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Where's God's Church?

Jesus DID build it!

WHERE IS GOD'S CHURCH


by Bud Cocherell (written 1983)


     Today, Christianity is one of the world's largest religions.
There are literally hundreds of organizations which say they are
Christian and are worshipping the one and only Creator God. Each
professes to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, as expounded
in the pages of the Bible; each feels they have a keen
understanding of the Bible and God's will for mankind.
     It seems very strange indeed that the majority of these
various denominations use the same Bible on which to base their
life styles, but they all differ in how they perceive what is
written in this book.
     Is the Bible really a book that no one can understand? Has
God purposely confused its meaning? Does it matter how we worship
God, or which church organization we belong to?
     Let us examine these and other questions, using what the
Bible really says as the final authority. The answers may
surprise you and give you a new understanding of the real God of
the Bible.

THE CHURCH DISAPPEARS

     Shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we
find a dynamic evangelizing church spreading God's truth
throughout the world. Their spiritual zeal literally changed the
course of history. But, dynamic as the church was, it all but
disappeared from history after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70
A.D. From 70 to 120 A.D. there was very little recorded about the
true church of God. When historians again took up their pens to
write about the church, we find that it had changed from the
simple faith once delivered. Or could it be that the true church
was all-but-destroyed, and then replaced by a false Christianity?

(But the NT shows that false ministers were coming within the
true Church of God and twisting and changing and perverting the
original truth once delivered to the saints. History does record
a movement away from 7th day Sabbath keeping to 1st day - Sunday
observance. And history does record the Roman church adopting
Easter in the second century A.D. So there is SOME history of
what was taking place. It is written about it in various studies
on this Website - Keith Hunt)
  
     Today we find churches, calling themselves Christian, that
do not even faintly resemble what the early church was. We find
confusion among the so-called Churches of God, many with
differing teachings and views as to what constitutes the true
Church of God pictured in the Bible.

THE EARLY CHURCH

     The Apostle Paul admonished the Church of God at I Corinth
to avoid confusion and division. "Now 1 beseech you, brethren, by
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same
thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be
perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
judgment. For it has been declared unto me of you, my brethren,
that them who are of the house of Chloe, that there are
contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you say,
I am of Paul; and I, of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and, I of
Christ." (1 Cor.1:10-12). Paul asks, "Is Christ divided?" (1 Cor.
1:13). It is absurd to think that Jesus Christ is not quite sure
how He wants His church to function, and really does not care how
we worship and serve Him and His Father.
     Our great God is not the author of confusion (I Cor.14:33),
but is an orderly being. Look at the order of all that exists.
From the balance of the galactic systems down to the smallest
atomic structure, all of the physical creation shows great order,
not confusion.
     Since God set all the physical creation to function orderly,
doesn't it make sense that He would have us to worship Him in an
orderly structured manner, and not in many different ways?

WHAT IS A CHURCH?

     To understand where the true church of God is, we must first
understand what a church is. The English word "church" is
translated from the Greek word "Ekkiesia" (ek-klay-see-ah),
meaning a calling out, i.e. a popular meeting, an assembly,
especially a religious congregation. Church simply means a group
of people meeting together. So, you see, attaching the word
church to a group or organization does not necessarily make them
Christian.
     Some could contend that any group that meets in the name of
Jesus is Christian. It is true that Jesus said, "For where two or
three are gathered together in My name, there am I am in the
midst of them." (Matt.28:20). It is, however, very obvious when
the entire chapter is read, that Jesus is only talking to His
true followers and not to people in general.
     So we see that the church is an assembly of Christians and
not a building or a corporation. The church is a group of
Christians that assemble together. Many think just because they
are a member of an organization called a church and believe in
God, that they are Christians and are worshipping God correctly.
This is a very dangerous assumption to make, especially when our
eternal life depends upon the way we worship and obey God.

ABOUT THE CHURCH

     Let us take a look at what the Bible says about the people
who are the church. One of the first things we find about the
members of the church is that they are not very popular. In fact,
they are usually hated by most people. Jesus knew this would be
the case and asked God the Father to protect them. "I have given
them thy word; and the world has haled them, because they are not
of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou
should take them out of the world, but thou should keep them from
evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." (John
17:14-17). 
     Why are they hated by the world? The answer is really quite
simple when we understand that Satan has deceived the whole world
into following him. (Rev.12:9). Jesus warned of Satan's
deception... "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall
come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and shall deceive
many." (Matt.24:4-5). Jesus knew that the vast majority of people
would find it easier to follow a false Christ than to follow Him,
hence, the warning to the Church.

