SLOW loading! A female detective searches for the truth. 1 Cor. 11:11-12.

How to find Jesus' True Church

'The Gumshoe' - Episode 2

In 'Episode One' of our search for Jesus' True Church, we uncovered a number of Biblical-historical clues about the starting dates of different churches. We read Bible warnings against false prophets, and the importance of seeking Jesus' teachings in His True Church. In this 'episode' of our 'religious mystery investigation', we will look at some other Scriptural and historical facts that will help you prove 'which church is His Church!'

An important Scriptural 'hint' is found in Matthew 28:18-20: "All power on heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of time." This command of Jesus carries many important clues. One, His Church would baptize using the formula given above: "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." It would also be important to note these related verses: "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water (i.e.: baptism) and the Spirit." (Jn. 3:5). In Acts, those listening to the Apostles preach ask: "'What are we to do then, brothers?' Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:37-38). Churches or religions that don't teach the need for baptism (that it 'washes away' sin), or that claim it's only 'a symbol' that doesn't aid salvation, would be violating these Scriptures. You might ask the question of a pastor of a church you are investigating: 'Does your church teach the importance of baptism to get to heaven?' If the answer is 'no', count that church out!

The Struthion Pool served to collect and supply water to the Antonia Fortress. Its mentioned by Josephus in his account of the first Jewish Revolt.

But Matthew 28:18-20 offers still more clues. For example, Jesus' command makes it clear that he wanted a world-wide or 'universal' church. Ask your subjects: "Is your church world-wide?' Again, since 'time is running' on your investigation, you can move on if they aren't a universal church.

Ancient site of the Agony in the Garden-in Church of All Nations- Mt.26:36-46.

Consider another 'tip' from Jesus' 'great commission' to the Apostles in Matthew 28:18-20. We know from history that the Apostles didn't reach 'all nations.' They all died before achieving that goal, something Jesus would have known. That implies that others would have to carry on the Apostles' (a word meaning: 'those sent') mission. Is there New Testament evidence for that? Yes, there is, as you will see! Paul told Timothy "What you have heard from me entrust to faithful witnesses who will have the ability to teach others as well." (2 Tim. 2:2). To Titus, Paul said: "For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town as I directed you..." (Tit. 1:5). In the first chapter of Acts, the Apostle Peter is discussing replacing Judas among the Twelve. Peter, quoting Scripture, says: "'May another take his office.' Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us...become with us a witness to His resurrection." (Acts 1:20-21,22; cf. Ps. 109:8).

Church of All Nations, built on the ancient site of the Agony in the Garden.

Since Jesus said His Church would endure (cf. Mt. 16:18), and since we see Biblical examples that the the early Church made provisions for preserving faithful teachers, we can use those facts to locate the True Church of Christ. Remember, anyone can claim theirs' is the 'true church,' but an assertion alone isn't 'proof' in 'a court of law!'

St Mary Magdalene in background of the Church of All Nations-Mount of Olives.

How did the early Church appoint new leaders? Let's see. In Acts chapter 6, we read: "At that time,..the number of disciples continued to grow...So the Twelve called together the community of disciples saying...'Brothers, select from among you...reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task'...the proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose...They presented these men to the Apostles who prayed and laid hands on them." (Acts 6:1, 2, 3, 5, 6).

Used by Jesus, these ancient 'steps of the Maccabees' lead up to...

Paul, writing to Timothy about how he received his ministry, says: "Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate." (1 Tim. 4:14). Other verses (see Acts 13:3; 14:22-23; 20:28; 2 Tim. 1:6; Heb. 5:1) make it clear that 'the laying on of hands' was part of a prayerful ceremony, in which worthy disciples were ordained into a special office: as deacons, bishops (from the Greek 'episkopos' meaning 'overseers') and presbyters (priests). So God's Word provides important additional facts: if a church doesn't use a laying on of hands, it can't be a true church. If a church can't honestly say they have a hierarchy of leaders (bishops, priests, deacons), then it can't be the Church Jesus established (cf. Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1-5). You could ask: 'Does your church ordain bishops, priests and deacons by laying on hands?' If 'no,' then go!

...the Church of St. Peter's (in Gallicantu) on the Mount of Olives.

Well, 'gumshoe,' since you've gotten this far in your investigation, you will have already eliminated most churches, sects and denominations from your list of 'possibles.' You should feel good about that! But you know how the court system works, you have to have proof 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' We don't want some whimsical judge or a sleepy juror to destroy the 'case' that you are 'building.' So let's be absolutely sure, and build a solid case proving which is Jesus' True Church!

Courtyard of el-Omariye, where the Fortress Antonia stood.

