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The True Church—Identifying It – Part 2

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The True Church—Identifying It – Part 2

What doctrines does God’s true Church teach?

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Most churchgoers think that accepting Jesus as their Savior makes them His followers. Most also assume that doctrines believed, traditions practiced, and church affiliation count little, if at all.

This could not be more wrong!

Who and What Is God?

In this series on the true Church of God, we have been examining what the Bible really says about its identity. Jesus taught, “And every one that hears these sayings of Mine [meaning Christ’s instruction, doctrines, commands—His teachings—the truths He brings], and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand” (Matt. 7:26).

Teachings are everything! In fact, in every regard, they define and identify the true Church. We will survey as many as one article will permit.

First, consider who and what is God? The ancient Greeks had 30,000 gods. The Hindus reportedly have five million. Judaism teaches God is a single Person. Many believe God is a kind of “inner goodness” within everyone. Others that He is a “metaphysical idea.” Most traditional churches teach God is a trinity—one Being, but three Persons. And millions believe there is no God.

God does exist and His existence can be proven! The single most important biblical truth is the identity of the true God! And the first of the Commandments requires people to worship only Him.

The God of the Bible said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness…” (Gen. 1:26). God was not talking to Himself. Nor was He confused. God is plainly more than one Person. The Hebrew word for God is elohim. It is a uni-plural word—in this case, meaning one God, but more than one Person. God and Christ represent two Beings, composing one Godhead. Together, they represent the “Us” and “Our” of this verse.

John 1 contains a crucial—and eye-opening—statement about the true nature and identity of God. It states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (vs. 1-2, 14).

The only way the Word could both be God and be with God is if they are separate Beings. One Person, the Word, who became Jesus Christ, came to Earth and “dwelt among men,” until His crucifixion as the Savior of mankind. The other, the Father, who resurrected Jesus from the dead, remained in heaven and was the One to whom Jesus prayed.

The Godhead now has two separate beings—Father and Son! If God were a trinity—three Persons or Entities in one Being (with the Holy Spirit the supposed third Person)—Christ’s death and role as Savior would have been impossible.

God is not conjoined triplets where one-third of one Being can die—without affecting the other two-thirds of the same Being.

The trinity (called a “mystery that cannot be understood”) denies God’s Master Purpose for mankind. It pictures God as closed and triune with no room for expansion in His Father/Son family relationship!

Christ’s Church understands and teaches the identity of the true God.

Mankind’s Great Purpose

Now consider the purpose for mankind. Let’s reread Genesis 1:26 with a different emphasis, “…Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness…” It is not within the scope of one article to disprove the fiction of evolution and prove the truth of a literal creation. The fact is that God did create man. But we must ask, why? For what purpose?

The belief of nearly all professing Christians is that they will “die and go to heaven.” Yet, Christ stated, “…no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man…” (John 3:13). The belief that “heaven is the reward of the saved” is a fable!

In His first recorded sermon, Jesus taught, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). He knew Christians do not go to heaven—they inherit the earth! (In fact, Jesus was quoting Psalm 37:11.) God’s Plan is to give rulership of Earth to Christ and the resurrected saints who will reign with Him. It has never been His Plan that people merely “roll around heaven all day,” “ride clouds,” “play harps,” or “walk the streets of gold, in front of the pearly gates.”

God’s purpose for humanity is infinitely greater than the inventions of deceived men!

The book of Revelation, which is Christ’s revealing of events prior to and following His Return, explains, “And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (5:10). Many refer to Christ as King of kings, but never question who are the other “kings.” These are the resurrected saints! Daniel 7:18, 22 and 27 plainly reveal that the returning Christ and the saints inherit all kingdoms of this world.

The Father says Jesus is “His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). Many more sons and daughters will soon be added to God’s Family. They will enjoy the same things that God Himself enjoys. God is a Family—a Household! (Read Ephesians 3:15 and I Timothy 3:15.)

True Christians have the Spirit of God. This makes them sons of God: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). Now consider this: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).

