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?
Now let's get our bearings and understand the PURPOSE of the Church—its function. Remember, the Church was called out of a world CUT OFF from God—a world, as Jesus said, in which "NO MAN CAN come to me, except the Father draw him." The Church was the "called-out ones"—called out from the world. "Wherefore come out from among them [of the world], and be ye separate, saith the Lord..." (II Corinthians 6:17). REMEMBER, too, that from Adam God had called out of this world only those He chose to USE in a mission PREPARING FOR THE KINGDOM! The archangel Lucifer and his angels had been disqualified—changed into Satan and demons. Adam had chosen Satan's WAY of "GET" and rejected God as Source of basic knowledge, as Ruler and as Savior. According to Adam's decision, God cut THE WORLD off from access to Him. BUT, since God cut them off before they were born, God does not hold them responsible—they have not been judged; the responsibility is GOD'S—not theirs—for that which has been hidden from their minds. But now the time had come when the "second Adam"—Jesus Christ—had overcome Satan and QUALIFIED to restore the GOVERNMENT OF GOD to earth and establish the KINGDOM OF GOD—which is the divine FAMILY OF GOD, ruling the world—and ultimately the UNIVERSE! Jesus DID NOT come on a soul-saving crusade. Those uncalled and unsaved were NOT "lost." Just NOT JUDGED—yet! They shall be in the millennium and great white throne resurrection and judgment. Jesus came 1) to overcome Satan and QUALIFY to establish the KINGDOM OF GOD; 2) to call and teach His future apostles; 3) to proclaim the GOOD NEWS of the coming Kingdom of God; 4) to pay the penalty of the sins of the world by His death on the cross with His shed blood, thus reconciling those called to God the Father; 5) to be resurrected from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb, making the resurrection to IMMORTAL LIFE possible for those who are God's; 6) to ascend to the throne of God in heaven, and there, as the HIGH PRIEST of the Church and ITS LIVING HEAD, to direct the Church and intercede for it with God; and 7) having received the Kingdom from God, to COME AGAIN as the KING of kings and LORD of lords, in supreme almighty POWER and GLORY, to set up and rule THE KINGDOM OF GOD! Jesus ANNOUNCED the fact of the coming Kingdom, which, by His overcoming Satan, was ASSURED! He specially called and trained His apostles, started the Church with them and the 120, and then ADDED to the Church such as He needed to back up the apostles' ministry to THE WHOLE WORLD. To those He called, upon complete repentance and faith, He gave the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus they became partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4). The PURPOSE and FUNCTION of the Church is: 1) to back up with loyal support the apostles, as their part in the GREAT COMMISSION—and as GOD'S MEANS of, allowing them 2) to overcome Satan, developing God's holy, righteous CHARACTER within them through the Holy Spirit, thus qualifying them also to sit with Christ in His throne in Jerusalem, with power for ruling the whole earth (Revelation 3:21; 2:26-27). This latter promise applies to those CALLED OUT OF THE PRESENT WORLD—not to those who shall be called (as ALL will) during the millennium!
Church a Spiritual Organism—Yet Well Organized
At this point a bit of personal experience will help the reader to UNDERSTAND. Jesus had called His apostles and taught them IN PERSON. Jesus Christ is the WORD OF GOD in person. The Bible is the Word of God IN WRITING! As the personal Word of God taught the original apostles, so He called and taught His modern-day apostle by the WRITTEN WORD OF GOD—the same TEACHING—the SAME TRUTH! After calling, giving His apostle the initial teaching, having him ordained, God added the 19 members that started His Church of this Philadelphia era. Then Christ had opened before His apostle, as one "SENT FORTH" with the gospel message, the means of MASS COMMUNICATION of the printed word, radio and later television. With such vast mass communication facilities, one apostle could reach many times more people with the gospel message than the original twelve, plus the apostle Paul and others sent to Gentile nations. I soon saw the need, as God's Word sets forth for the CHURCH, of evangelists, pastors, other elders and teachers—as well as people trained in ADMINISTRATIVE responsibilities. So God raised up Ambassador College to provide training for the supportive functions behind the apostle in the GREAT COMMISSION. Remember, the Church is still in the six-millennia era of this PRESENT EVIL WORLD. We are "called-out ones"—called to be SEPARATE! Just as the angels on earth (pre-Adamic) needed the GOVERNMENT OF GOD to synchronize the various functions into a