Where is the one and only true Church today—the Church founded by Jesus Christ in A.D. 31? Seven major eye-opening proofs identify it unmistakably.
Proof Six (Continued): WHAT AND WHY THE CHURCH?
What about the "loner" Christian who says, "I will serve Christ in my own way"? What about the one who leaves God's Church to have his own private relation with Christ—to get his own salvation—without giving his part of the Church's effort to send the true gospel into ALL THE WORLD? Or, what about the one who follows a MAN because of that man's personality, charisma or attractiveness, or some other group? Stop and THINK! Is Christ going to marry a number of differing groups, not in complete harmony with each other—yet all "professing CHRIST"? Jesus said, "He that is not with me [and since He is the Head of God's one and only Church, He plainly meant with Him where HE is working—in God's one Church] is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad" (Matthew 12:30). Jesus Christ is going to marry THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH—not a number of scattered groups or scattered individuals. God's law and way of life may be summed up in the one word "LOVE"—which is outflowing—the way of "GIVE"—while Satan's way is that of "GET." The one who tries to GET his salvation apart from the one Church Christ is going to marry is on the "GET" way. Those loyally in the Church are GIVING of their prayers, loyalty, encouragement and support to Christ's chosen apostle in GIVING the GOOD NEWS to the world—its ONLY HOPE! In other words, he that seeks to GET his own salvation without GIVING his part in the team effort of the Church—or who follows a man or some other group—is surely NOT BUILDING ON THE ONE SURE FOUNDATION of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. Again, "Except God build the house, they labour in vain that build it …" (Psalm 127:1). The Church is the HOUSEHOLD OF GOD and a BUILDING—the glorious TEMPLE to which Christ shall come!
How Well Organized?
Notice again how well organized is the one true Church for getting the GREAT COMMISSION to the whole world: "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:21). Again: "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted [pressed together, knit or drawn together, consolidated] by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part …" (Ephesians 4:16). "And he [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, TILL we all come in the UNITY of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13). The true Church of God has these offices, as the living Christ put them in His Church.
A Tithe-Paying Church
God's continuing original Church is also a tithe-paying Church. The Church receives that ONE SAME THING they all are commanded to believe—even as the Church beginning in A.D. 31 did—from the APOSTLES who received the doctrines and teachings FROM CHRIST! The Church of God under Peter, Paul and the first-century apostles was a Church which gave not only tithes but offerings! Tithing started BEFORE Moses and the Old Testament Israel. It started with Abraham, who, after the slaughter of the kings, gave the tithe of all to Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God (actually the one who became Christ). Write for the free reprint article "The Mystery of Melchizedek Solved." Tithing to God—PAYING a tenth of one's "increase"—became a law in Old Testament Israel. After both Israel and Judah had gone into captivity and slavery, the prophet Malachi, writing about 450 B.C., as one of the prophets who with the apostles and Christ form the FOUNDATION of the Church, wrote PROPHETICALLY concerning our time today: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation" (Malachi 3:8-9). Both the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah had long before been taken out of their land as slaves. A comparatively small contingent was sent back to Jerusalem 70 years after Judah's captivity by King Cyrus of Persia under governorship of Zerubbabel to build the second temple. Some of these Jews were still in Judea when Malachi wrote, but the two nations, as a whole composing ancient Israel, were not there. THIS WAS NOT MOSAIC LAW—this was PROPHECY for OUR DAY! Malachi continued, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and PROVE ME NOW HEREWITH, saith the Eternal, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (verse 10). That is not "Old Testament stuff," as God's true Church KNOWS—and because it has TITHED, it has had God's blessing and prosperity. Speaking of tithes, Jesus said, "… these ought ye to have done …" (Matthew 23:23); Hebrews 7:4-12 binds tithing in the New Testament. I Corinthians 9:1-14 definitely upholds the principle of tithing and GIVING.
