We’ve all heard the statement, “Attend the church of your choice.” It’s a great sentiment. We would all love to see people attending worship more often. But underneath the idea lies a subtle lie Satan uses to trick people. That lie is that it doesn’t really matter where you go to church because one church is as good as another.

ROBERT >> One of the most popular lies of the devil goes something like this: One church is as good as another. It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Nazarene, Pentecostal, or whatever. Worship at the church of your choice. And so we see people going from one church to another to find a church that suits them. But you’ll never read anything like that in the Bible. It’s another lie of the devil.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> What does the Bible say about the church?

Is one church just as good as another?

Are we left to just worship at the church of our choice?

What does the Bible have to say about it?

This morning I want us to consider some passages together beginning in Matthew chapter 16, where Jesus was with his apostles, and he was asking them what they thought about who he was. And it was on this occasion that Peter made this great confession.

In Matthew 16:16, Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And it was upon that confession that Jesus made a most important statement about his church.

Look with me in Matthew 16:18. “And I also say to you, that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Notice carefully what Jesus said about the church. Jesus said, I will build My church. He said, My church, singular, not churches, plural. Jesus did not build many different kinds of churches so we could all take our pick; no, the Bible says that he came to build one church, and that’s exactly what he did. All the Christians of the first century were members of that same church. Peter the apostle was not a member of one church and Paul the apostle a member of another church and John the apostle a third. No, they were all members of the church that Jesus said he would build, the church of Christ.

Go with me if you will to Acts the 2nd chapter, because it’s here that we learn about the beginning of that church, how that church was established by the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, Acts chapter 2 was written about a time just after the death, the burial, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus had paid the price for our sins at Calvary, and he was raised up the third day; and after showing himself alive to his apostles and other disciples, he ascended into the clouds back into heaven, where he was seated at the right hand of God. And it was from this place of power and authority that he poured out the Holy Spirit upon his apostles. And they began to speak the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. It was the first time that the gospel was revealed and confirmed by the power of the Holy Spirit in all its fulfillment.

Now that Jesus had died and had been buried, had been raised, now that our salvation had been taken care of because of what Jesus did for us, this was proclaimed. And when this good news was proclaimed, there were those there that realized that they had just days before put to death their savior.

They had cried in the streets, Crucify him, Crucify him! Let his blood be on us, and upon our children. And so when they heard these words from the apostles concerning the death and the resurrection of Christ, they were, as the Bible says, cut to the heart. They were convicted of their sin.

Notice with me in Acts 2:37, “ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

You see, these wanted to know how they could be saved by Jesus. They now believed that they had put to death the Lord and the Christ, the one who had come to save them, to deliver them, that long-awaited savior. And so what do we do, they wanted to know. And I want you to notice the answer that was given by inspiration through the mouth of the apostles.

They were not told to ask Jesus into their heart. They were not told to just call out in prayer and ask Jesus to come to them and to save them and forgive their sins. They were not told to sit down with the preachers there and say some kind of sinner’s prayer. No.

Rather, look what they were told in verse 38. “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. You see, when these people who now believed that Jesus was their savior asked what to do to be saved, they were told that they needed to repent and to be baptized.

You see, they needed to make that decision to turn away from sin and to live for God. That’s what repentance is. And then having done that, they would be ready to give themselves to the Lord in baptism so that their sins might be forgiven, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And this is the same answer that we must give to those today who are asking what to do to be saved. If you believe on the Lord, then turn away from your sins and be baptized into him for the remission of those sins.

You’ll notice that Peter went on to try to convince and persuade these people to become Christians. We read on in verse 40, “And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. And then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

There is the beginning of the church of Christ. Jesus promised, I’ll build My church; and now for the very first time, men were hearing the gospel. After Jesus Christ had died, had been buried, had been raised, they were hearing that he was their savior, what he did for them could save their souls. And those that responded in obedience, having believed on the Lord and being baptized into him, God added them to his church. The church began with three thousand souls, but that was just the beginning.

