WHERE Is God’s True Church Today?
True Church Today?
Is Christ divided into hundreds of sects and denominations? Jesus Christ did not found many denominations. He said, "I will build my church…" (Matt. 16:18). And He did build it. ONLY ONE CHURCH, commissioned to announce the good news of the coming World Ruling Kingdom and government of God to the world.
But what do we find today? Hundreds of churches, founded by men, all disagreeing with each other! Jesus Christ said this would happen! He warned you would be living in a world literally filled with religious confusion.
He said, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:4, 5). Notice Christ said many would come "in my name," that is, using the name of Jesus Christ as if they had His authority.
Chapter One: How It All Began
In Jesus’ day there were no "Christian" denominations. The Jewish religious leaders sat in Moses’ seat and judged in both religious and civil matters (Matt. 23:1-2). Jesus acknowledged their authority (verse 3). But he also made it clear that they were disqualifying themselves from further service as God’s earthly representatives. Because of their hypocrisy and internal corruption, they were no longer fit to administer the way into God’s Kingdom (Matt. 23:4-28).
Jesus told them: "Therefore I say to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof’ (Matt. 21:43). But who was that "nation"? To whom did Christ give the responsibility of administering the way into His Kingdom?
Peter, addressing the Church of God, wrote: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, and a people, claimed by God for his own, to proclaim the triumphs of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light, You are now the people of God, who were once not his people; outside his mercy once, you have now received his mercy" (I Peter 2:9, The New English Bible).
Christ’s own Church is now the vehicle through which God does His work. But aren’t there many churches through which Christ administers salvation? Jesus’ final prayer for His Church provides the answer. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world… Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are" (John 17:9, 1).
Again, the Apostle Paul plainly said, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith (body of beliefs), one baptism… " (Eph. 4:4-5).
Christ is not divided! He founded only ONE Church with a single body of beliefs and doctrines.
The Church to Be Small and Scattered
Nowhere in the Bible do we find God’s Church described as a large and influential body in the world. On the contrary, we find Jesus Christ addressing the Church as the "little flock" (Luke 12:32).
"If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you," said Jesus to His disciples (John 15:20) " …All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," wrote the Apostle Paul (II Tim. 3:12).
On the night Jesus was seized to be later crucified, He said, "It is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered" (Mark 14:27).
Later, in Acts 8, we read of a great persecution which caused the Church to be scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria.
And the small, yet united, Church of God has been scattered over the face of the earth, to one degree or another, ever since.
Many False Prophets
On the other hand, Jesus warned: "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:11).
It was the majority – the many – that were to be deceived by a bogus, counterfeit Christianity!
Jesus said, "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there: because strait (difficult) is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and there are few that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14).
Christ revealed in Revelation 12:9 that the whole world is in a state of deception. "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world…" All of society has come under the deceptive influence of this powerful, yet incredibly evil spirit being. He is called "the god of this world" in 2nd Corinthians 4:4.
Chapter Two: Satan Has His Ministers
Satan the devil has his ministers. Paul wrote: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his (Satan’s) ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (II Cor. 11:13-15).
To understand what a false prophet (a minister of Satan) is, it is easiest to define the contrast of a true prophet — a true minister of God. This is the shortest approach because there is only one true ministry, but there are many false ones. If we define a true minister, then all others who do not fit that definition will be revealed for what they are.
The True Ministry
How to identify a genuine servant of God? The Bible certainly does not leave us ignorant on this vital question. Here are four important qualifications:
One: A true minister of God must study, preach and live by every word of God – including the Ten Commandments. If a man tells you something that he knows disagrees with God’s revealed Word, he instantly disqualifies himself from being a true minister of Christ. Isaiah 8:20 and Matthew 4:4 confirm this.
Two: A true minister will teach the exact same message Jesus did – the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.