Knowledge of God's Master Plan
Of all the religions—and of all the denominations and sects in "Christianity"—God's true Church alone has understanding of the master plan of God for His spiritual creation of man. This is forcibly reminded every year in the Church by the seven annual holy days and festivals Christ instituted in the Church. Small as the Church is in numbers—Jesus spoke of it as the "little flock" and said that as they had persecuted Him so would they His Church—nevertheless the Church's great annual autumnal Feast of Tabernacles is the LARGEST church conclave, convention or festival held on earth! As God made the weekly Sabbath FOR MAN (Mark 2:27) when man was made, so He gave His Church seven annual Sabbaths and seven annual festivals when He first established the Church. In Acts 7:38, you will find the Old Testament congregation of Israel called "the church in the wilderness." It was composed of the human-born children of Israel; the Church of the New Testament is composed of the begotten children of GOD. As the Old Testament church was called the congregation of Israel, so the New Testament Church is called the Church of GOD. To the Church—both Old Testament under Moses and New Testament under Christ—God gave these annual occasions to emphatically remind His people, annually, of His master plan. No other church or religion, to our knowledge, observes these festivals or knows their tremendous MEANING! It has been stated before that as the physical creation of man began with the physical Adam, so the SPIRITUAL creation of man begins with the spiritual Christ. The first of these annual festivals is the Passover, observed on the eve of the fourteenth day of the first month of the sacred year. This is the year's most solemn service, on the anniversary—as a memorial—of the death of Christ to reconcile those called to God. This is immediately followed by the next seven days—the Festival of Unleavened Bread. All leaven must be put out of members' houses, and nothing leavened may be eaten. Leaven is a symbol of sin. It emphatically reminds God's called-out ones daily for seven days through their stomachs that we must put sin out of our lives. Also it is a memorial, on the anniversary of Israel's exodus out of Egypt. Egypt also is symbolic of sin—and Israel was taken out by God with miracles, as He delivers His people today from the bondage of sin. There are two annual holy days in this festival—the first and the last of the seven. The third annual festival is the Feast of FIRSTFRUITS, called in the New Testament of the Bible "Pentecost," because this is the one set-apart time of year when the Church COUNTS to calculate the proper day. It is 50 days, counted beginning on the "morrow after the weekly Sabbath" which occurs during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. "Pentecost" is simply the Greek for "fifty-count." This pictures the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, begetting the "firstfruits"—those relative first few called to spiritual salvation. The Holy Spirit came on the very fiftieth day—the first time the Holy Spirit was given to a group, which formed the Church of God. This annual festive occasion reminds God's people yearly that they are merely the first to be called to spiritual salvation; that the world, except the few called, is CUT OFF from God—neither "saved" nor "lost"—just not yet called! Therefore not yet judged. Another incidental proof of the identity of the one true Church is the knowledge, that with the foundation of the Church of God, "the time is come that JUDGMENT must begin at the house of God." Those called into God's Church are now being judged. Others are not—YET! These annual festivals are built around the annual harvest seasons in Jerusalem. The first three portray the early grain harvest, typical of the first early spiritual harvest in the conversion of man. The last four correspond to the final great autumnal harvest. They all come in the seventh sacred month. Festival number four is the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah in Judaism), on the first day of the seventh month of the sacred calendar. The Feast of Trumpets pictures and reminds the Church yearly of the SECOND COMING of CHRIST to reign over all the earth.