DENOMINATIONS

     If Christ is not divided, then why are there so many
differing churches and denominations professing to be Christian?
The first reason is the same today as it was from the first days
of human existence. That reason is rebellion. Adam and Eve
rebelled against God In the Garden of Eden. The children of
Israel rebelled against God in the wilderness, after he had
delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Mankind has been rebelling
against his Creator from Adam until now. (See: Ezk.20:12-13; Isa.
30:9-10 and 66:3).
     For some reason people seem to think they can worship God
any way they want. But, notice what He says through the Prophet
Isaiah. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your
ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than
the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts
than your thoughts." (Isa.55:8-9).
     Jesus called the religious leaders of his day hypocrites,
snakes, liars, and deceivers because they were not teaching God's
truth, but were teaching their own philosophy, which was
rebellion. "Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you,
saying, This people draws nigh unto me with their mouth, and
honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in
vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments
of men," (Matt.15:7-9).
     Even some of the very elect of God fall into rebellion. Paul
warned the young evangelist Timothy, "Preach the word; be instant
in season, out of season; 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 shall
they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they
shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned
unto fables." (2 Tim.4:2-4). "Now the Spirit speaks expressly
that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving
heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies
in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." (I
Tim.4:1-2).
     Rebellion can come in many forms and always separates the
rebellious people from God the Father and Jesus Christ, no matter
what organization they belong to.


SATAN'S DECEPTION

     The second reason for so many differing churches and
denominations is Satan's deception. In the early days of the
church, Satan started his master deception and tried to destroy
the true church from within. The Apostle Paul warned the church
at Corinth, "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 ministers also be
transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be
according to their works." (2 Cor.11:13-15).
     Yes, Satan has ministers and even churches disguised as true
churches of God. (Rev.2:9 and 3:9). If you were to ask one of
these ministers if he was a false minister of God, he would most
likely become very offended.
     The vast majority of people today have been deceived into
thinking they are worshipping God correctly because of Satan's
deception. "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent,
called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he
was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with
him." (Rev.12:9). Jesus knew this would happen and warned, "Take
heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name,
saying, I am the Christ; and shall deceive many." (Matt.24:4-5).
     Jesus was not saying that people would say that they
themselves were Christ, but would say that He was indeed the
Christ. When we read Matt.24:11 & 14 with Gal.1:6-9, we can
understand what Christ was saying. He was foretelling the time
when false ministers would preach another gospel in His name, and
many would be deceived into thinking they were following Him.
Jesus' prophecy has come true. The majority of professing
Christians today believe and preach a false gospel, not because
they have predetermined to do so, but because Satan has deceived
them. Satan is indeed the master deceiver.
     It is very obvious that the early church was not divided
into many different denominations. It is also obvious that if all
professing Christians submitted to God's rule in their lives,
denominations would disappear.
     Contrary to what most believe, Jesus Christ does not
sanction the many divergent churches that exist today. Jesus
said, "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it." (Matt.16:18). He did not say He would build
many churches, but that He would build His church, and it would
endure.
     After being crucified and resurrected from the dead, Jesus
instructed His disciples how He wanted His church to be
constructed. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end
of the world." (Matt.28:19-20). Notice, Jesus told his disciples
to teach the things He had commanded. Christ was not only
referring to the things He had taught during his earthly
ministry in human form, He also meant for them to teach the
things He had taught to Israel when He was their God before He
became flesh. (Read John 1:1-11 & Eph.3:9).

