some unaccountable reason numerous Catholics have gotten the thought
that I am their foe, just as Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians,
Baptists, etc., have gotten the impression that I am their foe.
I am a foe to no human being, and especially to no Christian.
believe more fully than do Methodists in Free Grace—that
ultimately God’s grace will reach every human being.
believe more emphatically than do most Presbyterians that the
Church is an especially elect class, and is now being gathered
out of the world to be God’s agents in the ultimate blessing
of all the non-elect. I believe with Baptists that only the Elect,
the immersed, will constitute the Kingdom of God, although I deny
their claim that baptism in water is the real immersion. I hold,
with the Apostle, that it is baptism into Christ’s death.
Similarly I hold to the great Catholic doctrine that there is
only one true Church, founded by the Lord Jesus Christ through
His Apostles, nearly nineteen centuries ago.
am aware that several churches claim to be Catholic—the
Anglican Catholic, the Syrian Catholic, the Greek Catholic, and
the Roman Catholic. Each claims to be the true Church and reprobates
the others as heretical.
I take the still broader, catholic ground. I hold that the word
catholic means general; and that any limitation, such as Roman
Catholic, Greek Catholic, etc., to that extent denies their catholicity.
Perhaps, therefore, I am really saying that I am more catholic
than any of these brethren.
must prove my point or be misunderstood. I hold, and few, if any,
will dispute it, that the one catholic or universal or general
Church of Christ is the one mentioned in the Bible—"the
Church of the First-borns, written in Heaven." If this be
admitted, my next proposition is that the Lord in Heaven records
as members of His true Church all the saintly—whether Roman
Catholics, Anglican Catholics, Greek Catholics, Baptists, Methodists,
Presbyterians, etc.—and none others.
we not here the one Church, the Catholic Church, the universal,
the only Church which the Bible recognizes?
the past we have been too narrow and have supposed that God was
as narrow as ourselves. It was on this account that in the past
Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists and Methodists
persecuted and were persecuted, because each thought itself the
true Church. Are we not all getting broader conceptions of our
God and of His Church? Do we not see that a part of our mistake
was in calling the outward organization the Church of Christ,
instead of remembering that the Lord alone writes the names of
the Church, that He alone reads the hearts, that He alone is the
Judge, and that He alone has the right to blot out the names of
those who become reprobates?
Paul wrote against the spirit of sectarianism, already manifest
in his day—some saying, "I am of Paul"; others,
"I am of Peter," etc. The Apostle asks, "Is Christ
divided?" (1Co 1:10-13.) So, today, if with us, he would
ask, "Why Romanists, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, etc.?
Is not the name of Christ enough?" He explains that these
different names of old signified a sectarian spirit, the spirit
of division, that failed to recognize the true Head of the Church,
His true representatives and His true members. The trouble is
the same today. The entire foundation of divided Christianity
would disappear and all the true Church of Christ—all real
saints—would be speedily manifest, if true catholicity were
one great obstacle to unity is the erroneous doctrine respecting
the eternal torture of all not members of the Church. We must
open our eyes wider and see that many of our theories were not
taught by Jesus and the Apostles. We must see that the Church
is a comparatively small company of saintly footstep followers
of Jesus, irrespective of sectarian lines; that the Bible teaches
not that these are to look over the battlements of Heaven to all
eternity and see all others in torment, but that they are to demonstrate
their loyalty unto death and in due time be associated with Messiah
in His great Millennial Kingdom, which will bring knowledge and
opportunity to all the families of the earth—the living
and the dead.—Re 20:11-13.
St. Paul declared that the saints of God, the true catholic Church,
"are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,
Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone." (Eph
2:20.) The Twelve Apostles are here referred to in their double
office—Apostles especially commissioned by the Lord as His
representatives and prophets, mouthpieces, for the proclamation
of the Message to the Church. Jesus, referring to these same foundation
stones, pictures the Church of Glory as the New Jerusalem, and
its twelve foundations as twelve precious stones, in which are
the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb—no more, no
less—St. Paul being God’s choice to take the place
of Judas, the betrayer of his Lord and Master.
think of St. Peter as the only foundation for the Church would
be to deny Christ’s teaching and St. Peter’s own statement—that
the entire Church is symbolically represented as living stones
built together by the Lord through the Holy Spirit. (1Pe 2:4-6.)
