IS GOD’S CHURCH COMPOSED OF MANY SEPARATE ‘GROUPS’?
There are many individual and separate ‘Groups’ differing in belief and organization, yet supposing they are a PART of the BODY OF CHRIST. Are they?
by Herbert W. Armstrong
page 3 Good News (and Worldwide News) December 18, 1978
I HAVE HEARD many small religious groups, usually following one human leader, speak of “our Group,” fully believing that their little unit or assemblage is A PART of the BODY OF CHRIST, THE CHURCH OF GOD.
Some have left God’s Church saying, “I have not left Christ – I’ve only left that organization. I worship Christ in my own way.”
Are they really IN Christ?
Time is now short. We are in the very last days! Christ is coming soon – to MARRY God’s Church. In Revelation 19:7 the Church is called “His WIFE.” This verse says, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and HIS WIFE hath made herself ready.”
We are in sobering times – the last days when “HIS WIFE” must be MADE READY for Christ’s coming.
Will these “loner” individual “Christians,” or these many little isolated “GROUPS” constitute part of the wife made ready?
In Matthew 25 it is written, “… the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut” (Matthew 25:10).
The very eternal LIFE AND DEATH QUESTION right now is: “Just WHAT is the wife that has made herself ready? Is it one united, organized, compacted, Spiritual organism – all speaking the same thing – all joined to the one Vine and bearing fruit – all in the organized Church built upon the FOUNDATION of the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone, having grown into a BUILDING – a Holy TEMPLE, in the Lord, fitly FRAMED TOGETHER and compacted in that which every joint supplieth OR, will it be a conglomeration of disunited “GROUPS” and denominations and a number of isolated individual “Christians,” who have followed Christ in their own way?
Those who have gone off, either alone or in a small isolated group, will say: “We have not gone away from CHRIST – We have only left that organization. We no longer have a part in what it is doing, but we worship Christ in our own way.”
They might refer to Mark 9:38-40: “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out demons in thy name, and he followeth not with us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.”
Notice, these people were performing miracles in Christ’s name – by His authority – Jesus did not say they shall enter God’s Kingdom. He merely said, “Let them alone.” Now put this together with other scriptures on the same theme. Again Jesus said, “Let them alone,” in Matthew 15:14. But He also said (verse 13), “… Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
And again, Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30).
Again, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Luke 11:23). Those not WITH Christ, WHERE HE LEADS IN HIS CHURCH, are scattering and against Him.
But consider FURTHER:
Body of Christ is united
Jesus Christ is going to marry GOD’S CHURCH – called THE BODY OF CHRIST. Now is that Body united, organized on a united and firm FOUNDATION, or an assortment of “loner” individuals and various “groups”?
I was awakened this morning thinking on this sober question. Often it seems God puts things in my mind on first awakening in the morning.
This morning God was leading my mind in thinking about the BODY OF CHRIST, which is the one and only TRUE Church of God.
WHY is the Church called “the BODY of Christ”? God the Father sent Jesus into this world with a MESSAGE from GOD. That message concerned the now soon-coming KINGDOM OF GOD. Jesus taught it to His original apostles – He proclaimed it in the synagogues and in public. Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing…” (John 5:30). But “… the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10).
Jesus came to DO SOMETHING! Every one God has ever called since Adam has been called for a DUTY – to DO SOMETHING – and that something always has had to do with PREPARING FOR GOD’S KINGDOM.
Jesus taught the KINGDOM OF GOD. It was the Holy Spirit IN Him that did “the works.” After He had finished the work the Father had assigned Him, personally, to do in His human life, He was crucified, resurrected and then ascended into heaven. Then He sent the SAME HOLY SPIRIT that had worked in Him, to work in His apostles and in His Church.
The Holy Spirit had WORKED in Jesus’ body. Now it worked in the collective BODY of the Church. Therefore the Church now became the BODY of Christ – the BODY in which God’s Spirit was “doing the work.”
Christ organized Church
And Christ organized that Body – the begotten children of God, and therefore “… the household of God… 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 groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21). This is the TEMPLE to which Christ is coming (Malachi 3:1). The Church is here called a TEMPLE – fitly framed together and compacted – closely knit TOGETHER.
The only PURPOSE of the Church is to CARRY ON THE WORK WHICH CHRIST STARTED! It is now the BODY in which the Holy Spirit is working. And God set in the Church, to ORGANIZE it, apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers.
The CHURCH is the BODY OF CHRIST. And Jesus pictured Himself as THE VINE, and we of His Church are the BRANCHES on that vine. Notice it – study it – in John 15. 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 – the BODY OF CHRIST.
Separated “Christians,” or “groups” are branches broken off from the VINE – the BODY OF CHRIST!
The Father is the Husbandman – the Vinedresser. Every branch of this grapevine (the Church) that does not bear fruit for the Kingdom, the Father prunes it – cuts it off – that the organized, united vine may bear MORE FRUIT.
When there are some in the Church who cause division or sow the seeds of discord, God says, “… mark them… and AVOID THEM” (Romans 16:17; see also II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15). The Church will bear more fruit when the dissidents, those who obey not the Work, those who cause division and discord, are PRUNED OFF!
To the Church of God at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote that all in the Church must SPEAK THE SAME THING, that there be no divisions among us (see I Corinthians 1:10).
Now FROM WHERE does the Church receive the doctrines and teachings they must all speak? THINK ON THIS! The Church, as Christ organized it, RECEIVED ITS BELIEFS AND TEACHINGS AND EVEN ITS CUSTOMS FROM THE APOSTLES! And the apostles had been taught by CHRIST.
Apostles held responsible
But the various individuals did not decide for themselves what to say, believe or speak – nor did they individually receive the truths from Christ. But God taught the apostles, and He HOLDS THE APOSTLES RESPONSIBLE for the doctrines given to the Church, that there be no divisions. We must all speak the SAME THING, but God holds the apostle responsible that what they all speak and believe is the RIGHT thing!
But there was no “Doctrinal Committee” nor group of other ministers or lay members who voted on doctrine and practice. Christ gave all that to His Church THROUGH HIS APOSTLES!
When Christ comes – SOON NOW – His WIFE shall have made herself ready and will enter in with Him to the marriage – the NEW COVENANT – and the DOOR WILL THEN BE SHUT (Matthew 25:10). Others who were alone, or various “groups” will then come and knock on the door – but Christ will say, “… I KNOW YOU NOT” (verse 12).
God’s Church has sorely needed a spiritual reawakening and revival. But the recent Feast of Tabernacles gave evidence that the needed revival is well under way. IT MUST CONTINUE, for very soon, now, the Church will have to have MADE HERSELF READY!