Can you find it....the Original Church of Jesus Christ?
The "Original Church" of Jesus Christ? 17 Tests You Can Apply
What do we know about Christ's original "church"?
 Jesus taught of "the church" (Matthew 18:17); and He "added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47), while in Hebrews 13:8 we can read of "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." That said, is it true that today He would have many differing churches?
 Ephesians 5:23 states "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." In Ephesians 5:25-26 we are told, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
 Christ said that He (Christ) will build His Church, using Peter, as He has used other men over the centuries. The Book of Acts speaks of prophets in the early days of His Church, and Amos 3:7 states clearly that "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." If His Church spoke of prophets, and if Jesus is unchanging, and if nothing will prevail against His Church, does Christ no longer work through disciples and prophets?
 That appears impossible, for listen to what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in Ephesians 2:19-20: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone;" His Church has apostles and prophets. As with any building, if you take away the foundation, the building itself is changed and endangered. But, His Church is unchanging and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
 If that is so, then His Church must be the same as the church which He organized. We read further in Ephesians (4:10-15) that Paul wrote: "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:". Was Paul recounting all the functions filled in His Church? If so, Paul forgot at least one function which Luke 10:1 mentions: "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself would come."
 His Church, unchanging and with Christ as its head, must have divine authority. As Paul admonished the Ephesians not to be carried about with every wind of doctrine or sleight of men's craftiness, His Church isn't something here and something there; it is divine. Listen to John 15:16, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father, in my name, he may give it you." In His Church He chooses and ordains with authority to ask the Father in His name. Later (John 20: 21-23) we are told : "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." Authority, authority of immense proportions, was given. Was John alone in this recounting of how His Church gained authority in such matters? We read in Paul's letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 5:4-10) "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec." In Acts (6:6) we are also instructed that in their choice of Stephen ("a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost") and others "Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed they laid their hands on them." They ordained them.
 What did this ordination mean? It conferred authority. It was the passing on of the original divine authority. Even with our civil authority this heritage is preserved in part by the taking of a holy oath with one hand placed on the Holy Bible. Contrary to such paid positions, however, we read that His Church and His authority is not a group of "hired hands." You may know the story of Cyrus (from Isaiah 45:13.) God called Cyrus for His Church's sake. Isaiah quotes God as saying: "I have raised him up in righteousness and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts." In John also (10:10-14) the "hireling" is spoken of by Jesus saying, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep, But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep." So also in 1 Peter 5:2-3, Peter, the rock on which Christ would build His Church, admonishes "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." Many churches have "hired hands" doing the work, often in ways purposely designed to promote job security and continued income. There is a relevant quote from Jesus that describes that form of service: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (from Matthew 6:24)
 How do people join His Church? Perhaps a parallel question can also be considered: Why do people join His Church? In Christ's tale of the good shepherd, He prefaced the tale by saying, in John 10:10, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." He was speaking of His sheep who would know Him. Before Christ chose and taught His disciples, He went to his cousin John the Baptist "to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying 'I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" We know that the baptism of John the Baptist continued, but Paul in Ephesus said: "'John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus.' When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." (Acts 19:4-6) Also in Acts 8:12-16 we are told of Philip, and Simon Peter, and John baptizing. Interestingly, while in Samaria Philip "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" and Peter and John were sent to Samaria by the apostles "Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." These Samaritans received baptism first from Philip, but not until the two disciples Peter and John (both) did what was described, did they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is scripture which says Jesus taught "Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:18-19) At the end of  above, the scripture was mentioned in which Jesus "appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two" (Luke 10:1). It appears that Philip, who had the same ordination that Peter and John had, could baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus, but it took two with authority to lay their hand prayerfully on the heads of those who had joined His Church, before the gift of the Holy Ghost could be given. Numerous scriptures show the process of joining His Church to be one of repentance, baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the laying on of hands of those in authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost. Why? "...that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (Keep in mind that in the reference in Acts 19:4-6 there is reason to believe Luke was with Paul.)