He will teach repentance of sin and acceptance of Christ’s shed blood as a remission for those sins. But he will also teach the very meaning of life – that we are made in God’s image to be finally born into His very family, that man is to overcome and develop character so he can become like God his Father, qualified to join others, spirit – born into the Family of God in literally ruling the world under Christ’s direction (Rev. 2:26).
Three: A true minister must be busy doing the Work of God.
Busy warning a sick and cynical world where its sins are leading it, busy broadcasting, preaching and announcing the good news of the soon-coming Kingdom of God (Matt. 24:14).
He will have a deep understanding of biblical prophecy. He will make these prophecies come alive with power, warning this sophisticated, modern world of Christ’s imminent return, and focusing especially on the soon coming Kingdom, the growing Family of God, the literal government of God to be set up in the wonderful world tomorrow.
Four: A true minister can be identified by the fruits of his ministry. What kind of results are being produced by his efforts? Are lives being changed for the better? Are problems being solved? Do his words contain answers, or are they mere platitudes and the quoting of poetry?
These are key points. Unless a man fulfills these absolutely basic requirements, he is an imposter, merely masquerading as a minister of Christ!
Many False Ministers
Maybe you are thinking, "Well, surely there are very few ministers who would dare to deliberately twist God’s Word and deceive people. The ministers I know are sincere and honest. Fine men." And undoubtedly there are many very sincere men in the ministry. But it is possible to be sincere and yet also be very much deceived. It is entirely possible to be sincerely wrong!
You see, God did not say the false prophets would be in the minority. God tells us there will be many such individuals. Remember, Christ said: "For many (not a small minority, but the many) shall come in my name (claiming to represent Christ), saying I (Jesus) am Christ (proclaiming Jesus of Nazareth as Saviour and Messiah); and shall deceive many." So says your Bible in Matthew 24:5, 11.
Here God shows us that vast numbers of people would be deceived by great numbers of false ministers who would falsely claim to represent Christ. Now you know how to recognize the true men of God and also how to pinpoint a false prophet.
Chapter Three: The Great False Church
The true Church of God came into being in 31 A.D. on the Day of Pentecost. God blessed it with a great outpouring of His power – His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:1-8, 17-18) which is Gods’ mind, NOT a third person.
Soon after, the great false church had its beginning. Even in the earliest of Paul’s writings, he informs us that "the mystery of iniquity does already work" (2nd Thess. 2:7).
Paul apparently wrote this in 50 or 51 A.D. The plot to supplant the truth had already begun.
Notice, the cleverly disguised teachings of iniquity or lawlessness were at work in Paul’s day. The Roman world was being filled with numerous mystery religions which stemmed from the old sun-worshipping mysteries. In the later epistles of Paul, and in those of the other apostles, we find it gaining considerable momentum.
The apostles, instructed directly by Jesus Christ, constantly warned the Church about the great departure from the faith that would begin to occur at the close of their ministry.
Scarcely twenty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, the Apostle Paul, in one of his first inspired letters, cautioned Christians not to be deceived by false preaching or by false letters purporting to be from the apostles. "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (the time of God’s intervention in human affairs when Jesus Christ will return to rule the nations) shall not come, except there come a falling away FIRST" (II Thess. 2:3).
Apostles Knew What Would Happen
In Acts 20:29-30, the teacher of the Gentiles explains how the apostasy would begin.
He gathered the elders (ministers) of the Church at Ephesus to deliver them a final message concerning their responsibility over the local congregations. "For," said Paul, "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things." Why? "To draw away disciples after them." To gain a personal following for themselves! To start a new denomination!
Do you catch the full significance of these two verses? The elders or ministers were especially assembled because, immediately after Paul would leave Ephesus, there would come within the local Church congregations false ministers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, to make a prey of Christians; and even from those elders already in the Church congregations some would pervert the doctrine of Jesus to secure a following for themselves.
Gentile Deception Prophesied
Not only Paul, but also Peter, warned the churches that MANY would be misled. There were false teachers among Christians who would bring in heresies, "and MANY shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of’ (II Pet. 2:2).
