The word unique is not used in the Bible, yet the church found in the pages of the New Testament is unique. When one defines the word unique, the definition will include such factors as being the only one of its kind and being without an equal or equivalent. Such is certainly true of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is indeed true that the church of the New Testament is the only one of its kind. God’s word clearly tells us that there is only one church that exists with the approval of God. The church is often referred to as the body (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). However many bodies there are in the New Testament is how many churches there are in the New Testament. Paul said concerning the death of Christ and the separation of Jews and Gentiles, “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:16). Later in the same letter, Paul said, “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4). In that same text he tells us there is just one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father. There is just one of each. Though there are multitudes of churches found in the land, founded by mere men, having varying doctrines and practices and wearing the name of men and methods, there is only one church of the kind that we read of in the scriptures.
Though much good may have been done by many of the various “other churches”, none can claim equality with the one Jesus built. The church found in the New Testament has Jesus as its founder. Jesus told His apostles following the confession that Peter uttered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”, “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:16, 18). The church of the New Testament is the only church that can lay claim to having the Lord Himself as the builder. The men that built many of the denominational churches may well have been good men, honest men and sincere men, but they fall far from being in the same league as the Son of God, thus any church they built is as inferior to the one the Lord built as was the death of Judas when he hanged himself was from the death of Christ who hung upon the cross of Calvary. Though these churches may feed the poor and encourage good morals, they fail to make available the greatest of all blessings, one found only in the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. They cannot provide salvation. Paul said that Jesus is “the saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23). The one body that has been identified as being the church of our Lord is the one church of which Jesus Christ is the savior. All the saved are added to that one church at the very point they are saved. At the founding of the Lord’s church we read, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). And, just a few verses later we read, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). The Lord does not add them to some other church, but to His church.
Another of the unique aspects of the Lord’s church is the authority over it. With the man-made “other churches”, there are various forms of polity by which they are governed. Some have one man at the top, passing down edicts and such while others have boards, synods and such which make the laws of the church. It is not unusual to read in the newspaper where some church has made a ruling which changes the teachings of their church on some issue. One of the unique things about the Lord’s church is that no man or group of men on earth has any control over the doctrine of the church. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). This being the case, He is the only one who has the authority of determining doctrine and practice for His church. The apostle Paul stated, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). The gospel of Jesus Christ is therefore the doctrine of the church of Jesus Christ. Every doctrine and practice found within the Lord’s church will be authorized by the gospel of Christ and every doctrine and practiced authorized by the gospel of Christ will be taught and practiced by the Lord’s church. No man or group of men on the face of the earth has the power to dictate new doctrines or practices nor do they have the power to renounce any of the doctrines and practices authorized by the Lord in His gospel.
There are indeed many churches that are found upon this grand land in which we live. However, there is only one church built by Christ (Matt. 16:18), over which Christ is the head (Eph. 1:22-23), of whom Christ is the Savior (Eph. 5:23) and of which we can read in the pages of the New Testament. All others are just that, “others”. They are not unique as is the one that belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not without others of equal or equivalent to them as is the Lord’s body. The Lord’s church is indeed a unique church.
(Editor’s note: Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)