From: Seven Proofs of the True Church: Proofs 5-6 by Herbert W. Armstrong
page 1 Good News December 4, 1978
WHAT AND WHY THE CHURCH?
When we come to the question, WHAT and WHY is the Church, it is equally astonishing that the one original true Church of God, still extant after 1,900 years of persecution, opposition, martyrdom, remains UNIQUE in having the answer.
The real PURPOSE and function of the Church is as little understood as the knowledge of who and what God is, what and why is MAN, what was the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the government of God and His supreme creative achievement – Holy righteous CHARACTER.
Isn’t it incongruous? Man invents numerous religions for the worship of God – yet doesn’t know WHO or WHAT God is? Man does not know what HE is! Or WHY! Seven hundred million join “Christian” churches who do not know the purpose or function of the church!
True, indeed it is, that the whole world has been DECEIVED!
Church error No. 1
The first and most widespread false belief in this world’s churches is the assumption that this is God’s world – that God is desperately trying to get everybody “saved,” while Satan is trying to keep everybody “lost.” Satan is surely winning that battle – if it were true! But 1) God is NOT trying to “get everybody saved” spiritually, NOW! And 2) those uncalled are NOT “lost” – just not judged – YET!
We need first to understand the world out from which God’s Church has been called to be a separate, holy people.
Let me restate it briefly. The first man Adam was given two MUSTS: 1) to reject Satan’s way of “GET” and 2) to give himself to God’s way of “GIVE” – the way of God’s law – outflowing LOVE, thus developing the holy, righteous CHARACTER to qualify to restore the government of God on earth.
But Adam rejected God’s way. He rejected God as the source of basic knowledge and as the God to be worshipped and obeyed.
BUT let it now be emphasized that when God sentenced man, on Adam’s choice, to 6,000 years being cut off from God, the Eternal retained the perogative of specially calling to Him those He chose for special service. And, ALWAYS – in every case – those specially called were called for a mission PREPARATORY TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
Understand this! Everyone God called was chosen for a special mission PREPARING FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
God is no respecter of persons. He called no “favorites” merely to bestow upon them His gift of eternal salvation. Each has been called for use preparing for the KINGDOM OF GOD.
BUT, understand also this: That special mission or service to which each “called-out one” has been chosen was GOD’S MEANS of developing in him the holy, righteous CHARACTER to QUALIFY him to reign and rule with and under Christ in God’s KINGDOM – in THE WORLD TOMORROW!
Only the prophets in ancient Old Testament Israel were called in this sense. The Holy Spirit was never made available to others in Old Testament Israel. The purpose for the special calling of that nation has been covered in Proof No. 4.
Man’s spiritual creation begins with Christ and the Church
Remember, God creates in DUAL stages. The first stage of man’s creation was the physical stage. It began with Adam. The second phase of man’s creation is the spiritual phase and begins with Christ.
As a group or nation, Israel was called under the physical stage of man’s creation. The SPIRITUAL stage began through Christ with righteous Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the prophets in Israel. But as a group calling, the Church of God begins the spiritual phase.
The Church was called for a very special PURPOSE, in preparation for the KINGDOM – a purpose not fully realized from the first century until the present generation.
Adam’s creation NOT COMPLETE
The first Adam, formed altogether from the dust of the ground, was given a spirit to empower the human brain with intellect. This was explained fully in Proof No. 3. But he was incomplete – he was created to need also a second Spirit – the Holy Spirit of God. Old Testament Israel was not given God’s Holy Spirit.
Man, possessing only the one “human” spirit, is, truly, “not all there” – yet he is unaware of the fact. He is a natural-born carnal person. He has only the physical, carnal mind.
And what says God of the carnal mind? It is hostile against God and not subject to the law of God, “… neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Also as Jeremiah explained, this natural carnal mind is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Hundreds of years of Old Testament Israelitish experience proved this! They were given God’s revealed knowledge, hidden from other nations, yet they rebelled and sinned even above other nations!
The world into which Jesus came
It was in such a world – and to such a people (Judah) that Jesus came. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).
First, before teaching or preaching His Gospel of the Kingdom, Jesus had to QUALIFY to restore the GOVERNMENT OF GOD and establish the KINGDOM OF GOD. In the most titanic battle ever fought for the greatest stakes in the universe, Jesus overcame Satan, rejected Satan’s “GET” way, proved 100 percent obedient and loyal to God (Matthew 4:1-11).
Then He said, “… Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell [the grave] shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee [His chief apostle] the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19). Plainly Jesus was speaking to one man, His chief apostle, when He spoke of binding and loosing – not to the Church.
Church members must qualify
The first Adam, in order to qualify to restore the GOVERNMENT OF GOD on earth, had to overcome Satan – Satan’s way (“GET”) – and prove obedient to God. Adam failed.
