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SOUNDS LIKE A CULT:
The Oneness of the church
Victor M. Eskew
A. There are things that exist in the world that have similar characteristics, but they are not the same thing.
1. Both have a big tail.
2. Both have large teeth.
3. Both are fierce hunters.
4. One is a lion, and the other is a great white shark. They have similarities, but they are not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination.
B. Because of a few similarities, some have made the claim that the church of Christ is a cult.
1. Cults teach that they are exclusive. The church teaches that it is exclusive.
2. Cults teach total commitment. The church teaches total commitment.
3. Cults actively seek to recruit members. The church is involved in evangelism.
4. Cults will withdraw fellowship from erring members. The church also disciplines her erring members.
5. NOTE: Just because there are some similarities does not mean that the church is a cult.
C. In this lesson, we want to look at one of the things that we teach that causes some to accuse us of being a cult: the oneness of the church.
1. By this we mean, that God only designed and brought into existence one church.
2. By this we mean, that Jesus only died for one church.
3. By this we mean, that God never intended for hundreds of churches to exist.
4. By this we mean, that God never intended for hundreds of denominations teaching conflicting things to exist and be grouped under the heading of the church.
D. Let’s look at this subject tonight. Our title is: “Sounds Like A Cult: The Oneness of the church.”
I. THE RIGHT MINDSET
A. One of the most difficult things to get people to do is to look at the Bible through first century glasses.
B. We must remove ourselves from the twenty-first century and act as if we are living when the words found in the Bible were spoken for the very first time.
1. We have to try to know only what they knew.
2. We have to make application of the words of inspiration as they would have applied them.
3. We cannot act as if they understood what we understand today because what we see and know did not exist back then.
II. JESUS’ WORDS
A. Jesus is the first person to mention the church in the New Testament.
B. He was near Cesarea Philippi when He spoke of the church to His apostles (Matt. 16:13-19).
When Jesus was come into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto them the keys of the kingdom: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
1. Jesus said that Peter’s confession was the foundation of the church, that is, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
2. The word “church” is singular in nature. Jesus did not promise to build many churches.
3. This words that come from the lips of Jesus are enough to prove that there is only one true church.
III. ONLY ONE BODY
A. There are numerous passages of Scripture that teach that there is only one body.
1. Romans 12:4-5
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we being many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
2. I Corinthians 12:20
But now are they many members, yet but one body.
3. Ephesians 4:4
There is one body…
4. Colossians 3:15
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful.
B. The oneness of the body cannot be denied without rejecting plain Bible teaching. The question is: “What is the body?” The answer is that the body is the church.
1. Ephesians 1:22-23
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
2. Colossians 1:18
For he is the head of the body, the church…
3. If the body is the church, and if there is only one body, then there is only one church.
IV. ONLY ONE CHURCH IN THE FIRST CENTURY
A. Three questions:
1. Did a church exist in the first century when the apostles were alive?
a. Answer: Yes.
b. The word “church” is used 80 times in 79 verses in the New Testament.
c. Acts 18:22
And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.
2. Did a denomination exist in the first century?
a. Answer: No.
b. Denominations did not come into existence until hundreds of years after the first century. Church history will confirm this.
3. If a church existed, and it did. If this church was not a present day denomi-nation, and it wasn’t. Then what church existed in the first century?
B. NOTE: This line of questioning is intended to get individuals back to the first century. This was our point in the first section of this lesson.
V. ADDITIONAL LINES OF REASONING
A. The argument from seed.
1. When a person plants seed only one type of harvest is expected.
a. Apple seeds yield apples.
b. Tomato seeds yield tomatoes.
c. Cucumber seeds yield cucumbers.
2. The Bible tells us that the seed is the Word of God.
a. Luke 8:11
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
b. When the seed of God’s Word was planted in the first century, only one church was produced.
c. If that same seed is planted today, it, too, will render only one church.
B. The argument from one head.
1. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the head of the church (Col. 1:18).
And he is the head of the body, the church…
2. A head only has one body.
3. If Jesus has more than one body, He would have a deformity. He would be a monstrosity. He would be abnormal.
C. The argument from the temple.
1. In the New Testament, we are told that the church is the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16).
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
2. WE are the anti-type of the Old Testament temple.
a. There was only one temple in the city of Jerusalem for the Jews.
b. There is only one temple that exists today. That spiritual temple is the church.
A. We began this lesson by noting that just because two things may have a few similarities does make them identical things.
B. Cults claim to be exclusive and so does the church, but they are not the same thing.
1. It is a dishonest statement to claim that the churches of Christ are a cult.
2. It is like saying that a lion is a great white shark.
C. Let’s close with two important verses.
1. Matthew 15:13
But he answered and said, Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.
a. When we plant the seed of God’s Word, we get the true church.
b. There are other seeds that exist and can be planted, but they do not yield the same crop.
c. If the plant has not been planted by the Father, it will be rooted up.
2. I Corinthians 12:13
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles…
a. When a man is baptized, he becomes a member of the body, the church.
b. Salvation is only in the body (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:23).
c. We invite you to become a member of this body.
d. When Jesus returns, He will be looking only for His church (Eph. 5:27).