It must be understood, the apostle Paul died many years ago. This interview therefore is hypothetical. The interviewer (writer) will be quoting the words of the apostle Paul as recorded in the King James translation of the Bible. I will try to make all of his statements consistent with the inspired record.
Writer: Paul, you need to understand that the questions I will ask will reflect this fact – today there are many organizations called churches in the world. Many in the same city or locality and most of them do not agree as to what the bible teaches. Is this the way it was in your day?
Paul: No. As you can read in my epistles, I only needed to address a letter to the church in a geographical location. I wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, Ephesus, and Philippi1 and the church received the letter because there was only one in that location.
Writer: Was it God’s intent that ultimately the church would be divided as it is today?
Paul: No. Satan is the one that has brought about this condition. There is one “body” and we are all2members of that one body if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.3
Writer: You use the word “body”. Does that word have the same meaning as the word “church”?
Paul: The word doesn’t mean the same but it is another word that I use to describe the church. The word describes a “called out people”. The church, as I used the word in some of my writings and the words “body” are both describing the church the body of Christ. The word “body” in those cases describe the church4 and the word church describes the body. As I was saying the different denominations that are so prominent in your day were first addressed by me in the city of Corinth. I had to rebuke the church there severely because they were carnal and walking as men. The saints there began to denominate themselves apart and to say they were of me, or Apollos, or Cephas. There was one group that began to say they were of Christ to the exclusion of other saints. This was very divisive and carnal so I rebuked them sharply5 for this.
Writer: Would you rebuke children of God today who take a name to identify themselves and the theological doctrines they hold?
Paul: Yes, if the name is any name other than the name of the one who died for them. We as Christians should do everything we do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.6
Writer: Paul, isn’t it true though that due to our different personalities, ethnic backgrounds, education and family backgrounds we need different churches?
Paul: It is true that our different backgrounds would seem to make it necessary to have different churches, but this is not the case. We must remember, when one is saved things happen that make our backgrounds and personalities of little importance as far as the functioning of the Church is concerned. One of the purposes of the church is to take those with different ethnic backgrounds, (that is the Jews and the Gentiles) and make them one new man7. It is also true that when one accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, old things pass away and all things become new8. Something else that is often forgotten is that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are indwelt with the Holy Spirit who guides them into all truth9. So you see, while the believer doesn’t lose his physical characteristics, his thought processes and spiritual understanding are truly changed, if he will allow the Holy Spirit to guide him.
Writer: But, even though we have The Holy Spirit indwelling us, people just don’t see anything alike, even when reporting on an accident or something that happened right in front of them.
Paul: It is true humanly speaking we can’t all see alike. However, we are not speaking of things on the human level but on the spiritual level. The Holy Spirit has command us to all speak the same things and to have no divisions among us, to be of the same mind and judgment, and to walk by the same rule10. The Christian life is a growing process. All Christians should be committed to trying (“endeavoring”) to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace11. If believers would do this, there would not be the divisions and denominations among believers that that the world sees in your time.
Writer: Paul, there is a saying “Behind every cloud is a silver lining”. Isn’t the silver lining behind the cloud of sectarianism the fact that by dividing and organizing we can spread the gospel further and faster?
Paul: Satan has always been spreading the lie “let us do evil that good may come”. In fact, I was accused of teaching such a thing12 which I never did. Satan has raised questions concerning obedience ever since he questioned Eve in the Garden of Eden “ye hath God said”13. Mankind is alienated from God and physically dying because Eve was convinced that what God told them to do and not do could be improved on. In fact the Lord Jesus when He was here on earth prayed for unity among believers because He knew it would give support to the gospel of Jesus Christ14. Satan also realized how effective this would be and so, as I said earlier, he began to divide Christians very early in the church’s history.
Writer: I believe it is true, the most productive period in the history of the church was the first few years after it began. Today, the divisions among Christians give the unbeliever a basis to question the authenticity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let me ask this question, “You are the writer that speaks most about the church which is His body, are you the founder or the head of the church?
