Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Distinctive Marks


Distinctive Marks
Of the Church Jesus Established

There are many sites on the Internet that discuss the distinctive or identifying marks of the original church Jesus established in the first century. Looking for the true church is not a fruitless use of one's time, because it does exist. Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). The establishment of this “church” is not a human idea, rather it is part of God’s eternal plan (Ephesians 3:10-11), and it is so valuable that Jesus was willing to shed His blood in order to purchase it and bring it into existence (Acts 20:28). On the surface it might seem like finding the true church would be almost an impossibility, seeing that some 9000 denominations now exist, and simply searching through all of these would exhaust one’s lifetime. Yet, there is an easier way of finding this ancient body of believers other than dropping in on each denomination that exists on the planet.

What God Knew

Some people are discouraged and shocked by all the confusion and division that exists in the religious world, and especially among the religious bodies that claim to be “Christian”. Obviously God is aware of this chaos. The Bible even predicted such confusion and division (2 Timothy 4:2-4; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; Acts 20:28ff). In light of that, it is also clear that when God designed the church, He gave it very distinctive marks, so that it would be easy to find in any generation. He also designed the church, as He designs everything, in a way that man would not design it (1 Corinthians 1:27; Matthew 20:26-28).

The Name

God choose a couple of names that were neither complicated, philosophical, nor put all the emphasis on poetic license, rather He choose very simple, yet accurate names :

  • “The church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
  • “The churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16)
  • “The church of the Lord” (Acts 20:28)

The Name of the Members

Completely absent from the New Testament are all the man-made and sometime man-glorifying names that people in the denominations sometimes call themselves, rather God’s people are simply called:

  • “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16)
  • “Brethren” (Philippians 1:14)
  • “Disciples” (Acts 11:26)
  • “Saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

Date of Origin

The church you can read about in the Bible is first spoken of has being in existence on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, 33 A.D. (Acts 2:47) (KJV).

The Plan of Salvation

The church that Jesus established taught the following steps to become a Christian or to be saved:

  • Hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:17)
  • Faith in Christ as the Son of God (John 8:24)
  • Repentance (Acts 2:38)
  • Confession of faith in Christ (Acts 8:37)
  • Baptism for the Remission of Sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16)

Is Jesus the Only Way?

When asked the question, “Is Jesus the only way to heaven?” Members of the true church would not waffle, but answer an affirmative “yes”:

  • “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6) “There is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12)

All of the above points are very simple and quite “basic”. If a group or church does not have such basics right, there is no need to look any further into what they are teaching or doing. One may progress in one's search with a much shorter list of possibilities of religious bodies that may indeed still honor and obey God's word.

Organizational Structure

Here is the following organizational structure that we find for the church revealed in the Bible:

  • Jesus is the sole head (Ephesians 1:22-23). Thus making a human head or headquarters superfluous.
  • According to the Bible there can be not apostles in the organizational structure of the church today, for the apostles have all died long ago, and no one today can meet the Biblically stated qualifications to be an apostle (Acts 1:22).
  • Each congregation was to be shepherded by its own elders (1 Peter 5:1-2; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1). No man was given authority beyond this small sphere.
  • Elders were also called bishops, overseers or pastors (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3).
  • These bishops had to be married men with children (1 Timothy 3:1-4).

Expectations of the Members

  • Members were expected to abstain from immorality, “Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Ephesians 5:3).
  • A very definite moral code was taught in the true church and it was clear that the following acts (as well as others) were immoral and if not forsaken would exclude one from eternal life: See Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 

    1. Drunkenness
    2. Fornication (sex outside of marriage including adultery and homosexuality)
    3. Enmity, Strife, Dissentions, Factions, Disputes
    4. Lying
    5. Greed
  • Members were expected to be involved in the work of the local congregation, “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part” (Ephesians 4:16); “Ready for every good deed” (Titus 3:1); “Let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14).
  • Members who departed from the teaching of the apostles and who refused to repent were no longer accounted as members (Matthew 18:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 3:14).

I know there are many denominations that do not practice the above verses in reference to church discipline. One reason for this is that if they started implementing and obeying passages such as 2 Thessalonians 3:14, the first group to be withdrawn from would be the very leaders of the denomination.


Besides teaching what specific attitudes and acts were sinful, the true church also emphasized the following concerning sin:

  • Sin is not inherited (1 Corinthians 14:20), one is not born depraved or born lost.
  • Sin can be forsaken (Revelation 2:20)
  • Sin is a choice, it is not genetic, one is no one born a homosexual than a thief, liar, fornicator, or adulterer (1 Timothy 1:9-10).


When the church Jesus founded met together, they did the following:

  • Sang hymns from their hearts (Ephesians 5:19)
  • Gave generously as they had been prospered (1 Corinthians 16:1)
  • Prayed opening and earnestly (Acts 2:42)
  • Listened with vigilance to God-given eternal truths (Acts 2:42)
  • Partook with gratitude of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7)

Love: John 13:34-35

The early Christians loved the Lord more than anything else, loved each other, and loved the lost, thus proving themselves followers of Christ. When you've found the church you read about in the New Testament, we have found people who not only love and revere God and His word in all matters, you have also found a priceless spiritual family with whom to share the joys and sorrows of this life.