Christ, the second Adam, had to qualify by overcoming Satan and proving loyalty to God and God’s way. He QUALIFIED!
Each one in the Church must also qualify in order to sit ON CHRIST’S THRONE with Him! “And he that overcometh [Satan], and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron…” (Revelation 2:26-27). Again, “To him that overcometh [Satan] will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame [Satan], and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
I have shown that the whole world, except those specially called by God, is CUT OFF from God – cut off from access to Him who has eternal life to give. Jesus CONFIRMED THAT plainly and definitely. He said, “NO MAN CAN come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” (John 6:44). NO SCRIPTURE CAN OR DOES NULLIFY THAT! All others are CUT OFF from God. No one of them CAN COME to Christ!
The Church of God founded
Jesus was crucified, resurrected after three days and three nights in the tomb (another incidental proof of the one true Church), and after 40 days ascended to the right hand of God in heaven.
Then, on the day of the Feast of Firstfruits (Pentecost) A.D. 31, God sent the Holy Spirit in an amazing display, founding His Church!
The number of disciples who still believed after Jesus’ 3½ years of preaching was a mere 120 (Acts 1:15).
“… They were all of one, accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-3).
I have purposely emphasized certain words in this scripture, because it was a ONE-ONLY incident. It never occurred before. It never has since. Modern “Pentecostal” meetings and “tongues speaking” are emphatically not the same thing at all.
Notice carefully! First, they were all of one accord – something often not true today. Secondly, the Holy Spirit came suddenly – they did not “work it up” by emotionally shouting, as is usual in such meetings today. Thirdly, the Holy Spirit came with a sound – they heard it, like a blast of a rushing mighty wind. No such thing occurs today. Fourthly, the Holy Spirit is here twice called “it,” not “he,” not a Ghost or Personage. Fifth, they saw the Holy Spirit. It appeared as divided tongues like fire. This was actually seen sitting on each of the 120. NO such thing is ever repeated in so called “Pentecostal” meeting today!
Now, further, do they today speak with the same kind of tongues? Here again the REAL Pentecost experience is not in any sense duplicated today. Read on:
“… There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad…” Word spread rapidly of this once only amazing experience – hearing and seeing the Holy Spirit. “The multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them [the 120] speak in his own language” (Acts 2:5-6).
Study this again carefully. The Mede among these devout Jews who came running in heard them – the 120 – speaking the language of the Medes. And he understood what they were saying! The one Mede heard and understood 120 Galileans speaking the language of the Medes! But the Parthian heard them – the same 120 – speaking his Parthian language! And so on! It was not a “jibberish” – unintelligible – as “tongues people” speak in their meetings today! And it needed no interpreter. I well remember experiences in such meetings, where in service after service the same man rose to interpret – and although the “jibberish” of different ones was entirely different, the “interpretation” had been memorized, and in every case was the same! I saw that kind of experience drive sincere people hungry for God’s truth away in disgust!
Let me add here that God’s Holy Spirit is the Spirit of a SOUND MIND (II Timothy 1:7).
The one and only original Church of God was founded that day of Pentecost, A.D. 31. They were all of SOUND mind – like-minded – of ONE accord.
God ADDS to His Church
The multitude, who came running in, were all amazed – in wonderment doubting and asking, “What does this mean?”
These devout Jews were “pricked in their heart” by Peter’s sermon and asked, “What shall we do?”
Peter gave no 20th-century “altar call” – pleaded with none to talk them into conversion – but answered their question, saying, “… repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). It was the power of the Holy Spirit that had struck straight in their hearts. GOD HAD CALLED THEM!
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
Note here this important point! They did not appoint among themselves a “doctrinal committee” to decide intellectually where they could believe God’s apostle. GOD gave them the true doctrine through His apostle, and they continued together with one accord in “… the apostles‘ doctrine and fellowship…”
Now WHO added members to the Church? Not apostolic or evangelical salesmanship – but “… the LORD added to the church daily such as should be saved [were to be saved]” (Acts 2:47).
But what was the FOUNDATION of the Church? It is referred to as a “building,” and a solid building must be built on a solid foundation.
Of course Jesus Christ is the foundational Rock. But the Church is built on the FOUNDATION of the apostles (New Testament) and prophets (Old Testament), Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner STONE (Ephesians 2:20). Jesus taught the apostles. The CHURCH followed the apostles’ doctrine. Lay members were not free to set, change or decide doctrinal TRUTH – but only to receive and believe it.
A day or two after the Church was founded, Peter and John went up to the temple. At the Beautiful Gate entrance was a crippled beggar, lame from birth. Peter, being asked for alms, took the cripple by the right hand, lifting him up, saying, “… In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”. (Acts 3:1-6). “And he, leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple…” (verse 8).
