Do you fully comprehend the great difference that lies between God’s true Church and all others?
We need to take stock once in a while to realize the true nature of our calling. We need to understand the place of God’s true Church in the tremendous historical events now unfolding before our very eyes!
Do you think of yourself as a member of a Church? If you are truly converted and led by God’s Holy Spirit, then you are a church member! And if you reject your opportunities and responsibilities as a member of the body of Christ, the Church of God, then you will never be given eternal life in God’ s Kingdom!
Christ said: “I will build My church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). This statement emphasizes the fact that Jesus was going to build a true Church. He called it “My Church,” not Luther’s, Calvin’s, Wesley’s or that of some other man.
Christ also said that the gates of “hell” – meaning hades or the grave would never prevail against His Church. This is doubly so. First, because He definitely implied by this statement that His Church would never cease to exist. And, secondly, because the hope of all Christ’s true followers are in the resurrection from the dead.
The Church Jesus promised to build is to endure down through the ages and will be doing His work at His second coming. Christ began building His Church by calling and training disciples soon after His temptation in the wilderness. “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Immediately after this, He called Peter and Andrew to be His disciples. “And he said unto them, follow, and I will make you fishers of men” (v. 19).
Jesus called or specially selected His disciples and future ministers. They did not just decide to “enter the ministry.” And He always taught them the good news of the kingdom of heaven, or Kingdom of God as it is rendered by Mark, Luke and John.
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23).Mark records the beginning of Jesus’ ministry: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14).
Jesus always preached about the kingdom or government of God. This was the only message He taught His disciples who were to carry on the Church He was founding. Only God’s Church has the true gospel.
After teaching the message of God’s kingdom and government throughout His earthly ministry, and telling those who would be saved, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17), Jesus gave His apostles a parting commission of how to carry out His work until He came again. Christ commanded: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in (into) 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).
In Mark’s account, notice the importance of believing the true gospel: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark. 16:15-16).
The apostles were commanded to go forth and preach exactly the same message (gospel) that Christ had proclaimed throughout His earthly ministry, the good news of the government of God. Men were instructed to repent of their ways and believe that message in order to be saved.
Did the apostles and ministers of God’s Church preach that same message? When the Church was scattered because of persecution, Philip preached the truth to the people of Samaria. “But when they believed Philip’s preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
In his farewell address to the elders of the gentile church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul stated: “And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more” (Acts 20:25). The last record of Paul’s ministry contained in the book of Acts shows that he was still preaching and teaching this same message. “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31).
The true gospel was being proclaimed in the churches until the death of the apostles. It was the message of God’s coming kingdom or government, and His Rule over the lives of converted Christians now. It included the proclamation of Christ as the king or ruler. Notice how the apostles were accused of preaching these very things by their enemies: ‘These all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another King, one Jesus” (Acts 17:7).
How different was this message from the sentimental platitudes used by most modern ministers to exalt the person of Christ as Saviour, but do away with His message of God’s Rule and coming kingdom.
Only the Church of God continues to preach this true gospel! Only God’s Church is teaching the nations “to observe all things” set forth by example and command in the inspired Word of God! As the body of Jesus Christ, the physical instrument He is using to carry out His work, we must always be willing to do whatever Jesus commands in His Word, He is our King! He is our Master!
God’s Church is different in that it cannot be “joined” or “embraced” like so many churches of this world. Its members have all had to come to a place of repentance and total surrender of their personal wills before God placed them in His Church by filling them with the Holy Spirit.
Peter said under inspiration: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts. 2:38). Members of God’s true Church must all turn away from their sins, from breaking God’s laws. For the Holy Spirit is given to them that obey God (Acts 5:32).
Do you realize that this very qualification eliminates all organized professing “Christian” groups from being the true body of Christ except the obedient, yielded, growing branch of the Church of God? For without the Holy Spirit, man has only the natural carnal mind and is not a Christian at all! “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). The natural, unconverted mind of man rebels against God and against His law. And only the Holy Spirit can overcome this inherent rebellion and enable man to have contact with God and Christ. “Now if any man have not the Sprit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9).