Christ is called the firstborn among many brethren (the true Christians who follow later), because those added to God’s Family—in the resurrection to occur at Christ’s Return—are going to be “like Him.” They are not like something else. Christ is God. Being “like Him” means being part of the God Family with Him.

God is a Father who now has one (born) Son. But soon there will be many more. God is reproducing Himself by developing His character in yielded, conquered, Spirit-begotten and led human beings.

The apostle Paul said the ministry teaches and edifies the Church so that it can grow into the “stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13). A Christian copies and builds the character of Jesus Christ to qualify for membership in the God Family. The marvelous, awesome human potential offered to everyone who truly repents—changes—and believes is that they will be born into the very Family of God. What a sobering yet exciting opportunity and future responsibility! How glorious is the future of Christians! May God help you understand what He has offered to all who seek Him first—above all else (Matt. 6:33)!

The true Church teaches the incredible potential that lies ahead for every one of God’s people.

This truth is connected to the true gospel. Revelation 12:9 states, “Satan…deceives the whole world…” What a staggering statement! The truth about a subject as vital as the message Christ brought would be no exception.

The True Gospel

The first recorded words spoken by Christ during His earthly ministry were, “Repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

But what is the gospel? Those who would be true Christians are told they must believe it. Mark also wrote, “Jesus came…preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (vs. 14). There is no gospel but the kingdom of God. Of course, the world focuses on the Person of Jesus rather than on the message He brought. It is almost entirely ignorant of the kingdom of God—the governing Family of God with Christ and His saints.

Professing Christendom has assumed the belief of numerous manmade gospels. This is one of the greatest distinctions between the many denominations and sects of the world and the true Church.

Rather than focusing on Himself, or teaching a gospel about Himself, Jesus came to reveal the Father. Yet the Father and His role as Supreme Head of the divine Family of God is almost entirely unknown today. As Savior and High Priest, Jesus brought reconciliation—access to the Father—saving us by His Resurrection (Rom. 5:10).

The true Church understands Christ’s vital role as mediator to the Father—but also has Him in proper perspective. It does not overly focus on Him by constantly speaking of “adoring Jesus” and “His precious blood.” Neither does it see Him as merely dead on the cross or a baby in the manger, among other popular views that invariably reduce Christ.

The true Jesus Christ brought a message about a coming world government—the kingdom of God!

Paul warned those who would believe or teach another gospel, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ…if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-7, 9).

Satan does not talk directly to human beings. He works through his servants—his ministers. The Bible teaches that the devil has his ministers—and they invariably teach a false gospel. Paul warned of being “beguiled” into accepting “another Jesus” who brought “another gospel” through “another spirit” (II Cor. 11:3-4). He went on to describe the cunning of Satan’s ministers: “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…” (vs. 13-15).

The true Church has always had to be careful—vigilant—about the dangers of false ministers entering it and perverting the doctrines of God.

All but one gospel are counterfeits designed by the devil to replace the towering truth of God’s soon-coming kingdom. Let’s read: “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4).

God, for His own supreme purpose, has opened the truth of the gospel and its meaning to only a very few—and has put them into His Church. The rest of the world remains blinded for now. Satan does not want mortal humans to receive and enjoy what is denied to him.

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus foretold, “…this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached [Mark 13:10 adds “published”] in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

The Church that Christ built has the knowledge of His true gospel. That Church preaches the kingdom of God until the end of this age comes (Matt. 24:46).

Another, and related, truth must be covered here. God’s principle is to tithe on one’s income. This is because “the tithe is God’s”—and it is “holy to Him.” (The Hebrew means “tenth.”) In Malachi 3:8-10, God condemns as “robbers” those who do not both pay Him His tithes and give Him offerings! But He promises there to “open the windows of heaven” and pour tremendous blessings on those willing to “prove Him” regarding this promise. Faithful tithing is the way God finances preaching the kingdom to the world and the warning message to the modern descendants of ancient Israel. Christ affirmed the law of tithing in Matthew 23:23—and other New Testament verses confirm Christ’s words.

God’s Church teaches the truth about tithing, and its connection to preaching the true gospel. You have been permitted to come into contact with the knowledge of the true gospel, and the understanding that you can be a part of God’s Church now—as well as His kingdom, His governing Family, later!

