With Pentecost for 2019 just around the corner, people often wonder where is the true Church of God?
Many have written about this before, in several different organizations, but are there many or is there just one church? Is it a building; is it big or is it small or somewhere in the middle?
If only one, then why do so many call themselves Christian and yet believe different things? Millions of people today class themselves as “Christians” and yet DO believe different things, when compared to what Christ and the Bible teaches. One set of beliefs are to go directly to heaven when you die and another is to stay in the grave until a resurrection. Another is to believe you have an immortal soul and another is that you do not have an immortal soul.
What;??—you might now be saying. This is not what I have been taught from “the Church”! Only the Catholics are the true church, you might say, if you are a catholic. The same might be said if you have grown up as protestant in belief—referring to your particular organization. Seriously, if you are one of those “Christian” people who do not know any better— you can really know and be sure if you are a Christian. (See How can you know for more, to go along with the rest of this article)
Are the many differing beliefs just all part of one church? What is “the church” anyway, if it is not made up of today’s professing “Christians”?? As surprising as it may seem, it is not even a building one goes to, as so many believe today! Is it all in our understanding then, according to what the Bible says? Well, yes, and if we are willing to believe only what the Bible tells us on this subject, we can learn what God says. This article could get into a long story about the many different aspects, with various scriptural passages, but that is not my purpose. That has been explained already and can be found elsewhere, even on this web-site. (Just look for the many pieces of material or audios titled “Christians” or “Christianity” for more on that.)
So, the real story here in this article is what Christ established as “The Church”, His Church and it always comes in two main phases, as you will see. There were already what some considered “churches” when Christ said; “and on this rock (Himself, not Peter) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18— Using NKJV unless otherwise noted.). His Church are the “called out ones” and would never die out, once established, though always being relatively small and sometimes scattered by comparison, opposite to expressing “Christian” churches down through time. This is proven by several other passages, but “The Church” of the real Christ is the only true Christians alive today—but again, see the other material on this web-site for more on Christianity.)
What I am writing about here as “The Church” may surprise you, as there are hundreds of churches and independent groups today, scattered all over the world, that may call themselves the “COG” which are then recognized by their own sub-titles. How many of these are legitimate and really “The Church” one may wonder? That depends on what is being taught and you are willing to believe from the Bible, as the rest of this article will help to reveal! You may not be thinking this way at all!
(The Church, as the bigger on down to the smaller, and not exactly in this order have some in; The UCG or LCG or COG-wa or RCG or COGG or COG in Wales or New Zealand etc.; COG people in various other countries and cities and—well, this could go on and on and I will explain — but hopefully you get what I mean. Some of these COG groups have already mutated into another group, where we all are scattered today.)
The majority of these members just listed and their extended families have become scattered from the old WCG, led by HWA for over 50 years in the 20th century—plus many newer members now of Laodicea. That was what the majority considered the “Philadelphia” era and that passed quickly into the Laodicea era and went on into apostasy, before the century ended. Those people are no longer the church, for the most part. For all practical purposes, depending on how one looks at things; Laodicea came along right after the death of HWA in early 1986 and the last era began. (That is the view this author takes on this website and I have seen no solid proof otherwise.)
So where is the “Church” today and according to what I am writing about? The truth about this is what the Bible does reveal, going back to what Christ said and the church He would build! That Church—the real Christian Church—(Acts 11:26) that Christ is building began with the first converts of the Bible, and then He added to them the NT Christians on the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. (See Heb.11) Christ told His own disciples to wait in Jerusalem: “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." (only a few came along before that and Christ is clearly referring to what John the Baptized said in Matt.3:11 (ASV) “I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire:” and also in Luke 3:16 "I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (NKJV) So now Christ is telling them to wait and be together in Jerusalem—so they went back to that “upper room” where they had the Passover with Christ. (Acts1:12-14) They were then infused with that power and in the appearances of fire, on Pentecost of 31. (Acts.2:3 & “Christ the Refiner” in the Gospel for more.) However, think about this; to be called then and today does not mean that you are automatically a chosen one? Read on to see how the Church is still being built.
