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Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. He that follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”—John 8:12.
 This combination of two Greek negative particles οὐ µή (ou mē) and the aorist subjunctive with reference to a future event is the strongest negation possible in Greek, meaning absolutely not at all, in no way, by no means in any way to something in the future, this being known as the Subjunctive of Emphatic Negation.
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”—John 12:46.
To possess “the light of life” one must put faith in Jesus Christ and become his follower. On social media every day millions of Christians are saying such things as “I am a Calvinist,” “I am an Arminian.” “I am a Lutheran,” “I am a Wesleyan,” and so on. They then go on to debate and argue theology as though it is a blood sport. This article is not saying that persons of the past who carried out a powerful work should not be respected, appreciated, or even imitated in some sense, for that too would be contrary to Scripture. Jesus tells us, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21) Jesus’ concern was warranted because he had repeatedly noticed the apostle arguing over who was the greatest. The apostles and first century Christian’s unity would give powerful evidence that God the Father had sent Jesus, The Son to the earth to do Father’s will. Biblical qualities and characteristics, as well as biblical grounded doctrines, would be a mark of Jesus’ true disciples that would add to their unity. The apostle Paul tells us at 1 Corinthians 1:10 “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” Such unity can never be accomplished if the individuals did not gather together, to benefit from the same spiritual food, and doctrinal instruction being provided. But it cannot be the case of one church teaching one thing while another teaches something different. It cannot be the case that we have become followers of men rather than God. After imploring unity Paul went on to say, “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13) Let’s alter Paul’s words, “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Calvin,’ and ‘I of Luther,’ and ‘I of Arminius,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Calvin crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Luther?” Yes, when out like that, it should immediately be understood that we should not have a worshipful attitude when it comes to man.
JESUS HAS DIRECTED THESE INVITATIONS TO YOU PERSONALLY
“Follow me.”—Matthew 9:9; Luke 9:59; John 1:43.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”—Matthew 16:24.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”—Matthew 11:28-29.
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”—John 7:37.
The Problem You Face In Finding the One True Christian Church
The answer lies below but first, let us set the stage. There are 41,000 different denominations today, all teaching different doctrinal positions than the other, many of which contradict the others. The divisiveness would never work in an effort to fulfill the great commission of making disciples. What if we just singled out the Baptist church as our test case. There are over well 50,000 Baptist churches in the United States of America. There are literally 61 different Baptist divisions, i.e., subdivision denominations within the Baptist Church. Yes, they all believe differently as well. What if we just select one of these subdivision denominations, will we finally find a oneness of mind and teachings? No. Why? Because there exists yet another divisive problem, in that the Baptist churches as a whole are autonomous, which means that every individual church has the freedom to act independently and teach differently than the others do. The irony is, they will argue that they are in agreement when it comes to the so-called salvation doctrines. Yet, this is not true because every one of the so-called salvation doctrines has anywhere from two to four, or more different positions or views. See image below.
Zanesville, Ohio has eleven Baptist churches, in a community of 150,000 people. What if all eleven Baptist churches decided independently that they were going to go out and evangelize the community to make disciples? How could that even work? Suppose an unbeliever is visited by several different subdivision Baptist denominations and is told different views about the same doctrine? How is the unbeliever going to take Christianity seriously with such division as this? Moreover, we have other problems that we have not even addressed.
Press on to Maturity
Hebrews 5:13-6:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 For everyone who partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food belongs to the mature, to those who through practice have their discernment trained to distinguish between good and evil. 6 Therefore, leaving behind the elementary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God,
The problem of biblical illiteracy is well known but truly ignored. 90%+ of the more than 2 billion Christians are biblically illiterate in that they cannot explain the foundational doctrines of the faith or defend the Word of God as inspired, fully inerrant, and authoritative. Yes, they know some cute Bible stories and some Bible principles. This problem has existed for over a hundred years and nothing has truly been done to address it. Then, we couple biblical illiteracy with the fact that almost no Christians are being trained to make disciples in their churches. Thus, we have 41,000 different denominations all teach differently, we have tens of thousands of churches in the same denomination broken off into different subdivisional denominations, and even a single subdivision has autonomous churches that believe differently, and the individual church has members that believe differently, with 90%+ being biblically illiterate and having no evangelism training. How do we fix that atrocious problem, so as to carry out the Great Commission? Jesus will not return until “this gospel of the kingdom [has been] proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14
How to Recognize a Real Church
A number of Christian denominations assert that they alone represent the one true church – the church to which Jesus gave his authority to the Great Commission. Some pastors have tried to answer this question and this issue, what is it that sets the one true church apart from the others? One offered the answer, ‘the true Church is identified by fellowship, caring, and sharing, these are the most important aspects of true Christianity.’ Sadly, think about this, you can find “fellowship, caring, and sharing” in drinking establishments, a social club, that is, in hundreds of places within society, these characteristics can be found.
How do you identify true Christianity? There was a study done with churchgoers a few years ago where they shared what was most important to them in a church that attracts them to become a member. The following mundane things were most important to these churchgoers: Number one was parking, number two was a nursery, number three was the style, followed by comfort, music, air conditioning, friendliness, and so on. Again, what should you look for in the one true church and what should it be? There is a very clear biblical answer. There is only one issue that makes a church or a denomination the one true church or denomination.