The beggar was known to all. This miracle drew a huge crowd. Peter, explaining, preached to them about the resurrection of Jesus. He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom, saying the heaven had received Jesus until the time of restoration of the GOVERNMENT OF GOD by the KINGDOM OF GOD (Acts 3:20-21).
As Peter spoke, the priests, the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them and threw them into prison for the night.
Next morning, Peter and John were brought before the rulers, elders, scribes, the High Priest and his family. Peter spoke briefly but boldly to them. They then threatened the apostles, forbidding them to preach any further about Christ and His Kingdom.
Naturally Peter and John, though now inspired by the Holy Spirit, were human, and naturally somewhat shaken up and frightened.
Being released, they went immediately for moral support and encouragement to “… their own company…” (Acts 4:23), the Church.
The Church “… lifted up their voice to God with one accord…” (verse 24). And when they (the Church) had prayed, God answered by shaking the place where they were assembled, filling them with His Spirit, courage and power.
Another incident: The apostles had continued preaching, healing the sick and performing miracles. God added to the Church, but also the persecution grew. Peter again had been imprisoned. Steven had been stoned to death. In Acts 8:1 “… there was a great persecution against the church… and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
By the following Passover, persecution had mounted. “… About that time, Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison… intending after Passover to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison…” (Acts 12:1-5).
Why members called
Now came another example of how the Church stood back of the apostles. Remember, the word apostle means “one sent forth.” Jesus had given the great commission to Peter and the apostles. The other members of the Church were not sent forth with the Gospel. They were called:
2) developing in them God’s holy, righteous CHARACTER, qualifying them for places as kings and priests in the KINGDOM!
So here came another incident showing how the Church supported the apostles. Continue, verse 5 of Acts 12, “… but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” – Peter. The brethren stood loyally 100 percent back of God’s apostles.
What happened, when the Church so unceasingly prayed? “… The same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands” (verses 6-7), and Peter followed the angel on out of the prison. Peter fled on to Caesarea.
Notice the GREAT COMMISSION as recorded by Matthew: “Now the eleven disciples [Judas had left them] went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them… And Jesus came and said to them [not the whole Church], All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. Go, THEREFORE, and make disciples of all nations…” Notice, make disciples OF, or within all nations. A disciple is a student – one learning, being taught. “… baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Notice here, this does not and cannot refute Jesus’ own statement that “NO MAN CAN come to me, except the Father which sent me draw him.” The GREAT COMMISSION was not a commission to try to persuade ALL in those nations to come to Christ. Jesus said plainly “make disciples OF [within] all nations.” He referred to those whom God had called – and they were, comparatively, exceeding FEW by proportion to the whole population. Then Jesus continued… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20, Revised Standard Version).
The apostles were NOT sent forth on a soul-saving crusade, but to TEACH those whom God had called and made willing to listen. That is what God’s apostle does to this day. Today we are able to utilize modern methods of MASS COMMUNICATION – radio, television, the printing press. We TEACH – the good news of the coming KINGDOM – to those whom God calls and makes willing to listen. In this way we TEACH and PROCLAIM the true GOSPEL MESSAGE to many MILLIONS, worldwide. Our magazine, The Plain Truth, has more than THREE MILLION subscribers, and estimates are that each copy is read by at least three people – actually reaching nine or 10 MILLION people! And we teach all who willingly listen to observe all that God commanded His apostles!
Now notice Mark’s account of the GREAT COMMISSION: “… Afterward He appeared unto the eleven… and he said unto them, Go YE into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:14, 15). Naturally Jesus did not mean every human being on earth – but all they might reach who would hear. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” Yet only those God called would be able to believe – for Jesus meant believe what was SAID – believe the GOOD NEWS!
However, this is quoted from the 1611 King James Version, but nearly all other translations omit it, saying Mark did not write these words – beginning verse 9 – but that they were added by some later editor trying to make it harmonize with Matthew 28:18-19.
But the great commission was given to the apostles – not the Church as a whole – although as cited above, the Church completely, prayerfully, wholeheartedly backed up and supported the apostles. That was their part in the great commission.
Now, PURPOSE of Church
Now let’s get our bearings and understand the PURPOSE of the Church – its function.
Remember, the Church was called out of a world CUT OFF from God – a world, as Jesus said, in which “NO MAN CAN come to me, except the Father draw him.” The Church was the “called-out ones” – called out from the world. “Wherefore come out from among them [of the world] and be ye separate, saith the Lord…” (11 Corinthians 6:17).
REMEMBER, too, that from Adam God had called out of this world only those He chose to USE in a mission PREPARING FOR THE KINGDOM!