 What is life "more abundantly"? Wealth? Actually we are told to store up treasures in heaven where moth and rust will not destroy them. Next to wealth, and before it, rich and poor are agreed that life without health would not be anyone's definition of life "more abundantly." Certainly then, His Church must offer good health as part of Christ's promise of a more abundant life to His sheep who will know Him. Did Jesus Christ organize such a church? In Mark 3:14-15 we are told: "And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:". Luke, who is referred to as a physician, writes "And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God." There are numerous tales of the compassion and healing of Jesus Christ and His disciples. His Church would certainly be one in which divine healing is practiced by those in authority "to preach...to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils".
 His Church would not ignore Christ's own teachings on important distinctions between Christ and His Father in heaven. While Christ and His Father and the Holy Ghost are by Christ's own teaching at one in unity and in spirit, Christ also made important distinctions between them. John was perhaps Christ's closest disciple. At His death, Christ proclaimed John as his heir being the son of Mary, Christ's mother, and Mary as the mother of John, that John fulfill Christ's own mortal responsibilities under Jewish law to care for and comfort Mary, when Christ could no longer do so as a mortal son. Despite this closeness and trust, John's gospel states that Jesus said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Even more to this point (in verse 11) "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." John's gospel also recounts what Jesus said to Mary Magdalene in the garden following His resurrection: "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." John's gospel also states clearly and succinctly: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 21:30-31)
 His Church will teach what Jesus taught. To teach any other doctrine would make it at odds with its own cornerstone. What Christ taught has been preserved and comes down to us in the histories, the gospels of his disciples and followers. What did Christ teach them about what God looked like? For this teaching of His Church, let us look at three separate books from the Holy Bible: Luke 24:36-39, Acts 1:9-11, and Hebrews 1:3. The reference in Luke states: "And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." The reference in Acts states: "And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven; shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." And, the reference in Hebrews 13 states that Christ ("whom he [God] hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;") "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.", His Church will teach two basic teachings concerning Christ and Our Heavenly Father; namely, that Christ and Our Heavenly Father are two separate beings, and both have perfected bodies of flesh and bone. The Holy Bible says these are true teachings.
 These hints, or tests, for identifying His Church can be helpful to anyone seeking to share in the true blessing of His Church, and here is another: His Church will be a restored church. How do we know this from the Holy Bible? Three references will suffice. In Daniel 2:44 the scripture says: "And in the days of these Kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." This was the end of Daniel's interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream. In Acts 3:19-21 Peter states, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." In Revelation 14:6 is written "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people." When is that "day of Christ"? In his second epistle to the Thessalonians (2:3) Paul wrote "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;".
 If His Church must be restored, if His everlasting gospel is to be preached "unto them that dwell on the earth", and if a kingdom shall be set up which shall never be destroyed, how does all this come about? By election, by force, by luck? Hebrews 5:4 states "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,..."And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, Aaron's sons." (Exodus 28:1) And this is explained further in Exodus 40:13-16 in which we are told: "And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations. Thus did Moses: according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he." If there should be a falling away, then a restoration of His Church, and if, even with the greatness of a Moses, as God's chosen servant, there is the need for priests to serve in His Church through the anointing of those called as Aaron was called....and if, as we have seen, His Church has a structure and organization which is clearly set forth in the Holy Bible....must there not have been someone "he that is called of God, as was Aaron" with a restored authority to anoint those that are called? Restoring, leading, and serving as priests in His Church would seem to require this, that the priesthood might truly be everlasting throughout their generations.
 In Amos 3:7 we read that "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." The very books of the Old Testament recount such relationships between God and "his servants the prophets." The New Testament also has 144 references to "prophet," 37 are in Matthew the very first book of the New Testament, and they continue through the New Testament to eight in The Revelation of St, John The Divine. In fact, Revelation 22:6 defines God as "the Lord God of the holy prophets" and says that He "sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done." If God has restored His Church, would it be restored without prophets?