There is no doubt that during your investigation, you will find pastors who will try to ask you some questions, or who will try to convince you of 'another gospel.' It happens to detectives all the time, when others try to influence the direction of an investigation. You may get a question like: 'Are you saved?' or a statement like: 'Jesus gave us the Bible, that is our religious authority, and His Church is a spiritual body, like Paul wrote about, not a specific religious congregation with a name.' We need to consider those points: logically, historically and Biblically.

Christian pilgrims, following the 'Way of The Cross', on Good Friday.

Imagine yourself as just having fallen out of a boat, into stormy waters (cf. Mt. 8:23-27). The wind and currents are too strong, you are going 'down.' Suddenly, a hand comes your way, and someone pulls you in! You are saved! But logically, even though you were 'saved,' you could lose your life in a latter accident (cf. Mt. 14:22-33!), or even on purpose (cf. Mt. 27:3-5).

Christians carrying the cross from 'the First Station' of the way of sorrows.

When Scripture uses the word 'saved,' it helps to remember that no Biblical verses say you are 'guaranteed salvation' from that point on. In fact, that is unBiblical. Consider the many verses warning us against sin, or false prophets, the parable of the sower, etc.; they were written to believers! What would be their point if you could be 'once saved, always saved?' That theory is just wishful thinking, 'another gospel.' You'd be laughed out of the DA's office if you walked in with a case based on such weak evidence, as is the case for 'once saved, always saved.' So if a pastor asks you: 'Are you saved?', ask him: 'Do you think you are once saved, always saved?' If he answers 'yes,' thank him for his time, and push on! You can share your investigative notes with him later on!

Pilate ordered Jesus' scouraged - Mt. 27:26, before he carried His Cross.

But if you have the time, or want experience, you can ask such a pastor the kinds of questions we covered in Episode One (see Gal. 1:6-8). You might also inquire: 'Pastor, besides the Bible, what is the oldest written evidence you can provide me that proves the early Christians believed what you are asserting?' THAT will stump him! Such ideas are fairly new in Christian history, they are 'another (false) gospel,' and Paul said to those who preached such things: "let that one be accursed!" (Gal. 1:9). Historically, you can't find the 'once saved' idea before the 16th century, some 1500 years after Jesus walked the earth! Objectively, it is a false gospel. Before we wind up this phase of your investigation, let us consider a few of the powers or 'gifts' Jesus gave to the Apostles, which are handed on to their ordained successor by the laying on of hands. Use these Scriptures with pastors, as needed, to see if they're part of Jesus' Church.

Second Station is by the Franciscan Chapel. The stained glass above is in here.

After Jesus resurrection, He said to His Apostles: "'Peace be with you.', he said again. 'As the Father has sent me, so I send you.' Then he breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them. If you hold them bound, they are held bound.'" (Jn. 20: 21-23; see Mk. 2:5-12). With this in mind, you can ask pastors of local churches: 'Do you claim to have authority to forgive men's sins in Jesus' name?' If they say 'no,' well, that may be honest, but they certainly aren't a part of Jesus' True Church.

The Second Station is Jesus takes up and carries His Cross.

At Jesus' last supper, "Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to His disciples said, 'Take and eat, this is My body.' Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: 'Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the new covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins." (Mt. 26:26-28). When you ask local pastors about their teachings, ask them: 'Do you believe the Lord's Supper is a means of forgiving some sins?' If they say, 'no;' well, their church is not the True Church.

The Third Station is Jesus falls under the Cross. Psalm 140:5-6.

In First Corinthians, the 'communion' text adds: "Do this in remembrance of Me...Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks damnation on himself." (1 Cor. 11:24, 27-29). Perhaps you'll find a preacher who will assert: 'The Lord's Supper is just symbolic, it isn't really Jesus' body and blood.'

This chapel is located by the traditional site of the Third Station.

The interior of the chapel at Jesus' Third Station of the Cross.

As a logical detective, referring to 1 Cor. 11:27, you can ask such a pastor: 'If someone takes a Polaroid picture of you, and then stabs it repeatedly with a knife, or shoots it with a gun, is the picture-attacker guilty of murder?' Any sane person will answer something like, 'no, of course not.' You respond: 'Well, preacher, that picture is a symbol, so I agree with you. But First Corinthians 11:27 says the unworthy communicant is 'GUILTY of the body and blood of the Lord.' You can only be guilty of attacking a real body, which is clarified by verse 29: 'without RECOGNIZING the body, eats and drinks damnation on himself.' Why would you be damned, preacher, for a symbol? And 'recognizing' means 'to see, discern or perceive!' Don't you see, it IS JESUS' BODY!'

Gumshoe, let's investigate Episode 3!


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