The archangel Lucifer and his angels had been disqualified – changed into Satan and demons. Adam had chosen Satan’s WAY of “GET” and rejected God as source of basic knowledge, as God and ruler and as Savior. According to Adam’s decision God cut THE WORLD off from access to Him. BUT, since God cut them off before they were born, God does not hold them responsible – they have not been judged – the responsibility is GOD’S – not theirs – for that which has been hidden from their minds.
But now the time had come when the “second Adam” – Jesus Christ – had overcome Satan and QUALIFIED to restore the GOVERNMENT OF GOD to earth and establish the KINGDOM OF GOD – which is the divine FAMILY OF GOD, ruling the world – and ultimately the UNIVERSE!
Jesus DID NOT come on a soul-saving crusade. Those uncalled and unsaved were NOT “lost.” Just NOT JUDGED – YET! They shall be in the millennium and Great White Throne resurrection and judgment.
Jesus came 1) to overcome Satan and QUALIFY to establish the KINGDOM OF GOD; 2) to call and teach His future apostles; 3) to proclaim the GOOD NEWS of the coming Kingdom of God, 4) to pay the penalty of the sins of the world by His death on the cross with His shed blood, thus reconciling those called to contact with God the Father: 5) to be resurrected from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb, making the resurrection to IMMORTAL LIFE possible for those who are God’s; 6) to ascend to the throne of God in heaven, there, as the HIGH PRIEST of the Church and IT’S LIVING HEAD, to direct the Church and intercede for it with God. And 7) having received the Kingdom from God, to come AGAIN as the KING of kings and LORD of lords, in supreme almighty POWER and GLORY, to set up and rule THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
Jesus ANNOUNCED the fact of the coming Kingdom, which, by His overcoming Satan, had made it ASSURED!
To those He called, upon complete repentance and faith, He gave the gift of the Holy Spirit. THUS THEY BECAME PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE (II Peter 1:4).
The PURPOSE and FUNCTION of the Church was:
2) overcoming Satan, developing God’s holy, righteous CHARACTER within them through the Holy Spirit, thus qualifying them also, to sit with Christ in His throne in Jerusalem, with power for ruling the whole earth. (Revelation 3:21, 2:26-27). This latter promise applies to those CALLED OUT OF THE PRESENT WORLD – not to those who shall be called (as ALL will) during the millennium!
CHURCH a spiritual organism yet well ORGANIZED
At this point a bit of personal experience will help to UNDERSTANDING.
After calling, giving His apostle the initial teaching, having him ordained, God added the 19 members that started His Church of this Philadelphia era. Then, as one “SENT FORTH” with the Gospel message, Christ had opened before His apostle the means of MASS COMMUNICATION of the printed word, radio and later television.
With such vast mass communication facilities, one apostle could reach many times more people with the Gospel message than the original 12, plus the apostle Paul and others sent to gentile nations. I soon saw the need, as God’s Word sets forth for the CHURCH, of evangelists, pastors, other elders and teachers – as well as people trained in ADMINISTRATIVE responsibilities.
Remember, the Church is still in the six millenniums of this PRESENT EVIL WORLD. We are “called-out ones” – called to be SEPARATE!
Just as the angels on earth (pre-Adamic) needed the GOVERNMENT OF GOD to synchronize the various functions into a team unit, so was this necessary in God’s Church.
The operation of the GREAT COMMISSION, especially in this 20th century, requires, as the New Testament clearly states, organization.
So God set HIS GOVERNMENT in His Church. And God’s government is authority from the TOP down. God the Father is in supreme authority over all. Next in authority under Him is Jesus Christ, living Head of the Church. On the human and earthly level, next in authority under Christ is His chosen apostle. God organized ancient Israel, under Moses, with captains over thousands next under Moses, then under them captains over hundreds, over fifties, etc., as God led Moses to choose.
I will here inject an incident in point. Christ had led His apostle to appoint the apostle’s son next under him, because he was the best qualified, in the office of executive vice president. Perhaps it was a mistake to use such a modern business title. Nevertheless the son, like David’s sons, Absalom and Adonijah, began to simply take over. He innovated policies he was not authorized to set. He wanted to secularize the college, the magazine, The Plain Truth and even the Church. He wanted this world’s accreditation for the college. He demoted or shanghaied away the top-ranking ministers who had been trained under and were loyal to Christ’s apostle.
Meanwhile the apostle, as “one sent forth” with Christ’s Gospel message, was going into all the world – and away from headquarters up to 300 out of the 365 days in the year. As the son departed from the ways of his father and of God (as did the sons of Eli and of King David) the son SHUT OFF ALL AUTHORITY ABOVE HIM. He threatened with loss of their positions in the Work any under him who in any manner contacted or revealed to his father how he was departing from God’s ways, watering down doctrines and teachings – first in the college, then starting also in the Church. Cowed with fear, those who knew how the son was destroying the Work of the living GOD, kept silent.