False teachers secretly professed to giving a hidden, yet easy, way to evade the consequences of breaking God’s law.
Jude had to include in his letter the admonition that every Christian "should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ… These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit" (Jude 3, 4, 19).
True Christians Forced Out
Although numerous deceivers, called Gnostics, left the Church, drawing away disciples after them, there was an even more dangerous apostasy which infiltrated the true Church.
In instructing the Evangelist Timothy, the apostle to the Gentiles instructed him to "reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts" – the congregations wanting to do what they please – "shall they heap to themselves teachers"- elect ministers who will preach what they want to hear – "…and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:2-4).
This was in the days of the apostles and evangelists. Many who fellowshipped in the local congregations of the early Church, after about two generations, did not endure sound doctrine because they had not repented and received Gods Holy Spirit.
They elected teachers who, for the sake of money, pleased their wishes by preaching fables – the enticing fables of mysticism and sun-worship that were engulfing the Roman Empire. The letters of Paul were twisted by them to give another meaning than intended (II Pet. 3:15-16).
But instead of leaving the local congregations and forming their own sects, as some Gentiles did at first, the false preachers remained within the congregations and soon began to expel the true Christians.
In the letter of the Apostle John to Gaius, we read: "I wrote to the church: but Diotrephes, who loved to have the preeminence among them, would not receive me! Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds – what he has done, prating against us with malicious words: and not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and forbids them that would to come, and casts them out of the church" (3rd John 9-10).
The true Christians, who alone comprised the true Church, were being put out of the visible, organized congregations.
They were the SCATTERED ones of whom John said: "Therefore the world knows us not" (1st John 3:1). In the Western Roman Empire, where Paul died, the state of Christianity was even more advanced along the paths of error. The name Christian was being borne away by leaders who crept into the fellowship of the Church of God and who, in the name of Christ, deceived the many into following their false teachings.
Chapter Four: The TWO Churches
The two churches (one false and one true) continued to grow and extend their influence over vast areas of the Roman Empire.
The Apostle Paul reached many Gentile areas with the truth of God. But he was constantly opposed by Jewish and Gentile religious leaders. After the death of Paul, the oldest apostle, John, spoke of apostates who were undermining the efforts of God’s true Church.
"Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not all of us…" (I John 2:18-19).
False apostles continued down through the centuries to deceive the gullible. Soon the false church surpassed the true Church of God in size and influence. False Christianity became confused with the true Church instituted by Jesus Christ.
God’s small and scattered flock disappeared into obscurity.
The only remaining records being those of her enemies. Centuries of intense persecution forced the body of Christ to go underground. Traces of it are seen here and there but it never again was to become a substantial or influential entity again until the latter part of this very century!
In the late 20th Century God raised up a faithful body of believers in order to proclaim the end-time message of the coming Kingdom of God. He set before them open doors to preach that gospel or good news. Radio, television and the printing press were all being utilized to carry that vital message which for centuries has been suppressed by those who hold down the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).
But just what is the Church? Is it a group of buildings? An organization of men and women?
What Is the Church?
TO SOME, the Church is a building to which one goes on a Sunday morning. To others, it is the sum total of all Christendom with its myriad organizations, orders, sects and denominations. Still others believe their particular human organization is the Church of God.
But what is God’s definition of the Church?
The Apostle Paul, referring to Christ’s present position at the right hand of God the Father, said that the Father has "put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23).
Again we are told that Christ is" …the head of the body, the church… " (Col. 1:18). The Church, then, is the spiritual body of Christ. It is the organism through which He works. But, just how is it the body of Christ?
How the "Body of Christ?"
The twelve disciples became the twelve original apostles (Judas Iscariot excepted – Matthias was chosen in his place). But how did they, with the other disciples, become "the body of Christ"?
While Jesus was starting the Work of God, He said: "I can of myself do nothing," and again, "The Son can do nothing of himself," and again,"… but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works" (John 5:30; 14:10) It was the power of God’s Holy Spirit sent directly from God the Father dwelling in His individual human body doing the work of God. (No third PERSON was involved, there is only TWO in the God family so far!)
