WHAT and WHY the CHURCH?
The Western world has taken the existence of churches for granted. Why and by whom was the church founded? What is its purpose? The answers to these questions are vital to God’s Plan! The average person believes that a church is a building with a steeple on top and a cross on its facade. People go to Church building every Sunday morning to attend a worship service.
But for many the church plays no part in their lives, God is not consciously in their world, just people, material things and interests. Of course there is the supposition that God exist, but He does not seem real. Yet the church, does exist, but why? What purpose does it serve?
Church a Part of God’s Plan
There is a reason for the existence of mankind. And for the working out of an awesome purpose. God has a master plan, God’s Church is an essential part of that plan! To understand we must keep in mind the events that led up to the establishment of the Church. Also, we must not lose sight of who and what God is—the creating Family—and that God is now reproducing Himself through mankind.
Remember that Satan, formerly Lucifer whom God had given authority on the earth, rebelled against God. The Government of God ceased to be administered on earth. Yet God allowed Satan to remain in power on earth. God would not remove him from that position until a successor had qualified to replace Satan as world ruler, and actually been inducted into office!
Important to the purpose of the Church is what happened shortly after the creation of the first man. The first human followed the way of Satan, rejecting the rule of God who made Adam’s decision binding on the whole human race until the restoration of God’s government over the earth. Mankind would be allowed to follow Satan’s way for a duration of 6,000 years—until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to restore God’s government!
During this period, God would specially call and give His Spirit to just a few in order to serve Him in preparation for the coming Kingdom of God. God did choose the ancient nation of Israel to be His special people, but He did not promise to give them His Spirit at that time as He gave it to their prophets and a few others.
This brings us historically to the time of Jesus Christ and His
founding of the Church of God. But bear in mind that God’s purpose is the
reproduction of Himself through mankind. The physical creation of man began with Adam. But the
spiritual re-creation of man began with Jesus Christ—the second Adam who
qualified to replace Satan as world ruler by proving that He would obey
God and rule the earth by God’s law.
To Train Future World Leaders
For Christ to restore God’s government over the earth, He will need a qualified and organized group to assist Him in ruling the nations. They will have rejected Satan’s false way and proved loyal to the ways of God during their lives.
In God’s Master Plan, His Church was designed to become that dedicated and organized group. The Church is God’s instrument for His overall purpose of reproducing Himself. Those God has called out of this world into His Church are finally to be born into the Family of God which shall form the ruling Kingdom of God, eventually containing all who has ever lived with a few exceptions.
How Satan’s World Began
The Church of God has been called out of this world (II Cor. 6:14-17; Rev. 18:4). But why? What’s wrong with the world? This is a world of awesome progress. Men have gone to the moon and back. Photographs of the surface of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have been taken. The computer, the jet plane, the space shuttle and countless other marvels of science and technology have been produced.
But this is not only a world of awesome progress, it is also a world of appalling troubles, evils, sorrows, suffering, violence and war. The world’s population is discontented and unhappy. Half of the world is illiterate. Billions live in poverty! How did the world get this way?
Let’s briefly review what we have learned, so we will better understand the real purpose for God’s Church. First, everything started with God. In the beginning we find two Personages—God and the Word (John 1:1). They had life with no beginning or end of life. They were in perfect agreement.
And God, through the Word who later became Jesus Christ, created the angels and the entire universe, including the earth (Eph.3:9). God placed Lucifer in charge of the earth and put angels under him. But Lucifer and these angels rebelled against the Government of God. They turned to the way of ‘get’, rejecting the way of ‘give’, to hate and opposition instead of love; to vanity, coveting, to jealousy, envy, rebellion against authority; to competition leading to strife, violence and destruction.
Lucifer and his angels attempted to knock God off His throne and rule the whole universe instead of just this earth. But they were cast back down to earth. As a result of their rebellion, the earth’s surface became ruined and full of darkness. God then renewed the earth’s surface in six days, creating the flora and the fauna—the plants, animals, birds and fish. And He made man on the sixth day (Gen. 1:26-31).
Man was made to ultimately be born into the God Family. But Adam was only given human life at his creation. He had only a temporary, chemical, physical existence. If Adam had chosen correctly, he would have eventually been given self-sustaining life from God. He would have received God Spirit, later to become a member of God’s Family!
God could have started the Church right in Eden. Satan would have been banished, and Adam would have replaced Lucifer -who became Satan, to represent God’s government on the earth had he made the right choice. It was Satan who influenced Adam, through his wife, to make the wrong decision. Satan now influenced everything Adam did. It was Satan who influenced Cain to kill Abel. It is Satan, the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4), who has been influencing this world ever since!
