The Church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). But which church has the truth? Which church was founded by Jesus and which ones weren’t? Jesus’ Church can be proven through multiple dimensions of truth. There are 9 dimensions of truth that will be discussed to prove which church Jesus founded. They are: Scripture, Tradition, History, Apostolic Succession, Unchanging Truth, Time, The Miraculous, The Target of Satan’s Followers, and Logic. Take a few minutes to consider the following.
Tradition and History
I am going to lump these two together because one flows from the other. Tradition is the means in which God’s word has been transmitted from Jesus to the apostles and on to their successors (the bishops) throughout the centuries. This takes two forms: The written tradition which is the sacred scriptures and the oral tradition which is the faith that the apostles taught orally. If you read the letters of St Paul you will see a few patterns. One is that to each place he sent a letter to the faith was already taught either by him or someone else who had the authority of the apostles and was sent to teach. Paul was often correcting problems in his letters that were going on in the particular area. So now you have to think are these letters that were meant to correct problems sufficient to teach the entirety of the faith? Tradition is often thought of as a bad word but Paul tells the Thessalonians to keep the traditions of the apostles.
2 Thess 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.
So the question is now how can you tell the difference between traditions of men from the traditions of the apostles. That is simple. Jesus founded one church and those traditions that were taught by the apostles were also taught by the Christians in the first centuries of Christianity. An example of a tradition of men which is a doctrine held by many if not all protestant denominations is Sola Scripture which means the bible alone is a sole sufficient rule of faith. Sorry but there is not a single verse in the bible that supports this doctrine. Another example is that baptism is only symbolic. These are a few examples doctrines that were first taught to people in the 16th century.
All it takes is reading the writings of the early church to prove it. This is where history comes in. A look at history can easily show at what point in time any given doctrine first appeared. If a doctrine magically appears out of no where in the 16th century or later it can automatically go under the category of tradition of men for it is an idea completely foreign to the church in its earliest years. If you take the time to read the early church fathers you will see every Catholic doctrine being taught in the first 4 centuries of Christianity.
He is one example from St Ignatius of Antioch. He was a disciple of John the apostle and he writes not 10 years after the death of John in 107 ad and in his writings he calls the church Catholic as if it is common knowledge.
Ignatius of Antioch [50-117 AD] Epistle to the Smyraeans
See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church...
For 255 pages of Quotes from the Early Church Fathers go here:
More specifically about history is that of the history of the bible and how we got it as we have it today. A look at history shows that by the early 4th century there still was not a defined cannon of new testament scripture. There were books that are in the bible that were disputed by some people as to not being inspired and there were some books that are not in the bible were disputed by some people as being inspired. Now this is quite a dilemma especially for someone who holds the view of Sola Scriptura because how can one go by the bible alone unless someone with authority first tells you what the bible is. It is also clear that the first 300 years of Christianity operated without a defined cannon of scripture which shows that they relied on an authoritative church to teach the faith orally. So how did they decide what books were inspired scripture and what weren’t? It was the Catholic Church with the authority that Jesus gave to his Church as shown in (Mt 16:16-19) the authority to bind things on earth that would also be bound in heaven. They decided the books in 4 church councils the first in Rome 382 ad, Hippo 392, Carthage 397, Carthage 419. To read more about how we got the bible go here:
Apostolic origin is claimed my many groups but the Catholic Church is the only one that can prove it. Every Catholic Bishop was ordained by a Catholic bishop that goes clear back to the first Catholic bishops that is to say the apostles. It is no secret to those who take the time to read the writings of the early church that the apostles where Catholic Bishops. The apostles ordained bishops by the laying on of hands. The authority that Jesus gave the apostles in Mt 18:18 and Jn 20:21-23 for example was passed on to the next generation in this way. St Paul tells Timothy in 1 Tim 4:14 and 1 Tim 5:22 to not neglect the gift that he received from the presbytery through the laying on of hands and to not be hasty in laying on hands on others. In order for someone to go and preach the gospel they had to receive authority and be sent (Rom 10:15). If someone did not get the authority through laying on of hands and started teaching things on there own and ordaining people the link is then broken. They have no authority of Jesus to be preaching and throughout history the people who did this fell into heresy. The Bishop of Rome for example that is to say the Pope can trace his office of Bishop back to the first pope that is to say St Peter. For a list of every one of the 266 popes and the years that they were pope go here:
Some of things that the Catholic Church gets accused of for not following the scriptures are the Papacy, Infant Baptism, Confession, Salvation by faith and works, praying to Mary, etc. These things are found in the bible. In fact every Catholic Doctrine is found in the bible either explicitly or implicitly. For a brief explanation of each of these doctrines and where they are found in the bible go here: http://practicalapologetics.blogspot.com/2009/04/basic-apologetics-that-every-catholic.html
Jesus’ Church is unable to change truth. Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church (Mt 16:18) so if truth changed then the gates of hell would have prevailed. So any church that has changed concerning truth is not Jesus’ church. A few examples are the seven books in the old testament that protestants call apocrypha. These seven books were considered inspired before the time of Jesus, at the time of Jesus and all of Christian history afterward. Protestants reject these books as uninspired writings. These books cannot be inspired for 2000 years and then all of the sudden in the 19th century they are not inspired when they quit putting these books in the bible. So this would be an example of truth being changed to read more about these books and why they should be included in the bible go here: http://catholicevangelism.blogspot.com/2009/06/how-we-got-bible-history-often-taken.html
Another example is contraception. Before the Anglican Lambeth conference in 1930 all Christian denominations taught that contraception is a grave moral evil. Now the Catholic Church is the only one that still teaches that. To read more about this go here:
From its beginning in the first century the Catholic Church has been a rock throughout the centuries. It has survived and thrived for 2000 years. No institution in history has been able to come close to that. Only an institution that was started by God and maintained by God can be able to do this. If you look at Protestantism it started in the 16th century with 2 schisms and has split into 33000 schisms. Even current Calvinists don’t follow what Calvin taught completely.
Heb 2:3-5 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
God continues to do miracles through his church. Throughout history many miracles have been preformed through Jesus’ church. From the early years of Christianity during the persecutions it manifested itself in the inability of his saints to be burned at the stake or the unwillingness of the lions to tear apart his saints. The witness of God’s power through his saints made Christianity grow stronger despite the fact that they would be killed for it. As the years moved past the days of persecutions the miracles changed in form. Saints who were so close to Jesus who died did not corrupt. After the fall of Adam and Eve death was the result and from dust we were created to dust we return. It is these saints who to this day after centuries of being dead still look as if they are sleeping. It was by a special grace that these people who were so close to God and far from sin who now remain incorruptible. Stigmata is another unique miracle. It is the 5 wounds that Christ bore that holy people receive. To better love Jesus they share in his sufferings in also bearing these wounds. These wounds do not heal and cause suffering. Eucharistic Miracles are miracles pertaining to Jesus’ real presence under the appearance of bread and wine in communion. These miracles have ranged from not only the changing of the substance of bread into Jesus but also the physical and visible attributes of bread change into real human flesh. Consecrated wine has changed into real blood which was lab tested for proof of its substance. Consecrated hosts have bled and hovered over people. People have survived by living only on Jesus in the Eucharist for as long as 13 years. All of these things have only happened in the Catholic. That is not to say that someone in a protestant church cannot be miraculously healed I am saying that these things are powerful and unique to the Catholic Church. To read more about these miracles and others go here:
The Target of Satan’s Followers
If you were Satan how would you set up worship of yourself that would be the most offensive against God? The answer is to take what God has revealed and do the opposite of it. Satanists have black masses. Their primary focus of the black mass is to profane Jesus in the Eucharist which was stolen from a Catholic Church. A real witch can tell the difference between a consecrated host (that is Jesus under the appearance of bread) amongst a thousand of unconsecrated host. To read more go here: http://practicalapologetics.blogspot.com/2009/05/even-satanist-know-which-church-is-one.html
The last dimension of truth is logic because it builds on all of the previous dimensions. There are many protestant doctrines that people hold to and believe that if these particular doctrines are not believed the person is not saved. However, if those beliefs were not taught in the early church or before 16th century then for these doctrines to be right that would mean that the very generation that was taught by the apostles messed the faith up so badly that there was no salvation between the 2nd and the 16th centuries. Does that make any sense at all? Or does it make more sense that Jesus came to earth and established a means of salvation and loves his people so much that he established a church to guard his truth so that people couldn’t corrupt it to the point of all loss of salvation. Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church (Mt 16:18). It would make Jesus a liar to say that successors of the apostles formally taught error that lasted for over a millennium..
Doesn’t it make sense that if the early church was called catholic, taught all of the current catholic doctrines, has a continuous link of authority from the apostles, has not changed truth, defined what the bible was, has manifested miracles that can only come from the power of God, and is the primary target of Satan’s followers end up being the only possibility as to being the Church that Jesus founded?