Without this same Spirit dwelling in them, His disciples were utterly impotent. The very night before His crucifixion He said to them: "As the branch (of a grapevine) cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches… without me you can do nothing" (John15:4, 5).
It is the sap flowing from the vine into the branch that produces grapes. It is the Spirit of God and of the living Jesus Christ, flowing into the collective Body that is the Church, that produces the results.
After His resurrection, just before returning to God’s throne in heaven, Jesus commanded these apostles "that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4) – that is, for the Holy Spirit, the same power that did the Work of God in Jesus’ human body.
How Made a Member
But how may one become a member of the body of Christ? Is it merely a matter of joining the "church of your choice"?
Jesus said: "No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44, 65).
Someone cannot decide to join the body of Christ. It is something God must put you into. We are instructed by the Apostle Paul that " …now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased him" (I Cor. 12:18).
It is God alone who decides who will compose the body of Christ. It is God who adds to the Church those whom He chooses. "…And the Lord added to the church daily… " (Acts 2:47).
How, then, does God add a member to the Church? Is it a matter of signing on some dotted line? What is it that signifies membership in the Church of God? Paul informs us: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (I Cor. 12:13). It is God’s Holy Spirit – which is the mind power of God (Acts 1:8) -which puts us into the body of Christ.
We are immersed or plunged into the Church by receiving God’s Spirit. (See ‘Why You Need Gods Spirit’ and ‘Should You Be Baptized’ on Page 5 of the America And Britains Future Free Library.’)
Someone cannot put himself into the Church by "deciding to join." When he becomes a son of God, by having and being led by God’s Spirit, by His mind (Rom. 8:14), then God has put you into the one true Church of God.
"Joining" a group that calls itself a church – having one’s name on the membership roll of some group calling itself a church of God does not make one in true fact a member of the Church Jesus founded. Here is positive proof: "But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9).
Chapter Five: Who Is The Head of God’s True Church?
Who is the real Head of God’s true Church today? Jesus Christ? Or some human individual wrongfully claiming to possess Peter’s authority? Some think that Matthew 16:18 proves that Christ turned the headship of the Church over to A MAN. But, what is the real truth? Let us examine this scripture very closely.
Jesus said: "And I say also to you, that you art Peter (Greek inspired original word, ‘petros’ meaning a ‘stone’), and upon this rock (Greek inspired original word, ‘PETRA,’ meaning a ‘ledge’ or ‘shelf of rock’ or a ‘crag’) I will build my church " (Matt. 16: 18).
Now, since some claim that the rock on which the Church was founded refers to Peter – and not Christ – notice the true meaning, as originally written by Matthew in the Greek language. The English versions of today are translations from the original Greek.
Peter was also called Cephas (Greek Kephas, from the Aramaic Kepha). In John 1 :40-42 is related how Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, found Peter, and brought him to Jesus. "And when Jesus beheld him, he said, you are Simon the son of Jona: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone" (verse 42). The English word ‘stone’ is translated from the Greek word ‘petros,’ meaning a single stone or loose stone. Also the Greek word Kephas means such a stone, referring definitely to a human man.
But when Jesus said "upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16: 18), the Greek word, as written originally by Matthew, was not either ‘Kephas’ or ‘petros,’ but ‘PETRA,’ which means ‘a large massive rock.’
The Greek ‘PETRA’ cannot mean the human Peter, but the glorified CHRIST!
To understand the false claims of the great false church at Rome and the last one of its human heads who will reside in Jerusalem, who claims falsely to be successor to Peter, see ‘The Mark And 666’ on Page 1 of the America And Britains Future Free Library.
Speaking of the Israelites under Moses in the wilderness, Paul writes: " …for they drank of that spiritual ROCK that followed them: and that ‘Rock’ was ‘CHRIST’ (I Cor. 1 0:4).