Look at verse 47 at the end of this chapter. It tells us that the church there was “praising God and having favor with all the people; and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

Yes, they continued to preach that same gospel. And each day people were responding, turning from their sins in repentance, being baptized into Jesus Christ. Each day God was adding them to his church. You see, that’s what the church is. The church is made up of those who are saved by the blood of Jesus, having been obedient to the gospel in baptism. When we obey the gospel in that very same way, God adds us to that very same church; not to some denomination, but the church Jesus said I will build. This is the church of Christ.

Read with me a little further in the book of Acts, in Acts 20:28. I want you to notice here in this chapter that the apostle Paul is gathered with the elders of Ephesus, and he’s talking to them about their responsibility to shepherd God’s church. And this is what he says in Acts 20:28 to these elders of the church: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

You see, they were to take care of the church as good shepherds because the church was important to God. In fact, the church cost him the blood of his own son. The church of Christ was purchased by his own blood.

There are those who don’t want to have anything to do with the church, who don’t care for the church; but the church that we read about in the Bible is the church that Jesus built. It’s the church that was purchased by his own blood. It cost the blood of Jesus to provide for our forgiveness so that we might be saved, so that we might be a part of his church. Now I want you to go a little further into the New Testament and notice in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 what the apostle Paul says about the church. And I want you to see that something began happening in Corinth that we still see happening today.

In 1 Corinthians 1:10 the apostle Paul says, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

You see here in this passage how the apostle Paul pleads for the unity of God’s people, that we speak the same thing, that we be of the same mind and judgment, we be perfectly joined together, that there be no divisions among you. That word divisions certainly describes the religious world today. It’s so divided. But God wants all of his people united together in the one body of Christ, his church; and so he says, Let there be no divisions among you. That’s what’s wrong with denominationalism today.

The word denomination means a division. God does not want us to be divided up. But this was what began to happen here in this local church in the city of Corinth. And I want you to see what was going on there.

Let’s read on in verse 12, where Paul describes their division. “Now I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, or I am of Cephas, or I am of Christ.”

Already four divisions had been created there in that local church. And you notice those divisions were various parties that had rallied around various men, Paul and Apollos and Cephas and Christ. Each of these groups had excluded the other. They had separated themselves from the other group. There were those that were we might Paul the Paulite Christians, I am of Paul. Perhaps they admired Paul because of his great sacrifice and service to the Lord. And some of them had been baptized by Paul, if you read on down in this chapter. But they had associated themselves with that teacher, the apostle Paul.

Others had rallied around Apollos, who was an eloquent speaker according to Acts the 18th chapter, one who preached very boldly and powerfully Jesus as the Christ. Some had rallied around him and taken his name. These were what we might call the Apollosite Christians.

And then there were those who rallied around Cephas. Now that’s just another name for Peter, the apostle Peter, that one who stood up in Acts 2 and preached the gospel and told the people how that Christ had died for them and was so prominent as a leader in the church there in Jerusalem as the church had its beginning.

And then there were those who said, I am of Christ. They certainly had the right name, and they certainly should have been rallied around Christ, but not to the exclusion of the other parties in the church. Surely we can see how that denominationalism in the religious world today is guilty of the very thing that Paul condemned here in Corinth.

Look what he says in verse 13. “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you, or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

No, Christ is not divided. No, Paul was not crucified for you. Apollos was not, Peter was not, no other man was. Our salvation was totally dependent upon the Lord Jesus Christ. And certainly we were not baptized in the name of Paul or any other man, but in the name of Jesus Christ. So those who were baptized into Christ, who have been saved by Jesus Christ, his death upon the cross, should not be divided, but united as one in God’s church. Just as they were in the first century, when Jesus started his church, when people repented and were baptized upon faith in Jesus Christ, God added them to his church. And so we need to remain united and not divided.

Let me say that this idea that you can get saved one way and then join the church of your church another way is not something taught in the Bible. The truth is that the same process that saves a man puts him into the church. Notice how Paul reminds those in Corinth about this.

Look at 1 Corinthians 12:13. 1 Corinthians 12:13. “For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

You see from this passage how that Paul reminds all of those there in the church at Corinth that they had been baptized and that they had been baptized into one body. They were not baptized into many different kinds of churches, but into the one body of Christ, into his church.