Finally, four leaders under him took courage and came to God’s apostle, saying, “God forgive us for keeping silent so long, but we were afraid for our jobs. But now we have to report to you that your son is systematically destroying all that Christ has built through His apostle and building something for himself. Like a spoiled child, he wants his own way.”
The son had represented that no one dared “take it over his head,” by going to Christ’s apostle – that ALL authority in a then great worldwide Work of God stopped with him! – that he had SHUT OFF all authority above himself.
But even Christ’s apostle has no authority to SHUT OFF all authority above him. In God’s government, the one in lesser authority is still UNDER the authority of those over him. Authority does not END, at any point, under God the Father.
God’s Church is NOT a worldly ORGANIZATION – it is a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM, called out of this world and its ways by Christ. Yet it is WELL ORGANIZED – must be to function. The Church consists of the begotten children of God – the DIVINE FAMILY TO BE!
The HOUSEHOLD OF GOD
Actually the Church is, on the human level, the BEGOTTEN FAMILY OF GOD. To the gentile converts at Ephesus, God inspired Paul to write, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). In other words, of the begotten FAMILY of God. Continue:
“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles [New Testament] and the prophets [Old Testament], Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy TEMPLE in the Lord” (verses 20-21). So God reveals here that the Church is:
1) the HOUSEHOLD or begotten FAMILY of God; 2) a building – a HOLY TEMPLE – fitly joined together – that is, well organized (and, of course, on GOD’S pattern).
As a building – the HOLY TEMPLE to which Christ will come – it is built on a FIRM FOUNDATION, the apostles, chosen by Christ, and the prophets. MUCH of the New Testament is simply quotations, or citations, from the writings of the prophets of the Old Testament. The things written in the Old Testament were, “… written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Again the apostle Paul instructed Timothy, “… from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures [the only Scriptures Timothy could have known from a child were those written by Old Testament prophets], which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (11 Timothy 3:15). The writings of the Old Testament prophets are part of the FOUNDATION of the Church of God!
And of course Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone – the very HEAD of the Church.
The TEMPLE to which Christ will come
There has been much perplexity and discussion as to when the temple will be built to which Christ shall come.
Malachi’s prophecy speaks of Christ’s second coming to His temple (Malachi 3:1-6).
In Haggai’s prophecy it is referred to prophetically. Zerubbabel had been sent as governor of a colony to build the second temple 70 years after destruction of Solomon’s temple. He built the temple to which Jesus came, though it had been enlarged and embellished by the Roman Herod. But speaking of this temple, as a type and forerunner of the temple to which Christ shall come, at His second coming, it is written, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:9).
It is inconceivable that the Israelis, in the present international turmoil over their possession of old Jerusalem, could ever demolish the Arab Moslem Dome of the Rock – now standing on the site of Solomon’s temple – and build a new one there of greater splendor and glory than Solomon’s! However, as the second temple Zerubbabel was building was a typical forerunner of the temple to which Christ shall come, even so Zerubbabel was the typical forerunner of one Christ would use in building the far more glorious temple to which Christ shall come in His GLORY!
In Zechariah 4:9, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it…” And as Zerubbabel’s hands did finish that second temple, so shall the one Christ uses in building the temple to which He shall come in His GLORY!
And the Church of God of the present day shall be “… a building fitly framed together [and] groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21).
Church the Bride of Christ
The one and only true Church, a spiritual organism well organized by Christ, is the affianced Bride of Christ – to MARRY Christ, after His coming and after the resurrection and change of the Church into immortality.
In Ephesians 5 this is shown by analogy. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish… for we are members of HIS BODY, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall man leave his father and mother and shall be joined unto his wife and they shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:25-32).
The Church is made up of the BODY of Christ. More on that a little later. But the BODY presented to Christ will not be a dismembered body, with an arm, a leg or other parts being separated! It is ONE Church – fitly framed together – not dismembered into many parts following many different men seeking to draw away disciples after them.
This coming marriage is again referred to in II Corinthians 11:2: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
The new-covenant MARRIAGE will take place at Christ’s coming in GLORY: “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, ALLELUIA: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb [Christ] is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:6-7).
It is enlightening at this point to remember Jesus came as “the messenger of the covenant” (Malachi 3:1). He came as the Messenger of the NEW covenant.
The old covenant was a CONTRACT entered into between the children of Israel and the Word (who was to become Christ) – the God of the Old Testament. It was a MARRIAGE covenant. God “proposed” and Israel “accepted” (Exodus 19:6, 8). That “marriage covenant” also set up the kingdom of Israel as one of earth’s nations.
