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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


In Search of the Lord’s True Church

(Perpetuity of the Church)

K. Jacobson

Editor’s Note: This article was written by one of our students in Bible Institute. This particular one was for the class on doctrine. I felt that it should be shown so that all could read it. Sometimes we think only the well-known, the famous, can do justice to our history and doctrine but as you will see, our students can also.


“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mat. 16:18).


Over two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, God Himself, spoke these words; promising to not only those who were with Him (His disciples) but also to the rest of the world then, and for the future, that He would build and establish His church, and perpetually keep it alive. Eccl. 3:14 says, “...whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever…” God has kept His promise to us in that he has indeed given perpetuity to His church. It is well and alive today! In Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, “perpetuity” is defined as: the state or character of being perpetual; endless or indefinitely long duration or existence. “Perpetual” is defined as: continuing or enduring forever. How do we know the Lord has kept His church alive today? For one reason, He said He would! God is not a liar and we know and believe He can do anything! With him, all things are possible (Mark 10:27). The Bible says so. That is enough to make us believe in its (the church) present existence. The Bible says God promises never to leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He has always promised to provide all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). That “provision” was not just for food and clothing.


The Lord knows our spiritual needs are just as important as our physical needs, in fact, even more so. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4) Hence, the Great Commission, given to His church by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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.” (Matt. 28:18-20).


In his book, Davis W. Huckabee states, “It is the local church which the Lord has commissioned to be His witnesses, to preach His Word, to administer His ordinances, to teach His people, to guard the faith, to discipline its unruly members, and without the local church, Christianity would fail....the reasons for its existence are given by Paul in Eph. 4:11-12: “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:”” (The Origin and Nature of the Church—Studies of the New Testament Church).


My question to all who refute the perpetuity of Christ’s Church is, “why would Jesus give all these duties and commandments to all His saints without a vehicle with which to do them through?” That “vehicle” being the church; the church that Jesus built! These commandments and duties were not just for those in the past, during Biblical times but for those in the future as well!


Secondly, I know His church is still alive today, because 14 years ago, Jesus led me to one that He built and that is still today, “a church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Fourteen years later, I continue to be a member here at Bible Baptist Church in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.


On July 14, 1986, I asked Jesus Christ to save me. Being a newborn babe in Christ, of course, one of the first questions that came to my mind was, “which church do I go to?” Thus, the journey of truth, and of learning began. Being so innocently ignorant of the Lord’s doctrines regarding His church, I found myself asking many questions. I was looking for God’s truth, not man’s, and that search took me to many “denominations”: Pentecostal, Charismatic, Catholic (yes, even Catholic… I thought maybe they had changed??!), United and some so-called “Baptists”, etc.


The best way for me to sum up what was going through my mind and heart during those first few years as a born-again Christian on a search for God’s church would be to quote Mr. Roy Mason, Th.D. from his book entitled, The Church that Jesus Built:


“Among those who hold loose and unscriptural views of the church, the writer of these pages was once numbered. In common with others, I inherited many of my notions, and gathered others from current thought. I recall that it was a shock to me when first I learned that Baptists claim identity with the church that Jesus established. This claim seemed to me to be the expression of unwarranted arrogance and bigotry.


“Later, as I began to study the church question, my idea of what constitutes a true church narrowed and became more distinct. In the light of the teachings of the Scriptures the idea of church perpetuity, at first so repellent, became more and more reasonable. Finally it became clear to me that if the Scriptures are true and the promise of Jesus to be relied upon, the church which Jesus founded must have had a continuity of existence throughout the ages, and must be somewhere in the world today.


“Careful study of the Scriptures and history, together with a study of the origin and teachings of the different denominations, has served to form within me a conviction almost as strong as life itself. That conviction is, that the first church that was ever organized was what we would today call a Baptist church, and that churches of the same form, characterized by the same doctrines and practices, have existed from, the day that the first one was established to the present moment, and will continue to exist until the Lord comes again.”