You see, when one believes the Lord Jesus Christ as savior, repents of his sins, and is then baptized into Christ for the remission of those sins, he’s also baptized into the body of Christ, his church. You cannot separate Christ from his church.

Let’s notice this a little further as the apostle Paul talks about it in his letter to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:22-23 you see very clearly that all Paul recognized only one church. Here’s what the Bible says: “And He, that is, God, put all things under His feet, that is, Jesus Christ, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

That passage tells us that the body is the church or that the church is the body. Paul’s making an analogy between the body and the church. Christ is the head; the church is his body. To say that Christ is the head of many different kinds of bodies, why, it turns the church into an ugly monster. No, there’s one head and one body, his church. And when we are baptized into Christ, we’re baptized into his body, the church.

Ephesians 4:4 tells us plainly, There is one body.

And Ephesians 5:23 tells us that “Jesus Christ is head of the church and he is the savior of the body.”

So you see, in the first century when people heard the gospel and they responded in obedience to that gospel, their sins were forgiven. They had been baptized into Christ, and they were also a part of his church, the church of which he is the head, of which he is the savior, that church purchased by his own blood, that church that he promised he would build.

Oh, yeah, the devil wants us divided; but God wants us united altogether in that one body, the church. This was Jesus’ desire, and this was a desire that he put into the words of a prayer.

I want to go back and read that with you today in John 17:20-21. This is the Lord’s prayer, the prayer just before he goes to the cross. This is what he says: “I do not pray for these alone, that is, his apostles, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they all may be one, as you Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they may also be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

It’s for this reason that we call all people out of denominationalism, into Christ and his church, to give up party names and man made creeds, to take the name Christian and no other name, to take the Bible and no other book, to follow Christ and nobody else. This is the truth that we’re seeking to deliver here at The Truth in Love, that God want us, God’s people, his people, his redeemed ones, to be not just another denomination, no, or some new church, no, but the church of Christ you read about in your Bible. Is one church as good as another? Think about that. If so, then those built and established by men would be as good as the one built and established by God.

We see this very principle recorded for us in Psalm 127:1, where the Bible says, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

This same principle is repeated by Jesus in Matthew 15:13. Here, Jesus is dealing with God’s people who had divided into various sects like the Pharisees and Saducees. And he reminds them that this is not of God.

He says in Matthew 15:13, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.”

No, one sect, one church, one division is not as good as another, no. God wants us all united together in his church. So somebody says, Well, you’re saying you’re perfect, you’re better than everybody else. No. We are imperfect, but our Lord Jesus Christ is perfect. And being the church of Christ does not make us perfect or better than anybody else. It just means that we are saved by the blood of Christ.

We all deserve to be separated from God. That’s what we earned for ourselves; but by God’s grace we’re saved through Jesus Christ. It took the blood of a perfect one to pay for our sins. He himself is the propitiation, he’s the atoning sacrifice for our sins, 1 John 2:2. And that means that his sacrifice has appeased God’s wrath, has satisfied his justice.

Jesus said there is no other way. “I’m the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus said, and no one comes unto the Father but by Me,” John 14:6.

God’s plea to all sinners is to come out of the world, to come out of sin, to come out of human religious organizations, and to come to Christ, into his church, to be a Christian, nothing more, nothing less, to follow him, nobody else. Will you answer his call today?

SINGING>> In heavenly armor we’ll enter the land.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
And we sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.
When the power of darkness comes in like a flood, the battle belongs to the Lord.
He’s raised up a standard, the power of his blood.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
And we sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.
When your enemy presses in hard, do not fear.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
Take courage, my friend, your redemption is near.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
And we sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.
We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.

SINGING>> Jesus, lamb of God, worthy is your name.
Jesus, lamb of God, worthy is your name.
Worthy is your name.
Worthy is your name.

ROBERT >> Thanks for watching the program today. We’d love to hear from you, so let me encourage you to contact us with your questions, comments, or requests at TTIL, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas, 76053.

You may e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv.

Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.

And also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv.

Remember, all our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you. And please, join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come,
from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul,
from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out,
thy coming in.
Above thee watching,
he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth,
yea for evermore.

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