your free subscription to The Good News magazine. Each issue will bring you important articles to help you understand what God has in mind for your life. It will give you insight into life's questions, your questions and more importantly answers.
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Did you know that the Kingdom of God is mentioned 117 times in the New Testament? You need to know why Jesus' original message of the Kingdom of God is largely unrecognized by Christianity today. Now space at the seminars may be limited, so sign up for the seminars now! Go to BeyondToday.tv . Click on the Kingdom of God Bible Seminar link.
Now our topic today has been the true Church that Jesus Himself promised to build and would never be overcome. To discuss this, my guest is fellow host of the program, Darris McNeely.
Darris, the other day I ran across an interesting quote from President John Adams. As we launch into a discussion, this is pretty amazing what he said. He said, “Nowhere in the gospels do we find a precept for creeds, confessions, oaths, doctrines and a whole boat-load of other foolish trumpery than we find Christianity encumbered with.” I guess that …
John Adams was a wise man.
He was a wise man. It's almost another way of saying that, you know, the teachings of Jesus are different and actually opposed to what some of the teachings in Christianity really were. And so I wonder as we being to talk about that, where do churches come up with some of these teachings? How do they get to the practices that they have?
Well they've come from a variety of sources. They've come from the traditions of men. The teachings of men. You know, whole religions have been named after man. When I was young, I was in the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church was founded upon the teachings and the example of a man named John Wesley. The Lutheran Church, named after Martin Luther, the monk that nailed his thesis to the door of the church in Germany and led a, an entire Protestant Reformation. Those ideas in many religions come from the teachings of men, sometimes even women. That you will find even Steve that some religions are founded as a result of failed prophecies and movements have come out of failed predictions about when Jesus Christ would return to this earth. So, anything but the Bible in some cases…
Now the funny thing is they assume, people assume they're from the Bible though.
Well they do, but if people don't read their Bible, then, they don't know that what is being taught in their, the church, the faith in which they were raised, that it doesn't come from the Scriptures. It doesn't come from the Bible. A person need to look into the Bible to find out exactly what the Bible says and often compare it to what they believe or what is being taught from the church that they may attend. Often times they're going to find that there's something completely different being taught from what the Bible does say.
You know, when you say it, it reminds me of the difference between religion and the true teachings of God. Isn't it possible to be a religious person and yet, not follow the teachings of Christ?
Well, being religious is easy. Following the teachings of Christ is hard. You can put on the veneer of spirituality or being a religious person. You can go to church. You can have a Bible sitting on your coffee table. You can claim to be a Christian, but that's the easy part. It's following the teachings of God; following the example, the life and the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth who said that narrow is the way that leads to eternal life, and broad is the way that leads to destruction. Those who trod the narrow way are going the hard way. And so, it is, there's a difference between being religious and following the teachings of God.
And so there' s a form of godliness. I think of that passage in the Bible that says, you know, modern religion in a sense has a form of godliness. So how does that fit in with the church today or Christianity today?
Well again, having a form of godliness, prophesizing a belief in God. You'll find that many people respond to polls that they believe in God, or that they believe in the Bible. But they don't read the Bible, or they haven't. They don't know what's in there. They couldn't tell you what the first four gospels are or what they represent, who they are in order. They couldn't tell you the last book of the Bible, maybe not even the first book of the Bible. It's a form of godliness, without, denying the power. This Book Steve has power. The Words and the teachings of this Book have charted the course of modern history in many ways. And it takes again, listening to what it says, listening to God, reading the Scriptures and then setting out to believe and act on what this Book is talking about to make a real difference and to experience the power of God.
It's an interesting point when you talk about the power, because I remember back when I was young, I grew up in a church…
…that was more of a cafeteria style type of church. Lots of people believed lots of different kinds of things.
Picking and choosing what they wanted to do.
Yeah and so we had a group, a congregation, a church I guess you could say, but people believed different things. Boy when I ran across a Scripture that talked about God's people—were the people that keep His commandments—it was really stark to me because you know, there was the love of Jesus. There was the love of God. But there was something missing in that power that's found in His Word, I think was one of those things. It was surprising to me to find the Bible talks about counterfeit religions—that there are things that are opposite of what God teaches.
It doesn't take much of a study of Church history, especially early Church history, to understand that it, the Church that Jesus founded, very early met opposition and heresy began to creep in. Other ideas from the different, from the Greek world, and eventually within a matter of a very short space of time, the faith once delivered was changed and other ideas—other than what Jesus taught and the apostles followed and taught, and we see in the book of Acts—made the Church a completely different church than what we read about in the book of Acts. History can, you can document that in history, to the point where now today after hundreds of years, nearly 2000 years of Church experience, there are many different forms of religion that bear no resemblance to the teachings and the example and the life of Jesus Christ and the early Church.
Now when someone is looking for the true Church, if they're looking for the Church that Jesus build, what are the characteristics? What are the things they need to take note of?
I think that the person needs to look, to find that that Church, certainly, look at the name. The Bible identifies many places in the New Testament that the Church that Christ built is called the Church of God. It's not named after a man. It's not named after an idea or a movement.
Or one particular belief.
Or one belief. It is named after God: the Church of God. That may be a Church of God in one location or whatever, but look at the name in one sense. But it's much more than that. It must believe the Bible. It must believe that this is the inspired Word of God. That God is divine. That Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God. The true Church of God is going to be keeping the commandments of God. There is one other point we need to understand, Steve, and that I think it's what we've already touched on. And that is that the Church of God is also going to be motivated and moved by the power of God, the Holy Spirit. The teachings of this Book, the teachings of this way of life taught and followed by the Church of God from the very beginning do make a difference. They work. They can change one's life. There is a power to the message and it can influence one's life and improve it. It works!
It is a powerful thing. You know, there is a standard to live by. And you can find the Church that Jesus built. We want to help you with that. So remember our free offers. Our booklet, The Church Jesus Built will help you grasp the truth of His Church. It will also help you to understand how millions profess Christianity, they claim to be members of the Church Jesus founded yet, they have so many unbiblical practices.
So get your free booklet now! Read it online at BeyondToday.tv . Download it, or request your own copy. Or you can call toll free: 1-888-886-8632 to request your booklet and we'll mail it to you free of charge.
And of course, don't forget your subscription to The Good News magazine. This unique magazine will help you understand God's purpose with all kinds of articles that are relevant to your life.
So remember, all of our publications are provided free of charge. They're an educational service. So get ready for some good news! Call us: 1-888-886-8632 or you can write us as well to request your free subscription.
I'd also like to remind you again that the United Church of God is holding free Bible seminars in cities across the United States and around the world. If you are interested in learning more about the Kingdom of God, go to BeyondToday.tv and look for the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminar” link and register to attend. These live events are absolutely free.
You need to see why Jesus Christ's original message of the Kingdom of God is largely unrecognized by Christianity today. Now space may be limited, so sign up for the seminars now. Go to BeyondToday.tv , click on the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminar” link. Be sure and sign up!
There is no doubt, much of Christianity today it often opposes teachings of Christ. So remember, the Church Jesus built, it's made up of humble people not grandiose buildings. He builds His Church with spiritual materials and His people rely on Him to help them live by every word of God and strive to follow His example in all things.
So set your heart on God's Church and His people. Are you ready to search out that Church that fits the true biblical model? Isaiah 55:6 Isaiah 55:6Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
American King James Version×says: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near”.
Finding the Church Jesus built will take serious Bible study. But God commands it, and He'll bless and reward you as you respond to His guidance.
Thanks for joining us today. Don't forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about this program. Tune in again next week, at this same time, for another edition of Beyond Today . I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.