I believe if you are truly searching for the truth, God will honor your sincere heart and show you the way. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jer. 33:3). He showed me and He will do the same for everyone. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).


The doctrine of church perpetuity is definitely a very important one, and how much more so to our Lord. Especially when one considers that the truthfulness of Jesus’ Word and the validity of His promise is at stake! If the church that our Lord founded and built has not been perpetuated, then His promise has failed! If this promise has not been kept, then what about all of our Lord’s other promises, i.e.: salvation, eternal security, promise of heaven, never to leave us nor forsake us, etc.? Are they just empty words?!


Are we to actually believe God’s promises mean nothing to Him, we mean nothing to Him and therefore He will not keep His word? “...Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” (Mark 12:24). I cannot and will not believe this. Not only myself, but how many other born-again believers throughout the world and history have been able to testify to the fact that our Father indeed has kept His Word to us through endless personal experiences. Our Almighty God has shown Himself, proven Himself, and has been forever faithful over and over again. I know He has to me.


When I first got saved, I was living in Calgary, Alberta. I had no idea as to what church was the Lord’s. So I just picked one and went. The Lord knew I wanted to go to His church where His Word, in its entirety, would be preached, and yes, by God’s grace, followed. I found myself at a Pentecostal church (what was that?!) I found out quickly it definitely couldn’t be God’s House as, the spirit in that place was so heavy and wicked.


I knew something was wrong, especially when I heard (and saw) the guy next to me speaking “in tongues” and people running, jumping and dancing up and down the aisle. No, I was not grounded in church doctrine yet, but I knew my Jesus was with me every step of the way; leading and guiding me, protecting me as only a loving Father could; showing me what was wrong, what was right. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor.3:11). He was definitely telling me that the “Pentecostal”, “Charismatic” churches were not His and definitely were Satan’s. I then visited a Nazarene Church.


It was then the Lord was directing me to move back home to Brandon, where most of my immediate family were living. Not being able to find a job right away in Brandon, and being offered one in Winnipeg, I moved to the big city for a year. During that time, I decided to “check out” a Baptist church which was close to where I lived. I was getting very confused with all the different denominations out there. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33).


But because it was close by, I decided to go to this “Baptist” church in the neighborhood. After attending several times, I came to realize almost every person in the group was reading a different version of the Bible (including me!) And the pastor allowed it! We’d each read out loud from the Scriptures during our Adult Bible Study and when I heard how different each version sounded, all I could think of was, “How confusing! How can I go to a church where I won’t be able to learn and grow because one version would contradict another or even leave verses out?!?!”


So, I stopped going to that church. I moved back to Brandon and began attending the Nazarene church my friend was going to. (The Bible Baptist Church did not exist in Brandon at that time.). The Lord opened my eyes to many things during the 2 to 2 1/2 years I was there. “Why so many versions of the Bible? Which version was God’s? And why was it that so many things at that church (the Nazarene) didn’t line up with the Word of God?” They had a Canadian Nazarene “Board” that made the final decisions in their church: who the pastor would be and for how long; the “rules” and “regulations” the members were to follow (man-made). It seemed like many things were not God-led. “Hirelings” came and left. I would ask “why don’t we let the Bible make the decisions and allow it to guide us… Why the Nazarene Church Manual?” Many of the members there came to know me as the “boat-rocker.” I was asking too many questions and they didn’t like it.


I think David Huckabee, in his book, sums up this situation well when he says:

 

“Satan is well versed in the things of Christianity, and he well knows that God has ordained that the wisdom of God is to be made known by the church; therefore, he seeks with all his power to thwart the plan of redemption by corrupting the vehicle of truth, the Lord’s church; and what more subtle and easy way could he choose than to influence men to teach erroneous concepts of the church so that men might be content with a religious society which bears the name of “church,” but which embodies none of the essential principles of the New Testament Church? Church truth is very important, yet there is so little study of it; people have become unconcerned and even lethargic, and are content to take anyone’s word on the subject rather than take the time and trouble to put in some personal study on it. This is a dangerous practice, to say the least.” (The Origin and Nature of the Church).


