Where Did We Come From?
by Pastor Greg Wilson
Where do churches come from? Specifically, where did our church come
from? The religious world would give many different answers to that question.
Indeed, the theories for church origins are as varied as are the theories
for the origin of life. In fact, these theories for church origins parallel
the various theories for the origin of life.
First, consider what may be called the spontaneous generation theory.
This is a theory once held by “science” that life forms are spontaneously
generated. That is, they spring up without connection to any previously
existing life form of the same type. According to this theory, garbage
spontaneously generates rats, swamps spontaneously generate mosquitoes,
and rotten meat spontaneously generates maggots. When applied to churches
the idea is that true churches spontaneously spring up without any connection
to any preexisting true church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone has a
dream or a vision, or somehow receives a new revelation and as in Mormonism,
Christian Science, Seventh-day Adventism, etc., a new religion springs
up where there was no such church previously. The Bible, however, clearly
teaches that these “new faiths” are not the true faith, nor are they the
true churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to Scripture, the faith
was “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Joe Smith, Mary Baker
Eddy, Mary Ellen White, Alexander Campbell, nor any other person is given
Biblical authority to begin something entirely new without connection to
the true churches which preceded them. Paul wrote to the Galatians,
“if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received,
let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9). Yes, the faith was once delivered
unto the saints and has been preserved and passed down from generation
to generation. One who appeals to a new revelation to begin a new “church”
is clearly marked by Scripture as a false prophet.
Another theory of origins is the much touted evolutionary theory.
This theory holds that lower life forms develop into higher life forms.
That is, a monkey, given enough time, will become a man, or a snake will
become a bird. When applied to churches, the idea is that an organization
which is not a true church may eventually develop into a true church, or
produce offspring which are true churches. This is the operating theory
behind the Protestant Reformation. Luther, Calvin, and virtually all the
reformers held that the Catholic Church was a false church, and that the
Pope was anti-christ. Yet they maintained that their churches, which developed
directly from Rome, were true churches. The Lord teaches us, however, that
“a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree
bring forth good fruit” (Matt. 7:18). The Reformation leaders all identified
Rome as “the great whore” described in Revelation 17. Yet they held
that their churches, which were her direct offspring, were true churches.
Revelation 17, however, identifies this great whore as “the mother of
harlots.” If Rome be the great whore, as both we and the Protestants
maintain, then the Protestant churches are undeniably her harlot daughters.
The Bible sets forth the only true explanation of church origins. We
might call this Divine Creation and Natural Reproduction. So, as
with biological life, the church was created by a direct act of God, and
continues to reproduce itself “after its own kind” (Gen 1:24). B.
H. Carroll, that great Baptist scholar of the last century said: “Churches
come from churches somewhat as horses come from horses. History cannot
trace every detail of the pedigree showing how a certain drove of wild
mustangs in western Texas are descendants of Spanish barbs, brought here
by the discoverers 400 years ago. The fact that the mustangs are here proves
the succession, since only like begets like.”
The very first church was formed by the Lord Jesus Christ, God in the
flesh, as He called out his disciples along the banks of the sea of Galilee.
And, just as all mankind has directly descended from that first created
pair of Adam and Eve, so all true church have descended directly from that
first church established by Christ. The fact is true churches have come
from true churches in an unbroken generation since their founding by the
Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 3:21). Furthermore, a careful study
of Bible doctrine and of history will show that genuine Baptist churches
are the only churches which can make a legitimate claim to be in such a
We thank God for the signal privilege of being a member of just such