How does the Christian congregation who gather together handle Scripture? That is the only identifying mark that you need to concern yourself with. How do they handle the Word of God? The apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) What do they believe about the Bible? Do they believe it is the inspired, fully inerrant, authoritative Word of God? What do they believe the Bible teaches? How does the Bible form their living, preaching, and teaching?
Psalm 119:161-165 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
161 Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162 I rejoice at your word
like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous judgments.
165 Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law,
and for them there is no stumbling block.
Does your church stand ‘in awe of God’s Word‘? The truest identifying marker of the true church is that it is the gathering of people that are in awe of the Word of God. We are to love God’s Word above all else. As Isaiah said, we are to tremble at the Word of God. The church today has fragmented to the point of failure. Look at the so-called Christian nations and their moral decline over the past one hundred years. The first step to the failure of the church is that we have been on the path of eliminating the Bible out of the public discourse, then step two was to reverse morality (Isaiah 5, turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter, light into dark and dark into light, and good into bad and bad into good). Now, the Christian is to no longer affirm the sin of homosexuality or the sin of immorality. The church has flipped morality so that what is biblically bad is now socially good and acceptable and the Bible is just a dated book that outlawed things in a different time and culture and does not really apply to us today.
Liberal-progressive and moderate Christianity has taken the driver’s seat of the car of Christendom and has conservative Christianity riding in the back seat, if not the trunk. The liberal-progressive mindset that homosexuality is an acceptable alternative lifestyle, the belief that abortion is acceptable under certain circumstances, the belief that it is acceptable for a woman to teach the church when the apostle Paul under inspiration clearly says that they cannot, the belief that the Bible is nothing more than a book by man, and inspiration is not being led by “Holy Spirit,” but simply being moved to pen something extraordinary, no different than a Shakespeare or even a John Grisham novel. Therefore, they accept the Bible as being full of errors, and that Adam and Eve are nothing more than allegorical (fictional) persons. Then there are the gender-inclusive translators, who remove masculine pronouns for gender-neutral ones.
These ones fail to understand this: to deviate, in any way, from the pattern, or likeness of how God brought his Word into existence, merely opens the Bible up to a book that reflects the age and time of its readers. If we allow the Bible to be altered because the progressive woman’s movement feels offended by masculine language or that women cannot teach the church, it will not be long before the Bible gives way to the homosexual communities being offended by God’s Words in the book of Romans; so modern translations will then tame that language, so as to not cause offense. I am certain that we thought that we would never see the day of two men, or two women being married by priests, but that day has been upon us for some time now. In fact, the American government is debating whether to change the definition of marriage. Therefore, I would suggest that the liberal readers do not take my warning here as radicalism, but more as reality.
The third step is the church has been demanding tolerance, with the fourth step being that we are to be intolerant of those who are not tolerant, with the final step being persecution. There has long been persecution of Christianity but now we are moving toward the persecution of conservative Christianity by the world while liberal and moderate Christianity gets a pass.
Facing the Challenge of Finding the One True Church
The church can only fail in one way. It has failed to be biblical. The apostle Paul used the word Greek noun epignosis and the Greek verb epignosko a total of 24 times. In the New Testament, the verb (epignosko) occurs 42 times while the noun (epignosis) occurs 20 times. Accurate Knowledge: (Gr. epignosis) A strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis. – Rom. 1:28; Eph. 1:17; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9-10; 1 Tim 2:4. If the church has an accurate knowledge of the Scriptures and is faithful to the Word of God, it cannot fail. If the church lives by and proclaims an accurate knowledge of the word of God it does not fail. The Father accomplishes his will and purposes through his Word.
Psalm 143:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 Let me hear in the morning of your loyal love,
for I trust you.
Teach me the way in which I should walk,
for to you I lift up my soul.
If we are going to be steadfast as we stand firm in our loyalty to God and his word, not the trends of the world, not the current cultural setting, we need to clearly and fully understand God’s view on the matter and be determined to remain loyal to his ways. King David prayed to the Father,
Psalm 143:5, 10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all your doings;
I ponder the work of your hands.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground.
David did not rely on his own ideas of what he thought, felt, or believed, or the urgings of another; but rather, he was eager to be taught by the Father. David meditated on or pondered all of the activities of the Father and focused his thinking on the work of God’s own hands. We to can discern the will of the Father as well by have a regular personal study of the Bible that is beyond some simple Bible reading schedule, where we can meditate on the many Biblical accounts of the Father’s dealings with humans. Just how important is the will of the Father?
Matthew 7:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 “Not everyone [so-called Christians] who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one [genuine Christian] who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many [so-called Christians] will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we [so-called Christians] not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them [so-called Christians], ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’
1 John 2:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one [genuine Christian] who does the will of God remains forever.
The only way that a church can fail is to fail to be biblical. Yes, the church needs to have a strategy to meet the needs of the modern Christian, to market to the unbeliever and believer, to connect with different cultures. However, under accurate knowledge, if it remains biblical in doing these things, it will not fail. Most of the churches today have really failed to be biblical.
UNDERSTANDING THE HOLY SPIRIT
- How Do We Explain the Work of the Holy Spirit?
- What Does the Bible Really Say About the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit?
- How Are We to Understand the Holy Spirit and Jesus
- How Would You Explain the Holy Spirit and the Apostles
- How Are We to Explain the Holy Spirit in the First Century and Today
- How Are We to Understand the Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Church
- How Do We Grieve the Holy Spirit?
- How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit Today?
- Biblically How Would you Explain the Holy Spirit and the World?
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