team unit, so was this necessary in God's Church. The operation of the GREAT COMMISSION, especially in this twentieth century, requires, as the New Testament clearly states, organization. So God set His GOVERNMENT in His Church. And God's government is authority from the TOP down. God the Father is in supreme authority over all. Next in authority under Him is Jesus Christ, living Head of the Church. On the human and earthly level, next in authority under Christ is His chosen apostle. God organized ancient Israel, under Moses, with captains over thousands next under Moses, then under them captains over hundreds, over fifties, etc., as God led Moses to choose. I will here inject an incident in point. Christ had led His apostle to appoint the apostle's son next under him, because he was the best qualified, in the office of executive vice president. Perhaps it was a mistake to use such a modern business title. Nevertheless the son, like David's sons, Absalom and Adonijah, began to simply take over. He initiated policies he was not authorized to set. He wanted to secularize the college, the magazine (The Plain Truth), and even the Church. He wanted this world's accreditation for the college. He demoted or shanghaied the top-ranking ministers who had been trained under and were loyal to Christ's apostle. Meanwhile, the apostle, as "one sent forth" with Christ's gospel message, was going into all the world—and was away from headquarters up to 300 out of the 365 days in the year. As the son departed from the ways of his father and of God (as did the sons of Eli and of King David), he SHUT OFF ALL AUTHORITY ABOVE HIM. He threatened with loss of their positions in the Work any under him who in any manner contacted or revealed to his father how he was departing from God's ways, watering down doctrines and teachings—first in the college, then starting also in the Church. Cowed with fear, those who knew how the son was destroying the Work of the living GOD kept silent. Finally, four leaders under him took courage and came to God's apostle, saying, "God forgive us for keeping silent so long, but we were afraid for our jobs. But now we have to report to you that your son is systematically destroying all that Christ has built through His apostle and is building something for himself. Like a spoiled child, he wants his own way." God's apostle, to be not guilty of Eli's sin, removed his son from all authority and disfellowshipped him from the Church. The son had represented that no one dare "take it over his head" by going to Christ's apostle—that ALL authority in a then great worldwide Work of God stopped with him!—that he had SHUT OFF all authority above himself. But even Christ's apostle has no authority to SHUT OFF the authority above him. In God's government, the one in lesser authority is still UNDER the authority of those over him. Authority does not END at any point under God the Father. The end of this incident in point is that all in God's Church now know that the door to Christ's apostle is always open to ALL under him! God's Church is NOT a worldly ORGANIZATION—it is a SPIRITUAL ORGANIZATION, called out of this world and its ways by Christ. Yet it is WELL ORGANIZED—it must be to function. The Church consists of the begotten children of God—the DIVINE FAMILY-TO-BE!
The Household of God
Actually the Church is, on the human level, the BEGOTTEN FAMILY OF GOD. To the Gentile converts at Ephesus, God inspired Paul to write: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God"(Ephesians 2:19). In other words, of the begotten FAMILY of God. Continue: "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles [New Testament] and prophets [Old Testament], Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy TEMPLE in the Lord" (verses 20-21). So God reveals here that the Church is: 1) the HOUSEHOLD or begotten FAMILY of God; 2) a building—a HOLY TEMPLE—fitly joined together—that is, well organized (and, of course, on GOD'S pattern). As a building—the HOLY TEMPLE to which Christ will come—it is built on a FIRM FOUNDATION: the apostles, chosen by Christ, and the prophets. MUCH of the New Testament is simply quotations, or citations, from the writings of the prophets of the Old Testament. The things written in the Old Testament were "written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Corinthians 10:11). Again the apostle Paul reminded Timothy: "... from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures [the only Scriptures Timothy could have known from a child were those written by Old Testament prophets], which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15). The writings of the Old Testament prophets are part of the FOUNDATION of the Church of God! And, of course, Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone—the very HEAD of the Church.
