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Tell Me About The ONE Church

My subject is, “tell me about this ONE church”. This is an important topic on which to write. I believe the church can be described as Heaven on earth. Notice what John MacArthur wrote regarding this:


“The truth of the matter is heaven on earth is right here, right here. The church of God gathered, composed of those who have been called by God to faith (2 Thess. 2:14—added by ME) in the Lord Jesus Christ, constitute the church. The church is His kingdom; it’s His kingdom on earth, and it’s as close to heaven as you can get without being there” (MacArthur, “Heaven on Earth Pt. 1” Heaven on Earth, Part 1 (gty.org))

Now we know that Christ will not reign on this earth literally, but we are in the Kingdom (Col. 1:13). In this study, I am going to discuss what the one church is and how you can become a member of it. We’ll notice the one church in prophecy, preparation, establishment, as well as what makes it unique over any man-made organization.


It is also important to know before discussing what the church is, is to discuss what the church is not. I agree with MacArthur that the church is “not a building. The church is not an institution of religion. It is not an ethical organization. It is not a sociopolitical association” (MacArthur, “Heaven on Earth: Part 1”). It is not a clique or club. It is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). Now let us examine more about this one church.


Let Me Tell You About The ONE Church In Prophecy.

Did you know that church that belongs to Jesus Christ was planned before the world began? It sure was. Notice what Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the good news of the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:8-11 LSB[1]). God purposed the church in His mind before we were ever made. To me, this can be hard to get a grasp on.


As we consider the church in prophecy, let us go back to the beginning. God made man in the garden, along with Eve, and it was perfect. At that point, sin was unknown. Then, in Genesis 3:1ff, man was deceived and succumbed to the temptation and sinned. We needed a remedy. God mentions the remedy in Genesis 3:15 which says, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” This seed would be Christ.


We move forward to Genesis 12 where God made a promise to Abram that “…I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3 LSB). God continued His promise in chapter 15 when He said, “…Now look toward the heavens, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your seed be” (Genesis 15:5 LSB). We know that we are part of his promise. Paul wrote, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29 LSB).


Next, we move to David in 2 Samuel 7. God told David, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up one of your seed after you, who will come forth from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13 LSB). Peter used David in the sermon at Pentecost, “Men, brothers, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2:29 LSB).It was important to remind the audience that God made a promise to David and that promise was being fulfilled that day as recorded in Acts 2.


Then, we go to Daniel 2 to see the prophecy of the church in Daniel’s day. “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will cause a kingdom to rise up which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself stand forever” (Daniel 2:44 LSB). Daniel’s prophecy shows us the longevity of Christ’s church/kingdom. It would be forever! In fact, it would not be given up, over, or away to. It belongs to Christ and His ALONE! We are in this kingdom today (Col. 1:13).


We move to Isaiah’s prophecy of the church in Isaiah chapter two. Isaiah wrote, “Now it will be that In the last days The mountain of the house of Yahweh Will be established as the head of the mountains, And will be lifted up above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, To the house of the God of Jacob, That He may instruct us from His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion the law will go forth And the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3 LSB). Jesus told His disciples, “And He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. “You are witnesses of these things. “And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you, but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:46-49 LSB). When we open the book of Acts, we find them returning to Jerusalem (Acts 1:12). The Holy Spirit comes on them as we begin Acts 2:1-4. This fulfills Isaiah 2 and the words of Jesus in Luke 24:46-49.


I also want to add that some deny the prophetic passages regarding Christ and the church. Notice what Abilene Christian University scholar John Willis wrote: “There is no unequivocal specific prediction of the coming of Jesus Christ and/or the church in the Old Testament. New Testament speakers reinterpreted and reapplied Old Testament texts to Christ and/or the church.” (Jackson, Clouds Without Water: A Review of the New ACU Commentary | Christian Courier). In fact, Wayne Jackson provides some that Willis has disputed on Christian Courier (IBID)[2]. Consider the following:


  • Regarding Isaiah 2:1-4, no mention is made of the establishment of God’s “house” (the church), and “last days” simply is an ambiguous “sometime in the future” (535). (IBID)


  • Contrary to the explicit testimony of an inspired apostle (Mt. 1:22-23), the “virgin” of Isaiah 7:14 is but a “young woman” and “does not refer to Mary” (537). (IBID)


  • Isaiah’s “shoot out of the stock of Jesse” (Is. 11:1), according to Willis (541), might be a reference to Hezekiah or Josiah, though most likely it is Zerubbabel. Paul’s messianic application of the text means nothing, one supposes (Rom. 15:12). Presumably, the apostle was just “sermonizing,” and knew nothing of the original context! (IBID)


