Church of God, New World Ministries

Bible Q & A

Q. Some say that the Church as the true body of Christ has existed continuously since the first century. What books should I consult in investigating this question for myself?
A. The true Church is composed of those – and only those – who have truly repented and have therefore received the Holy spirit of God (Acts 2:38). These people are comparatively few in number, though the number of people claiming the name of “Christian” is large. The true Church is small (Luke 12:32). Furthermore, its people are scattered. But wherever they are, those Spirit-led individuals are the body of Christ.

Historically, in addition to the large organizations of so-called Christians, smaller groups have always existed, standing for doctrines differing from the beliefs of the mainstream churches. You should be able to find encyclopedias in your local library which deal specifically with religious sects. You will want especially those dealing with the earlier periods of the Christian era. Form these you can learn the names of so-called “heretical” groups, and read brief statements of their main beliefs and histories. Then you can inquire about more thorough works on such individual groups.

We generally consider certain Ebionites, some of the Waldenses, Anabaptisets, Paulicians, the earliest Seventh-Day Baptists, and several other groups as standing more or less in the direct lineage of the Church of God. But, remember, no organization is the body of Christ. Rather, the Church is an organism often composed of scattered individuals (see I Corinthians 12). And usually those individuals do not make historical headlines. They are therefore almost all but impossible to trace.
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