The new covenant also will be a MARRIAGE covenant marrying the Church, then changed to spirit immortality, to Christ. But that covenant also will set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling all nations with the GOVERNMENT OF GOD.
The old covenant was made with a carnal-minded people on their PROMISE to obey. The new covenant will be made with a Spirit-begotten and Spirit-born people who have ALREADY PROVED THEIR OBEDIENCE!
Modern facilities for mass communication today
I mentioned that one apostle today, with modern facilities for mass communication – the printing press, radio, television, even the telephone by which one may reach another in any part of the world in a matter of minutes or less – can reach more people by far than all of the first century apostles combined.
But this use of modern facilities in our day necessitates a considerable organization of people in various administrative capacities, beside evangelists, pastors and assistants, elders, deacons and deaconesses in local churches worldwide.
In Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25), He pictured Himself as giving talents to various ones left here on earth while Jesus was in heaven.
“And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability…” (verse 15). These “talents” – pieces of money – symbolized spiritual gifts and measure of the Holy Spirit, given each. He gave according to the natural ability of each.
The 12th chapter of I Corinthians reveals that there are various offices of administration in the Church – and that God gives various spiritual gifts for those various functions. The SAME PRINCIPLE holds, since God is consistent and never changes. He gives, through the Holy Spirit, special abilities, according to one’s own natural abilities.
I have often talked about the fallacy of “fitting the square peg into the round hole” to illustrate human failure because so many are NOT doing what by natural ability they are fitted best to do.
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4). All these various special talents, abilities or aptitudes, though several, are all given by the same Holy Spirit.
“And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God that worketh all in all” (verses 5-6). It is GOD working in us.
“But all these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is ONE, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are ONE BODY: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into ONE BODY…” (verses 11-13).
“But now are they many members, yet BUT ONE BODY” (verse 20).
What about those who follow a MAN, outside that ONE BODY? God says we are not to follow a MAN. Paul said that “… of your own selves shall men arise… to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).
The apostle Paul had to correct the Corinthian church because they were following individual MEN: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing…” – and WHERE did the Church receive that one SAME THING they were all to believe? From THE APOSTLES! And the apostles received it from CHRIST. And Jesus Christ received it from GOD the Father! Continue, “… that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and… same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10).
“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ” (verse 12). CHRIST is NOT divided (verse 13).
The ‘loner’ Christian
What about the “loner” Christian, who says, “I will serve Christ in my own way”? What about the one who leaves God’s Church – either to have his own private relation with Christ – to GET his own salvation – without GIVING his part of the Church effort in sending the true Gospel into ALL THE WORLD?
Or, what about the one who follows a MAN, because of that man’s personality, charisma or attractiveness, or some other group?
Stop and THINK!
Is Christ going to marry a number of differing groups, not in complete harmony with each other – yet all “professing CHRIST”?
Jesus said, “He that is not with me…” (and since He is the Head of God’s one and only Church, He plainly meant with Him where HE is working – in God’s one Church). Repeat, “He that is not with me [where He works] is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30).
Jesus Christ is going to marry THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH – not a number of scattered groups or scattered individuals.
God’s law and way of life may be summed up in the one word “LOVE” – which is outflowing – the way of “GIVE” – while Satan’s way is that of “GET.” The one who tries to GET his salvation apart from the one Church Christ is going to marry is on the “GET” way. Those loyally in the Church are GIVING of their prayers, loyalty, encouragement and support behind Christ’s chosen apostle in GIVING the GOOD NEWS to the world – its ONLY HOPE!
In other words, he that seeks to GET his own salvation without GIVING his part in the team effort of the Church – or follows a man or some other group – is surely NOT BUILDING ON THE ONE SURE FOUNDATION of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.
Again, “Unless GOD build the house, they labor in vain that build it…” (Psalm 127:1).
The Church is the HOUSEHOLD OF GOD and a BUILDING – the glorious TEMPLE to which Christ shall come!
How well organized?
Notice again how well organized is the one true Church – for getting the GREAT COMMISSION to the whole world:
“In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). Again, “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted [pressed together, knit or drawn together, consolidated] by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part…” (Ephesians 4:16).
“And He [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 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” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
The true Church of God has these offices, as the living Christ put them in His Church.
A TITHE-paying Church
God’s continuing original Church is also a tithe-paying Church.
The Church receives that ONE SAME THING they all are commanded to believe! As stated before – even as the Church beginning A.D. 31 did – from the APOSTLES who received the doctrines and teachings FROM CHRIST! The Church of God under Peter, Paul and the first-century apostles was a TITHE-PAYING Church, beside GIVING offerings!
