Christ the Savior of the Body but Which One ? the Matter of Timing?
In Eph. 5:23 we read where Paul says “Christ is the head of the church; and he is the savior of the body.” This passage is clear cut and easy to understand save for one thing – what body is it he is the savior of? Is it the Baptist church, the Lutheran, the Methodist, the Nazarene, or one of the hundreds of others that could be named? Many would say it is all of them taken collectively. It is a subject worthy of consideration, an important study, for if we do not get it right we will be found outside the body Jesus’ is saving at the last day.
It is important that we understand that when Paul said Jesus was the “savior of the body” he was talking about the church. The church is the body, “And he (God the Father – DS) put all things under his (Jesus’ – DS) feet, 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.” (Eph. 1:22-23 NKJV) Paul again in Col. 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church.” (NKJV) The church is thus the spiritual body of Christ which Christ will save at the last day as he is the Savior of the body. Being a church member then is clearly essential for salvation. However, we still have the problem of figuring out just which church it is that Christ is going to save as we have hundreds and hundreds of churches today. Is there any help in figuring it out? Yes, all kinds of help.
I will start with what ought to be obvious to any and all. If the church of which a person is a member began centuries after the New Testament was written it is not the church which Jesus said he would save. The church Jesus established and over which he was and is the Savior was established in the first century on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Let us say, just as an example, that a church began in the 1400’s. If a person claims the church of which he is a member is the one which Jesus is the Savior of and yet it was not begun until the 1400’s it necessarily means that for 1400 years Jesus had nothing to save and no one was saved. If an individual readily admits his/her church was established sometime in the Middle Ages or thereafter they are admitting, like it or not, that their church is not the church Jesus established or built. They ought to get out of it, leave it. It is clearly a man made church rather than Christ built.
That the church was begun in the first century is so self evident from even a casual glance at scripture I do not want to waste much time on it here. Many of Paul’s salutations in the epistles establish that fact for he often begins with words like, “To the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:2 NKJV), “To the churches of Galatia” (Gal. 1:2 NKJV), “To the church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thess. 1:2 NKJV). It is hard to write to a body not yet established, to something that does not exist. The church was begun on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 commencing with those who responded to Peter’s preaching that day. In Acts 2:47 the New King James version of the Bible reads, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Much more could be written on the establishment of the church but that is not the purpose of this particular article.
Every denomination that exists today was built many hundreds of years after Christ built his church. This puts every denomination in a terrible bind. Only emotion can rescue (?) them for there is no hope that reason can. How can one claim his church (speaking by way of accommodation) is the church Jesus built when one takes chronology into account? The church Jesus built had to exist before his denomination otherwise the implication is that no one was saved for the hundreds of years prior to his denomination’s establishment but after Christ’s purchase of the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28 NKJV) which would mean no one at Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, or any other city mentioned in the New Testament.
If you admit the obvious that your denomination is not the church Christ built then troubling questions arise. Why does it exist? Who built it? Jesus built his church but the chronology says your church is not his church so who built it? Did God go about building a vast multitude of denominations in addition to his church? If so why? Was his church insufficient by itself? If he could not make one church sufficient how could he make hundreds or thousands sufficient? Why did he build them? If he did not build them but man did who gave man the right? Where is the Bible authority for any man to go out and build a church in addition to God’s church? That is the very thing that has happened if God’s church already existed prior to your denomination. It was built in addition to God’s church.
If your church (I am using the words “you” and “your” in a generic sense) is not the church Jesus built then how can it be a friend to Christ’s church? It surely is in competition with Christ’s church. If it taught the same thing Christ’s church taught, was the same in organization, work, worship, the same in every respect then it would be his church and not a denomination and yet I have never known a denominational person willing to declare that his church is the church Jesus built. Why not? Because that would make it exclusive as Christ built only one. If your group is it then no other group is but the chronology will not allow you to make that claim for your denomination. The timing is just not right. Furthermore, If that was the case and your body of adherents is indeed the Lord’s church then you would have to declare it the “one body” (Eph. 4:4), the one church Jesus built, meaning the others (all other denominations) were and are a fraud and I know of no denominational person willing to do that – to make that declaration.
I think men generally realize these things, it is only common sense, a little logic, pretty much like two plus two equals four, simple reasoning, and yet it is so troubling to allow our minds to dwell on these things that we quickly shut the thoughts off from our mind. If we do not see an answer, a way out, our mind seems to say let go of it. We pretend the problem is not there, it is non-existent, and we refuse to think about it. Why? Because it is so troubling and is capable of causing so much worry, concern, and trouble. But, like cancer, if the problem is there it will not go away on its own and sooner or later, one way or another, we will be forced to deal with it. It refuses to be swept under the rug and forgotten. There is a judgment day where we will have to provide answers as to what we did and why in the religious realm of our life (as well as in other areas).
Often the answer that comes up is that all the denominations taken together are the church Jesus built. We all know deep down that is not true but again we do not like to think about it. Every one of them was built hundreds of years after the fact by man, not by God. We also know that they do not teach the same doctrines nor practice the same things. It is a little hard to see how Baptists who have trouble with Pentecostalism which in turn wants nothing to do with the Episcopalians are all going to be saved and go to heaven. Their doctrines are as far apart as east is from west. To get everybody to heaven who just believes in Jesus, as men view belief, means there is no such thing as truth. In the denominational world one man’s truth is another man’s lie. Let a Baptist and an Episcopalian get together and talk about homosexuality and see what happens.
Make no mistake about it if denominationalism with its generally held belief that we are all going to heaven just so we believe is to be accepted a man must also accept the idea that neither truth nor practice matter. There is just no way in the world of getting around that. The trouble is (more of those troubling questions I mentioned above) is that when we say that we contradict what the Bible has to say about truth making ourselves out to know more about truth and its importance than the Bible does. We also condemn ourselves in that if neither truth nor practice matter that much we are guilty of sin for not getting together as one body of believers. If a Baptist, a Pentecostal, and an Episcopalian, as per my examples, are all going to be saved I guess that means we can be saved in sin for we remain divided when Jesus prayed that we be one. Paul commanded that we be of one mind (Rom. 15:6, Phil. 1:27, Phil. 2:2) as did Peter (1 Peter 3:8). Truth does not matter, practice does not matter, and neither does sin under the concept of modern day denominationalism (which makes it clear that none of it is of or from God).
We can answer the question “Christ the Savior of the body but which one” by saying it is none of the denominations but it is the church Jesus himself built. Having said that there are many, many questions that I am sure this article has brought to mind that have not been answered. It would be impossible to answer them all in one article. I will just say I am aware of those questions and hope, Lord willing, to be dealing with them one by one in future articles with this article being only an introduction of sorts, the first of a series. Thanks for reading.
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