In so many words, the truth of where the true COG is, (Eph.2:22 & 1Pet.2:5) has also been revealed here many times and in various ways. However, let us begin to focus on the two phases that Christ would put in motion for His Church. (Satan has many churches and they are all counterfeits, hoping to deceive you and some of these now counterfeit themselves as the COG.) Many would begin to claim themselves as being Christian several years after Christs death, professing Christ’s name and that He is the Son of God—but yet would deceive the many by ignoring God and still following Satan and his already existent ways. (Matt.24:4-5) He also said that many would become false prophets and deceive the many down through time and in these last days and that has also begun to come true within these COG groups. (V.11) Some have even set themselves up as the leader of a certain group and even claim the “baton” was handed off to them, as was done with HWA and from Sardis to Philadelphia. We, in these COG groups are at the point of being tested as the true CHURCH, now that the truth has been restored and we are in this last era of the Church, before Christ is to return! Satan is pulling out all stops—stopping at NOTHING to deceive the elect, if that can be done! (Matt.24:23-25—be sure you look closely at what this says) The true Church of God will have to stick closely to what the Scriptures reveal and make sure they are being led by the Holy Spirit—not some man or men trying to deceive others for their own group or organization.
Christ tells us in John 6:44&45 that no one can come to Him unless the Father calls them and that they will then all be taught by God—that is, through His Word and as proven to be truth! So that narrows it down to those who are actually called by God and are willing to prove the truth from their own Bibles for themselves.
(They will be on this narrow path, Matt.7:13-14 guided by the H.S. (Rom.8:14 & John16:13) and working out their own salvation. Phil2:12-13)
How are they “called” into truth then?
This is an old but proven truth from the Bible. Not by just the words of any particular man; but only as those words are proven to be the truth of Scripture, as well and one has to be careful, even there. The apostle Paul was recorded as saying; 2 Thess. 2:14 “to which He called you by our gospel, (the same as of Christs—Mark 1:14-15) for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Read V.13-17 to get the context) So those in the true Church are called into the truth through the Gospel of the coming Kingdom and that is what is being preached to the whole world by some — the commission Christ gave His true disciples. Mark 13:10 “And the gospel must first be preached unto all the nations” ASV (See also Matt.24:14) That began again with HWA and the word “preached” here means; PREACH, PREACHING "to preach the gospel as a herald," from Matt.24:14 & Mark 13:10— (as to cry out the truth with one’s voice). (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers) This means doing what HWA understood and did, as Isa 58:1 proclaims; “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, (First through radio, then television and now the internet, all of the above plus personal appearances when possible) and declare unto my people their transgression, and to the house of Jacob their sins.” (ASV) We really need this today, coming from the Bible as it did with HWA!
This was the way people were called into the first century Church and it is the way they will be called into this last era as well, with the changing times, of course. However, times have now changed again from HWA’s day, as the internet was not in use yet. So the newer members today are being reached by whatever means are available now and that gets results, as seen above. It is those who believe the truth and then respond to it; they are the only ones to be sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph.1:10-14) after going through the process of repenting and baptism. Many that are just called only, (Even though maybe being baptized) may also be in the churches congregations but are not the chosen—may not be dedicated, committed and not yet sealed—and many of these, having been there for years, maybe even have been baptized for many years, may not know that they are still just being called and not yet chosen. It is by their fruits you will know them. (Matt.3:8 & Matt.7:20) Acts 5:32 show us that the Holy Spirit is given only to those who obey God so just being called and a part of the local congregation is not good enough. There are some in these churches of God groups who do not really obey God when it comes down to what they really want to do in their own lives. Some can never endure any trials when those trials begin to hurt and obstruct them in their way of wanting to live. They will begin to back away from the teachings of the Church and/or the trials, beginning to think up some other way to get around it, so as not to go through a severe trial or endure to the end. (Matt.24:13) God can see this potential in them long before it comes to light. (2Tim.2:19) This can come in many different ways and can try us all, so we have to keep going to God and seeking His answers, to whatever trials or troubles do come. We have to learn to put our fate in God’s hands. So, the called out ones to the truth are the church; but what is this second phases of a true Christian and a member of the real Church?
