5-Part Series on Why One Must Be Catholic (Part 3a: Jesus Christ Founded One Church and Gave It His Perpetual Authority)

Now that we know God is absolute and that His Son, Jesus Christ, truly came to earth as both God and man, let us now consider whether Christ founded a single, physical authoritative church protected from error regarding its teachings on faith and morality. 

Matthew 16:18 – Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Kepha (Aramaic for rock), and on this Kepha I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  And what you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and what you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.”  In this passage, we see that Christ founded the Church on Peter, protects it from false teachings and gives it authority to loose and bind rules (cf. Isaiah 22:20-23).  If the gates of hell prevailed against the Church, what would be the first thing to go?  Since Satan, the prince of hell, is the father of lies, the first thing to go would be truth.  The absence of truth is what causes relativism (i.e. your truth is good for you and my truth is good for me) and belief in false teachings.  It also causes chaos and contradiction.  Look at all the Protestant churches.  They contradict one another on all sorts of teachings.  They exist in a state of relativism.  More will be said about this in Article 4.

Matthew 18:15-17 – Jesus said, “If your brother (context: brother in faith) sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”  “…even to the church.”  Jesus says the church is the ultimate arbitrator regarding sin.  How can a church render a decision on someone’s sinful behavior if it is not physical, authoritative and infallible, unable to teach falsely regarding faith and morality?  Protestant churches disagree on immoral behaviors such as abortion, homosexual unions, divorce/remarriage, contraception and others.

1 Tim 3:15 – Paul says to Timothy, “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”  Paul refers to the Church as the pillar and bulwark of truth.  A pillar upholds and a bulwark is a defensive wall that protects what is inside.  Therefore, the Church upholds and defends the truth.  It must, therefore, be physical, authoritative and infallible.

John 16:13 –Jesus said to the Apostles, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”  “…guide you into all truths.”  This passage implies that Christ did not teach all truths, which is why he sends the Holy Spirit.  Further, where does the Bible say that the Holy Spirit stopped guiding the Church into all truths?  It doesn’t.  The Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church.  If we applied this verse to Protestant churches, we would have to say that due to their great number of contradictory teachings, the Holy Spirit has multiple personality disorder.

Mat 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in 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, to the close of the age.”  1st – “Go therefore…” means Jesus is giving his apostles his authority.  Within this authority, they are to teach all nations and baptize “to the close of the age.”  The close of the age is not here yet.  Therefore, Jesus has not withdrawn his authority from the Church he founded.  2nd – He commands his Apostles make disciples of all nations.  3rd – He commands them to teach others everything he has commanded them.  You cannot teach someone and tell them to obey unless you have authority.  4th – Christ gave his Apostles authority to teach all nations.  Since the Apostles would not be able to go to, much less teach all nations during their lifetime, Christ’s authority extended to those they selected to succeed them.  If they did not select men to succeed them, no one would have had authority to teach.

Think about a man teaching at a school without first being hired and without permission from the school.  What would happen?  He would be removed, because he never received authority to teach.  This would happen in any institution.  Christ gave authority to the Apostles to teach and to ordain successors to teach after them.  When the Protestant reformers broke away from the Catholic Church, they lost authority to teach and to appoint successors.  This is one reason for the perpetual contradiction and division in Protestantism.  The above passage shows church authority, unity, and succession.

Acts 15:4-29 – Paul goes to the Apostles for a decision regarding a local church dispute over circumcision.  The passage is too long to quote here, but please read it.  It is an extremely important passage for showing church unity and authority.  1st – Verse 22 uses the phrase “the whole church” – There is no indication that the church is fragmented.  Nor does the bible indicate that the church was ever fragmented.  2nd – Verse 24 mentions “persons gone out from us” without permission – Some from the church, without instructions from the church, went to gentile towns and falsely taught.  3rd – An authoritative letter from the authoritative leaders was sent to correct this error.  4th – Verse 28 says, “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” – Authoritative teaching flows from the Holy Spirit through the leaders of the church to the laity.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that individuals prayed to the Holy Spirit and developed their own teachings.  5th – The question that must be answered is…which church was founded by Christ and was given his authority?  Only one has been around for 2000 years and has this authority, the Catholic Church.

1 Cor 1:10 – The Church must be of one heart and mind.  This could not happen if the Church contradicted itself when teaching about faith and mortality.  How can an entity be of one mind and one heart if its teachings are contradictory?

The Church is the body of Christ (Rom 12:4-8, 1 Cor 12:12-31).  Therefore, it is a living body, since Christ is the living head.  As a living body with Christ as its head, it cannot teach falsely.  This is why Jesus said “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  If the Church is a living body and is protected from the gates of hell, it must have authority to teach the truth and protection from teaching lies.  Therefore, contradictory teachings cannot come from the Church Christ created. 

Titus 1:5-9 – Paul instructs Titus to appoint presbyters in every town.  A bishop as God’s steward…must hold fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.  1st – How is one taught the “true message” unless by one is taught before him?  2nd – How does one refute an opponent unless he receives the infallible teachings passed down to him from the original Church?

Heb 13:17 – “Obey your (spiritual) leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account.”  To which leaders is the author referring if no physical church with authority was created?  cf. Heb 13:7 and 24 for context on “leaders.”

2 Tim 2:2 – “And what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will have the ability to teach others as well.”  Notice Timothy taught witnesses who taught others and instructed them to entrust his teaching to faithful people who will, in turn, teach others.  This is a handing down (tradition) of Church teachings. 

There are many other verses that prove Christ established a physical, united, authoritative, perpetual, and infallible church on earth.  It’s important to know that Jesus created only one Church.  Otherwise, we would be lost in a deluge of contradiction.  The next part of this article will examine the gift of succession.