Anytown, U.S.A. On a street sits a building with stained glass windows, a towering steeple, a cross, and a wide entrance. A sign in front beckons: âJoin Us for Sunday Worship Services â 11:00 AM â Everyone Welcome. Come Just As You Are!â
A woman passing by is pleased she can attend this church âjust as she is.â
On page five of the âLifestyles and Religionâ section of the local newspaper is a listing of area churches. A title above reads, âAttend the Church of Your Choice.â The reader runs his index finger down the list. His finger comes to rest on a church conveniently close by. It will do.
Such scenarios play out countless times. On Sunday morning, millions walk through the doors of the church of their choice. Convenience, ease of attending, a laidback atmosphere and a âmake me feel goodâ message are often their only criteria. Although people may not agree with all of the churchâs doctrines, they perceive that agreeing with the big or important ones is âgood enough.â Cafeteria Christianity is the accepted norm.
But almost no one gives thought as to whether the church he or she has chosen is the Church Jesus Christ built (Matt. 16:18) or if it has His teachings (28:20). Others assume they have chosen Christâs Church, yet have not proven it.
Does it matter?
Only One Church
The Restored Church of God, which publishes The Real Truth magazine, is often contacted by individuals who ask, âIs there a church in my area?âââDo you have a church near me?âââCan you tell me if there is a church affiliated with you or one that has similar beliefs in my town?â A few wonder if they can attend a service to âcheck us out.â
They may be readers of The Real Truth or of our literature. Having been exposed to traditional Christianityâs teachings, the expectation may be that The Restored Church of God is just another of the many denominations or sects of what they have been told (and wrongly assume) is collectively the true Church, and that RCG is basically the same in teachings and manner.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, âI will build My Church.â He was a carpenter and the son of a carpenter. He knew what it meant to conceive, design, plan and build a structure. He followed proper building principles and practices, beginning with a solid foundation. He did not build in a haphazard, shoddy, confusing or disjointed manner, nor have sections scattered everywhere. Whatever He built reflected directly upon Himâstructures indicative of His skills as a Master Builder. These reflected quality.
In building His Church, Jesus used the same approach. It is âbuilt upon the foundation [teachings] of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstoneâ (Eph. 2:20), is a âbuilding fitly framed togetherâ (vs. 21)ânot scattered and divided among many groupsâand is âteaching all nations to observe all things [not âsomeâ or âmostâ] whatsoever I [not men] have commandedâ (Matt. 28:20).
Christ called His Church a âlittle flockâ (Luke 12:32). This is far different from what is pictured and practiced by professing Christian churches, whose membership numbers in the billions.
God has only one Church. Its doctrines and practices are uniquely different from those of traditional, mainstream Christianity. It holds solely to the truth of Godâs Wordâthe Bible.
Nearly all churches of the world practice an âopen doorâ policy. This is because they are not overly concerned with what attendees believe. Here again, the Church of God is different. A person must have sufficient background and understanding of its teachings prior to attending. This is necessary to appreciate what a person will hear and learn. (Our four-part World to Come
broadcast series âThe True Churchâ carefully introduces who and what is the only Church that Jesus built.)
Only the Church that Jesus built has the true knowledge and understanding of salvationâwhat it is and what one must do to receive it. It must be the truth that the true Church teaches that attracts a personânot large numbers of members, not a congregation nearby, not ease of attending, not a âfeel good messageâ and not large impressive buildings in which to meet.
Those looking for a large church or one close
to them are not looking for the true Church!
Those attracted to the truth must recognize that Christâs Church is a âlittle flock,â and follows the pattern of the early Church, which âcontinues steadfastly in the apostlesâ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayersâ (Acts 2:42). They understand that the Church is not a physical building. It is the ekklesiaâthe âcalled outâ onesâwho, believing the same things (vs. 44), continue with one accord (vs. 46), faithfully assembling together on the Sabbath (Heb. 10:25) and, as necessary, in membersâ homes (Rom. 16:3, 5; I Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:2).