We now know, if we believe, that we are called by the Gospel and the truths of God, learning to keep all His Commandments and the commanded Holy Days as Christ and the early apostles did. Many in the early church however had not yet received the Holy Spirit, even though some had thought they did. It is the same today and even more so. If you are now thinking this may be YOU, then think carefully about what is coming next! There were many that thought they had received the Spirit of God in the early church but did not really show those fruits of being converted and learning spiritually, thus eventually drifted away—thus must not have genuinely repented or something else happened. They did not commit their lives to it, much like many today. Maybe they have lost their first love, (Rev.2:4) or they were not really committed to truth, as Paul revealed in Acts and elsewhere. This was happening “IN THE CHURCH” by counterfeits—never Christians! (Acts 20:29-31 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves (elders—V.17) men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. (Is this happening again today?) 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”)
Many evangelists & elders are having that same thing apply to themselves, as well as many members today. We are in a time of lukewarm-ness and compromise—in a trying time for true Christians! Paul taught that true Christians will come to believe (though it may take a little longer and some hard learning with their Bible) the same truth and strive not to be divided in their own opinions! For example; 1 Cor.1:10 says, “Now I plead with 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.” We are to be growing with the mind of Christ (Phil.2:5) and being led by the same Spirit (John 16:13) to the same understanding of truth, while striving to love one another as Christ & the Father loves us! (John 13:34-35) It is the called, chosen and the faithful (Rev.17:14, also called the “ELECT” in Matt.24:31 and other places) that will be with Christ, when He has finally come down to this earth and after the first resurrection has already occurred. (1Thess.4:15-18) The Church/Elect will stick to what the Scriptures reveal and not add anything into what is already being said, especially about Christ’s return. Scripture is consistent and does not throw something else in at the last minute, that none of the earlier first fruits could have ever known. (Jude 3) The Holy Spirit has guided and will guide all the first fruits to the same truth, which they can then clearly prove from Scripture.
The two phases that I spoke of earlier was a reference to what the Church of God began as and then is to became, in order to be the elect. (Matt.5:48) The called out ones are the “ekklesia” (ek-klay-see'-ah—NT:1577) and the chosen ones/elect are the eklektos (ek-lek-tos'—NT:1588). According to Vines Expository Dictionary, the difference signifies "picked out, chosen" (eklektos NT:1588) from those who are originally ekklesia NT:1577, (from ek, "out of," and klesis, "a calling"). The true COG are those who have been called and are also being chosen, (begotten through the Holy Spirit) when many Scriptures are put together. (Matt.22:14) They will have and also be actively led by the Holy Spirit. (Rom.8:9 & v.14) One can lose the Spirit after having it, requiring diligence to maintain, so this is a continuing thing until Christ returns or they die.
Once the Church is called out by the truth of the Gospel and Scripture, each individual is to continue to stay committed to truth and grow spiritually. It grows spiritually, now under the leadership of Christ and the Holy Spirit to becomes the elect, but then it also is to stay faithful until Christ returns or they die in faith. 1 Cor. 3:16-17 says; “Do you not know that you (Personally; if truly converted) are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
The Church honors those leaders who also desire to serve God & Christ, and their fruits will show this. So the true COG are first the called out and then secondly chosen ones who continue to obey God, no matter where they find to attend for the purpose of obeying God. They continue to obey and grow, remaining faithful to truth until they die or Christ returns, according to what your Bible reveals. One body, one Church. (Eph.4:1-6) They will not be shaken loose from the tree of life, once it has been opened again for them—even if they have to move from one organization to another until Christ comes. Trials will test us all and in one way or another, so blessed be those who hold fast to truth through it all! True leaders and servants of Christ will recognize their own frailties and the flaws of others, as long as they are being worked on. Again, by their fruits you will know them. None of us are yet perfect but we will be trying and have an attitude of repentance and a willingness to change. We will repent when we are positively shown from the word of God that we are wrong. This is the true COG through all time, a small flock (Luke 12:32) that continues to work, overcome and look forward to the return of Christ. John 10:14-16 tells us from Christ’s own words; “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; (or time) them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” Today, there is the factor (In the minds of some) of the few left of “Philadelphia” and the majority of Laodicea, but it is the true elect of the Church that Christ will gather together when He returns! (Matt.24:31) There is obviously more to this story that can be learned and then taught, but remember Phil.2:12 & 13 and what you have been called and chosen for—remaining faithful to the end!
This IS where and who the true COG really is today and they will be doing or participating in the work of God and in a diligent manner! (Rev.3:19)