Time was going by and this baby Christian was starving to death spiritually. I realized Jesus Christ was definitely not the head there at the Nazarene church. It was a difficult decision to make, because I had made friends there, but, it was one I knew I had to make. I left the church not knowing where else to go to. I went home and cried. In the months to follow, I visited many churches: McDiarmid Alliance, Calvary Temple, Full Gospel, etc. I left each one seeing they were nothing but social groups, and with the same questions: “Why don’t they follow the Bible? How is it they never had a lot of direct answer to my many questions (including their pastors and ministers)?” I finally reached the point, where I just stayed home, and stopped going anywhere. I prayed and cried, “Jesus, are you trying to tell me your church just doesn’t exist anymore?! I was devastated. I had been praying fervently the Lord would show me His church or else if there wasn’t one here in Brandon, to start one.


But I was starting to believe that quite possibly, Christ’s church had died. It was gone...forever. I remember when that thought had entered my head, I cried and grieved like I had just lost my dearest loved one… “the church that Jesus built, extinct?” It seemed like all I had been discovering were “buildings” led by men (not God) who were following man-made rules and still living like the devil Monday through Saturday. And none of them seemed to have any answers!


Sometime during the next few months that I was not attending any so-called “church,” God had spoken to me one night during my devotion. I was reading in Isaiah 30. The verses He spoke to me through were verses 18 through 21: “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”


For the first time, in a long time, during what seemed like a hopeless search for God’s church, I actually felt some hope. These Scriptures, so alive and powerful came into my almost-dead-heart that night and gave it C.P.R. the Lord was trying to tell me something; Trying to direct me somewhere. “…but thine eyes shall see thy teachers...This is the way, walk ye in it…” Jesus was urging me, “don’t give up! I haven’t given up! Hang in there! Trust me more than ever! I’m going to show you the way, where to go. You have me promise!” A ray of light shone into my heart that night. I was greatly encouraged and excited. I didn’t know the “where,” “when,” or what “the way” was, but I did know my Lord had something very special for me and it was just around the corner…


Meanwhile, a friend at the time, was also searching for the right church to go to. Co-workers at her new job, who were members at Bible Baptist Church, had invited her to come visit their church. She did. And she did again. I remember her coming home after attending their services, saying to me, “You’ve got to come check out this church, I think you’ll like it.” A couple of times, I declined her invitations, thinking it’s probably like the rest and also that I had heard they were “legalistic;” that a lady had to wear dresses (not pants) in order to go there. My roommate continued to go and each and every time she’d come home all excited saying, “You’ve got to trust me. Just come… You’ve got nothing to lose! I think this is it; this is the church, the one!” Well, she wouldn’t relent, and I’m sure I finally gave in and went more out of “humoring” her than for any other reason.


“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth:…” (John 16:13). I went. And I went again. Each service I attended left me with the same thoughts: “I have never been fed so many Scriptures as I have been from this church. I would feel like a baby who hadn’t been fed food or water for days and now was finally being “fed.” Because I was so “hungry” and “thirsty”… “starving,” I could not get enough of that “food,” nor could I get it fast enough.


The King James 1611 Authorized Version was the Bible being used by not only the Pastor, but by all the congregation members. I had never experienced anything like it. I would leave every service at Bible Baptist Church feeling like I had just been through a major training camp workout and Health Spa Retreat. I was being revived, nourished, cleansed, rejuvenated… exercised!! I was hearing God’s Words, not man’s. I was learning and growing!