  • Isaiah 40:3, “the voice of one who cries,” allegedly does not refer to the preparatory work of John the Baptizer, as all four Gospel writers affirm (cf. Mt. 3:3 and parallel references). Rather the ACU professor contends it is the message of an angel to his fellow angels regarding Judah’s return from Babylonian captivity (558). (IBID)


  • Jehovah’s “servant” (Is. 42:1ff) is the nation of Israel (559), not the Messiah—as affirmed by an inspired apostle (Mt. 12:17-21). (IBID)


  • What is absolutely incredible is the fact that Willis sees nothing messianic in the context of Isaiah 53. The “suffering servant” is “probably the remnant of Jewish exiles” who suffered vicariously for the nation. (IBID)


It is truly sad to see people deny the prophecies in the scriptures.


So I have told you about the ONE church in prophecy. Is it not a beautiful thing that God has shown us? It is very amazing to look in scripture and know that you are a part of something that God had planned from the beginning. May we take from this the unsearchable wisdom that God has displayed in prophecy regarding His eternal plan and purpose in the church!


Let me tell you about the ONE church in preparation.

Charles C. Pugh III gives “four basic things regarding the preparatory work for the church as carried out by John the Baptist and Jesus” (Pugh III, Elkins and Warren 22). We will discuss them now.


First, there is “the persuasive preaching of repentance” (IBID 22).

“It was done by both John and Jesus in preparation for the church (Mat. 3:2; 4:17). Only by repentance could those to whom John and Jesus were preaching become prepared for the kingdom (the church) which was then at hand. A genuinely penitent state of heart and life (Mat. 3:8) was the best possible preparation for hearing and accepting the claims of Jesus in reference to His identity and the church. The heart that had truly repented was ready for the second crucial instrument used by both John and Jesus in preparation for the establishment of the Church.” (Pugh III, Elkins and Warren 22).


Next, there is “the pervading principles of the Kingdom” (IBID).

“John’s preaching of repentance of sin and baptism for the remission of sin (Mark 1:4) in preparation for the church implies that the lives of those who would be members of the church would be lives yielding to the principle of righteousness (Titus 3:11-12). Again, this implies that the nature of Christ’s Kingdom is spiritual (Romans 14:17). John was preparing people for a kingdom not of worldly royalty but of heavenly righteousness! The Kingdom (the church) which Christ came to establish has always been and always will be a spiritual Kingdom!” (IBID, 23).


“The matchless sermon on the mount is the initial, specific promulgation of the pervading principles of the church. Here we see Jesus preparing men for the establishment of the church by calling attention to such principles as humility, righteousness, purity, love, faith, and obedience all of which are essential for men to be pleasing to God. These essential principles permeated the teaching and preaching of Christ as He prepared mankind for the establishment of the church (Mat. 3:13-15; 5-7)” (IBID).


“The principle of truth is exalted throughout the preparatory work of both John and Jesus. John made it clear that faithful preachers will preach the truth at all times and to all people even if it costs the preacher his life (Mat. 14:1-12). Both John and Jesus prepared people for the church by making it clear that believing a lie will cause precious souls to be lost (Mat. 15:14) for it is only the truth that saves (John 8:32)” (IBID).


“In reference to the pervading principle of truth, Jesus prepared men for the church by showing that (1) truth is both absolute and attainable (John 8:32), (2) truth is the source of salvation, (3) the sole authority of the church is the truth—the Word of God (John 17:17), because it comes from the Spirit of truth (John 16:13), (4) God must be worshipped in truth (John 4:24)” (IBID).


“The principle of truth was also used by Jesus in preparation for the church to show that His Kingdom is not a physical kingdom but that it is a spiritual kingdom (John 18:36-37)” (IBID).


Third, there is “the powerful proof of Jesus’ Sonship and Messiahship” (IBID).

“The foundation rock of the church is the identity of Jesus that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mat. 16:13-19). The church was established upon this bedrock of truth. Therefore, not until it was sufficiently demonstrated that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, could the church be established. Thus both John the Baptist and Jesus prepared people for the establishment of the church by proving Jesus’ deity” (IBID).


Finally, there is “the promised power of the Holy Spirit” (IBID).

