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
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.
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.
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
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).
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!
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
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.
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).
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!
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
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.
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
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.'
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!