I could ask the Pastor and many of the members questions about “why do you do this?” or “why does the church do that?,” etc. and I was never rebuked, dismissed or ignored. I was always given an answer and it was always backed up by Scripture, “thus saith the Lord.” The Pastor was preaching and teaching the whole Bible, not just parts. My ears weren’t just being “tickled.” I saw members and the Pastor and his family not only being “hearers of the Word, but doers also.” Many times, the Lord through the preaching there rebuked and chastised me, and I’d leave the service feeling like I just had the tar spanked out of me, but boy, did it feel good!! The thought actually and finally occurred to me, “Could this be it? Could this be a church that Jesus Christ has built and is the head of?”


One night, at home, I had my Bible open and I was praying, being fairly sure that Bible Baptist Church was God’s, but I still needed my Heavenly Father’s confirmation. I was seriously considering joining this church, so it was very important that I knew it was the Lord’s. During my devotion, the Lord had brought me back to Isaiah 30:18-21. When my eyes fell on, “...thou shalt weep no more… he will answer thee… but thine eyes shall see thy teachers… And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it…” My Lord had reminded me of His promise that He made to me when He first gave me those Scriptures.


I remember Him telling me to “not give up” and “to have faith and trust in Him” and He would indeed, “show me where to go, the way.” What I felt at that moment is difficult to put into words. I just remember the floodgates of my heart opened and I cried and laughed. Jesus had confirmed to me, “Bible Baptist Church is my church; I built it and am its Head and it’s the one I want you to go to, to be a member of! Pastor John Reaves is my servant and through Him and my Word (KJV 1611), “I will teach you and guide you… thine eyes shall see thy teachers…””


My heart was in such awe and wonder. I was elated, grateful and very humbled at that moment. How could I have doubted God’s promise to perpetuate His church? Doubted man?...yes! But my Heavenly Father?! How could I have even thought our Almighty God, who loves and cares for us so much, could have fallen through on His promise? He hasn’t changed, only man has. I am reminded of a hymn…


Jesus never fails,
Jesus never fails!
Heaven and earth may pass away,
But Jesus never fails.


Through His Word, in a monumental moment of time, my Jesus assured me and showed me: His church is still alive as He promised it would be, and, that He cared for and loved me so much that He, through His patience and grace, guided me and led me to that church, His church, here in Brandon, Manitoba… “And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted…” (Isa. 30:18a).


And my dear sweet Jesus, I do exalt thee! All honor and glory goes to you…” “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth (Psa. 119:90).


“Not only did Christ promise to be with His ecclesia to the end of the world, when He gave the Commission, but when He established the memorial supper and delivered it to His church He said, “This do in remembrance of me till I come.” Now if the doing of a thing is to be perpetuated, the doers of the thing must be perpetuated. This is a self-evident proposition.” (The Church That Jesus Built).


To Christ’s Commission Jesus added the promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” If the church at any time ceased to exist, Christ’s promise would become of none effect. To be with the church “all the days” can only mean that there must always, every day, until the end of the age, be in existence the church which Jesus built to which the promise was given. Again, I quote from Roy Mason’s book. He explains, “...the Kingdom of God, as all will agree, is to be perpetuated “until the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.” (Rev. 11:15).


In Luke we have this statement: “Of His kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:33). How, let us ask, is the kingdom of God to be extended and advanced in the world? The answer is, by the church which Jesus founded. Men get into the kingdom of God by being born into it. This spiritual birth comes about through personal faith in the Son of God as Saviour. It is the Church that preaches the Good News of the Son of God. Through the church’s message men hear, believe, and are born into God’s kingdom. The church stands in the position of a recruiting agency for the kingdom of God, since no one gets into the kingdom except they hear and believe the gospel, which has been preserved and is proclaimed by the church.


“It (the Bible) shows that the church is Christ’s divinely purposed instrumentality for the advancement and perpetuation of the kingdom. This being true, the Bible’s teaching as to the perpetuity of the kingdom involved as a matter of course the perpetuity of the agency through which the kingdom is to be perpetuated—namely—the church.” (The Church That Jesus Built)


Ephesians 5:23 states that Christ is the head of the church. This is speaking in present tense, not past. Remember, the Word of God is living. It doesn’t say Christ was the head of the church. And Jesus would not have His head on someone else’s body, but His own. So common sense tells us that with all things considered in reference to this Scripture verse, Christ’s church does still exist and He is still the head of it.


