|Volume 25 Number 6 June 2023
There Is One Body
Johnny O. Trail
In an age of pluralism and multiculturalism, emphasis is placed upon many different ideas about God, the church, worship and other details of religion. It seems that any person’s view is valid even if it does not mesh with Scripture. Finding God’s direction is important in an age when anything bearing the title “church” is deemed acceptable regardless of its doctrinal stands.
While diversity might be the order of the day, unity is Christ’s desire for all who would be His followers. John 17:20-21 says, “I do not pray for these alone, 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 also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (NKJV). In accordance with the prayer that Jesus uttered in John 17, it is apparent that Jesus wants all His disciples to be unified.
This being the case, the Bible teaches that division in the church is sinful. This was a problem that Paul addressed in the church at Corinth. First Corinthians 1:10 reads, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” In the first part of this book, it is evident that they were divided over the various preachers. Paul encouraged them to be unified in “the same mind” and “the same judgment.”
Furthermore, the Bible student knows that division is sinful because Paul encouraged brethren at Rome to mark any person who caused disunion in the church. He said in Romans 16:17-18, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” Sadly, he underscored the motives of those who would divide the church; they are self-serving individuals who entrap people with their charisma.
Consequently, we must allow Scripture to be the true litmus test for describing the unity, organization, membership and conduct of the church. The Bible teaches that there is one body. Ephesians 4:3-4 records, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.” The terms “body” and “church” are used interchangeably to refer to the same thing in certain contexts.
To that end, only those who are in the “body” are saved. Ephesians 5:23 says, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” In addition to the blood of Christ remitting sins at the point of baptism (Acts 2:38), His blood purchased the church or the “bride of Christ.” Acts 20:28 reads, “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.” One must be a part of this blood-bought institution to have eternal life.
Scripture clearly teaches that there is one body, which is made up of many members. However, this does not mean that there is a universal church composed of many denominations. One of Paul’s analogies emphasized the unity of the church in comparison to the interconnected functioning of the human body. First Corinthians 12:20-27 reads:
But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Without harmony in the human body, many problems arise. The same is true when there is sectarianism in the church or generally in religion (i.e., denominationalism).
For the church to correspond with the one for which Jesus shed His blood, it must bear the hallmarks of it described in Scripture. Prophecy has something to say about the establishment of the church. For one thing, it was to be established in Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:2-3 says:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’S house Shall be established on the top of the mountains And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
The church was established in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5) on the Day of Pentecost in fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy (2:28-32; cf., Acts 2:1-5).
Scripture teaches that the church must be established upon Christ. First Corinthians 3:11 records, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Christ is the only way into the church (John 10:9) that was purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). A denomination established upon any other person is built upon a foundation that is unsure and unstable.
Furthermore, Christ is the only authorized Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). This makes perfect sense because He is the one who built the church. Matthew 16:18, says, “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.” Since He has been given all authority (Matthew 28:18), all things in His body must be done according to His wishes (Colossians 3:17).
Finally, for one to be a part of the body of Christ, he must be saved. Those who obeyed the Gospel on the day of Pentecost were added to the church. Acts 2:47 reads, “Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” When one is baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27) for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), he is added to the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23).
While these things are not popular in a postmodern world, they are biblical and sound. One might ask, “Does the church you attend fit the description of the body of Christ described in God’s Word?” If not, please examine what Scripture reveals about the one true church for which Jesus died and over which He alone is the Head and seek that one only (Ephesians 4:4) which is described in the Bible.