Yet none can join the Church that Christ built (and is still building today). God must call each person. Jesus plainly stated, âNo man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw
himâ (John 6:44). (To understand more, read our article âAre You Being Called?â)
The truth of GodâHis doctrines, the knowledge of the kingdom of God and how to enter itâhas its own attraction for those who love it. Such people comprehend they have been given the opportunity âto know the mysteries of the kingdom of heavenâ (Matt. 13:11).
Jesus likened it to âtreasure hid in a field; the which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he has, and buys that fieldâ (vs. 44). It is also âlike unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought itâ (vs. 45-46).
There is a willingness to âpay the priceâ in the mind of one who has been given such great and precious knowledge. In effect, he is willing to ârun barefoot across broken glass through an open field dodging sniper fireâ to hold on to the truth. Assembling in homes with smaller numbers (or perhaps even alone), and having to sometimes drive great distances to do so, is not a deterrent. The âpearl of great priceâ is well worth it.
You have likely read or heard of John 8:32, which states, âAnd you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.â But do you understand how and from what the truth frees you? Most assume they do.
Revelation 12:9 calls Satan âthe great dragonâŠwhich deceives the whole world.â Take that statement for what it says. The entire world is deceived by Satan. As Godâs (and humanityâs) archenemy, this master deceiver counterfeits every one of Godâs doctrines. Through traditional Christianity, Satan presents his teachings as from God, pawning off ancient, pagan religious practices to an unsuspecting humanity.
In place of the true Sabbath, the devil presents Sunday worship. In place of Godâs Holy Days, he promotes the pagan holidays of Christmas and Easter, which were practiced long ago to honor pagan deities. In place of the knowledge of being born into the divine God Family and ruling with Jesus Christ in the kingdom of God, Satan has duped âChristianityâ into believing that being âborn againâ is some sort of ethereal feeling, and that the reward of the saved is ârolling around heavenâ for eternity. That man has an immortal soul; therefore, eternal life really is not a gift from Godâand that now is the only day of salvation, meaning that those who lived before Jesus Christ was born or never heard the name of Jesus are âlost,â doomed to an ever-burning hell.
People succumb to these and other false teachings, and remain ignorant of Godâs step-by-step plan of salvation, through which the vast majority who have lived since Adam will be saved.
The truth sets one free from Satanâs deceptionâfree from bondage to the devil and his lies (John 8:44). It sets a person free from the way that leads to eternal death, and puts one on the path that leads to eternal life. It releases us from slavery to the ways and customs of this world, into the liberty of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18; II Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:1; Jms. 1:25).
Moreover, the truth of God protects the begotten, yet unborn, sons of God from âevery wind of [false] doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceiveâ (Eph. 4:14). It sanctifies believers (John 17:17) and cleanses (Eph. 5:26), corrects, reproves and instructs them (II Tim. 3:16).
Hearing and then practicing the truth builds faith (Rom. 10:17; Jms. 2:17-20). It is âable to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ JesusâŠ[and] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrineâŠfor instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good worksâ (II Tim. 3:15-17).
The truth gives wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and is a lamp to our feet, lighting our path toward inheriting Godâs kingdom (Psa. 119:98-100, 104-105).
The Straight and Narrow Way
Untold millions have been taught by this worldâs ministers that there are âmany paths to heavenâ or âmany spokes on the wheel of salvation.â This is said to try to make sense of the confusion and competing messages of Christendom, and to keep its deceived adherents from questioning its nonsensical teachings.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bibleâthe word of truthâsays no such thing.
Notice what Christ says about the path to eternal life: âEnter you in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad [easy] is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there at. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find itâ (Matt. 7:13-14).
This worldâs version of Christianity offers the broad, easy way, a wide entrance, a come-just-as-you-are, nothing-is-expected-of-you sales pitch, which appeals to carnal nature (Rom. 8:7).
Jesusâ words counter this reasoning: âNot everyone that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heavenâ (Matt. 7:21). You must be a âdoer of the word, and not [a] hearer onlyâ (Jms. 1:22).
âFor unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the moreâ (Luke 12:48).
