AROne BodyThe oneness of the church consists of several aspects: one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. How does this fact affect His people?While in a spiritual sense the church has always been one body, the church in this world must also be one, not tolerating divisions within herself. Christianity divided precisely because doctrinal issues are so important that disagreements over them naturally lead to separation. The oneness of the church consists of several aspects: one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. The rise of so many Christian denominations and groups cannot be the work of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit would not establish different churches that maintain different gospels. By studying the basic doctrines of the True Jesus Church and asking God for His guidance one will surely be shown the way to His elect.
It is clear
throughout Scripture that there has always been only one community of
God's elect. The many biblical prefigurations and characterizations of the
church all point to her oneness. God commanded Noah to build only one ark,
through which he and his household were saved. There was only one temple
and one Holy City, the dwelling place of God's name (2 Chr 6:5-6, 20). God
will establish only one mountain for His house, and this mountain shall be
exalted above the hills (Isa 2:2-3). The Lord Jesus is the Shepherd over
only one flock (Jn 10:16). Christ has only one body (1Cor 12:13;
There is only one house of God (1Tim 3:15). The Lord knows only one bride
(Rev 21:9; Song 6:9).
The concept of the
church's oneness is consistently emphasized in the Bible, not only as an
ideal but also as a reality. When dealing with the problem of division,
Paul posed the rhetorical question, "Is Christ divided?" (1 Cor 1:13). As much as men tend to divide, Christ is one in reality. It is
simply impossible to think of or talk about Christ as divided. Likewise,
it is not possible to think of the church as divided.
situation in Christendom is far from the biblical view of the church.
Thousands of Christian groups and denominations exist today, and
Christianity continues to divide. As more and more Christians leave their
former churches, new churches are constantly emerging.
Faced with this
disturbing phenomenon, which contradicts Scripture, Christians have to
answer some very crucial questions: Does Christ acknowledge all Christian
entities that call themselves "churches"? Does the "one
church" in the Bible refer to the invisible spiritual church only, or
does it also exist visibly on earth? Most important, how can we be sure
that we are in the body of Christ?
The Oneness of the Church
It has become a
popular belief among professed Christians that all churches that
acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord are part of the spiritual body of Christ.
In other words, there are many churches in this world, but there is still
only one "invisible church." According to this view, regardless
of which church a person chooses to join, he is a member of Christ's body.
In fact, even if a person does not belong to any church at all, he can
still be in the community of the saved if he believes in the Lord Jesus
In Jesus' prayer for
the disciples, he asked the Father to unite the disciples as one:
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. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they
may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may
be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent
Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (Jn 17:20-23)
According to this
passage, the unity of believers does not exist only in the spiritual
dimension. It is also visible to the world: "that the world may know
that You sent Me." This visible unity must continue in the church,
for Jesus' prayer was not just for the twelve apostles, but for all who
would believe in Christ through their preaching. Therefore, just as the
church is spiritually one, she must also be one in the present reality.
While in a spiritual
sense the church has always been one body, the church in this world must
also be one, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond
of peace" (Eph 4:3). The church cannot tolerate divisions within
If the church in the
present must also be one, then what are we to make of the plurality among
Christian churches today? Many people attempt to reconcile the obvious
inconsistency between the oneness of the church in the Bible and the
divisions within Christianity today by adopting the view that all churches
that confess Jesus Christ as Lord share a common denominator. In this
view, the different doctrines that churches preach are simply different
expressions of the same faith; so all Christian churches are one in
essence, and the denominational differences do not constitute division.
This attempt to
downplay the divisions within Christianity--by embracing all Christians
under a common denominator--is mistaken. If confession of Christ's name
were all that mattered, then there would not be so many diverse Christian
groups today. Christianity divided precisely because doctrinal issues are
so important that disagreements over them naturally lead to separation.
Attempting to overlook these fundamental differences does not address the
obvious divisions within Christianity.
Christian leaders are earnestly seeking a solution to the problem of
division in Christendom. In an effort to bring all Christians together,
many denominations and churches today advocate an ecumenical movement that
recognizes the need for unity and seeks to combine all Christians in
fellowship regardless of their denominational affiliations. While this
endeavor to achieve harmony is commendable, it still fails to remove the
barriers that divide Christendom. Christians of various denominations may
join together for evangelism and worship, but the separation over
doctrinal issues will still exist and cannot be ignored.
