How do we know which is the one True Church established by Christ?
We know which is the one true Church established by Christ, By the marks provided by him to recognize His church.
We know which is the one true Church established by Christ, by the Marks of the true Church.
- By the Marks of the Church we mean certain clear signs by which all men can recognize it as true Church founded by Jesus Christ.
- It is important that we know which is the Church established by Christ, in order that we may obey it, as God commands. Then shall we also be certain what to believe and do in order to be saved.
- The True Church must be that which Christ personally founded, and the Apostles propagated. It must have existed continuously since the time of Christ. It must teach in their entirety all the doctrines commanded by the Divine Founder while he will still on earth; and all its members must profess those fundamental doctrines.
- The True Church must be a visible organization, discernable and discoverable, evidently existing, with clear marks or signs distinguishing it as the Church of Christ.
A "mark" is a sign by which something may be distinguished from all others of the same kind. By its marks we can recognize the True Church as the one founded by Jesus Christ, distinguishing it from all other churches, however similar, founded by men who had no authority from God to found a church.
We must distinguish the True Church from other Churches, because there are imitations of the Church founded by Christ.
Our Lord before His Ascension made the necessary provision so that all men might from thenceforth recognize the Church which He established, and which He commanded all to join.
CHIEF MARKS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic
- Christ intended His Church to be One; therefore the True Church must be One. Its members must be united in doctrine, in worship, and in government. Christ said:
- Christ intended His Church to be Holy; therefore the True Church must be Holy. It must teach a holy doctrine in faith and morals, because its Founder is holy. It must provide the means for its members to lead a holy life.
- Christ intended His Church to be universal, that is, catholic; and therefore the True Church must be Universal, or Catholic. It must be for all peoples of every nation and for all times and teach the same faith everywhere. Christ commanded His disciples:
- Christ intended His Church to be propagated by His Apostles; and therefore the True Church must be Apostolic. It must be the Church propagated by the Apostles. Its rulers must derive their office and authority by lawful succession from the Apostles. It must hold intact the doctrine and traditions of the Apostles, to whom Christ gave authority to teach.
"If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand" (Mark 3:24). "There shall be one fold and one Shepherd" (John 10:16).
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. ... Therefore, by their fruits you will know them" (Matt. 7:15-17,20).
Christ promised His Church the gift of miracles, a sign of holiness: "Amen, amen, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he also shall do, and greater than these he shall do" (John 14:12). He said: "You therefore are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is Perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). "Go into the whole world. and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). "You shall be witnesses for me ... even to the very ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
It was Christ Himself, and no one else, Who chose His Apostles and disciples, and commanded them to teach His doctrines to all the world. St. Paul says: "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a Gospel to you other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema" (Gal. 1:8). St. Paul himself refers to the Church as "built upon the foundation of the Apostles" (Eph. 2:20).