The Church is described in Ephesians 2:20 as being "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (including Old Testament prophets), Jesus Christ himself being the chief ‘CORNER STONE.’ Here Christ is plainly said to be the chief, or head.
The real foundation of the Church is Christ. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1st Cor. 3:11). And Jesus Himself said: "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" (Heb. 13 : 5). He is shown in Revelation 1:13, 18 to be the Living Head, spiritually in the midst of the Church. Read of it also in Ephesians. 5:23; 4:15; 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; 2:19.
Christ is alive today! For more than 1900 years. He has been the Living Head and High Priest of the true Church, which He built.
It is the living Christ who puts members chosen by His Father into His Church – and it is done by Gods Holy Spirit.
Notice, now, the conditions for receiving God’s Spirit – Acts 2:38: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This is speaking of being baptized in water.
Gods Holy Spirit is given by the laying on of hands following baptism (Acts 19:5, 6). A person who receives Gods Holy Spirit is "begotten" or conceived of God. Following a life of developing and overcoming, the Christian is "born" into the Family of God at the resurrection and return of Christ (I Cor. 15:50-54; 1st Thess. 4:13-17; Rev. 20:4-6; Phil. 3:20-21; 1st John 3:1-2; 2nd Tim. 4:8).
That body of believers, having the Holy Spirit of God, constitutes the Church of God. But does this mean that the Church has no organization?
How the Church is Organized
The Church of God is a spiritual organism. Christ is its head and it is composed of ministers and members.
It is the minister’s responsibility to feed the flock (see John 21:15-17; Luke 22:32). He is required to be spiritually elder. Biblical standards governing the ministry are enforced in the true Church. The Apostle Paul wrote to the young evangelist Timothy:
"A bishop (minister or elder) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt (able) to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy for money; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice." (a new comer) (1st Tim. 3:2-6). Notice that most of the true ministry of the one true church married and had families!
True ministers of God, Christ-chosen according to these strict biblical standards, are very concerned about individual church members. They willingly feed the flock of God (1st Pet. 5:1-3). They strive to bring the Church to spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:11-13).
On the other hand, members of God’s true Church respect and are led by the ministry (Heb. 13:7, 17).
Now some questions naturally emerge. Can one who does not know of the true organized Body doing God’s Work, and therefore is outside of it, be a member of the true Church which Christ built?
The answer is yes – for it is possible for one to have truly repented, believed, and received God’s Spirit – and be following that Spirit as far as he sees and understands – who does not know of the organized Work Christ is using today. But surely God’s Spirit in him would lead one, in due time, into his part in the organized Body the living Christ is directing.
Is it possible that one who has joined a sect, church, or denomination not doing God’s Work, might be truly converted, and led by God’s Spirit in him? The answer is yes – we have known of a few. But in every case, either they came into the organized spiritual organism Christ is using in the real Work of God- or, when their eyes were opened to further light and truth, they rejected it and lost the Spirit of God. And this was amply demonstrated by the fruits.
Why The Church Of Jesus Christ?
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was born in Bethlehem in Judaea. He was the Son of God in the flesh. His ministry lasted from the fall of 27 A.D. to the spring of 31 A.D. He came to do the Work of preaching the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God and to die for the sins of mankind. Part of His work consisted of training disciples (students or learners) to carry on the Work after His death on the cross. At the completion of His ministry, He had 120 such students. At least twelve of them became apostles (Acts 1:15, 26).
After the death of Jesus, the apostles carried on. They traveled to distant countries with the message of God’s government. Of course, they had to rely on personal evangelism since the modern printing press and the radio had not been invented.
Even Nature Is Organized
God is Creator. Everything God has created in nature is organized. Take a look at a beautiful oak tree. It has a root system in the ground. It has a main trunk. It has major branches joining to that trunk, smaller branches joined to them, still smaller branches joined to each minor branch, and finally the twigs joined to the smallest branches. But they are all joined together as a system.