Tithing started BEFORE Moses and the Old Testament Israel. It started with Abraham, who, after the slaughter of the kings, gave the tithe of all to Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God (actually the one who became Christ). Write for the free reprint article, “The Mystery of Melchizedek Solved.”
Tithing to God – PAYING a 10th of one’s “increase” – became a law in Old Testament Israel. After both Israel and Judah had gone into captivity and slavery, the prophet Malachi, writing about 450 B.C., as one of the prophets who with the apostles, and Christ, form the FOUNDATION of the Church, wrote, PROPHETICALLY concerning our time today: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS! Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8-9). Both the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah had long before been taken out of their land as slaves. A comparatively small contingent was sent back to Jerusalem, 70 years after Judah’s captivity, by King Cyrus of Persia under governorship of Zerubbabel to build the second temple. Some of these Jews were still in Judea when Malachi wrote – but the two nations, as a whole composing ancient Israel, were not there. THIS WAS NOT MOSAIC LAW – this was PROPHECY for OUR DAY!
Malachi continued, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and PROVE ME NOW HEREWITH, saith the Eternal, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (verse 10).
That is NOT “Old Testament stuff” – as God’s true Church KNOWS – and because it has TITHED, it has had God’s blessing and prosperity.
Speaking of tithes, Jesus said, “… these ought ye to have done…” (Matthew 23:23). Hebrews 7:4-12 binds tithing in the New Testament. I Corinthians 9:1-14 definitely upholds the principle of tithing and GIVING.
Knowledge of God’s master plan
Of all the religions – and of all the denominations and sects in “Christianity,” God’s true Church alone has understanding of the master plan of God for His spiritual creation of man. This is forcibly reminded every year in the Church by the seven annual Holy Days and festivals Christ, instituted in the Church.
Small as the Church is in numbers – Jesus spoke of it as the “little flock ” and said that as they had persecuted Him so would they His Church – nevertheless the Church’s great annual autumnal Feast of Tabernacles is the LARGEST church conclave, convention or festival held on earth!
As God made the weekly Sabbath FOR MAN (Mark 2:27) when man was made – so He gave His Church seven annual Sabbaths and seven annual festivals – when He first established the Church. In Acts 7:38, you will find the Old Testament congregation of Israel called “the church in the wilderness.” It was composed of the human-born children of Israel – the Church of the New Testament is composed of the begotten children of God. As the Old Testament church was called the congregation of Israel, so the New Testament Church is called the Church of GOD.
To the Church – both Old Testament under Moses and New Testament under Christ – God gave these annual occasions to emphatically remind His people, annually, of His master plan.
No other church or religion, to our knowledge, observes these festivals or knows their tremendous MEANING!
It has been stated before that as the physical creation of man began with the physical Adam, so the SPIRITUAL creation of man begins with the Spiritual Christ.
The first of these annual festivals is the Passover, observed on the eve of the 14th day of the first month of the sacred year. This is the year’s most solemn service, on the anniversary, as a memorial, of the death of Christ, to reconcile those called to God.
This is immediately followed by the next seven days – the Festival of Unleavened Bread. All leaven must be put out of members’ houses, and nothing leavened may be eaten. Leaven is a symbol of sin. It emphatically reminds God’s called-out ones daily for seven days through the stomach that we must put sin out of our lives. Also it is a memorial, on the anniversary of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. Egypt also is symbolic of sin – and Israel was taken out by God with miracles – as He delivered His people today from the bondage of sin. There are two annual Holy Days in this Festival – the first and the last of the seven.
The third annual festival is the Feast of FIRSTFRUITS, called in the New Testament of the Bible “Pentecost,” because this is the one set-apart time of year when the Church COUNTS to calculate the proper day. It is 50 days, counted beginning on the “morrow after the weekly Sabbath,” which occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “Pentecost” is simply the Greek “fifty-count.” This pictures the coming and infilling of the Holy Spirit, begetting the “firstfruits” – those relative first few called to spiritual salvation. The Holy Spirit came on the very 50th day the first time the Holy Spirit was given to a group, which formed the Church of God. This annual festive occasion reminds God’s people yearly that they are merely the first to be called to spiritual salvation – that the world, except the few called, is CUT OFF from God – neither “saved,” nor “lost” – just not yet called! Therefore not yet judged.
Another incidental proof of the identity of the one true Church is the knowledge that with the foundation of the Church of God “the time is come that JUDGMENT must begin at the house of God.” Those called into God’s Church are now being judged. Others are not – YET!
These annual festivals are built around the annual harvest seasons in Jerusalem. The first three portray the early grain harvest, typical of the first early spiritual harvest in the conversion of man. The last four correspond to the final great autumnal harvest. They all come in the seventh sacred month.