Jesus also says, âFor many are called, but few are chosenâ (Matt. 22:14). Actually, few choose to be chosen!
Why is this?
In the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15), Christ explains that some who hear the truth: (1) allow the wiles of the devil to stop them from responding; (2) give up because of trials or persecution; (3) are more concerned with the cares of this present physical life, and are not willing to give up the riches and pleasures Satanâs world has to offer; (4) respond to it, practice it and keep it, enduring to the end all while developing holy, righteous, godly character.
True Christianity is a way of life that brings countless blessings. It is a rich, abundant and joyful life (John 10:10 â last part; 14:27; 15:11; Rom. 15:11). It involves more than just believing the truth. It means actively practicingâlivingâit.
Yet it also means fighting against the course of this âpresent evil worldâ (Gal. 1:4). It means coming out of its ways, practices, customs and religions, and being willing to stand out from the crowd of those who keep Sunday, Christmas, New Yearâs, Easter and other worldly celebrations. It means that trials, tribulations and persecution for âbeing differentâ will come. Yes, âwe must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of Godâ (Acts 14:22).
It may even mean difficulties with friends, family and employers, and suffering loss. Yet, in return, receiving a spiritual family of like-minded believers now and eternal life later (Matt. 10:34-39; 19:28-29; Mark 10:29-30).
But understand that, through it all, the testing of our faith builds patience (Jms. 1:3) and godly character, in hope of receiving eternal life (Rom. 5:1-5). âThat the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christâ (I Pet. 1:7)âthat âan entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christâ (II Pet. 1:11).
For those who commit their lives to living the truth, âthere has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not [allow] you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear itâ (I Cor. 10:13). And though âmany are the afflictions of the righteousâŠthe Lord delivers him out of them allâ (Psa. 34:19).
These promises are sure!
Jesus Christ was a Messenger sent from God with a commission: âI must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can workâ (John 9:4); âI must preach the kingdom of GodâŠfor therefore am I sentâ (Luke 4:43). He âwent about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdomâ (Matt. 4:23), âsaying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospelâ (Mark 1:15).
Christ preached the gospel of the coming world-ruling government of God. His Church does the same.
At the end of His ministry on Earth, Jesus told His apostles, âAll power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go you 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 youâ (Matt. 28:18-20).
He instructed Peter three times, âIf you love Me, feed My sheepâ (John 21:15-17). Christâs Church fulfills this commission also. As the Christianâs spiritual Mother (Gal. 4:26), the Church protects, nourishes and feeds Godâs spirit-begotten children.
Whether one is close to a congregation, or is an isolated member, it makes no difference. With over 100 books and booklets, scores of reprint articles, a 30-lesson Bible Introduction Course, 209 âQuestion and Answerâ letters, numerous other pieces of literature and hundreds of sermons, with more being constantly added, RCG teaches all of Godâs truthâall that one needs to know about salvation.
Some congregations in The Restored Church of God begin with one faithful person, couple or family. In time, God often quickly adds to a specific area (Acts 2:47), growing the congregation. Also, those who start as âpioneersâ in their area have opportunities at various times of the year to meet with more brethren (for example, at the annual Feast of Tabernacles).
Whether they attend a congregation or worship alone, Godâs people are abundantly fed with spiritual food. They receive weekly sermon CDs and Announcement Bulletins to hold Sabbath services at home, which educate and inform them about Godâs Work. RCG has the largest amount of literature explaining the truths of God that the world has ever seen. This literature, covering every biblical subject, is provided to all members.
Again, Jesus has only one Church. It does His Work under a government that explains and declares the truth through two commissions: (1) preaching the true gospel of the soon-coming kingdom of God as a witness to the world, and (2) feeding the flock of God.
By simply reading this article, you have come in contact with that Church. It has trained and consecrated ministers of the true Jesus Christ. Though a little flock, His congregations around the world are set apart and fed by the truth.
Those seeking the true Church: The truth taught there is much more important than attracting large numbers or being conveniently close.â
Truth or convenience? Truth should always be the deciding factor.
We recommend reading our book Where Is the True Church? â and Its Incredible History!