Largest Convention on Earth
The fifth festival is the Day of Atonement, called in Judaism Yom Kippur—a solemn fast day. No food may be eaten from sunset to sunset. It pictures to God's people restoring man to AT-ONE-MENT with God. The world, cut off from God these 6,000 years, has been deceived and led by the god of this world, Satan. Jesus Christ QUALIFIED to replace the former Lucifer on the THRONE of the earth. When He comes as KING of kings, Satan shall be deposed, bound, shut up (Revelation 20:3) for 1,000 years. Without Satan, who has "worked IN the people of the world" (Ephesians 2:2), humanity at last may be made AT ONE with the true Creator GOD! The sixth festival is the Feast of Tabernacles—a seven-day festival, with the first day the sixth annual Holy Day. The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) is followed by an eighth day, a one-day holy day—making in all an eight-day festival. This pictures the millennial reign of the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling all nations for 1,000 years. During this millennium, ALL living will be called to repentance and faith and eternal salvation through the reigning CHRIST—with no Satan to overcome. More of the details of this time will be given under PROOF number seven, to follow. This seventh and final holy day begins at sunset just as the Feast of Tabernacles is ending. As stated earlier, small though the Worldwide Church of God may be in numbers, this is the largest church convention or conclave held annually on earth—with festival sites all over the world.
When the Billions Shall Be Called
The final eighth day (the seventh festival) brings to mind again every year what is in God's master plan for the BILLIONS of people who have lived and died since Adam—cut off from God—UNjudged—neither "lost" nor yet "saved." They will be resurrected after the millennium in a special resurrection (Revelation 20:11-13). This is also described in Ezekiel's prophecy of the "valley of dry bones" (Ezekiel 37). All previously uncalled will be resurrected MORTAL, and with the 7,000 years of humanity now history, will face up to what their experience in sin really proved. All then will be called to repentance and ETERNAL LIFE.
Final Fate of the Incorrigible
There shall then be one more resurrection—of those who were called to salvation, but rejected it—the incorrigible wicked. They will be resurrected MORTAL to realize their fatal decision. They will be "cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death" (Revelation 20:14-15). This "lake of fire" is pictured by Peter in his second letter. "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets [Old Testament] , and of the commandment of us the apostles [New Testament] of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (II Peter 3:1-10). Malachi adds, of that final destruction of the willful rebellious into unconscious (Ecclesiastes 9:5) annihilation: "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch… . for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 4:1-3).
The Name of the True Church
The NAME of God's true Church is important—but not alone the exclusive proof of identification, because a small number of professing Christian sects use the name. Yet the one and only original Church founded A.D. 31 by Jesus Christ most certainly will have the true NAME! God names things and people what they are. The "church in the wilderness"—the Old Testament church (or congregation) was named the "congregation of Israel" because it was composed of the physically born children of Israel. The two-letter word of denotes ownership or origin. The New Testament Church organized by Christ is called, twelve TIMES in the New Testament, "the CHURCH OF GOD," sometimes with a modifying word or phrase such as "the Church of God, which is at Corinth," or the "Churches of God in Judea." Today it is known as the Worldwide Church of God. The English word "church" is translated from the Greek ekklesia, and the Greek word used in the original writing of the New Testament means, simply, a group, an assembly, etc., without specific reference to a church. At Ephesus, for example, the city council—political—was called an ekklesia, with no religious connotation at all. The ONLY FACTOR that makes the word "church" sacred is when it refers to the Church of GOD—in other words, the group, congregation, assembly or church that BELONGS TO GOD. It is GOD'S name connected with it that lends sanctity to the name. For example, the name "Roman Catholic Church" means a universal (catholic) church of Rome. The "Lutheran Church" is that group or body of people following or established by Luther. The "Methodist Church" means (in its name) a group or body of people following a certain method. The "Baptist Church" by name means a group or combination of groups who believe in baptizing and who follow John the Baptist. The name "Congregational Church" simply implies a group of people who believe the lay people ought to have the authority. The name "Presbyterian Church" means an associated group who believe the "presbytery" of officiating clergy have the authority. The name "Church of God" means that group of "called-out ones," called out from this world, who look to GOD as the authority—and who submit to government from God through Christ, through (on the human level) apostles chosen by Christ—NOT elected by the people! So there is vital MEANING to the name of the true Church. And the name is IMPORTANT! In Jesus' last prayer to God before being crucified, He prayed, "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world… . And now … I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be ONE, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name … " (John 17:6, 11-12).