The Biblical Basis for Unity
Although almost all
Christians agree on the necessity of unity, not all Christians agree on
the common elements that unite the church. True unity must conform to the
There is one
body and one Spirit, just as you were 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)
The oneness of the
church consists of several aspects: one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one
faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Most Christians share one
hope, one Lord, and one God and Father. However, the other important
elements of unity--one Spirit, one faith, and one baptism--are absent in
Christianity in general. Since within Christianity today there are such
widely divergent views on these three issues, it cannot qualify as the one
body of Christ. We will take a moment to examine these three aspects of
"There is one body and one Spirit" (Eph 4:4). It is the Holy
Spirit who brings unity to the body of Christ (Eph 4:3). Believers of the
true church must receive the same Spirit. They must share the same belief
and experience of the Holy Spirit. But today, there are diverse views on
the Holy Spirit. Some Christians believe that receiving the Holy Spirit is
only a silent, inward experience that occurs at the time of a believer's
conversion. Others preach that a believer needs to ask for the Holy Spirit
through prayer, with speaking of tongues as a necessary evidence of
receiving the Holy Spirit.
There are also
diverse kinds of spiritual phenomena. In some churches, people fall to the
floor when they pray; they may dance ecstatically or laugh uncontrollably.
In other churches, Christians believe that the work of the Holy Spirit is
a spiritual renewal without any spiritual experiences.
Are all of these
beliefs and experiences the work of the one Spirit? A casual glance at 1
Corinthians 12 may lead us to think that the diverse spiritual phenomena
in Christianity confirm the teaching that the Holy Spirit distributes
various gifts for the common good of the church. Yet while there are many
gifts, there is only one gospel. The one Spirit cannot be the source for
the many gospels and doctrines of salvation that exist in Christianity.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth who reveals the truth of salvation
to believers (Jn 14:16, 26; 1 Cor 2:9-12). The fact that there are so many
different teachings about salvation shows that there is a lack of unity in
achieve unity, we must examine the Scriptures again and compare our
experience of receiving the Holy Spirit with the apostolic experience. In
the true church today, believers should receive the Holy Spirit just as
the apostles did (Acts 10:47). Only the church in which believers share
this same experience can be the spiritual temple of the Holy Spirit.
There is only one gospel of salvation. The church is built on the
foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20). As the pillar and
foundation of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), the church must uphold the one truth
of salvation. Thus, the unity of the church must be based on the unity of
faith (Eph 4:13).
All believers must
share a common faith in terms of salvation (Jude 3). Those who do not
accept this only gospel of salvation, or who preach "another
Jesus" or "another gospel," are not part of the body of
Christ, even if they profess to be Christians. This is the measure that
the apostles used, and they did not hesitate to exclude or even condemn
those who did not share the same faith.
At first, the claim
that confession of the Lord Jesus Christ should be the only common
denominator of Christianity appears to be biblical. Didn't Paul say,
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:26)? The problem arises when we study exactly what faith in Christ
entails, for this is where Christian groups and denominations differ. Some
hold that accepting Jesus Christ into our hearts and openly confessing His
name guarantees eternal life, and they deny the necessity of the
sacraments for salvation. Others may acknowledge the sacraments but differ
in their views on the biblical way to conduct them.
We cannot trivialize
such differences, because they have to do with the salvation of believers.
The church cannot possibly hold conflicting doctrines of salvation and
still maintain her unity. The boundary of church unity must be based on
the one gospel of salvation that the apostles preached. Enlarging this
boundary is tampering with the gospel truth.
The Lord Jesus
commands His followers to enter the narrow gate (Mt 7:13-14). In other
words, we must do the will of the Heavenly Father (Mt 7:15-23). Those who
do not abide by the one way of salvation cannot enter the kingdom of
heaven. This is the way of God--it is the "common denominator"
set by Him. We are not in the position to enlarge the narrow gate just
because we would like to include people of different faiths. The only path
to unity is for all Christians to obey the one gospel and to accept the
way of salvation that Christ has provided.