Ephesians 5:25 testifies that our Lord loved His church so much that He died for it. “...as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…” If our Lord loved the church so much that He actually died for it, it must have been something awfully important to Him…” “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Eph. 5:29-30) (Notice this is all in the present tense).


I agree with Davis Huckabee’s explanation of how he clearly differentiates between the true church of God, the one and only one that ever has the right to call themselves a church, and the other so-called “churches” of today. As he states, they are only “religions,” not churches:


“The assumption that the church is a mere human institution is the basis of this acceptance of any and every religious society as a New Testament church. But the Scriptures do not so teach. It becomes clear that the church is not a human, but a divine institution when we consider that: The New Testament church as a Divine Founder. All of the founders of this world’s religions were nothing but mortal men; but this is not true of the church’s founder; the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ was manifested on numerous occasions and in numerous ways, as by His miraculous birth, which proved that He was not an ordinary man, (Isa. 7:14, Jer. 31:22,...Heb. 2:9,14,10:5), by His extraordinary life, which was devoid of any sin, by the witness of men, (Mat. 27:22-24; Luke 23:13-15, Acts 17:2-3). (The Origin and Nature of the Church)


Mr. Huckabee gives many examples of scriptures that testify to the facts of our Jesus’ (the founder and builder of the church) divinity. The point being? It doesn’t matter what you or I think or say, or how anyone can reason (or attempt to) their way out of believing the Lord’s promise to perpetuate His church. Jesus Christ is not a human being, a mere man. He is God! So He can do anything. What matters is what God thinks, what He says and what He is able to do. He is omnipotent, all powerful!


We don’t have to, or need to, understand how the Lord could keep His church alive throughout thousands of years despite many of the Devil’s attempts to destroy it! “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:8-11).


It sounds to me that what God says He will do, He does. And just because we may not understand something, doesn’t make our Almighty God’s promises, null and void.


“The existence of the church is the result of sovereign will of the Divine Christ, and as such, it makes the church to be a divine institution. When He called out the apostles and disciples and constituted them into a body which He designated ‘my church,’ he gave the church the character of a divine institution which cannot be invalidated by the reasoning of carnal minds. Nor is this all; the fact that the church was purchased with Christ’s own blood. Acts 20:28, gives it a divine character also; it manifests God’s great love for it. Not only is Christ the divine founder of the church, but He is also the Divine Foundation upon which the church is built (1 Cor. 3:11, Eph. 2:20, Mat. 16:18, Isa. 28:16. Here is a double guarantee of its endurance; not only is the Founder of the church All-wise and All-powerful, but the foundation is also stable and steadfast like a vast and immutable rock. The Church also has a Divine Builder, for the Lord says, “Upon this rock (Himself), I will build my church,” (Mat. 16:18).


Man may indeed build an organization, call it a church, and give it a quasi-divine character, but it will all be in vain unless it be built upon, and by, Christ the true and only Head of the church. Many are the nominal churches which have only the sands of humanity for a foundation, and only a mere mortal or group of mortals for architects and builders. Of such a building, Christ said, “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Mat. 7:27). (The Origin and Nature of the Church—Studies of the New Testament Church).


I will end this with a quote by Roy Mason (The Church that Jesus Built). It is also my question and a thought, seriously to be considered, to those who deny and doubt the perpetuity of the church that Jesus Christ built: “God made a staggering promise to Abraham once, one whose fulfillment seemed impossible. Of Abraham’s faith Paul says in Romans 4:20-22, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.”


Should not we have the faith of Abraham? Christ promised to perpetuate His church.


Should not we have the faith to believe that “He who promised is able to perform it?”


“And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Amen.