The key to one true visible church (OTVC) teaching is the word visible. All true Christians understand that there is only one church (Eph 4:4) and that all the saved are the members of that one church which is in heaven and earth (Eph 3:15).
Most would agree that the New Testament church was visible and all congregations were in unity in the first century.
Let’s take a quick look at how things when from one visible church in the New Testament time to the state we are in now where we have 1000’s of denominations or sects. Then we will address the issue of some of these sects making the claim that they and they alone are the one true visible church and all other denominations are false and wrong.
Paul told the Thessalonians that there would “come a falling away” and the “man of sin” would be revealed who would “exalt himself” setting himself up in the “temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2The 2:4). All we have to do is take a look at history to see that this falling away has already happened and it is not some future event.
Already in the letter to the seven churches of Asia Minor (Turkey) in 95AD we find deplorable conditions in these congregations (Rev 2:1-3:22). We don’t know for sure at what date the falling away happened but we can see by the reign of Constantine that the church certainly was fallen.
In 312AD Constantine had his army baptized after seeing a vision. After retaking Rome from Maxentius he announced the toleration of Christianity and established a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor in the church. He considered himself responsible to maintain orthodoxy and acted as judge in the North African dispute concerning the teaching of the Donatists in 316 and he dealt with the teaching of Arianism in 325 at the Council of Nicaea. The leaders of what was then considered Christianity accepted his authority.
The system that Constantine started after a number of years turned into the Roman Catholic system with a infallible leader called the pope and system which was empowered by the secular government. The Protestant reformation of the 1500’s broke the rule of the Roman Catholic system and made way for the establishing of many different denominations or sects.
This is a condensed version of the events but it does get us from the New Testament time to today. So here we are today with 1000’s of different denominations or sects. In the middle of all this division there have arisen different sects that have made the claim that they are restoring Christian from its fallen state back to the New Testament standard.
Not only are they claiming this but they are also claiming that they are the only congregations with a lampstand, and that all other congregations are confusion, Babel, Babylon, and the congregation of the dead. The number of sects that are claiming to be the one true visible church numbers in the 100’s.
Each one of these groups is calling all Christians to their group and demand that they accept their teachings, standards, and form of conduct. If they refuse over a period of time, they will – with bigoted fervor – tell you that you are not honest and more than likely not saved.
For support of their position, they take the New Testament church as it is laid out in New Testament scripture, and apply it to be speaking exclusively about their group.
Therefore, if the Bible says that Jesus is the only way, that means they are the only way. When the Bible says “other sheep I have and they must come to the fold”, then this is no longer the Jews and Gentiles, but their sect and all other Christians.
They show you the scriptures on unity, and tell you that confusion is of the devil and that you must forsake all sect confusion and come to the one true visible church. These anti-sectarians, as they call themselves, are more sectarian than those they consider sectarians.
How much more utterly intolerant of any differing creed (definition of bigot) can a group get that to tell some one that they are no longer saved but now on the way to hell because they refuse to agree that their group and their group alone is the one true visible church.
Now it is not just Jesus, but Jesus and their sect that is the only true way; you no longer have to just accept Jesus, but you have to accept Jesus and their sect. These bigoted ministers are no longer the servants to the church but they now like “Gentiles exercise lordship” (Mar 10:42) over the flock. They have become enforcers that claim to have a mandate from God to root up and cast any wheat into hell that will not bow to their every decision and teaching.
These ministers “condemneth the just” that refuse to accept their sect as the one true visible church, this conduct is an “abomination to the LORD” (Pro 17:15). These ministers are not satisfied to be sectarian and bigoted themselves they attempt to turn all the good Christians they can find in other groups into bigoted believers. They raise bigoted children and all converts they bring forth they do their best to make them into bigoted OTVC-praising Christians.
May God have mercy on these ministers who have imbibed the same sectarian spirit that was working in Diotrephes. This spirit caused Diotrephes to not only not accept John the Apostle and others but to prated against them with malicious words, forbidding others to accept them and casting those out the congregation that did (3Joh 1:9, 10).
This is the spirit that was worked in Henry Hildebrandt, Danny Layne, and Ray Tinsmen, ordained ministers of the COGR, who agreed that I needed to be cast me out of the Restoration assembly here in Aylmer after they read my letter to Henry Hildebrandt which contained my 16 objections to Church of God Restoration practices and doctrines.
This sectarian spirit not only had them cast me out of their assemblies, but caused them – with malicious words – to slander my good Christian name by claiming I was no longer a Christian. They say this becuase I have rejected their claim to be the one true visible church and have not accepted some of their other non-essential teachings.
In short, the teaching of Sect OTVC is nothing more than a bubble in the mind of sectarian and bigoted ministers. Much of their time is taken up in self-praise and pointing people to their wonderful group – when they should be pointing people to Christ alone. This kind of sectarian babble is nothing short of more Babel confusion that they claim to have left behind are calling people out of.
The Word of God calls us to show love for malice, to offer the right hand of fellowship to those that are sectarian, and to accept those overtaken by this bigotry spirit. Let us pray for them, and in meekness instruct them “peradventure God give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2Tim 2:25).
It is one thing to come out of Babylon confusion, but it is clearly another thing to get Babylon out of you! May God have mercy on all the sincere Christians that hold this teaching.