But first comes a life of testing. These tests come in various ways.

The Sabbath Test Command

There is one command that sets God’s people apart from all others—and it is the test command: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work…” (Ex. 20:8-10).

God gave the Sabbath from Mount Sinai, through Moses, to Israel. While most people are familiar with this story, they are not aware that God commanded the Sabbath be kept forever! It was never “just for the Jews” or “just for Israel.” It predates the first Israelites, which includes Jews, by over 2,000 years.

The God of the Old Testament declares, “For I am the Lord, I change not…” (Mal. 3:6). Paul was inspired to record, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Be not carried about with various and strange doctrines…” (Heb. 13:8-9).

I Corinthians 10:4 identifies Christ as the “Rock” of the Old Testament. Almost none recognize that the Lord of the Old Testament was also the New Testament Lord who came as “the Word”—and was Jesus Christ. In other words, Christ is the One who inspired both Malachi in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament to record that He is a God who does not change! His people are to hold only to truth, avoiding all wrong (or “strange”) doctrines.

This permanence applies to the Sabbath. This is why, in the New Testament, Jesus said, “Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28).

Yet, Sunday is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Day.” While the true Lord’s Day of the Bible is actually the prophesied Day of the Lord—the Day of His Wrath (see Joel 2:1-11; Rev. 1:10, 15:1 and 7, among many others)—the term has become synonymous with Sunday. But why? The reason is simple. If Sunday can be established as the day Jesus was resurrected, it can be a means of validating and “authorizing” the unauthorized keeping of Sunday by this world’s churches—in place of God’s Sabbath!

More than the Good Friday-Easter Sunday tradition collapses if Jesus was in the tomb a full 72 hours (late Wednesday to late Saturday) instead of the commonly believed 36 hours of late Friday to early Sunday. The biggest reason for the unscriptural tradition (Mark 7:7) of Sunday-keeping collapses with it. God has always said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). Never, “Remember Sunday, to keep it holy—and just call it the Lord’s day!”

A historian once observed, “More than the Jews having kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews”! This could just as easily have been said of God’s Church, which has been under siege through the ages, in part because of its faithful Sabbath-keeping. You will want to read my book Saturday or Sunday – Which Is the Sabbath? to learn more about the Sabbath.

One of the most vital keys that identifies the true original Church of God is His Sabbath.

The Annual Holy Days

The weekly Sabbath is not the only Sabbath God ordained to be kept forever. In Ezekiel 20:12, God said, “I gave them My Sabbaths”—plural. Leviticus 23 describes seven Holy Days—annual Sabbaths—that God commanded Israel (four times) to keep “forever.”

Verse 2 calls these “feasts of the Lord.” The terms Holy Day, High Day and Feast Day are all found in the Bible and are synonymous. When understood, these days, as they are kept each year in sequence, depict important events within God’s Plan.

The first two Holy Days are the First and Last Days of Unleavened Bread. These were kept by the early Church (Acts 12:3; 20:6) in conjunction with, and immediately after, the Lord’s Supper—the New Testament Passover. The Passover shows God’s mercy through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and is the one feast that is not an annual Sabbath.

The seven Days of Unleavened Bread depict the Christian coming out of sin, just as Israel came out of Egypt after the first Passover of Exodus 12.

In late spring is the Day of Pentecost, or the Feast of Firstfruits, representing the early spring harvest in Israel. It portrays the first resurrection of true saints—the firstfruits of God’s Plan—at Christ’s Return.

Four more annual Sabbaths are kept in the fall. The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah to the Jews) depicts Christ’s Return, with Revelation 8, 9 and 11:15-19 describing what occurs when each of the seven trumpets are blown.

The Day of Atonement (meaning, “at-one-ment”)—or Yom Kippur—pictures the whole world finally “at one” with God, because Satan will have been bound and cast into “the bottomless pit” (Rev. 20:2-3), where he can no longer deceive the nations.

The Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) depicts Christ’s 1,000-year reign with the saints—and a time of peace, happiness, abundance and prosperity for a world that has not known this for 6,000 years. This also seven-day feast is immediately followed by the Last Great Day, which represents a time after the Millennium when all human beings who have ever lived will receive a full opportunity to know God’s truth and plan of salvation. (My book The Awesome Potential of Man presents a detailed overview of God’s Master Plan.)

Those few being called in this age (John 6:44) have a special opportunity to be part of God’s early harvest, while the world learns the truth later, during the times pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.

Other Important Truths

Christmas and Easter (as well as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, April Fool’s, New Year’s, and certain other popular days) are not Bible customs. Rather, they are completely pagan in origin, and have nothing to do with God!—and are in fact condemned in Scripture in the strongest terms.

Christ’s Church teaches the truth about the pagan origin of men’s days and the scriptures that condemn them, and about God’s weekly Sabbath and His annual Holy Days, and the scriptures that support their observance. And His Church observes all these days together.

Most are amazed to learn how many plain, basic truths of the Bible they have never heard. You have just heard several, but here are more.

God’s Word says, “The wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23). Yet, most are taught and believe there is an “ever-burning hell,” where sinners and unbelievers go because they are still alive after death, since they have immortal souls.

The prophet Ezekiel wrote (twice), “…the soul that sins, it shall die” (18:4, 20)—souls can die!—and Matthew in the New Testament recorded, “…fear Him [God] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [gehenna: the “lake of fire,” which burns up the wicked]” (Matt. 10:28). Souls can be destroyed!

Countless millions have feared an ever-burning “hell” that does not exist! The Greek word for hell is hades, simply meaning “the grave.”

When Is One “Born Again”?

Here is another truth. The vast majority of churchgoers believe that conversion makes them “born again.” But Jesus taught, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Why do most believe they can be born again in this life, while they are still flesh? Jesus, only after His Resurrection, was called “the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18). No wonder He said that those who are born again are spirit. They are no longer composed of flesh—God’s Spirit has “changed” them from “flesh and blood” to spirit. (Read I Corinthians 15:50-52.)

Romans 8:29 also describes Christ as “the firstborn among many brethren.” You could be one of these “many brethren”—if you qualify!

The Definition of Sin

The Bible explains, “…sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4), and that the Law of God is “holy, and just, and good,” and “spiritual” (Rom. 7:12, 14). Why then does almost everyone believe Jesus “did away” with the Law when He declared, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled,” and that “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom…” (Matt. 5:17-19), meaning the very worst or lowest of men?

When people keep the Law of God, it keeps them! This is because it is a law. And because it is a law, when people break it, it breaks them! If everyone on Earth obeyed God’s Law, as will happen in Christ’s Millennial rule, the world would be a very different place.

Baptism and Conversion

Finally, the Bible method of baptism is immersion in water. No other form is acceptable to God. Baptism must be preceded by repentance and recognition of what human nature is—where it came from and why it needs to be repented of. “The laying on of hands” immediately follows baptism and is the only way a person can receive the gift of God’s Spirit.

God’s Church teaches the truth about death, hell, the soul, law and sin, baptism, conversion, receiving God’s Spirit and the true meaning of born again, as well as the straightforward scriptures explaining each. They are among the many clearly and easily understood truths taught by the only Church Jesus built.

We have covered but a fraction of Christ’s teachings. Much more could be said about each, but all are covered more extensively in our vast library of literature. Also, some truths, such as the gospel of the kingdom, tithing and God’s Sabbath, among many others, are the subject of many books and booklets we offer.

God’s people must always be fed the truth. So this means there has to be loving authority in the Church Christ built—under God’s form of government. Part 3 of this series will explore this and other related topics in depth. Many verses explain that God has a form of government, and He gives leaders—His leaders—true ministers—necessary authority so they are able to teach, strengthen, protect and lead His Flock.

You will want to read this extraordinary book, Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History! It examines how Christ governs His Church. Millions think He built it on the apostle Peter, and gave him and his successors authority to exchange God’s laws and teachings for men’s rules and traditions. The book reveals what He actually said to Peter, and you will be amazed! 

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