Satan has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9). This is Satan’s civilization which he started through the first man. It includes this world’s false education, its false religions, its system of governments and economies, and its social customs.
1. Is Satan the prince of the power of the air? Eph. 2:2.
COMMENT: Satan broadcasts his attitudes of selfishness and vanity, of competition and strife. Satan’s broadcasting can be compared to television and radio broadcasting. The human mind can pick up Satan’s “broadcasts” because the human spirit in each individual is “in tune” with Satan’s spiritual “wavelength”! When Adam made his decision he rejected God, God Spirit and the potential to live forever! And his descendants throughout time and into this twenty-first century are still tuned in to Satan’s wavelength.
2. Did God then withheld His Spirit from Adam and his descendants? Gen. 3:23-24.
COMMENT: God’s Spirit was cut off from mankind until God
made it available again through Christ, the second Adam— to
those God the Father would call into His Church, which began on the day of Pentecost
in A.D. 31, and which has continued down through the centuries to this
very day. The worlds population will not receive God’s Spirit until after
Jesus Christ returns (see Joel 2:28).
The REAL PURPOSE of the Church
1. When did the God Family decide that Jesus Christ, would come and pay the penalty for our law breaking? Rev. 13:8, last part.
2. But before Christ could fulfill His mission on earth, did He have to qualify to take over the throne of the earth? Matt. 4:1-11.
COMMENT: Jesus qualified to replace Satan as earth’s ruler by overcoming him. He resisted Satan after having fasted 40 days.
COMMENT: Jesus called His twelve ‘disciples’ before He started the New Testament Church. A disciple is a student or learner. Christ chose them–they didn’t choose Him. The apostles would form part of the foundation of the Church. They would be the teachers of those whom God would call into His Church.
4. Can anyone now receive God’s Spirit and thereby become a member of God’s Church? John 6:44.
5. On the day of Pentecost, when God’s Spirit was made available to those God had called into His Church– how many had God already called? Acts 1:15; 2:1-4. How many did God add to the Church later that same day? Acts 2:41. Did God also add others to the Church daily? Verse 47.
COMMENT: About 120 became members of God’s Church on the day of Pentecost, A.D. 31, when they received God’s Spirit. Another 3,000 were called later that same day. They were taught by the apostles. During the time of the apostles, the number of converted members continued to multiply and may have eventually increased to a hundred thousand or so.
COMMENT: The Church is the Kingdom of God in “embryo”—not yet born. Jesus came to start a new world, a new civilization—through them. They will help Him rule and teach His way of life when He returns. Church members are now in training so they can teach the millions and even billions during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment period!
Those who are in God’s Church are now being taught how to live. They’re being taught the way to build a right society and a right civilization that will be both happy and productive. In the new civilization everybody will cooperate with one another. Everyone will be at peace and will truly enjoy life to the full! Tomorrow’s world will have none of the troubles of Satan’s world today.
7. Does God “test” or “try” those who are in training to become tomorrow’s teachers, to determine if they will continue to obey the Government of God as Abraham did (Gen. 26:5)? Ps. 11:4-5; Jer. 17:10; I Peter 4:12-13; James 1:2-4.
COMMENT: They are tried and tested so God will know that the “heart” of each member is truly turned to Him before they enter the Family of God.
8. What did Christ command Peter, who was to become the leading apostle of the early Church? John 21:15-17.
COMMENT: God’s Church today also follows Jesus Christ’s command to “feed my sheep.”
God is now, through His Church, teaching those who will teach the rest of mankind!
9. In the meantime, did God also command His Church to preach His truth to the world? Matt. 28:19-20. Did Jesus prophecy that the good news of the Kingdom of God would be proclaimed to the world as a witness before the end of Satan’s world and the introduction of the world tomorrow? Matt. 24:3, 14; Mark 13:10.
COMMENT: The Church’s preaching and publishing of Christ’s Gospel to
the world is the primary means by which God calls various ones into His
Church to be trained. To those millions who hear it, but whom God is not
calling at this time, it is a witness.
The FOUNDATION of the Church
How and when did Jesus Christ begin the Church of God? In a sense, He started it long ago through the prophets of the Old Testament era. The prophets, together with Jesus and His apostles, constitute the foundation of the spiritual House of God.
1. Did Jesus say He would build His Church? Matt. 16:18.
COMMENT: This is the first place in the Bible where the word church is used. It is translated from the original Greek word ecclesia and means “called out ones”—from ec (out), and clesia (called). The Greek word means “a calling out” to meet together, especially as a religious congregation. It does not mean a building, as commonly assumed today.