Jesus used the example of the vine. He is the Vine, we the branches (John 15:1-8). Unless we are joined systematically to the Vine, we can produce nothing. In a grape vine, there is order, system, organization.
The whole Work of God functions toward the restoration of what has been taken away from the earth – the government of God. The Kingdom of God is that government. That government is an organized government. God’s form of government is government from the top down. God the Father is the extreme top. Under Him is the living Jesus Christ, administering God’s government as God directs.
And Jesus Christ has set organization – government order in the Church, under Him. God compares this organized Body of Christ to a building. "Now therefore you are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (of God)" (Eph. 2: 19-22).
The living Jesus Christ, Head of the Church, has put the various administrators, officers, and members into the Church as He Himself chose (1st Cor. 12:18, 28). Not as a man chooses for himself.
The work of the twelve original apostles took place in the confines of the Roman Empire and a few other countries. One by one, tradition tells us, they were martyred. John outlived all the others. Following John’s death around the end of the first century, others carried on the Work.
But from that time on, the organized outreach on a large scale fades from view. Of course, the true Church continued to exist alongside a growing counterfeit of biblical Christianity described in chapter two of this page.
However, the true Church never died (Matt. 16:18). It continued through various stages or eras, but not as a powerful worldwide organization. It existed as a relatively obscure, scattered and powerless entity for centuries. But it never lost the basic truths of God. The true Church recognized the true teachings of the Church of God!
And undoubtedly the gospel was preached on a small personal scale. But following the death of John, the organized preaching of the gospel on a powerful basis ceased. The Church was persecuted and its numbers decimated in great martyrdoms. The concentrated power of the "holy people" was scattered so that a worldwide Work was virtually impossible.
God’s Church Today
It was not until the twentieth century that God again raised up a Work of sufficient size and influence to teach His truth on a powerful worldwide basis!
Today the primary objective of the Church of God is to announce the soon-coming Kingdom and government of God (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20; Mark 13:10). God has commissioned His Church to ‘cry aloud and spare not, and show our peoples their sins’ (Isa. 58:1). It is to warn and deliver a witness to a world bent on self destruction!
As an additional responsibility, God’s Church represents His way of life on this earth. Its members are commanded by Christ to be a light to the world (Matt. 5:14-16). A light shows the way. It sets the example. The Church is called collectively the "salt of the earth."
As Jesus was a newscaster, so the Church is also to bring the positive good news of Christ’s return and point society to the world tomorrow.
Speaking prophetically of the Church, Isaiah wrote: "Zion, that brings GOOD NEWS, go to the high mountain; Jerusalem, that brings good news, lift up your voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" (Isa. 40:9.)
Isaiah again referred to the commission of the New Testament Church in chapter 52. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good news, that publishes peace; that brings good news of good, that publishes salvation; that says to Zion, Your God reigns!" (Verse 7.)
Notice the gospel includes the knowledge of just how the world may obtain peace, of how good may prevail against evil, of how salvation may be achieved. It proclaims the coming rule of God. The Apostle Paul quoted Isaiah in Romans 10:14-15 showing that he was indeed referring to the Church.
In summary, Jesus said: "And this gospel (good news) of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14).
The Church is for the purpose of announcing that good news to the world just before the culmination of this society. The Spirit-led Christians of the Church of God provide the human instruments through which God does His end-time work.
Chapter Six: How To Find The True Church Of God
How can you locate the true Church of God? Do not all claim to be a part of the body of Christ? Will any Church say it is not the Church Jesus founded? Of course not!
It is necessary to go to the Maker’s Instruction Book the Bible to find out just how you may locate the Church which truly represents God.
Upholds God’s Law
The true Church upholds God’s law. It recognizes that God set in motion a law that would bring humanity every good thing if obeyed, well-being and a full life. God’s Church boldly proclaims that His law is not done away, but has been expanded by Christ to cover every aspect of human activity (lsa. 42:21; Matt. 5).
