The Only True Church of God
In 1980, I was indoctrinated and baptized into a church that claimed to be the one and only true Church of God. The ministry claimed that this church I was in could trace its linage back through time to the Day of Pentecost in the first century. I looked very carefully at their doctrines, and they made more sense to me than anything I had ever heard before, and I mostly believed their claim. To leave this church, or to be put out of it, would just about guarantee that the one that left would suffer mortal and spiritual hurt. Just showing a minister that you thought they may be mistaken about some church doctrine could or would get you kicked out, and likely would never be accepted back.
Many years have passed from the time I left that church because, first of all, they were lying about goings on within the church. I remember how afraid I was at the time I left. What would my fate be? My fate was to come to a much clearer understanding of the Bible, and lead to spiritual growth I never would have realized had I stayed with that church. Since that time, I have known many people that believed that their church, many of them spin-offs of my previous church, truly was the one and only true Church of God. All other churches were either false, or counterfeit.
Before writing this article, I did a “Google” search for the phrase “only true church of god”. After reviewing at least 17 pages, I quit by finding out there are dozens, if not hundreds of churches that claim theirs is the “only one”. The main church claiming the loudest was the Roman Catholic church. After that was the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. There are more than perhaps a hundred or more churches, both small and large, that use the King James term “Church of God”. I found that most of them used either a prefix such as “Bible” or a suffix such as “Almighty”. Most of the unincorporated ones simply used the names Church of Christ, Church of God, Assembly, Congregation, or some facsimile. Then there are those that use what is referred to as the “Sacred Name” groups that also claim theirs to be the “only one”, and without following them, you are out of the salvation game for ever and ever. Some of them think their church is the “Kingdom of God”, and most of them believe in the myth of an ever burning hell of torment and agony. That’s another story for another time.
What are the requirements for a true church of God?
Let’s take a look at the Bible for what I believe is the only possible way of knowing what a true believer, and a true church is, and what is required for salvation. Before I proceed, a friend new in the faith came to me and said; “one cannot be a typical Christian without the writings of Paul”. Take a look at what Peter wrote: 2Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
In my opinion, if Peter is so sure Paul is hard to understand on some points, and it is likely that the unlearned are going to misinterpret him, even to their destruction, then a sincere Bible student will read Paul’s writing last, not first. Every excuse I have ever heard against the Old Testament law is a misunderstanding of Paul. Reading his epistles is like listening to a one sided telephone conversation. It is very difficult to know what he is writing about if one is “unlearned” in both the Old and New Testaments. The man Paul was a Pharisee. Philippians 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.
John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. And they are the ones witnessing of Me.
2Titus 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
What Scriptures? The New Testament was not even written at this time. The Scriptures are what most of the churches that claim to be the true church often times do not believe they are necessary for salvation. Just believing on Jesus is simply not all there is to it according to what we will read.
Here is what Paul says to a learned Bible reader in light of the verses above: Rom 7:12 “So indeed the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good”. There are many commandments, but the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, and Exodus 20, are the absolute minimum required for a true church of God, with emphasis on the 3rd and 4th ones.
Obviously, repentance, faith, love, forgiveness, justification are requirements, but almost all churches have these for their doctrine.
Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints. Here are the ones who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (note: In my other articles I write His name as Yahshua)
Matthew 19:17 And He said to him, Why do you call Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.
Psalm 119:172 My tongue shall speak Your Word, for all Your Commandments are righteousness.
It should also be obvious that one will not enter into eternal life without having kept the commandments, and many “true Churches of God” do hold this as doctrine. When they read Paul, they say that the Law has been done away. Not according to the rest of the Bible. The third and fourth commandments are their stumbling block, and there is a lot said about those that will willingly disobey God’s Laws.
The Seven Churches
In light of the plain fact that there are seven separate and diverse churches with diverse characteristics, how could someone today actually believe theirs is the one and only true Church of God? The explanation exists in one word, conceit!
What a church believes is “feckless” (look it up) when it has as a doctrine that can not be backed up be scripture alone. It does not matter what I believe. Truth is truth no matter what someone wants to believe. When it comes to scripture, you will have to show me the proof. I recommend you demand proof also.
Joh 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (KJV)
At this time Jesus/Yahshua was talking to the Jews, better know as the Yehud?im, saying that not just now, but in the future gentiles would be, grafted in (Romans 11:17) and made part of the flock. The verse also states that “there shall be” one fold. When? Now? Back when Jesus said it? John also wrote the book of Rvelation 2 & 3, and plainly there are seven churches. If you actually believe that you are part of the one and only true Church of God, you are deceived. In the future, after the resurrection of the “first born”, there will truly be one Church/Congregation/Assembly, but not in this age.
To my old friends who think I am dead, and to those that actually believe theirs is “The only true church of God”, I think you should live in fear with this attitude. The verses I am about to show are pertaining to spiritual matters, and judgments, about how right or wrong others are, that are trying their best to please God with what they know are have been taught by their ministry:
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you may not be judged.