Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A View of the True Church

A View of the True Church

By Randall Walton

In this twenty-first century of the Christian era, there is a massive array of religious organizations that are known as “The Church.” Most of these institutions consider themselves an example of the true and accepted church of God, or as having God’s stamp of approval.

But of the hundreds of different denominations scattered abroad, no two are exactly alike, by which we know that they are most certainly not all “God-ordained.” In fact, it is our solemn conviction that there does not exist anywhere on earth a “true church,” or one that follows the pattern that is laid out in the Book of Acts. It is our contention that the body which was established by Jesus Christ through His apostles is/was the only corporeal Body which has ever met the demands and standards of its Founder, and it is quite evident that it was very short-lived!

While it remains true that a handful of faithful followers have existed down through the dark centuries since the passing of the apostles, it is also true that the divine pattern, which they knew, has never been replicated. We seriously wonder how anyone can refer to their own religious company as a “New Testament Church.”

Let us substantiate this claim with a brief profile of that pristine body which was established by none other than the Lord of Glory Himself, and which existed but a few short years due to carnality that was allowed to go on unabated and unchecked.

  1. They were all with ONE ACCORD (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1; Acts 4:24; Acts 5:12).

It is doubtful that this condition has existed at any time since those days. There have been attempts made to require everyone under some regime to conform to certain set of ideas and beliefs, but all of these have failed to succeed because it is “with the heart” that man believes; no regime or order has been able to conquer, control, or change man’s heart. The 120 saints who gathered in the upper room were united in their fervor, zeal, and aim/purpose. We do not assume that they believed every minor and major point exactly alike, but they were of one accord in their desire to please God and to see God’s will done.

  1. They were baptized with the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:5; Acts 10:44-46; Acts 11:15-17; Acts 19:6).

Just prior to Jesus’ ascension, He told the apostles to remain in Jerusalem to receive the promise of the Father. “For John truly baptized with water; but YE SHALL BE BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). So it was just seven days later that Pentecost was fully come and these saints (about 120, both men and women) were baptized with the Holy Spirit, the evidence of which was that they all spoke with “tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.”

3. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4; Acts 4:8 & 31; Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9 & 52; Ephesians 5:18).

There is much talk today about “Spirit filled churches,” “Spirit filled preachers,” etc., but the early church bore the signs thereof. Where are Spirit-filled people today? Just because a person speaks in tongues, or rolls on the floor, or dances a holy jig does not mean that person is filled with the Spirit. Filled means FILLED. Being filled is not the same as an anointing of the Spirit, either. Too many people claim to be filled with the Spirit who are not filled at all.

  1. The early church was a channel of power (Acts 1:8; Acts 5:5-10 & 12-16; Acts 9:36-42; Acts 12:4-10; Acts 20:8-10; etc.).

“But ye shall receive POWER (dunamis, [dynamite] Grk.), after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Supernatural power was one of the earmarks of the church. There was power over sickness, sin, Satan and death. Jesus had stated that “he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12).

Very little power is demonstrated among believers today. Sin and lawlessness dominate most of the religious scene today, whereas in the early church, even liars were smitten by the power of God (Acts 5:1-10). Demons were cast out of those who were possessed; an ungodly man was struck with blindness (Acts 13:11); a fornicator was turned over to Satan (1 Cor. 5:4-5).

5 5. They had all things common (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-37).

One of the outstanding out comes of the Pentecostal experience was the selflessness of the people, a condition which is sorely lacking among the professors of the Christian faith today. The outpouring of the Spirit not only changed their manner of worship, but also their manner of living. Now, no man called anything his own, but distribution was made of all the resources according to each one’s needs.

6 6. The FRUIT of the Spirit was manifest:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith(fullness), meekness, temperance”
(Galatians 5:22-23)

Fruit is a product, or the result of certain action having taken place. In this case, it is the Holy Spirit at work in the heart supplying the necessary impetus and spiritual nutrition to produce the expected results.

In a study of the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament, it is very easy to find evidence of each of these divine qualities, thereby confirming the fact that the Holy Spirit was actively at work within them, aiding in the production of these characteristics of the divine nature.

  1. They had the Gifts of the Spirit.

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of WISDOM; to another the word of KNOWLEDGE by the same spirit; to another FAITH by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of HEALING by the same Spirit; to another the working of MIRACLES; to another PROPHECY; to another DISCERNING of spirits; to another divers kinds of TONGUES; to another the INTERPRETATIONS of tongues” (1st Corinthians 12:7-10).

The operation of these gifts in the church made it a vibrant, powerful, living body of which Jesus was the Head.

While it is true that there are many claims today of apostolic succession and the use of the gifts of the Spirit, it is probably safe to say at least 99%+ of these claims are false. We do not know of any place where these nine gifts (or even one) are in existence. We have witnessed many counterfeit attempts to display these spiritual manifestations, but to this present hour we have not discovered the genuine.

These nine spiritual gifts set the early church apart from all other religious orders. There was never anything like this before, and there has not been an equal to it since it slowly faded into oblivion.

  1. They had God-ordained Ministries.

“And He gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11).

These 5 ministries or offices are generally referred to as the “Five-Fold Ministry.” There are several religious bodies that claim to have these ministries. Frankly we doubt that all of these offices are in existence today. It would be truly wonderful if this was true, but the record speaks differently.

Compare today’s professed apostles with the apostles in the Scriptures. Based on the information we have, these modern apostles are man-made, not God-ordained. And if God has not sent them, they are not true apostles.

The same can be said of the prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

Too many professing ministers of the gospel have chosen their careers as a vocation. God did not call them: they chose their particular job. This is not to say that there are no God-called ministers, for some are surely bearing good fruit, but it is a skinny minority to whom this applies!

A Restoration Promised

Would you like to see a truly New Testament Church? On the basis of what we have covered thus far, it is plain that no such creature exists on this planet today (This includes People of the Living God).

However, we have the assurance that God is going to restore the Church to its original splendor and glory, and that before Jesus returns in the clouds:

“Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it: That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by the word; That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

“And He shall send Jesus Christ…Whom the heaven must receive (keep) until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began (from “of old,” Grk)” (Acts 3:20-21).

It is on God’s program---this restoration of all that once belonged to the people of God: the same glory, the same power, the same ministries, gifts, manner of life, and experiences. The greatest display of spiritual might and power is due before Jesus comes back to judge the world in righteousness.

But the church (lit. the people of God) must first be sanctified and cleansed. There exists too much worldliness, carnality, and fleshly activity for this restoration to take place presently. If you are a member of the “called-out-ones” expect some sever trials and testings for these are instrumental in the cleansing process to which He will subject His elect.

For a preview of these things, we encouraged you to read the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.

And when the restoration is completed we believe these eight factors will be plainly visible:

  1. The saints will be of one accord.
  2. They will be filled with the Spirit.
  3. They will be baptized with the Spirit.
  4. They will be endued with power from on high.
  5. They will have all things in common.
  6. They will have the fruit of the Spirit.
  7. They will have the gifts of the Spirit.
  8. They will have the God-given ministries of the Spirit.

Truly, that will be a glorious Church!

Copied by permission from a monthly magazine titled “The Testimony of Truth” published by “The People Of The Living God;” A Non-Sectarian Back To The Bible Movement.

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