 The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all have final chapters that speak of Jesus Christ charging his disciples that they teach, baptize, and care for the peoples of all the world. Matthew recounts this charge in these words of Christ: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Mark states: "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." Luke states: "then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." In John, in addition to the repetition of Christ's charge to Peter that Peter "Feed my lambs...Feed my sheep...Feed my sheep" John recounts in 20:30-31, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." Surely His Church, following His own commandments as his original disciples did, would also beware of His caution in the Sermon on The Mount (Matthew 7:15-20) to "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" His prophets cannot bring forth evil fruit; His disciples, as branches of Christ, cannot in His name bring forth works or doctrine of thorns and thistles. Those pretending to be His prophets, but working iniquity, cannot bring forth good fruit. If, therefor, a church is restored, led by a prophet (or prophets) and apostles, whose works and fruits are good, and whose prophecies in the name of the Lord are true, and whose followers enjoy life more abundantly for their following of Christ's teachings and commandments, and whose priests are called of God and anointed with authority as was Aaron, it certainly merits investigation and testing by such tests of truthfulness as the Holy Bible provides.
 In the "falling away" spoken of in the Bible there is given the presumption that one or more characteristics of His Church must be lost. The one most certainly lost is that of divine authority. When a person, be he prophet or publican, falls away from God's teachings and commandments, he no longer acts by God's authority, just as we cannot gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles. If all members of His Church were to follow false prophets, practice false teachings, perform false ceremonies, and in the end pervert true teachings and true commandments, then certainly His Church would need to be restored. There is a unique ceremony of His Church which Paul refers to only in the context of Paul's forceful teaching that Jesus Christ was resurrected and that Christians have truth on their side in hoping for their own resurrection. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:16-29): "For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain, ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him, that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead ?" Paul is in the midst of a critical piece of teaching on the resurrection, Christ's role in God's plan, and Christ as the Son of God. He would not choose such a moment to introduce a frivolous subject, and as a true disciple of Christ he would certainly not teach false doctrine. Paul mentions here a ceremony of the early days of His Church...baptism for the dead for their hope and sleep ln Christ, just as those who learned of and believed in Christ were "fallen asleep in Christ." Certainly for those who were taught of Christ and believed and shared in the promise of the resurrection Paul is discussing, there must have been the question: "But what of those who have died without such knowledge and promise; are they lost?" What of those who have searched for His Church during the time of the "falling away"? Were they doomed because they failed to find it? Paul's reference in the midst of such a serious letter to the Corinthians (and with no further teaching on the subject) deals with a ceremony that needed no further explanation because it was not new to them; it was held up as an example, not as a curiosity, not as new doctrine. Consider for a minute the sacred nature of baptism, and the sacred reverence the living continue to have for the dead. Consider the importance Paul attached to writing his letter to the Corinthians, and its preservation to this day. Would baptism for the dead have been a false doctrine introduced by Paul into such a context? In the restoration of His Church would baptism for the dead also be restored? Perhaps that is part of the meaning of 1 Peter 4:6 where we read: For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines." If this teaching from Hebrews 13:8-9 has validity for us today, then we know that Christ did not change and his followers are not to be "carried about with divers and strange doctrines." If there is a church of Jesus Christ, His Church will be the same yesterday, today, and forever. Can you find it?...The Original Church of Jesus Christ? Perhaps these hints, these guideposts from the Holy Bible, can truly help you to do so. Amen
A last word, as it were, from Paul: " Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." (Philippians 2:2)
© 1989 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
More by this Author
What stands between us and the joy of the Wise Men who "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy"? (Matthew 2:10)
Have you ever wanted to ask a Mormon "What do you M0rmons do?" If so, here is what one LDS bishop replies. It's not the full story, but it's why he says "It's a miracle anybody joins this church."
Counting candles on the cake? There are other things about aging that count even more in the long run!