By Dennis C. Abernathy
The apostle Paul tells the Ephesians that “there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6). Just as surely as this passage shows there is but one God, it shows there is but one body. In other words, if you believe in one God, you also believe there is one body (that is, if you believe the Bible)!
Our Lord has but one body on this earth. “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” (Rom. 12:4-5). “But now are they many mem4ers, yet but one body” (1 Cor. 12:20).
Since we now know there is but one body, the next question is: “What is this one body?” Let the Book answer. “And He is the head of the body, the church . . .” (Col. 1: 18). Notice further, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Col. 1:24). One last passage, “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 fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). The church is His body! “The body” — “the church.” How simple. But please notice that this does not say “a church … .. some church,” or “just any church.” But it does say “the church.” What does this prove? It proves there is but one body and this one body is the church. It follows then, that there is but one church!
This being the truth, why will men encourage people to “join the church of your choice and glorify God”? (Billy Graham, “My Answer,” 12/15/55).- May I ask a question in all sincerity, not to be ugly or offensive, but plain and forthright. How is it that there is a Catholic church, a Seventh-Day Adventist church, several different kinds of Baptist churches, Methodist churches, interdenominational churches that are composed of many different beliefs, and on and on we could go, yet with each of these claiming its existence by divine authority and all claiming to acknowledge the Bible as being true? Is the Bible the “infallible rule of faith and practice”? I can read of Paul addressing “the church of God at Corinth.” I can read of “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae.” I can read of “the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons” (1 Cor. 1:2; Col. 1:2; Phil. 1:1). Then I can read of “all the churches of Christ” sending greetings (Rom. 16:16). But my dear friend, I must humbly confess that I have never found where Paul addressed the Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church, or the Methodist Church. Have you? I cannot find anything like “the Seventh-day Adventist Churches salute you” in the Word of God. Can you? Have you wondered why this is so? Doesn’t it appear that something is wrong?
Ah! But someone says, “these organizations are but branches of the vine, or members of the one body of which Paul speaks. But when one defends error (or tries to) he finds himself engrossed in even more error. Now we have a “Baptist branch of the church,” a “Methodist branch of the church,” and I suppose the smaller, less prominent groups might be considered I ‘twigs. ” But notice, if you will. Until the various denominations came into being (whose beginnings are not found in the Bible), the church must have been without “branches” and consequently could not have been fruitful. A vine with no branches that bears no fruit is worthless! But we are supposed to believe that today God has branches, and branches, and branches, and branches. That there are branches of branches, and branches of branches of branches. Talk about “spiritual evolution.” And not only that, but all of these branches are growing from the same vine, with every one bearing different kinds of fruit. Talk about an oddity. My friend, who can believe it!
No, dear reader, there is but one body, the church. You can read all about it in the Bible. It is composed of the “saved,” who have been added to it by the Lord Himself (Acts 2:37,38,41,47). The units that make up the one body are Christians and not congregations or different denominations. These Christians form local churches when they meet together in their localities and do what God has ordained in His Word.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 17, p. 532
September 5, 1985