The Temple to Which Christ Will Come
There has been much perplexity and discussion as to when the temple will be built to which Christ shall come. Malachi's prophecy speaks of Christ's second coming to His temple (Malachi 3:1-6). In Haggai's prophecy it is referred to prophetically. Zerubbabel had been sent as governor of a colony to build the second temple 70 years after the destruction of Solomon's temple. He built the temple to which Jesus came, though it had been enlarged and embellished by the Roman Herod. But speaking of this temple, as a type and forerunner of the temple to which Christ shall come at His second coming, it is written, "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts" (Haggai 2:9). It is inconceivable that the Israelis, in the present international turmoil over their possession of old Jerusalem, could ever demolish the Arab Moslem Dome of the Rock—now standing on the site of Solomon's temple—and build a new one there of greater splendor and glory than Solomon's! However, as the second temple Zerubbabel was building was a typical forerunner of the temple to which Christ shall come, even so Zerubbabel was the typical forerunner of one Christ would use in building the far more glorious temple to which Christ shall come in His GLORY! Zechariah 4:9: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it...." And as Zerubbabel's hands did finish that second temple, so shall the one Christ uses in building the temple to which He shall come in His GLORY! And the Church of God of the present day shall be a "building fitly framed together [and growing] unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:21).
Church the Bride of Christ
The one and only true Church, a spiritual organism well organized by Christ, is the affianced Bride of Christ—to MARRY Christ, after His coming and after the resurrection and change of the Church into immortality. In Ephesians 5 this is shown by analogy. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.... For we are members of HIS BODY, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:25-32). The Church is made up of the BODY of Christ. More on that a little later. But the BODY presented to Christ will not be a dismembered body, with an arm, a leg or other parts being separated! It is ONE Church—fitly framed together—not dismembered into many parts following many different men seeking to draw away disciples after them. This coming marriage is again referred to in II Corinthians 11:2: "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." The New-Covenant MARRIAGE will take place at Christ's coming in GLORY: "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, ALLELUIA: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb [Christ] is come, and his wife hath made herself ready" (Revelation 19:6-7). It is enlightening at this point to remember Jesus came as "the messenger of the covenant" (Malachi 3:1). He came as the Messenger of the NEW Covenant. The Old Covenant was a CONTRACT entered into between the children of Israel and the Word (who was to become Christ)—the God of the Old Testament. It was a MARRIAGE covenant. God "proposed" and Israel "accepted" (Exodus 19:6, 8). That "marriage covenant" also set up the kingdom of Israel as one of earth's nations. The New Covenant also will be a MARRIAGE covenant marrying the Church, then changed to spirit immortality, to Christ. But that covenant also will set up the KINGDOM OF GOD, ruling all nations with the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. The Old Covenant was made with a carnal-minded people on their PROMISE to obey. The New Covenant will be made with a Spirit-begotten and Spirit-born people who have ALREADY PROVED THEIR OBEDIENCE!
Modern Facilities for Mass Communication Today
The Church members, as a whole, are not called to "GO FORTH" with the gospel message, but to back up, help, support the apostle in carrying the message into all the world. I mentioned that one apostle today, with modern facilities for mass communication—the printing press, radio, television, even the telephone by which one may reach another in any part of the world in a matter of minutes or less—can reach more people by far than all of the first century apostles combined. But this use of modern facilities in our day necessitates a considerable organization of people in various administrative capacities, besides evangelists, pastors and assistants, elders, deacons and deaconesses in local churches worldwide. In Jesus' parable of the talents (Matthew 25), He pictured Himself as giving talents to various ones left here on earth while He was in heaven. "And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability..." (verse 15). These "talents"—pieces of money—symbolized spiritual gifts and a measure of the Holy Spirit given each. He gave according to the natural ability of each. The twelfth chapter of I Corinthians reveals that there are various offices of administration in the Church—and that God gives various spiritual gifts for those various functions. The SAME PRINCIPLE holds, since God is consistent and never changes. He gives, through the Holy Spirit, special abilities, according to one's own natural abilities. I have often talked about "fitting the square peg into the round hole" to illustrate human failure because so many are NOT doing what by natural ability they are fitted to do. "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:4). All these various special talents, abilities or aptitudes, though several, are all given by the same Holy Spirit. "And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all" (verses 5-6). It is GOD working in us. "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is ONE, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are ONE BODY: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into ONE BODY..." (verses 11-13). "And now are they many members, yet BUT ONE BODY" (verse 20). What about those who follow a MAN, outside that ONE BODY? God says we are not to follow a MAN. Paul said that "of your own selves shall men arise... to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30). The apostle Paul had to correct the Corinthian church because they were following individual MEN: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing..."—and where did the Church receive that one same thing they were all to believe? From THE APOSTLES! And the apostles received it from CHRIST. And Jesus Christ received it from GOD the Father! Continue: "... that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10). The apostle reproved them, saying, "... there are contentions among you" (verse 11). "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ" (verse 12). CHRIST is NOT divided (verse 13).