The current judicial exercise in ensuring a hard separation between religion and the federal or state governments has a fairly short history. It really dates to the last century when Justice Hugo Black resurrected a comment that Thomas Jefferson had made in reply to a letter from the Danbury Baptist Association. The Connecticut group had written to congratulate him upon his election to the Presidency in 1804. His use of the phrase â€œa wall of separationâ€ is its first occurrence in text in this land, and in its context it was used as part of his explanation as to why he had chosen not to call for a national day of fasting and thanksgiving as his two predecessors had done upon election. Justice Blackâ€™s appropriation of the remark was much more insidious.
The pattern for the church is found in the last will and testament of our Lord and Savior – the New Testament. As we already noted, there are no branches, sects or subsets of the Kingdom of God mentioned anywhere by Christ, his apostles, any disciples or the writers of the NT. There are no instructions to add other parts to it or to set up assemblies based on other instructions. All assemblies were told they must follow this single pattern to be known to God and Christ as the Kingdom of Heaven: the churches of Christ. By that marker, all other organizations are proven to be someone else’s churches and not Christ’s. As we mentioned in the first post, there is nothing new going on. The Bible teaches and lists the only pattern and early history for that one church. One pattern – one church.
It should not startle the reader that anyone might openly state, without apology, that denominations just do not matter (at all). Buildings also do not matter. Robes, names, family trees, titles, synods, music and grand displays, holidays, choruses, money in the bank, long or short histories, what my ancestors did, or did not do, and how they worshiped — all these and many more, have nothing at all to do with our salvation, and do not matter. The only thing that matters is who follows the pattern given by God. The one true church fits that pattern and is the one true body of Christ. Nothing else is important. And nothing else is worth discussing if you are truly seeking salvation through the blood of Christ and have any care for the truth. Read the instructions – read the “factory bulletin.” That is how you learn to fix what is broke, what is assembled incorrectly, and learn to do what you must do. That is what matters. The rest is just noise.
It follows that it is not good enough to be a member of “a church,” or to go to “the church of your choice,” or to just any local group down the street. We must know that we are in “the Church of the Living God,” “the Kingdom of God,” and the “body of Christ” — the one that is “the” Church, whose pattern is that single pattern given for both worship and assembly, and therefore, is the Kingdom of Heaven. There is not one single promise about, of, to, or for, any other community — just to the ones that follow the pattern.
“They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.”