The Divine Body

(Acts 2:47) 

AMONG all the religious bodies in the world to-day, 
can we find and identify the body of Christ ? Has 
it been in existence throughout all the centuries? Is it 
in existence to-day? 

Seeds that were buried in the soils of Egypt hun- 
dreds and hundreds of years ago have been uncovered, 
replanted, and made to reproduce their kind. So we 
can identify the church, the body of Christ, by its 
characteristics. 

1. When was it established? See sermon outline, 
"The Origin of the Church." (Isa. 2:2-4; Matt. 3:1, 
2.) Still a thing of the future in Matt. 16:18; Luke 
10 : 8, 9 ; 24 : 46-49. All fulfilled in Acts 2. 

2. What was it called? (Matt. 16 : 18). It is Christ's 
church, or the church of Christ; not the "Christian 
Church" nor the "Disciples' Church." It is the body 
of Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23). He gave Himself for it 
(Eph. 5:25). He bought it with His own blood (Acts 
20: 28). It is also called "the church of God" (1 Cor. 
1:2). It is also "the church of the firstborn," having 
reference to Christ (Heb. 12 : 23) . It is the Bride of 
the Redeemer (Eev. 21:2; 22:17). It is "Christ's 
church," or "the church of Christ" preferably. Local 
congregations are termed "churches of Christ" (Rom. 
16:16). 

3. Of what did this body consist? Of those who be- 
lieved in Christ; turned to God; confessed their faith 
in Jesus Christ; and were buried with Him in baptism, 
and resurrected to walk in the new life. They did not 
"join church" — they were added by the Lord (Acts 
2:47). It consisted of obedient believers in Christ. 
The three thousand (Acts 2) ; the Samaritans (Acts 8: 
12) ; Philip and the eunuch (Acts 8) ; Saul of Tarsus 
(Acts 9) ; Cornelius and his household (Acts 10) ; 
Lydia and her household (Acts 16) ; the Philippian 
jailor and his household (Acts 16) — all became mem- 
bers of the body by obedience to the gospel. We have 
no record but of one way (Acts 16 : 17 ; 18 : 26) . 

4. Characteristics of the body of Christ. 

a. Those constituting it were known as " Christians' ' 
(Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). 

b. Their only creed was Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:16; 
Acts 8:37). 

c. They were guided by the inspired teachings of the 
apostles (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17). 

d. They met on the first day of the week for the 
Lord's Supper, preaching and offering (Acts 20:7; 1 
Cor. 16:2). The offering was made a part of their 
worship by the "commandment of the Lord" (1 Cor. 
14:37). 

e. They continued stedfastly in the apostles' doc- 
trine, in the breaking of bread and in prayer (Acts 
2:42). 

5. There never has been but one divine institution — 
the church of Jesus Christ (John 10:16; Eph. 4:4). 

The institution that does not bear the earmarks of the 
New Testament church can not be the church of Christ 
in itself. 

6. Obedience to the gospel puts a person in Christ, 
or in the body of Christ, which is the church. There is 
no salvation in the Lutheran Church alone; or in the 
Episcopal Church alone; or in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church alone; or in any body that does not bear the 
earmarks of the church of Christ. There is salvation 
only in obedience to the gospel. Obedience to the gospel 
makes Christians. 

7. The church of Christ was established in the days 
of the apostles. The church of Christ was established 
at Jerusalem. Any religious institution established at a 
later time, or in any other region of the world, can not 
be the church of Christ in itself. We seek to restore 
the church of Christ as it existed in the days of the 
apostles. 

8. It is useless to represent the church as a tree and 
the various denominations as branches of the tree. 
Such a tree would have no trunk. If all denominations 
were branches of the church of Christ, where is the 
church of Christ? Jesus referred to individuals, and 
not to churches, in John 15 : 5. 

We are content to belong to nothing save the church 
of Jesus Christ. We do not belong to any denomina- 
tion, but merely to Christ's church. Are we exclusive? 
Not in the least. You have the same privilege, and we 
plead with you to accept it. We have no desire to 
occupy denominational ground, nor to advance any 
interdenominational interests. Rather we seek to build 
up the undenominational body of Christ. The theory 
of denominationalism is doomed, and the practice will 
pass away gradually. Sectarianism is the awful sin of 
rending asunder the body of Christ. Schism is carnal. 
Let us forsake division, and become Christians only, 
members of the one body.