Festival No. 4 is the Feast of Trumpets, on the first day of the seventh month of the sacred calendar. The Feast of Trumpets pictures and reminds the Church yearly of the SECOND COMING of CHRIST to reign over all the earth.
Largest convention on earth
The fifth festival is the Day of Atonement, called in Jewish Judaism Yom Kippur – a solemn fast day. No food may be eaten from sunset to sunset. It pictures to God’s people the making of man AT-ONE-MENT with God. The world, cut off from God these 6,000 years, has been deceived and led by the god of this world, Satan. Jesus Christ QUALIFIED to replace the former Lucifer on the THRONE of the earth. When He comes as KING of kings, Satan shall be deposed, bound, shut up (Revelation 20:3) for 1,000 years. Without Satan, who has “worked IN the people of the world” (Ephesians 2:2), humanity at last may be made AT ONE with the true Creator GOD!
The sixth festival is the Feast of Tabernacles – a seven-day festival, with the first day the sixth annual Holy Day. This is followed by an eighth day, a one-day Holy Day – making in all an eight-day festival.
This pictures the millennial reign of the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling all nations for 1,000 years. During this millennium, ALL living will be called to repentance and faith and eternal salvation through the reigning CHRIST – with no Satan to overcome. More of the details of this time will be given under PROOF No. 7, to follow.
The seventh and final Holy Day begins at sunset just as the Feast of Tabernacles is ending. As stated earlier, small though the Worldwide Church of God be in numbers, this is the largest convention or conclave held annually on earth – with Festival sites all over the world.
When the billions shall be called
The final eighth day (the seventh festival), brings to mind again every year what is in God’s master plan for the BILLIONS of people who have lived and died since Adam – CUT OFF from God – UNjudged – neither “lost” nor yet “saved.”
They will be resurrected after the millennium in a special resurrection (Revelation 20:11-13). This is also described in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the “valley of dry bones” (Ezekiel 37). All previously uncalled will be resurrected MORTAL, and with the 7,000 years of humanity past, will face up with what their experience in sin really proved. All then will be called to repentance and ETERNAL LIFE.
Final fate of the incorrigible
There shall then be one more resurrection – of those who were called to salvation, but rejected it – the incorrigible wicked. They will be resurrected MORTAL to realize their fatal decision. They will be “cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14-15). This “lake of fire” is pictured by Peter in his second letter:
“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets [Old Testament], and of the commandment of us the apostles [New Testament] of our Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
“For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:1-10).
Malachi adds, of that final destruction of the willful rebellious into unconscious (Ecclesiastes 9:5) annihilation:
“For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch… for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 4:1-3).
The NAME of the true Church
The NAME of God’s true Church is important – but not alone the exclusive proof of identification, because a small number of professing Christian sects use the name. Yet the one and only original Church founded A.D. 31 by Jesus Christ most certainly will have the true NAME!
God names things and people what they are. This is a basic principle. The “church in the wilderness” – the Old Testament Church (or congregation) was named the “congregation of Israel” because it was composed of the physically born children of Israel. The two-letter word of denotes ownership or origin.
The New Testament Church organized by Christ is called, 12 TIMES in the New Testament, “the CHURCH OF GOD,” some times with a modifying word or phrase, as, “the Church of God, which is at Corinth,” or the “Churches of God in Judea.” Today it is known as the Worldwide Church of God.
The English word church is translated from the Greek ekklesia, and the Greek word used in the original writing of the New Testament means, simply, a group, an assembly, etc., without specific reference to a church. At Ephesus, for example, the city council – political – was called an ekklesia, with no religious connotation at all.
The ONLY FACTOR that makes the word church sacred is when called the Church of GOD – in other words, the group, congregation, assembly or church that BELONGS TO GOD. It is GOD’S name connected with it that lends sanctity to the name.
For example, the name “Roman Catholic Church” means a “universal” (catholic) church of Rome. The “Lutheran Church” is that group or body of people following or established by Luther. The “Methodist Church” means (in its name) a group or body of people following a certain method. The “Baptist Church” by name means a group or combination of groups who believe in baptizing and follow John the baptist. The name “Congregational Church” simply implies a group of people who believe the lay people ought to have the authority. The name “Presbyterian Church” means an associated group who believe the “presbytery” or officiating clergy have the authority.
The name “Church of God” means that group of “called-out ones,” called out from this world, who look to GOD as the authority – and government from God through Christ, through (on the human level) apostles chosen by Christ – NOT elected by the people!
So there is vital MEANING to the name of the true Church. And the name is IMPORTANT!
In Jesus’ last prayer to God before being crucified, He prayed, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world… And now… I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be ONE, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name…” (John 17:6, 11-12).