2. What had to occur before the New Testament Church could be founded? John 7:37-39.
COMMENT: The Church could not be founded until Jesus had ascended to heaven and God’s Spirit was given to those the Father had called. God began laying the actual foundation of His Church through the prophets Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Through the years from Abraham until Christ, God called His prophets out of Satan’s world to be a part of the foundation of the Church of God.
4. After having trained the twelve apostles, when did Jesus actually start the Church? Acts 2:1-4.
COMMENT: The New Testament Church was founded on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 31, when about 120 were given God’s Spirit (which is a portion of God’s mind). And it is by God’s Spirit which resided in all the prophets, apostles and other Church members that they shall be resurrected (or changed, if still alive) to spirit at Christ’s Second Coming! The Church—the Kingdom of God in “embryo”—is composed of the very first of all humans who shall be born into the Kingdom of God!
COMMENT: The pillars of a building have a very important function. Pillars are often major supports for the superstructure of a building. The Philadelphia era of God’s Church has proven loyal to God—has not denied Christ and has kept His Word (verse 8). This era has proven to be especially faithful in upholding and teaching God’s truths and way of life to the world.
This would explain why God has called into His Church people of all
ethnic backgrounds from the nations of the world today. As members of the
Philadelphia era of God’s Church now in training, they will be prepared
to teach their own people after Christ returns!
Government in the Church
The Church—God’s spiritual Temple which Christ is building—must be, and is, held together solidly. How is this possible? It is Church government that cements and welds together the members of the body of Christ so that all function in peace, harmony and unity of purpose!
1. Who set government in the Church? I Cor. 12:28.
COMMENT: Just as ancient Israel’s government, as established by God, was the “Church” or congregation of the Old Testament era, the Church of God today is organized under theocratic government. Government is from the top down—the very opposite of democracy. The members do not set officials in the Church—God does, even as He sets the members in the Church (I Cor. 12:18; John 6:44; Acts 2:47).
COMMENT: Christ is the Head of the Church even as the husband is the head of the wife. The human family is a type of the Family of God and is to be governed according to the Law of God which is summed up by the word love. By following the principles of God’s government in our families, we are learning how to apply God’s way of love, and rightly govern those Christ will place under our rule during the 1000 years of world peace.
3. As Head of the Church, how does Christ rule? Eph. 5:25.
5. To administer the various operations of the Church, what offices has God set in the Church under Christ? Eph. 4:11-12.
COMMENT: An apostle is “one sent forth” with Christ’s Message of the coming Kingdom of God. The apostles also supervise the message to the world by persons other than himself. Also, an apostle has supervision over all the local congregations or churches of God (I Cor. 16:1; II Cor. 11:28).
The prophets set in the foundation of the Church are those of the Old Testament era, whose writings were used to form a considerable part of New Testament teaching and functioning. The word “prophesy” is often used in the sense of “to preach, or proclaim.” So some of the preachers in God’s Church might well be termed “PROPHET.”
Evangelists in Paul’s day were leading ministers proclaiming the Gospel to the public, even raising up local churches and having supervision over some churches under an apostle. An evangelist may hold executive function under the apostle in the Church today. An evangelist is not necessarily stationed in one place. Pastors are ministers placed over a local church or group of local churches.
In the early New Testament Church there were also teachers who were not necessarily preachers. Yet all ministers and teachers are called elders in other New Testament passages. Therefore, in God’s Church today there are both preaching and non-preaching elders. Preaching elders pastor local churches.
6. Do members of the body of Christ decide for themselves what they want to believe, or have they received their beliefs and doctrines from the apostles of Jesus Christ who, along with the Old Testament prophets, are part of the very foundation of God’s New Testament Church? Acts 2:42; Eph. 2:20. Where did Christ’s apostles get their doctrines? Matt. 28:18-20.
COMMENT: The early New Testament Church received its beliefs, teachings and customs from the apostles who had been taught by Christ personally. (Included were the writings of the Old Testament prophets, as mentioned before.) The individuals in the early Church did not decide doctrine for themselves, nor did they individually receive the truth from Christ. Christ taught the apostles and He held them responsible for teaching the doctrines to the Church.