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews
or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into
one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13). Believers become members of the one body
by means of one baptism. That is why the Scripture speaks of "baptism
into Christ" (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27).
Many churches today
consider baptism unnecessary because they do not believe that sins are
washed away by Christ's blood during baptism. According to this belief,
baptism has value only because it serves as a personal expression and a
public declaration of our faith. It does not have any spiritual effect at
Even among churches
that believe in the necessity of baptism for salvation, there are various
views on the mode of baptism. In truth, however, baptism is effective only
when the Holy Spirit is present (1 Jn 5:6-9), for it is by the one Spirit
that we are baptized into the body of Christ. If the one Spirit is absent,
then baptism has no effect.
There are many
beliefs on baptism and many ways that baptism is performed in Christianity
today, but only one baptism can bring us into the body of Christ. Only one
baptism is biblical: the baptism that the Holy Spirit presides over and
performs. Therefore, to be united and exist as one body, the church must
agree on one baptism.
The Biblical Model of Unity
Is it possible for
all Christians to unite in one faith and one Spirit? The answer is yes.
But the road to unity is not through ecumenism, for when we compare the
apostolic church and the ecumenical movement, we notice a great
discrepancy between their two approaches to achieving unity.
The apostolic church
began as one body. She preached the one gospel message, and all believers
received the Holy Spirit in the same way. The Holy Spirit founded only one
church, and this church was always a single institution. Believers came
into this body through baptism into Christ (Acts 2:38-41; 8:12; 10:48; 16:14-15, 31-33; 19:1-5). By one Spirit they were all baptized into one
body (1 Cor 12:13). Within this one body there was neither Jew nor Greek,
slave nor free, male nor female, for they were all one in Christ (Gal 3:28). Paul told the believers to make every effort to maintain this unity
through the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).
The church grew as
new converts came into this community. In chapter 8 of Acts, we read of an
incident in which God reinforced the importance of church unity. The men
and women of Samaria believed Philip's message and were baptized into
Christ. But they did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John, who
were sent by the church in Jerusalem, came and laid hands on them (Acts 8:4-17).
This event shows
that the believers in Samaria did not comprise a separate entity, but
instead needed to join with the believers in Jerusalem. In like manner,
new converts in other cities also identified themselves with the larger
community of believers by submitting to the direction of the apostles in
Jerusalem. The church was not a coalition of denominations, and there was
no such thing as Christian groups maintaining their distinct identities.
Although believers in various locations were addressed as
"churches," such usage of the plural form always applies to
geographic location rather than religious affiliation.
The apostolic church
never allowed more than one set of basic doctrines to exist within the
church. When controversies arose regarding the necessity of circumcision
for salvation, the apostles and elders did not overlook the issue or try
to embrace conflicting views. Instead, they convened in Jerusalem to
settle the matter. Despite the extensive debate, the church arrived at a
conclusion based on the Scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Then the whole church sent letters to all the churches so that all the
believers may abide by the decision (Acts 15:1-35).
Later, as false
brothers infiltrated the church, the apostles defended the one faith and
condemned all false teachings and ungodly lifestyles. Believers in the
church were commanded to drive out the unrepentant and refuse hospitality
to anyone who preached a false doctrine. Even when some in the church left
the community, the church still maintained her oneness. John wrote to the
church regarding those who left: "They went out from us, but they
were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with
us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them
were of us" (1 Jn 2:19). The apostles considered those who differed
in their beliefs to be outside the community of believers.
The Ecumenical Movement
In light of the
apostolic model of unity, the modern ecumenical movement is problematic.
It seeks to unite various Christian groups while still allowing them to
maintain their distinct identities and beliefs, despite the fact that
these groups were not established by the Holy Spirit. The rise of so many
Christian denominations and groups cannot be the work of the Holy Spirit,
for the Holy Spirit would not establish different churches that maintain
different gospels. While it is important to promote a spirit of love among
all professed Christians and to share our understanding of the truth, the
attempt to coalesce all of these institutions into one body is a futile
human endeavor. Such an approach does not conform to the biblical model.
concerning the church in the last days:
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. (Isa 2:2-3)
In the end time
there will be only one church, which will rise as a mountain above all
other hills. All nations will stream to this church to receive the word of
When speaking of the
believers as the flock and Himself as the Shepherd, Lord Jesus said,
"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must
bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one
shepherd" (Jn 10:16). There is only one flock, not many small flocks.