How important it is to grasp that only those who have surrendered to God, who have repented of breaking His laws, and who are now filled with His Holy Spirit, only these individuals comprise the true church of God. Through His Spirit then, all such true Christians are filled with God’s very nature, His character. He lives His life in them. Only these God-ruled, God-directed people make up the true Church. They are the obedient “body” or instrument through whom Jesus Christ can work. “For as many as are led by the Sprit of God, they (and they alone) are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
How totally different this is from the worldly conception of “joining” a church! Yet even as we consider this, it is important to realize also that many professing members of God’s Church sometimes lose their first love for the truth and fall into a wrong attitude. Examine yourself! Have you gone through a process of deep, sincere repentance and conversion? If so, have you remained in the attitude of complete yieldedness to God and His Word?
To those of us in God’s ministry, one of the most sorrowful lessons we have had to learn is that many people we had thought converted were never actually converted at all. In every single case, without exception, we can now look back and realize that although they seemed sincere at the time, there was something ”different” about them. Often, they did not really display a humble spirit, a surrendered will.
They usually couldn’t take correction in a right spirit. At such times, they would seek to justify the self, and would become argumentative and bitter toward the minister who was trying to help them. As long as the spiritual mirror of God’s law was directed toward the faults and mistakes of others, they could smile and rejoice in different individual points of Bible truth. But they did not like the word of God to correct them, to have their mistakes, their sins pointed out in the light of God’s Word.
Can you take correction and reproof and instruction for which the Bible is profitable? (II Tim. 3:16).Can you take it in a right spirit when a brother in the Church or some of God’s ministers uses the “spiritual sword” of God’s word to point out and exhort you to overcome your faults? Are you still hanging on to part of your life to do with as you please? Or do you agree with Paul’s statement: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3)?
The key to the whole matter is whether you have totally surrendered your life, your self-will, your vanity, your entire being to God, His way, His laws, His Rule, His government in His Church now, and in His kingdom to come. The entire principle may be expressed by comparing your attitude with that of Jesus Christ. Under similar circumstances, facing immediate pain, suffering, humiliation and death in order to obey God, would you say as He did: “Nevertheless not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42)?
Do you really have that kind of attitude in your heart? If you do, then you may make many mistakes along the way because of human weakness, but when the really big test comes along, you will stand firm because your will has been surrendered to God.
So cultivate this spirit and attitude. Ask God to clean you up, to root out any human self-will that is left. Remember that God’s Church is a surrendered Church! It is a praying Church. It is the Spirit-led Church that Jesus Christ built. In determining who is in His Church God looks on the heart. And your heart must be right.
Speaking to His disciples of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13).
The Church that is guided by God’s Holy Spirit is constantly growing in truth and in an understanding of “things to come.” Because Christ is in this Church, its ministers are able to warn you of events destined to occur.
The apostle Peter instructed: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).
Why, if this is not the only true Church, are not the other churches and their ministers growing in grace and knowledge? Why don’t they “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” for correction, for instruction from God’s Word? Why do they reject new truth when it is freely offered to them? In all these things, why don’t they show the “fruits” of God’s Spirit?
Answering these questions should help us grasp more fully than ever the great difference between God’s Church and all others. It should make us appreciate even more that God has called us to be in His Church as this time.
But remember Paul’s statement to the brethren at Corinth: “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (I Corth. 12:27). Christ’s church is His body, the physical instrument He can guide and empower through the Holy Spirit in carrying His message to this dying world. Jesus Christ works through His Church!
And it was Jesus Christ who said: “And this gospel of the kingdom (government of God) shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).
God’s Church is different in that it is busy doing the work of Christ, to proclaim His message to the entire world. But the job is big and the laborers are very few. The help of every member is needed! Your prayers, your encouragement, your tithes, your offerings, your example to others are all important!
If you are a member of God’s Church you will know that its attitudes and objectives are truly different! If Christ has put you in His Church, you will need to surrender the “self” constantly day by day. You will need to study and pray to grow in grace and knowledge. You should be busy in the work of Christ’s body, doing everything within your power to help proclaim His message as a last “witness” to this world.
Then and only then, can you hope to hear Christ’s words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” This is the blessed reward that the members of God’s Church hope some day to receive!
If you are a member of a church that adheres to the traditions of men you should enroll today in our Mini-Correspondence Course and our Traditional Christian Doctrine series. Don’t take our word for it. Prove for yourself what God’s word truly says about His Church and the churches that adhere to the traditions of men. God says that this type of worship is in vain!