Paul: Let me state emphatically, I am not and no man on earth is the founder or head of the church which is Christ’s body. I speak most about the church for three reasons. One I am the apostle to the Gentiles15, and this was a very important office in God’s program. Second, I received by direct revelation the mystery concerning what the Lord is doing with the church today16. Third, I was commissioned to complete the written word, revealing God’s will and plan for the church which is His body17. Something that is unique about my knowledge and ministry is this, I didn’t receive my education and understanding from those who were apostle before me but by direct revelation from God18.
Writer: If you are not the head of the Church, who is?
Paul: Jesus Christ is the head of the church. His is the Savior of the body. He is the chief corner stone. The church is to be subject to him in everything19.
Writer: Paul, today there are many names describing many churches. What is the correct name for the church which is His body? Is there a name that members of the church should use?
Paul: Your question seems to indicate a misconception. The church is described by several terms: the body of Christ, church of the living God, church of God20 and there are others. Members of the church are referred to as saints, Christians, and brethren. The church is simply Christ21. Members of the church should do everything they do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many times the church is described by the geographical location where it is or meets. Members of the church should be careful to never use a name or description to identify themselves separate from other members of the church or to identify theological distinctions. To do so is sin.
Writer: Paul, how is it decided who becomes a member of the church which is Christ’s body?
Paul: All members of the church are made members by The head of the church the Lord Jesus Christ. This is done by the baptism of the Holy Spirit22.
Writer: Paul, we hear the word “saved” used often. What does that word mean when applied to members of the church which is Christ’s body?
Paul: To begin with, all of us were born sinners, dead in trespasses and sins. We were alienated from God, out of fellowship or communion with Him and needing to be reconciled to Him23. God of course, recognized this and when we were without hope sent His only begotten Son to die for us24. Because of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can be restored to fellowship with God by grace (unearned favor) through faith25. Grace is something good we receive which we didn’t earn or don’t deserve. Salvation is not something one can work for. If it was, we would have something to boast about. Some people think grace and works are a team that together brings salvation to a person. This was a misconception that was prevalent in my day. Many, like me had our roots in the Mosaic Law. But works and grace don’t’ go together to get salvation or to keep salvation. Good works are a product of salvation. Salvation is received by calling on God for mercy, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the way I was saved26. The moment one believes with his heart and calls on the name of the Lord, many things happen. The person is spiritually crucified, buried, risen with Jesus Christ, sealed unto the day of redemption, spiritually baptized into the church, seated in heavenly places, and old things pass away, all things become new27. All this is done through faith in the operation of God.
This is the end of this interview with the apostle Paul.
We hope this brief hypothetical interview with the apostle Paul will cause you to study the scriptures noted and come to a fuller understanding of God’s plan of salvation and the biblical function “church which is Christ’s body”.
1 1Corinthians 1:, Ephesians 1:, 2 Ephesians 4:4 3 1Corinthians 12:13 & 27 4 Ephesians 1:22 & 23, Colossians 1:18 5 1Corinthians 1:12, 3:1-4 6 Colossians 3:17 7 Ephesians 2:15, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11 8 2Corinthians 5:17 9 John 14:17, 16:13, 1Corinthians 6:19 10 Philippians 1:27, 3:16 11 Ephesians 4:3 12 Romans 3:8 13 Genesis 3:1 14 John 17:21-23, 15 Romans 11:13 16 Romans 16:25, Galatians 1:12, Ephesians 3:3 17 Colossians 1:25 18 Galatians 1:17-22 19 Ephesians 1:22, 2:20, 5:23-24 20 1Corinthians 1:2, 10:32, 12:27, Ephesians 1:1, 4:12, 1Timothy3:15, Romans 1:3 & 7, 2Corinthians1:1, Acts11:26, Galatians 6:18 21 1Corinthians 12:12 22 Colossians 3:17, Acts 2:47, 1Corinthians 12:13 23 Romans 5:12, Ephesians 4:18, Colossians 1:21, Romans 3:10, 5:10, 2Corinthians 5:18 24 Romans 5:6, John3:16-18, 25 Ephesians 2:8 & 9, Romans 11:6, 26 Romans 10:13, Acts 22:16, Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12, Ephesians 2:5, 4:30, 1Corinthians 12:13
– Robert A. Grove