Although there are sheep outside this flock, they will hear the Shepherd's
voice and join this flock. In the same manner, true believers will join
the body of Christ by accepting the gospel of salvation.
Hence, it is clearly
the will of God to have only one church on earth rather than many
Christian denominations or groups. The Holy Spirit founded only one
church. God recognizes only one church as the mountain of the Lord and the
flock of Christ. All believers of Christ who hear the true gospel of this
church must forsake their former ties and join the body of believers that
the Holy Spirit has established in the end time.
The True Jesus Church
The True Jesus
Church, founded in 1917, is the revival of the apostolic church. The Lord
first poured out the Holy Spirit on a few Christians and revealed to them
the perfect gospel of salvation according to the Scriptures. These
Christians, having been entrusted with the commission to proclaim the full
gospel, went out and preached the message of salvation. The Lord was with
them and confirmed the gospel by pouring out the Holy Spirit on those who
believed and by revealing great signs and miracles.
Like the church in
the apostolic period, the True Jesus Church has received one Spirit and
upholds one faith. She is not a denomination among denominations, but the
one body of Christ, the continuation of the one church that the Lord
established in this world. Believers in this church receive the promised
Holy Spirit and experience the power of God. Since she preaches the true
gospel and is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, she is the body of
that preaches another gospel cannot also be part of Christ's body. All who
accept the truth of salvation that she preaches and are baptized by the
Holy Spirit into this body "come to the Heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb 12:22-24). They have believed the gospel of salvation (Eph 1:13), and
their lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3). They join the
timeless community of the saved.
The True Jesus
Church's claim that she is the body of Christ has offended many
Christians. They say that to claim to be the one true church is a sign of
pride and arrogance because it excludes other Christian groups. Yet these
same Christians would readily agree that Jesus Christ is the only way to
salvation, a claim that members of other religions would likewise dismiss
as arrogant because it excludes them.
Therefore, just as
all religions cannot be included in God's salvation, all gospels that
claim to be Christian cannot be included in the body of Christ, for the
apostolic church did not hesitate to exclude individuals or groups that
preached a different gospel or received a different spirit. The real
issue, then, is not accusations of pride or arrogance, but respect for the
truth that God has established.
The name "True
Jesus Church" is not just the name of an institution; it also
identifies the gospel she preaches and differentiates it from other
gospels. Thus, the claim that the True Jesus Church is the body of Christ
is in essence stating that she preaches the true gospel. When we preach
that every believer ought to accept the gospel of the True Jesus Church,
we are not proclaiming ourselves, but rather the true gospel. The True
Jesus Church is the body of Christ not because of the people who attend
this church, but because of the gospel and the Holy Spirit that God has
given to her. As long as the True Jesus Church preaches this gospel, with
God's presence through the Holy Spirit, she will remain the true church.
In this light, we
urge you to compare the basic beliefs of the True Jesus Church with the
apostolic faith. Consider the work of the Holy Spirit in this church as a
sign of God's presence. The experience of receiving the Holy Spirit comes
from God, not from the preachers of the True Jesus Church. Believers
testify that the True Jesus Church is the body of Christ because they have
experienced the Holy Spirit in her. This blessing is a testimony to the
work of God, who has graciously revealed His truth and poured out His Holy
Spirit in this church.
In this end time,
the Lord has raised up His church on earth. He is calling believers
everywhere into His body, where they receive the word of Christ and are
baptized into Him. In His church, believers receive the promised Holy
Spirit and are united as one body. Rather than simply rejecting the church
based on her claim, Christians must evaluate the True Jesus Church based
on biblical criteria. Again, we urge you to study the basic beliefs of the
True Jesus Church carefully and to ask the Lord to guide you with His
Spirit. If God moves you to believe that the gospel of salvation and the
Holy Spirit are truly present in this church, then we invite you to accept
the truth with a humble heart and to join the community of God's elect.