7. What did God, through the Apostle Paul, instruct the Church to speak? I Cor. 1:10.
COMMENT: God’s Word states that all the members of the body of Christ must “speak the same thing.” In other words, there must be no division in what is believed, taught, or preached. God’s Church cannot be divided! Therefore, individual members of the body of Christ today also continue in the apostles’ doctrines—just as the early New Testament Christians did. The doctrines of God’s Church came from God through Jesus Christ, who taught the original apostles. These same doctrines are taught by God’s church today, whom Christ taught through His written Word.
Function of the Individual Members
1. Is God’s Church made up of those individual members who are a part of the “body of Christ”? I Cor. 12:27. Does the Church have many members as does the human body? Verses 12-14. Is each member important within the one body? Verses 18-25.
COMMENT: We have seen that the Church is made up of those whom the Father has called out of the world. It is the organized spiritual organism, the bride of Christ which shall be married to Him after her resurrection or change to spirit. With the help of God’s Spirit, the individual members of the Church are overcoming Satan, the world and their own carnal natures. They are developing the righteous character of God. They are qualifying for worldwide government to rule and teach the nations. But what specific functions do the members serve in the Church? Without this body of members, the apostles could not have carried out Christ’s Great Commission!
The Church as Spiritual “Mother”
Let’s fully understand this truth. Let’s see how human reproduction pictures spiritual reproduction, and learn exactly what part God’s Church plays in developing future members of the Family of God.
1. Does the Spirit of God impart God’s life and nature to a person when he is ‘begotten’ by God the Father? II Peter 1:4. But how much of God’s Spirit do we receive? II Cor. 5:5. Is one a literal child of God? Rom. 8:16; I John 3:1-2.
COMMENT: Upon receiving God’s spirit, we are a spiritual “embryo.” Now we must be fed and nourished on spiritual food so we can grow spiritually. Jesus said man shall not live by bread (physical food) alone, but by every word of God spiritual food. This we take in from the Bible. Our spiritual growth and development of God’s righteous character also comes through personal, daily contact with God. And also by the spiritual teaching by the Church!
2. What is God’s Church called in Galatians 4:26?
4. As the physical embryo must grow physically until it is developed enough to be born, must the spirit-begotten also grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ? II Peter 3:18. Must he overcome and develop in spiritual character during this life in order to be born into the Kingdom of God? Rev. 21:7.
COMMENT: In God’s due time, by a resurrection or by instantaneous change at Christ’s coming (Rom. 8:11; I Cor. 15:49-53; I Thess. 4:16-17), the begotten child of God shall be born– by entering into the God Family!
COMMENT: How wonderfully human reproduction pictures spiritual reproduction
in God’s Family! Yet, by his deceptions Satan has blinded humanity to the
fact that we may be born as spirit-composed individuals, as part of the God Kingdom of which the Church is now in
Salvation Outside of God’s Church?
Can a person receive ‘salvation’ outside of God’s Church—the ‘mother’ through whom His Spirit-begotten children are being fed spiritual food? What does the Bible say? Jesus Christ said: “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). He did not say: “I will organize dozens of different groups or churches.” There is no record in the Bible of Jesus building two, three, a dozen or perhaps several hundred churches or religions having different teachings and beliefs.
Jesus came to build only ONE Church! (Eph. 4:4.) And the one and only Church Jesus said He would build began in A.D. 31 with the outpouring of God’s Spirit on those who were assembled “with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). The members of God’s Church do not merely decide that they would like to “join” His Church, decide what they would like to believe, and begin attending services. It is God the Father who calls an individual and grants repentance (John 6:44; Rom. 2:4), and new members are added to the Church of God only upon repentance, baptism and receipt of God’s Spirit (Acts 2:38, 47; I Cor. 12:13).
COMMENT: Jesus pictured Himself as the vine and those of His Church as the branches on that vine. Notice that Jesus is not several separated vines—He is one vine! The members of the body of Christ are the branches–but not separated, isolated branches. All are joined to the one vine in the body of Christ.
COMMENT: Jesus was speaking to those chosen to be apostles in His Church. He told them that the Father is the the vine-dresser (verse 1). Every branch of this vine (the body of Christ, the Church) that does not bear fruit the Father cuts off so that the organized, united vine may bear more fruit.
COMMENT: Only those who are a part of the bride- the true church that has made herself ready will be married to Christ at His return. Christ will marry His Church not a conglomeration of denominations who try to follow Christ in their own way instead of God’s way (Prov. 14:12). Neither will He marry those Ministers who have not repented of DIVIDING THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD!
God Himself laid out his plan and the method by which humans, may be trained and prepared to become Spirit Beings in the Kingdom of God. The members of God’s Family which will eventually include billions, will live with God the Father and Jesus Christ forever!
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