THE CHURCH PERSECUTED ... SCATTERED ... SMALL

     Jesus said, "If they have persecuted me, they will also
persecute you." (John 15:20). Paul said, "All that will live
godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim.3:12).
     Jesus Christ understood mankind's nature and mind as no
other man could. As the Creator God of the Universe and mankind
(John 1:1-3: Eph.3:9), He had observed man's behavior down
through the centuries and knew people would continue to oppose
His truth as long as they were influenced by Satan. God's way of
life is opposite to the way most people want to live. Most people
do not like to be told they are living in sin and usually dislike
people that tell them they are. John the Baptist was beheaded
because he spoke out against Herod's sin of adultery (Mark
6:17-28). It is no different today. The true followers of Christ
will be persecuted for speaking the truth of God. The prophet
Zechariah foretold the church would be scattered after Jesus'
crucifixion (Zech.13:7). Jesus himself repeated the prophecy,
"And Jesus said unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me
this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the
sheep shall be scattered." (Mark 14:27). Also see John 16:32. The
early church suffered much persecution and was scattered as
Christians fled for their lives. "And Saul was consenting unto
his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against
the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered
abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the
apostles." (Acts 8:1). There are many other scriptures that show
God's people will be very unpopular. (Read Dan.11:33-35; Ezk.
34).
     Even though the church has been persecuted and scattered
throughout the centuries, it will continue to endure (See Matt.
16:18). Jesus called the church a little flock. "Fear not little
flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the
kingdom." (Luke 12:32). Though hated, despised, maligned,
persecuted, and scattered by the world, this small
group of people is the Church of God. But does being small and
hated make a group of people the true church? Of course not!
There are many small groups that say they are Christian, but are
so far out of line with what Jesus taught they do not even come
close to or resemble true Christianity.
     How about being hated? True, some small groups are hated for
what they teach, but so are some large groups. "...and ye shall
be hated of all nations, for my name's sake." (Matt.24:9). In
these two scriptures (Luke 12:32 & Matt.24:9), Jesus is talking
about a relatively small group of people compared to the world's
population. The vast majority of the people "professing
Christianity" would hate His people, just as the Jews of Jesus'
day professed to believe in God and hated Him for what He taught.
So it is in this age. God's people will be hated for preaching
the truth as Jesus taught it. (John 17:14).


A SIGN OF GOD'S PEOPLE

     Is there an identifying mark or sign upon the people of God?
Is there something that one could observe and by it tell that the
people, organization, or group, are true Christians? The answer
is yes! True Christians can be identified and separated from
those who are not.

COMMANDMENT KEEPING

     The first mark or sign of a Christian is that he will be
keeping the Ten Commandments of God. Jesus said, "if ye love me,
keep my commandments." (John 14:15). True Christians will have
love and concern for each other. "By this we know that we love
the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and
His commandments are not grievous." (1 John 5:2-3). The apostle
has a stinging rebuke for those who say they are Christians and
do not keep the Ten Commandments. "He that says, I know him, and
keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in
him." (I John 2:4). A requirement for maintaining the Christian
status is commandment keeping. 
     A second mark or sign of God's people is that they will be
observing God's Sabbaths and Holy Days. Notice what God says in
Exodus 31:15-17. "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh
is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever does any work
in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."
     The prophet Ezekiel was inspired to write, "Moreover also I
gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that
they might know that 1 am the Lord that sanctifies them." "And
hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you,
that you may know that 1 am the Lord your God." (Ezk.20:12,20).
     Other sabbath observances to be kept by Christians are the
annual Sabbaths or Holy Days spoken of in the twenty-third
chapter of Leviticus. Notice, they are a statute forever and are
a sign of God's people. (Ex.13:9). Also see: Isa. 56:1-6; 58:13;
and 66:22-23).
     Many will say the Sabbath and Holy Days were for ancient
Israel and not for Christians today. But, what does the Word of
God say? Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the
law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."
(Matt.5:17). The apostle Paul told the Galatian Christians that
if they were Christ's, they were Abraham's seed, that is
"Israelites." "And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's
seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal.3:29). Also see:
Acts 7:1-7). Paul also told the Church of God at Colossae, "Let
no man therefore judge you (in meat, or in drink, or in respect
of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which
are a shadow of things to come) but the body of Christ." (Col.
2:16-17).

(See my study - "Colossians 2:16" - on that passage on this
Website - Keith Hunt)


     A third sign of God's people is their love and concern for
one another. "By this shall all men know that you are my
disciples, if we have love one to another." (John 13:35). While
this would not seem to be a major sign of God's people, it is
nonetheless, in a world torn with strife, war, divorce, murder,
anger, hatred and violence. Love and hue concern for another
human being is rare indeed, and is truly a sign of the people who
follow the one who loved the world enough to give His life for
it.

THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE PAGANIZED

     The true Church of God will not be observing pagan festivals
and holidays, such as: Christmas, Easter and Halloween. Although
many "professing Christians" will say there is nothing wrong with
observing these days, they do admit they are pagan in origin. The
prophet Jeremiah gave this warning from God. "Learn not the way
of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for
the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people
are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the
hands of the workman. with the axe. They deck it with silver and
with gold; they fasten It with nails and with hammers, that it
move not." (Jer.20:2-4). Paul warns the church at Corinth not to
bind themselves with Satan's false worship. "Be ye not unequally
yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship have
righteousness and unrighteousness? And what communion has light
with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? Or what
part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has
the temple of God with idols?" (2 Cor.6:14-16).
     The Church of God will be doing the work of God in preaching
the soon-coming Kingdom of God. This is the same gospel (good
news) that Jesus Christ taught. "Jesus came into Galilee,
preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. And saying, The time
is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and
believe the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15). This gospel is a far cry
from the teachings of main-line Christianity today. It is a
gospel so dynamic, so powerful, so diametrically opposite to what
is taught in most churches around the world today, that most
reject it. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;
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 shall they heap to themselves teachers,
having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the
truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

BE YE SEPARATE

     In a letter to the church at Corinth the Apostle Paul
exhorted them to avoid mixing paganism with Christianity. (2 Cor.
6:14-16). He also told them to separate themselves from that
day's religions. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye
separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I
will receive you." (2 Cor. 6:17).
     The Church of God is not to participate in, or be a part of
the world's religions or politics. This would constitute
spiritual adultery, since the Church is to be the Bride of
Christ, and is to act as His ambassador to this world. (2 Cor.
5:20).
     Surprising as it is, Jesus Christ did not form His Church to
become a large powerful organization which would try to make this
world, under its present leadership, a better place in which to
live. Instead, He said, "I have given them thy word; and the
world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as
I am not of this world. I pray not that thou should take them out
of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They
are not of the world, even as 1 am not of the world." (John
17:14-16)

THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH

     If Jesus did not intend for His Church to become a powerful
force and challenge Satan for world rule, then what did he form
it for?
     The purpose of the Church is fourfold. 

     Its first purpose is to prepare a people to help Jesus
Christ rule this world at his second coming. "And has made us
(them) unto our God kings and priests; and we (they) shall reign
on the earth." (Rev.5:10). (Also see: 1 Thes.3-13; Rev.3:21 and
20:4-6).
     The second purpose is to preach the Good News of the soon
coming government of God. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall
be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and
then shag the end come." (Matt.24:14).

(Often this is misunderstood per se. Jesus at another time said,
we will not have gone over all the cities if Israel before the
Son of man comes. The gospel will be preaches - shouted - to the
word by the ANGEL that does so shortly before Jesus comes again.
See Revelation 14:6 and mt comments on that part of Revelation in
my "New Testament Bible story" - Keith Hunt)

     The third purpose is to preach the message of repentance.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded
you." (Matt.28:19-20).

     The fourth purpose is to provide a place for those called of
God (John 6:44), to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18),
and to learn and perfect the ways of God in their lives so they
will be able to fulfil the great calling of the Saints.    (Rev.
5:10).


ONE CHURCH

     Does it really matter which church a person belongs to? If
there is no God, and the Bible is not His Word put to print, then
it does not matter which church a person goes to. In fact, why go
at all? But, there is abundant proof that God the Father and
Jesus Christ do exist and that the Bible is their Word and
instruction manual to the human race. If one is truly seeking to
obey God, then he should want to be with the group of people who
are His. Jesus said, "I will build my Church." (Matt.16:18). And,
to this church, His Father would call and place those who should
be saved in this age. (Acts 2:38,39 & 47). 

     There is only one Church of God, so says the Apostle Paul.
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one
hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God
and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you
all." (Eph.4:4-6). Jesus Christ has only one church He rules
over. (Eph.1:22-23; 1 Cor.12:12-13). He has no other. The true
Church of God has existed from the day Jesus organized it. It has
endured the test of persecution and martyrdom throughout the
centuries, and still exists today wherever true Christians gather
to worship the Creator God and serve Him. (Matt.18:20) 

                            ..................

NOTE:

The one true Church of God, is its scattered members around the
world. It is NOT just "one organization" of men. The body of
Christ, are the SALT of the earth, sprinkled here and there. They
are indeed the "very little flock" as Jesus said it, for that is
how the Greek reads. The Greek is a double diminutive - LITTLE
LITTLE flock.

If you are willing to learn, to hunger and thirst after
righteousness, willing to be corrected, willing and wanting to
grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, willing to
live by every Word from God, as Jesus said we should do
(Mat.4:4); THEN with humility in your heart, loving God with all
your body, mind, and life, YOU can be a member of the ONE TRUE
CHURCH OF GOD! Keith Hunt

Entered on this Website November 2007


 
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