Servants' News

June 1995

Why So Many Groups?

“For there must also be factions among you, that those who
are approved may be recognized among you.” — 1Cor 11:19

This scripture has been understood by many of the Eternal’s people.
The author of the article “Why Are There Divisions in the Church?” has been teaching Sabbath-keeping congregations independently of the Worldwide Church of God for 20 years.
He is now the principal of a Sabbath-keeping boarding high school.
The author of the article below studies the Bible frequently, but has attended Sabbath-keeping congregations for only 18 months and has been baptized only one year.

God’s True Church

In this time of turmoil, many people are asking questions such as: Whom do we trust? Which Church should we join? Which groups is God working with?

Let’s tackle that question by redetermining just what, why and where is God’s true Church.

What? The Greek word for church is ekklesia, meaning “assembly” or “called out ones.” God selected and called out those who make up his true church. Jesus stated, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him...” (John 6:44). Ephesians 1:22-23 states that “...the church, which is His [Christ’s] body....” This is repeated in other passages. “...Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Eph 5:23). “...the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Col 1:24). We also see that Christ is the head of that body. “And He is the head of the body, the church...” (Col 1:18).

So we see that God’s called out people form the church, which is Christ’s body, of which Christ is the head. Ephesians 5:29 tells us how Christ cares for that body, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”

Why? God’s first called out are to become kings and priests in the coming Kingdom of God (Rev 5:10). 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 states, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we will judge angels?” If we are to be kings, priests and judges, we must know God’s law in order to do so. Therefore, we are also called to learn God’s government.

Where? God’s church is where the Holy Spirit is. How can we determine where that is? By their fruits you will know them “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...” (Gal 5:22-23). This can be easily detected, simply by the first fruit of love. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1Jn 5:3). Learn God’s law and search for others which obey it in truth and in spirit, and you will have found God’s church.

As you are searching, remember James 2:10, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” If someone is knowingly, continually disobeying any part of the law, he is guilty of disobeying all of it.

Now that we have reestablished just what, why and where is God’s Church, let us answer the three initial questions.

Whom do we trust? The answer is quite simple, we trust whom we have always trusted, God. God has imparted His spirit to us to understand truth (John 16:13). If we are again handed false teachings, we should know it through the Holy Spirit. If however, we feel that our trust should be in any person or group of persons, we most certainly will be deceived! Isn’t that why so many have been so confused, because trust was in the leaders of a church organization—the very men themselves, and not in God? God has given us a “wake-up call.” An important lesson is being taught. If we don’t learn the lesson, we will again find ourselves in the same position.

Did not Mr. Armstrong make a habit of stating that we should not “take his word for it,” but read for ourselves in God’s Word? “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1Thes 5:10 KJV). Does it say “trust someone else to prove it for you?” Philippians 2:12 says “ out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Does it say trust someone else to do that for you? Our trust should be in God. We are personally responsible for what we choose to believe and follow. We should not reason, “Well it sounds right.” We are commanded to prove it ourself!

Which Church should we join? There is only one true church! This is stated quite plainly throughout the Bible. Galatians 4:26-27, speaking of the church states: “but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: ‘Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who do not travail! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.’” There is only one true Church, no daughter churches ever come out of her. The Church is referred to as a barren woman.

There have been no changes in the true Church of God (as far as where it is, what it is and who it is)!! There should be no confusion. God’s church is still His called out, chosen ones and the body of Christ. The confusion lies in our own complacency on this subject. We speak of attending church, naming churches, etc. God’s true Church is not attended. Rather the Church attends services at various buildings. One may say, “Well you know what I mean when I say I’m going to church.” Yes, maybe we do, but if we continue to misuse the language, it may deceive us. The Bible does not use this language, rather it speaks of the Church congregations “coming together” for meeting. “And when they had come and gathered the church together...” (Acts 14:27). “ that is in their house” (Rom 16:5, 1Cor 16:19, Phlm 2). “...when you come together as a church [not at a church]...” (1Cor 11:18).

God named His Church a very long time ago and that name still stands. Why is it then, that we choose names, such as the Worldwide Church of God, the Global Church of God, the United Church of God, or any number of other names? Our human governments would like each group to have a unique corporate name. Does this mean that God changes the name of his true Church? Of course not! It may be that the very reason God has allowed this tragedy in the leadership of the Worldwide Church of God to occur is to remind us of this simple truth about his Church. So these trivial changes of renaming, restructuring and so on do not constitute the true Church, but rather are a matter of secular regulations. God is still conducting the same work through the same predestined and called-out people.

Each person who is called also has a purpose in his or her calling. Paul wrote, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant” (1Cor 12:1). Paul was instructing them not to be ignorant of their particular purpose in God’s Church. As it has not worked well in the past to let one man or a very few men make all the leadership and doctrinal decisions, we should not think that allowing everyone to vote on every issue will solve the problem either. People that have certain gifts in each area should be making the decisions in that area.

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1Cor 12:7-11). Notice carefully who determines? Certainly not one head leader or the group as a whole, but as God determines.

“But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased” (1Cor 12:18). God will in due time reveal to each of us what our purpose in the Church is to be. We will need to pray and possibly cast lots when God’s will for a particular gift is not clear (Acts 1:20-26). Be on guard, however, because Satan will also try to deceive you about your calling and thereby attempt to ruin the work of God. Paul warned about desiring gifts not given to us (“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way (1Cor 12:29-31) If your gift is not to teach, should you seek to be in charge of or to vote on doctrine? We need to use our spiritual gifts, but not exceed them.

Which group is God working with? God is working with His group! God is not working with any man-made name, organization or any other aspect simply to comply with laws of our land. God is doing the same work he always has been doing with the same called-out group. God has not changed! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). He has simply allowed a crisis which has made us look again into His Truth, Truth that is plain, yet often forgotten.

— C.B.

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