Like Roger Williams, many sincere people have earnestly searched for the church of Christ but finally concluded that it did not exist. When Williams left the Baptist church in 1639, instead of uniting with another institution, he remained a Seeker -- one who believed that no true church existed. From that time forward, he lived a life of self-imposed exile. After a sincere and exhaustive search, he was forced to conclude that the true church of Christ could not be found.
The Ephesian letter states that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are to remain in Christ's church until it achieves what is called the "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." We do not observe any evangelical churches affirming this biblical truth. Therefore how could any evangelical churches be the church of Christ?
If you could find the true church of Jesus Christ, what would it look like? Would you know if you had found it? The Bible describes some of the elements of Christ's New Testament church.
And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
I Corinthians 12:28
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.
Why did Christ place these offices in His church?
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the edifying of the body of Christ.
How long did Paul's epistle command that these offices were to remain in Christ's church?
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Many evangelical teachers promote a theory about an "apostolic age" in which the New Testament church supposedly achieved the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" long ago. Because of this they say that there is no longer any need for apostles or prophets. If that is the case, there would also no longer be a need for evangelists, pastors or teachers either. Rather than waiting on God to restore His church, they have created their own.
How does Christ's church benefit by having the above offices?
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Ephesians 4: 14-16
The true church of Christ will affirm that apostles and prophets continue to be necessary today. The fact is that evangelical churches have not been willing to listen to God's voice, to receive direction from Him. Instead, they run ahead of Him creating churches that He never called into existence.
The following verses demonstrate that apostles continued to be called by God long after the cross:
And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.
And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out.
Then after three year I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another .... For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
I Corinthians 4:6 & 9
Apostles continued to be called by God in the New Testament church. What biblical injunction can anyone present that this practice was to cease? Based on Ephesians 4, a doctrinally sound church will affirm the need for apostles and prophets.