What makes a church?
The church in the Bible is not a place you go to, or a building you sit in. It is made up of people; God’s people. It transcends national boundaries, ethnic groups, political alliances, and social strata. With His own blood, Jesus Christ “purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9, NIV). Together, these believers–past, present, and future–constitute the church (Acts 20:28).
A few like-minded people can charter a social organization. But the church is composed of God’s chosen people. As our Lord said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (Jn 15:16). Through baptism, the blood of our Lord unites us as members of the church. As the body of Christ, the church is closely related to our salvation.
Christ has given the church the mission to preach and baptize for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 28:18-20). The church takes on Christ’s authority and must bring the gospel to the world. The Lord Jesus also continues His saving work through the sacraments the church administers. And according to Jesus’ commission, the church must bring up the faith of her members by teaching them to obey the Lord’s commands.
By fulfilling her mission, the church prepares for the coming of Christ. The Bible depicts a great wedding banquet for Christ and His bride, the church (Rev 19:7-10). That will be the finale of God’s salvation plan, when the believers will join with the Lord and be with Him forever.
Therefore, to accept the church is to accept Christ, and to be saved is to become a member of the body of Christ, the church. We cannot separate the Savior from His body, and we are not saved apart from the church.
What does it mean to be a member of “the Church”?
Since Christ has only one body, and there is only one Spirit, there can only be one true church.
The Bible uses many analogies to teach us that there is only one church. Christ is the bridegroom and the church is His bride. Just as a bridegroom knows only one bride, our Lord knows and saves only one church.Furthermore, Christ is the shepherd and we are the sheep. Just as a shepherd gathers his sheep into one flock, Christ brings all believers into one church.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Finding the true church does not just mean choosing one congregation over another, but finding the church that preaches the true gospel. The Bible tells us that the church is founded on the teachings of the apostles and the prophets (Eph 2:20). It also calls the church “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The church upholds and proclaims the truth that is taught in the Bible.
There is “one faith, one baptism”—that is, only one gospel of salvation. Two churches with different beliefs on salvation cannot both be true. Thousands of Christian churches with different teachings on salvation exist in the world today. Every Christian needs to seek the one faith that the apostles once shared and preached, rather than basing the choice on factors such as the quality of the choir or the eloquence of the speaker. We need to choose on the basis of truth.
What makes a church true?
“The body apart from the spirit is dead” (Jas 2:26); likewise, a congregation without the Spirit of God has no spiritual life. The church of the living God must have the Holy Spirit. Believers in the true church receive the promised Holy Spirit just as the apostles did. Together, these believers become the dwelling place of the Spirit (Eph 2:22).
Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ gives the church the authority to forgive sins (Jn 20:22-23). Therefore, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes baptism effective for the forgiveness of sins (1 Jn 5:6-8).
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth who reveals the truth of salvation (Jn 16:13). In the true church where God’s spirit abides, people can receive and follow the full gospel of salvation as revealed in the Bible.
The church also bears the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24). The Bible calls the church Christ’s “body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23). The Lord shines forth His wisdom, power, and glory through the church. Given divine authority (Mt 10:1), the church performs signs and miracles to testify to the truth of salvation:
How do I know the True Jesus Church has the truth?
Zechariah prophesied, “’Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech 4:6). God’s spirit, not human effort, establishes the temple of the last days: the church. This was how the True Jesus Church came to be. The Holy Spirit first revealed the truth of salvation in the Bible to a few humble Christians and then commissioned them to proclaim the full gospel.
The Lord has confirmed that the True Jesus Church is His church through signs and miracles. For example, the witness of blood during baptisms in the True Jesus Church is strong proof of the true cleansing power of baptism. Others have been healed during baptism, or upon receiving the Holy Spirit. Since the establishment of the True Jesus Church until today, many have found the truth of salvation in this church and have experienced the wonder of God’s power.
In this end time, the Lord Himself has raised up the true church to preach the only way of salvation. We must come into this church by accepting the true gospel and being baptized into the one body of Christ (see 1 Cor 12:13).