It was a costly mistake when our forefathers, overlooking this
well-established point of Scripture, thought of the bishops of
the Church as Apostolic Bishops, and took their decisions in councils
assembled as the voice of God to and through the Church. The voice
of God to and through the Church came only through "the twelve
Apostles of the Lamb." All others so claiming are denounced
by Jesus Himself as false Apostles.—Re 2:2.
true saints of all denominations should ignore all human creeds
and return to the Bible and its declaration of "one Lord,
one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all." (Eph
4:5,6.) Are we more loyal to human organizations than to God,
His Truth, His Church—all saints and one people, imbued
with one spirit, the world around—the catholic Church?
St. Peter was only one of the twelve foundation stones of the
Church, so, likewise, he was only one of The Twelve to whom the
Lord declared, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be
bound in Heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall
be loosed in Heaven" (Mt 18:18)—the same statement
exactly that on another occasion He made to St. Peter only.
He gave the keys to St. Peter alone.
it seem reasonable that Jesus should tell the twelve Apostles
that God would do anything that they bade Him do—taking
to Heaven whom they pleased and excluding whom they chose? Would
it be wise or safe to entrust to poor humanity such dictatorial
powers respecting the eternal interest of even one individual?
not! When we remember that these Apostles declared that they were
men of like passions with others, that St. Peter himself dissembled
on one occasion and on another denied his Master, we are the more
convinced that Jesus did not mean that God would abdicate His
authority and wisdom in favor of any twelve men.
then, does this passage mean? We answer, It implies that the Lord
would so overrule the utterances and writings of His twelve Apostles
as to make them safe guides for His Church. To these Apostles
would be given through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost wisdom enabling
them to understand which things of the Jewish Law were binding
upon the Church and which not binding.
decision would be absolutely right, and the entire Church might
have confidence that what the Apostles bound or loosed on earth
was equally bound or loosed in Heaven. As an illustration of this
binding and loosing, see Ac 15:28,29.
get back into proper relationship with each other and rid of all
sectarian systems, God’s people must recognize that only
the words of the New Testament Apostles and Prophets are authoritative,
properly representing the Divine mind. Other things men have bound
and loosed on earth, without recognition in Heaven. The things
necessary to the Church are found only in the Bible, as St. Paul
Foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ."
(1Co 3:11.) In the Divine arrangement Jesus Christ is the Foundation,
the Rock, upon which is built the entire superstructure of His
Church—the one Catholic, world-wide Church. On this Rock,
Christ Jesus, as St. Peter declares, all the Church is being built
as a Temple of God. (1Pe 2:4-10.) The New Jerusalem, the Church
in glory, had twelve foundation stones, built upon the one Foundation
Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. It would manifestly be erroneous,
therefore, to suppose that our Lord abdicated His own place in
the Church in favor of St. Peter, much as He loved His impulsive
then, did Jesus mean when He called St. Peter a stone, spoke of
building His Church upon "this rock," and declared that
the gates of Hell (Hades, the grave) would not prevail against
it? We reply, Jesus went down into the prison-house of death,
Sheol, Hades, the tomb; but on the third day the gates of Sheol,
Hades, were opened, and He came forth. These gates will not prevail
against the Church, as they did not prevail against her Lord.
This is an assurance of the resurrection of the dead.
understand St. Peter’s connection with the Rock Foundation
of the Church, we should read the preceding context. The disciples
had told Jesus the common talk respecting Himself. He then asked
them, "Who say ye that I am?" St. Peter answered, "Thou
art the Christ, the Son of the living God." This was the
first public declaration of Jesus’ Messiahship. Even the
disciples had only now come to recognize their Teacher as the
long-promised Messiah. Jesus answered, "Blessed art thou,
Simon, son of Jonas; for flesh and blood hath not revealed this
unto thee, but My Father in Heaven.