The true Church says with David: "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Ps. 119:105). It recognizes that God’s law is one of His greatest gifts to mankind.
Must Deliver the Correct Message
Jesus Christ came preaching the Good News of the coming world ruling Kingdom of God to be established. "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14). This is the same message His Church delivered! (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20.)
The apostles later delivered that same message of the coming world ruling government by the Kingdom of God. This is the only gospel message acceptable to God. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so we say again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8).
Strong words those! But it does show just how important it is to God that His Church deliver the right message. No other will do!
God’s Church Understands His Plan
The true Church of God is the vehicle through which God administers ‘salvation.’ It understands the ultimate purpose of human existence. God has a plan by which mankind can be born into the very Family of God. It involves repentance, forgiveness of breaking God’s law, and water baptism (see Acts 2:38; 3:19). No other Church but God’s truly understands that we are to become God!
The Apostle John wrote toward the close of the first century: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see Him as he is" (I John 3:2).
Jesus Himself was criticized for saying that He was the son of God. He answered: "Is it not written in your law, I said, You are gods. If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken…" (John 10:34-35).
A real Christian is destined to be born into the very Family of God! Almost no one really seems to understand this vital point. This is another earmark of the true Church which God has called out of this society and given His truth to. Jesus said: "…It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven… " (Matt. 13:11).
Must Bear the Fruits of God’s Spirit
Since it is the possession of God’s Spirit that makes one a member of the true Church, then we must also look for unmistakable evidence of those fruits. Jesus tells us how to tell the difference between a false prophet and a true representative of God:
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit" (Matt. 7:15-17).
What are the results of the labors of this world’s churches? Poverty, squalor, misinformation, broken homes, divorces, permissiveness, etc.
But what are the fruits borne by those who possess God’s Holy Spirit? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22-23).
The Name of the True Church
There are as many names as there are churches. But what name did God place upon His people? What name does God use for His Church in the Bible?
Surprisingly, the term "Christian" was first coined at the Gentile city of Antioch. "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26). Antioch became the headquarters for the Apostle Paul’s evangelistic efforts to the Greek speaking world.
The expression "Christian" is used only twice more in the Bible – by King Herod Agrippa II (Acts 26:28), and by the Apostle Peter in I Peter 4:16. Peter wrote: "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."
But it is not used as the name of the Church! It is just a label hung on those who followed Christ by those who did not! (Of course, the term "Christian" is not a pagan word and it is perfectly all right to use it in print and conversation.)
Jesus prayed that God the Father would keep the Church in His (the Father’s) own name (John 17:11). But Christ is the Head of the Church (Col. 1:18). And Christ is God!
The Church is actually an extension of the Family of God. Paul wrote: "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Eph. 3:14-15).
The Church is named by the Family name of God. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the churches, he used the expression "to the church of God…" This name is used no less than twelve times in the New Testament as the name of the true Church (see Chapter Seven)
Notice that Paul did not call the true Church after the name of a man or a method or even a church doctrine. Therefore we see that the true Church may be properly identified by its name, ‘the Church of God.’ But there are many churches with this same name. At least a dozen churches bear the name "Church of God" in the United States alone.
Therefore we must look further.
Chapter Seven: The True Church Keeps God’s Seventh Day Sabbath!
Not only must the true Church be named the Church of God, it must also be a Sabbath keeping Church. We are told that the true Church Of God keeps "the commandments of God" (Rev. 12:17).
This includes the fourth commandment: "Remember the SABBATH DAY, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labour, and do all your work: but the seventh day is the SABBATH of the Lord your God…" (Ex. 20:8-10).
God did not make any other day holy! The seventhday Sabbath was to become an IDENTIFYING SIGN between Himself and those He has placed in His body, which is the one true Sabbath Day keeping church of God!
The True Name Of The True Church
What is the biblical name for the Church? The Bible gives the true name of the Church in twelve different places. Twelve is God’s complete number for organizational beginnings. In five scriptural passages where the true name of the Church appears, the entire Body of Christ – the Church as a whole including all individual members is indicated:
1) "…Feed the church of God" (Acts 20:28).
