In this article we will deal with the subject of the church in contrast to the denominational world strictly from a Biblical perspective.  To do this properly, we will give book; chapter and verse for all that is said.  In doing so, it must be accepted that if it is not in the Bible, then it is not of the Lord, and does not deserve consideration when such a subject is considered.  The Bible has been given to man to serve as his guide in life, and is the standard by which we shall be judged in the end (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:3; John 12:48).

In the Apostle Paul’s day there were many “lords” and many “gods”, but he wrote “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8:6).  From a study of Biblical history, we note that the people of his time made “gods” of certain men and forces among them, idolizing and paying homage to them.  They followed them as “lords” failing to recognize that such come and go with time.  Paul’s point to the Corinthians was, to those that are properly taught, there is only “one God” and “one Lord”.

Today, there are many churches or denominations with many doctrines, contrary one to another. But to the true Bible student, there is but one church, the body of Christ.  Likewise, there is but one doctrine – the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9).  Satan has always sought to counterfeit everything God has done, and tries to make men think it is just as good as the genuine.  Many times he attempts to present the counterfeit in such a way that man will not easily see the difference.  The New Testament is clear, indicating that the Lord has built his church (Matthew 16:18).  In looking around us, we see that Satan offers a counterfeit instead; making man think it is just as good as the original.  Likewise, there are as many bodies of doctrine as there are denominations, but there is only one true church and one true body of doctrine for that church.  The Apostle Paul clearly pointed to the fact that there was at the time he wrote that which was “contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10).  Such “unsound” teaching is still found in religious bodies that fail to “preach the word” as “charged” by Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:1-4).

Following the institution of the Lord’s church, it was carried away with the flood of false doctrines resulting in the world being filled with denominations built on these false doctrines (Ephesians 4:14; 2 Peter 3:17).  It was not until men determined to return to the true Word of God that the church returned from obscurity and stood forth once again as in the days of the apostles.  With this in mind, we want to look at the difference between the church and denominationalism.

THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHES THE ONENESS OF THE CHURCH – When discussion of the church is conducted, one must come to an understanding of how the church came into existence.  During His “public ministry,” Jesus said he would build his church (Matthew 16:18).  No matter what people claim, this cannot be said of any denomination, because of the fact they were not built by Jesus.  The facts are clear, if the “church” that we are considering was not built by Jesus, it is not His (Psalm 127:1; 1 Timothy 3:15).  Religious institutions were built by different men, and have not been built on the proper foundation necessary to allow them to stand the test of God (1 Corinthians 3:11; Matthew 7:24-27).

Looking around us today, it is easy to see that there are thousands of religious organizations that are not built on the doctrine of Christ.  As such, they, therefore, rest entirely on the doctrines of men and have no connection with Christ (Colossians 1:22).  The Lord’s church began on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:29-47), while present denominations cannot trace their roots to this time.  It can truthfully be said that, that which cannot trace its roots to that time cannot be the one true church built by the Lord.  One who cannot trace their spiritual roots to that time cannot lay claim on the heritage that comes from the Lord.

THE ONE BIBLICAL CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST – From a study of the New Testament, one may easily take note of the fact that Christ has only one body, hence, there is only one church.  The Apostle Paul clearly taught this oneness in a number of locations found in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11:20; Ephesians 4:4; Colossians 1:18).  Everyone who belongs to Christ is a member of that one body, the one church, added to it by the Lord Himself (Acts 2:47).  That cannot be said of any denomination existing on earth today.  Regardless of the claims that are made, denominations are not members one of another.  Each has its own particular doctrine, its own pattern of worship, its own organization, and its own government. When considering these matters, we easily note that many of them clearly contradict the teachings of the Bible and the beliefs and practices of other denominations.  For there to be the oneness that the Lord demands, there must be unanimity in all of these areas.  That is what the Lord prayed for (John 17:20-23), and that is what is expected (1 Corinthians 1:10) in order for the true church to exist at any time.

The New Testament church is pictured as God’s house or household, depending on which translation you may be using (1 Timothy 3:15).  You will notice a singularity found in the words of Paul.  He did not write of the “houses of God” but, rather, the “house of God”.  It is easy to see from the New Testament Scriptures that God has only one family (Ephesians 4:6, Hebrews 2:11).  Nothing even hints at the idea of His having a number of families.  Further, no denomination can correctly claim to be the family of God.  This is so, as it must be seen that all of God’s children are born into His family (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 2:29).  All that are born into the family of God have been born alike.  People in religious organizations built by men do not get into them by doing what it takes to constitute the new birth.  Those “born” into the denominations are “born” differently and are, therefore, not in the church of the New Testament (John 3:5).

The church of the New Testament is the kingdom of God. The One who is the head of the church is the King of His kingdom (Colossians 1:12-14). He is King of kings, and Lord of lords  (1 Timothy 6:15).  As all members of the church are subject to Christ, they are citizens of His kingdom. When the kingdom is delivered up to the Father, all faithful members of the body, the church, will be in it (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  Denominational churches do not have this hope contrary to what they may believe and teach.

The church of the New Testament is the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16).  No denomination organization built by man can correctly make that claim.  All that are in the church built by Jesus are subject to the King of the kingdom and obey the same system of law   (1 Timothy 6:15).  They, likewise, have the same worship, organization, means of entrance, and government.

The church of the New Testament is the Lord’s Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).  All that serves Him work in the same vineyard.  All are called alike and sent into the same vineyard.  All are given the same instructions.  And all will be judged alike.  When we examine the religious institutions that exist today, it does not take long to see how they differ greatly on these important matters.

The church of the New Testament is God’s Sheepfold (John 10:1-16).  From a study of the New Testament, we see that there is only one fold and one Shepherd (John 10:16). Further, it is easily seen that there is but one door into that one sheepfold (John 10:9).  As such, then, there is only one way into the one fold, regardless of what is said by man (John 14:6).

All references in the New Testament to the church are in the singular, except for Romans 16:16 where the collective “churches of Christ” were said to salute the Roman church.  The plural was used there by Paul to express the congregational concept, indicating that congregations scattered abroad “saluted” them.  When a careful study of the New Testament is conducted, we are left with the inescapable conclusion that there is only one church, with one foundation, one head, one law, one worship, one door of entrance, and one hope of salvation.  To be a part of any other religious organization leaves us separated from all hope of eternal life found in that one institution (Ephesians 4:4).  In view of all of this, we dare not allow the devil to lead us astray by becoming a part of a counterfeit church.  May we be determined to study the Scriptures carefully, and follow them as God would have us to do (James 1:22).