The Church of Your Choice?
All across the Bible Belt, you see signs or bumper stickers proclaiming "Jesus Saves," or "Go to the Church of Your Choice." The people displaying these signs are, no doubt, well meaning.
But perhaps we should pause to ask, "Which Jesus?" and also, "What about attending the church of God's choice—the church where the full Truth of the Bible is taught and practiced?"
Although it is not "politically correct" today to say that there is definitive truth—and that one religion might be better than another—that is exactly what the Bible does say! So it comes down to this: are we going to be like little children "playing church," or are we going to act like mature adults who are willing to seek the true God and find out where He is now working?
Insight magazine (May 27, 2002) reported: "Churches are getting a bad rap these days. Some pollsters say at best religion is losing its grip on American society; at worst, growing numbers of Americans are finding the institution irrelevant. Nearly 100 million Americans live without a connection to a church, synagogue or temple, says pollster George Barna, president of the Barna Research Group in Ventura, CA. Most of them are unconcerned about this state of affairs. 'More than average, these are people who are aggressive, high-energy and driven,' he says. 'They have made something of themselves, by the world's standards, and they do not necessarily believe that God, Jesus, religion, the Bible, faith or Christianity will help them overcome the struggles they face.'"
Frankly, one of the major struggles we will all be facing in the next decade or so is staying alive! Yes! For as the awesome events directly predicted in your Bible begin to unfold, you and I had better be sure that we are in the church that truly understands Bible prophecy, and that knows the "way of escape" Jesus tells us about in God's Word. Remember, Jesus Himself told His followers in an end-time prophecy: "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains'…. And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:15-21).
Does your church understand and teach about this vital prophecy and the way to escape the coming Great Tribulation? Does your minister even preach about end-time prophecy?
Approximately one-fourth of the entire Bible is devoted to prophecy. The Bible explains: "But Jesus answered him, saying, 'It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God"'" (Luke 4:4). The only written "word of God" at that time was what we now call the Old Testament. And Jesus Christ constantly referred to the writings of the Old Testament as "scripture." So the inspired prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments are vital for us to study and understand. How do so many churches think their members can understand and act on God's prophetic warnings if they never even preach or explain these prophecies to their people?
The Word of God tells us: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever" (Psalm 111:10). Yet most Protestant churches tell their members that the Ten Commandments do not have to be literally obeyed today. Therefore, these same churches do not have a "good understanding" of the Bible or of biblical prophecy. They talk about sentimental platitudes, "sweet Jesus," and precious little else. Yet they deny the powerful message that Jesus Himself brought from God the Father.
There is a Church today that does understand, and can help you with the "struggle" you will face! It is the "little flock" to which Jesus referred in Luke 12:32. It is the Church that had to "flee" into the wilderness during the Dark Ages (Revelation 12:6). It is the Church that is now preaching the "Gospel of the Kingdom of God"—the powerful message proclaiming Christ's soon return to this earth as King of kings (Revelation 11:15).
If you are going to be able to escape the horrifying Great Tribulation, and if you are to be given the power of the Holy Spirit and the real understanding, faith and courage to guide you through the years just ahead, then the "church of your choice" had better become the church of God's choice! In your Bible, you will find that God names things or people what they are! In 12 different places in the New Testament, you will find that God calls His Church exactly what it is: "the Church of God."
In the introduction to 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul officially addresses this letter to "the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Corinthians 1:2). Later, he tells the brethren: "Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God" (1 Corinthians 10:32). In 1 Corinthians 11:16, Paul states: "But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God."
In 1 Corinthians 15:9, Paul writes: "For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." In the formal opening of 2 Corinthians, he writes: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia" (2 Corinthians 1:1). When Timothy was stationed in Ephesus—a center of the worship of "dead" idols—Paul wrote to him: "I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).
Twelve is a significant number in the Bible. It denotes foundation, stability and organizational beginnings. As most of you readers know, there were 12 patriarchs in the Old Testament, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles, 12 gates into the Holy City and 12 foundations of the wall of the Holy City. So it is very significant that God—in His inspired Word—gives the name "Church of God" to His true Church 12 times in the New Testament.
Of course, quite a number of churches use the name "church of God." So it is vital that we understand another basic characteristic of the true Church: it is an obedient Church! In describing the remnant of this Church at the time of the end, God's Word tells us: "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17). Many churches claim that they have the "testimony" of Jesus Christ. But very few claim to obey the Ten Commandments, for they have been taught they are "under grace" and so need not keep the Commandments of God as a way of life. But as the Apostle John was inspired to tell us: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12).
Could anything be more clear?
Somewhere on this earth is the true "Church of God"—called by God's name, keeping the Commandments of God and actually preaching the same gospel Jesus preached—the dynamic message of Christ's rule over this earth as King of kings. This is not a church of men, named after some man or some form of church government or one or two key doctrines. Rather, it is named after God—for it is truly His Church, and the Church of which Jesus Christ is the living Head (Ephesians 1:22).
Should you really go to the church of your personal choice, or the church in which you just "happened" to grow up? Or should you zealously seek and find and become an active member of the true Church of God—which Jesus Himself built? If you would like more in-depth information about this vital question, please contact us at one of the addresses listed on page 2 of this magazine, and request a free copy of our eye-opening booklet, Restoring Apostolic Christianity.