E very Christian knows that in reality there is only one true church. The original New Testament Greek word that is used to describe the assembly of believers is ekklesia. The word is derived from ek, "out of," and klesis, "calling." It is the word that is translated "church," "assembly," or "congregation" in English when it refers to the body of believers. It can refer to the whole church, or to a local congregation. Our calling ( klesis ) is to the church ( ekklesia ), the Body of Christ. He is the vine, we are the branches (John 15:5). No matter what church we attend, if we are called, we are called to the one church, not one church out of many. A local ekklesia is part of the great ekklesia. The local church is not autonomous, neither is the individual Christian, in the sense of existing and working and reacting independently, apart from the rest of the Body. This is an open mockery of the Biblical analogy of the church being the unified Body of Christ.
I n 1Corinthians 1:13, Paul asks the church at Corinth concerning the contentions and divisions that were beginning there, "Has the Christ been divided?" (This is the correct translation.) He then asked if they had been baptized into the name of Paul, since they were aligning themselves with the "great" Christian teachers of the time, Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (Peter). Paul went on to explain, in 1Corinthians 3:1-23, that aligning themselves exclusively with individual spiritual leaders was immature and carnal (verse 1-4). Paul stressed that he and the other leaders were only ministers through whom they believed (verses 5-7). He explained that the apostles were "one," and fellow workers together. He told the Corinthians that they were God's "soil to be cultivated" ("husbandry"-King James Version), God's "building." He said it was the responsibility of the builders that God has designated (i.e., the apostles) to lay the foundation (i.e., Christ), and build upon it. Since Paul had laid the foundation and others were building upon it (verse 10), he pointed out later in his letter that it was he who had, through the preaching of the gospel, been given the honor of "begetting them" in Christ (1Corinthians 4:15). He then beseeched them to follow (actually, "imitate", Greek mimetes, or "mimic") him (as he followed, or "imitated," Christ, see 1Corinthians 11:1), but he told them not to "think above that which has been written" (the words " of men " in italics in some translations means that these words do not exist in the original manuscripts), and to keep from being boastful and arrogant against one another because of their affiliation with the spiritual leader they claimed to be following. This problem of dividing to follow spiritual leaders that existed in the church of long ago may sound hauntingly familiar to you who are Christians today. Human nature has not changed, and neither has the nature of the spiritual Adversary, the father of division from long ago. The ancient angelic leader of division among the angels, that led the "fallen" angels (demons) against the authority of their loving God, still uses the same methods today.
A s mentioned above, Paul wrote that leaders were to be emulated, or imitated, as the leaders were imitating Christ in their Christian walk. But he cautioned the members of the Body that they were not to boast, or "glory" in men (1Corinthians 3:21). Today, some would glory in those leaders, ancient and modern, that they profess to admire to follow. Many will say, "I am of Wesley," or "I am of Calvin," or "I am of Booth," or "I am of Stone," or "I am of Campbell," or "Armstrong," or "Russell," or "Smith," or any one of countless other religious leaders.
T his is not to say that one Christian can't be given to see more clearly than another. That is not the issue. A Christian is one that has the Spirit of God and Christ, and those that do not have this Spirit are not Christians. This is not my word, but the Bible (Romans 8:9). The word, "Christian," means "belonging to Christ," or "follower of Christ." They are those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ. By believing in him, they believe the things that the Bible speaks most plainly of. They may also disagree on points of doctrine that countless devout and sincere Christian leaders have studied and debated for centuries. If Christ dwells in every Christian through the Spirit of Christ, then we must accept that all Christians, whether or not they grasp all truth, constitute The Church. Christ dwells in the church. It is the Spiritual Body of Christ. Each member is a part of that Body, no matter where he or she usually fellowships. I am not advocating or teaching anything new or earth-shaking by stating these biblical facts. Virtually all Christians agree with me in principle. Some denominations have spent decades working to implement these truths, with more or less success. Some people have spent a lifetime working for the oneness that is taught in the pages of God's word. For their efforts on behalf of their great love for all the brethren of the true "invisible" church, I have the utmost respect. Now, it is time for all the rest of us to join together and allow Christ to work in us to bring the miraculous bond of unity into reality. Please read the following, from Ephesians3:20-21;4:1-16 (The context of chapter three flows into chapter four. There are no chapter or verse divisions in the original Greek manuscripts.)
"N ow to him that is able to do exceedingly far more than all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,  to him be glory in the church (the church was intended to glorify Christ) in Christ Jesus to all the generations of the age of the ages. Amen. [4:1] I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called,  with all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love ;  endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in you all.  But to each one of us was given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  Wherefore he says, "Having ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men" (quoting Psalm 68:18).  (Now this expression, he "ascended," implies that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth.  He that descended is the same also who ascended 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 building up of the body of Christ  until we all may arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at a "mature man," at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (we are, after all, his Body!),  that we may no longer be infants, being tossed to an fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human sublety and cunning craftiness, toward deceitful schemes,  but holding the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, who is the head, the Christ,  from whom the whole body, fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the the working in due measure of each individual part, makes increase of the body for the building up of itself in love."
For an interesting Bible study, read all of Ephesians. It addresses Christian unity. Then study (or re-study) the New Testament, being sensitive to all that is said about the oneness of the church, and how to attain unity. It is one of the main themes to be found throughout the New Testament.
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