2) "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God" (I Cor. 1 0:32).
3) …Or despise you the church of God, and shame them that have not?" (I Cor. 11:22.)
4) …Because I persecuted the church of God" (I Cor. 15:9),
5) "…Beyond measure I persecuted the church of God" (Gal. 1:13).
Where one specific local congregation is mentioned, the true Church is also called "the Church of God." Usually it is used in connection with the place or location.
6) "The church of God which is at Corinth" (1st Cor. 1:2).
7) "The church of God which is at Corinth" (1st Cor. 1:1).
8) "For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (I Tim. 3:5.)
9) …Behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God" (I Tim. 3:15).
In speaking of the local congregations collectively – not as one general Body – but as the total of all local congregations, the Bible name is again "the Church of God… Here are the final three verses:
10) " …We have no such custom, neither the churches of God" (1st Cor. 11:16).
11) …For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus " (1st Thess. 2: 14).
12) "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God" (2nd Thess. 1:4).
Since Christ is the Head of the Church, Paul also called the various congregations "the churches of Christ " (Rom. 16 : 16) but the actual name is The Church of God.
In some New Testament instances, a descriptive adjective is added to the name, as the Church of God at Corinth, or the Churches of God in Judaea.
God and His people: "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever…" (Ex. 31:17). Today’s Christians are spiritual Israelites (Gal. 3:29).
The ancient Israelites were also called the "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38).
God has never changed His Sabbath sign! Man is not authorized to change what God has ordained from creation. There is no biblical sanction for Sunday keeping whatsoever. JESUS AND THE APOSTLE PAUL KEPT THE SEVENTH DAY SABBATH and it will be kept by all the world – by all nations (Gentile and Israelite) alike in tomorrow’s world when the Kingdom of God reigns. (Isa. 66:22, 23).
(For a complete exposition of the Sabbath day, be sure to see ‘The Sabbath Of The New Testament’ and ‘Truth About Sunday Observance’ on Page 2 of the America And Britains Future Free Library.)
The keeping of God’s SEVENTH DAY SABBATH is a further way of isolating and identifying the true Church of God. This narrows the field considerably. (In the 21st Century the Roman calendar was altered in Europe to show Sunday as the seventh day, replacing the seventh day Sabbath! Sunday is no longer shown as the 1st day of the week!)
The true Church of God should be showing the way to world peace and human harmony. It should be demonstrating proper family relations (Mal. 4:5-6). It should be living by and practicing every word of God (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4). God’s Church does not attempt to "demythologize the Bible," it believes all of the Bible to be inspired and God breathed. God’s people believe that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2nd Tim. 3:16).
True Christians derive their doctrines strictly from the Bible (Isa. 8:20). They do not rely on human traditions or ideas.
The true Church uses the Old Testament as did Christ, the Apostle Paul and all the other New Testament apostles and elders. It does not merely hold to the "Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament" as some seem to do.
The Church of God, then, must be a Sabbath – keeping Church with the correct name. It must strive to keep all ten of the Ten Commandments and live by every word of God – not rejecting part of the Bible. It is God’s Church because it collectively possesses Gods Holy Spirit – part of Gods mind. It announces the truly good news of the coming government of God, bearing the good fruit of Gods Holy Spirit.
How many churches do you know that fit that description?
Only God can place anyone into the body of Christ. The true Church is not something you may ‘join’ it is something you are immersed into by the Spirit of the living God. But, if God is leading you by His Spirit to His truth, it is up to you as an individual to seek Him.
Isaiah wrote: "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isa. 55:6-7). And
God warns through the same prophet: "And there is none that calls upon your name, that stirs up himself to take hold of you…" (Isa. 64:7).
Will you search out the true Church and become a part of it? It is your choice!
Brian Knowles, Free Library Copy
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