“No intelligent man would be convinced of Jesus’ deity unless there was proof set forth. This, we have seen, was done for those who lived during the preparatory work of John and Jesus. However, not all of humanity which would be confronted with Jesus’ claims lived during that period of history. Therefore, it was necessary that there be those who were prepared by Jesus for the coming of the Holy Spirit to infallibly guide them to write down the proofs of Jesus’ deity to be preserved for all people to come. Thus Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things and bring all things into their remembrance in reference to what He had previously taught during His preparatory work (John 14:26). No man on earth today has seen Christ or a miracle. Therefore, to be convinced of Jesus’ deity today one must go to that which is written (John 20:30-31). The inspired, inerrant written record proves Jesus’ Sonship and Messiahship.


Let Me Tell You About The Establishment Of The ONE Church

We know that Jesus promised to build HIS church (Matthew 16:18). When was it built? To answer this we must remember the prophecies and the words of Jesus regarding the church. We know from Isaiah 2 that it would be in the last days. We also know from Isaiah 2 that it would be in Jerusalem. In Luke 24, Jesus tells His disciples “…Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. “You are witnesses of these things. “And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you, but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49 LSB). Why did Jesus tell them this would take place in Jerusalem? Why did He tell them about the promise? It is because of what was prophesied in the Old Testament. It is a fulfillment of it.


When we begin the book of Acts, we find them returning to Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:12) as Jesus told them to be. The second chapter of Acts opens with the apostles receiving the power from on high (Acts 2:1-4). We also find that there were people from every nation present (Acts 1:5). This is key because Isaiah said “…all the nations will stream to it” (Isaiah 2:2). Peter, with the eleven, preaches the first gospel sermon post Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. He reminds them of the prophecy of Joel and how it was being fulfilled in that day (Acts 2:16-21). He reminds them of David being buried and his tomb being there to that day pointing back to the prophecy of 1 Samuel 7:13ff (Acts 2:29). Peter then convicts them of killing the Son of God (Acts 2:36). The audience responds asking what they should do (Acts 2:37). Peter’s answer is what Jesus spoke of in Luke 24:47. Peter preached repentance and remission/forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). We notice that on that day almost 3,000 people gladly received the message and were baptized. The chapter concludes with the Lord ADDING to the church those who were saved (Acts 2:47). So, here we have the church existing and continues to this very day. It will forever (Daniel 2:44).


Let Me Tell You About The Uniqueness Of The One Church

What makes the church Jesus established different from the man-made organizations today? We must first notice that the church of Jesus Christ is NOT a denomination among other denominations. It is the body of Jesus Christ and the ONLY one (Ephesians 1:22-23). I want to show how the church is unique from anything else. J. Pat McGee gives ten things that make the Lord’s church unique and is listed as follows (McGee, Elkins and Warren 150-153):

  • The church is distinct because of its Head (Eph. 1:22-23).

  • The church is unique because of its origin and eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11).

  • The church is unique and distinct because of its non-sectarian nature (1 Cor. 14:33; 1 Cor. 1:10).

  • The church is distinct because of the message which it preaches and defends (Rom. 1:16; 1 Tim. 3:15).

  • The church is distinctive because of its missionary nature (Mat. 28:18-20).

  • The church is unique because of its solid stand for the truth (Jude 3).

“Give us preachers who know the truth, who live the truth, who proclaim the truth, who apply the truth, and who defend the truth”—Steven Lawson
  • The church remains unique because of its sanctification and purity (Heb. 12:14; Eph. 5:27).

  • The church is distinctive because of its willingness to sacrifice and deny self (Mat. 16:24; Rom. 8:29).

  • The church is unique because of its spirit of love and compassionate forgiveness (Col. 3:12-14).

  • The church is distinctive because of its hope of heaven (2 Peter 1:11).


CONCLUSION

We have noticed this evening four points regarding our topic of “tell me about the ONE church”. We have noticed the church in prophecy, preparation, establishment, and its uniqueness. I genuinely hope that you will continue to present the church in the glory God demands of her. May we all do our part to give God the glory in the church (Eph. 3:21)! If you have not been added to the Lord’s church, you can do so by hearing the word (Rom. 10:17), believing Jesus is the Christ the Son of God (John 8:24), repenting of your sinful lifestyle (Acts 17:30), being immersed in water to receive the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and to remain faithful even if it means death 9Rev. 2:10).

[1] Scripture quotations taken from the (LSB®) Legacy Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2021 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Managed in partnership with Three Sixteen Publishing Inc. LSBible.org and 316publishing.com [2] IBID simply means same as the previous source. It refers back to the last citation.

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