art Peter [a stone, ready for the spiritual Temple, the first
one to publicly acknowledge Jesus], and upon this rock [the Truth
just declared, that I am Messiah] I will build My Church."
the Greek the word Peter signifies a stone of moderate size, while
the word here rendered rock signifies a mass of stone—a
foundation. Our Lord Jesus Christ evidently meant that St. Peter’s
statement was a recognition of Himself as the great Foundation
of the Divine Plan—Messiah. Upon that foundation truth,
that Jesus is Christ, the Church would be built; and St.
was the first living stone to build himself upon that foundation
by believing and confessing Christ. St. Peter himself gives us
the same thought—that he and all others of the Church are
living stones, being builded together as a holy Temple of God.
This entire Gospel Age has been devoted to the building of these
stones upon that great Foundation Rock, Christ Jesus. As soon
as the great Temple of God shall be completed, this Gospel Age
will end and the New Dispensation be inaugurated, for the blessing
of all the families of the earth.
St. Peter our Lord said, "I will give thee the keys of the
Kingdom of Heaven." What did He mean? We shall not suppose
that any who hear my voice or are sufficiently intelligent to
read this discourse in the newspapers are stupid enough to think
Jesus meant that Heaven is locked up, and that nobody could get
in except as St. Peter would open the door or gate. True, some
have voiced such fantastic notions. But we refuse to believe that
intelligent people could be in earnest in any such view, the absurdity
of which is apparent.
the Lord meant is very simple, very beautiful; and we see exactly
how it was fulfilled. He indicated that St. Peter, the first to
confess Him, was to have a special honor in connection with the
inauguration of the Church on earth. By the expression, "Kingdom
of Heaven," is meant the Church, a class being called out
of the world to become with Christ the ruling power of the world
during the Millennium, through the great resurrection "change."—1Co
meant that St. Peter would be honored in being permitted to do
an opening work in connection with the Church. The Bible shows
us two different opening works and two different keys. The key
is a symbol of power or authority or an initiative. St. Peter
used his first key of privilege on the day of Pentecost. When
the Holy Spirit came upon the early waiting Church, it was St.
that used this key. Standing up with the eleven, he lifted up
his voice, explained the situation and opened the door to the
Church of Christ for the Jews, admonishing them of their opportunity
to enter. He told of the merit of Christ’s death and how
He had risen and had ascended on High, and how forgiveness of
sins was, therefore, preached in His name.—Ac 2:14-36.
second key to the Kingdom of Heaven—the Church, the embryo
Kingdom preparing for glory—St. Peter used three and a half
years later. Then the seventieth week of Divine favor prophetically
appointed to the Jews expired, and the time came that the Gentiles
might be fellow-heirs with the Jews of the same Promise. The opening
work was with the household of Cornelius, to whom St. Peter preached
Christ. The Lord blessed the preaching and granted the Holy Spirit
to Cornelius and his family. Thus the Gentile door into the Kingdom
was thrown wide open.—Acts 10.
repentance and remission of sins might be preached in His name
to all people" (Lu 24:47). God never gave power to bishops,
priests or ministers of any denomination to forgive sins. "Who
can forgive sins but God alone?" Nor did Jesus give authority
to His Apostles to forgive sins. They might preach repentance
and forgiveness, but only in His name.
child of God is Scripturally authorized to declare that Christ
died for human sin, and has thus made arrangement by which all
repentant sinners may be forgiven.
is an honor to be the bearer of such a Message from God to men;
and every child of God is fully commissioned to tell the Divine
Message to all who will hear.
In proportion as God’s people throw away their sectarian
spectacles they can read God’s Message in the words of Jesus
and the Apostles. Let us hold fast the precious Word which Jesus
exhorted us to search and which is sufficient that the man of
God may be thoroughly furnished. Let us remember that there is
only one true Church, each member of which is a saint, related
to God and the Lord Jesus Christ through faith, repentance and
remission of sin and the begetting of the Holy Spirit; that it
is the only Church that is catholic, universal; and that a member
of the Body of Christ is a member of that Body anywhere. "Now
are ye the Body of Christ, and members in particular."—1Co