Church of God
Music -lyrics by Marcello J Garzillo
Church Of God
The word “Church”in the Bible dictionary is the word ekklesia and means a calling out, a religious meeting of a group of people, a community of members on earth or in heaven. The Book of Acts as well as the Epistles refer to the Church or Churches of God many times and is the foremost thing on the mind of God, Revelation 21:2.
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even also as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”
According to the Bible, there are two kinds of churches, a local church and the universal church. The first is the universal church which occupies space as well as time, found in the Book of Matthew 16:18.
Matthew 16:18, I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The local church is found in the Book of Matthew 18:1-35. This church is a local assembly of individuals who are to grow together utilizing the earnest of the Spirit, which was given them as believing the Gospel, 2nd Corinthians 2:22.
Both these churches belong to Jesus Christ and are made up with two different aspects, the same way as the disciples receiving of His Spirit. The 1st is inward, as we read in John 2:22, for taking in the Spirit as our nourishment and life, and the 2nd is outward and ministering to others with authority as the Apostle Peter did on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:38. This inward and outward pattern is the same pattern as the local and the universal church.
The local churches are made up of a body of believers who are willing to become like little children so as to undergo conversion and transformation. The universal church, addressed by Jesus Christ to the Apostle Peter, are those who have had the door opened by the two keys given to Peter, first to the Jews, Acts 2:38-42 and secondly, to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, Acts 10:34-48. The keys given to Peter in Matthew 16:18 would be available to all mankind down through the ages. The local churches are those churches in which we read about in the Book of Acts, the Epistles, and in the second and third chapters of Revelation, one church in every city or providence.
We need to consider why Christ gave His life for the church, Ephesians 5:25. Genesis 2:20 says that there was not a suitable companion for Adam. The church then, will become the suitable companion for her husband and builder Jesus Christ, Matthew 16:18; Revelation 21:2. All the local churches raised up by Jesus Christ are in training, dealing with administration and individuals problems and the growing together as one. Without the local churches, there can be no universal church.
Ephesians 5:31, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32, This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
We can see that, according to the Word of God, there were local churches in cities like, Church of God at Corinth, 1st Corinthians 1:2; Church at Antioch, Acts 13:1, Church at Jerusalem, Acts 15:4, Churches at Galatia, Galatians 1:2, and many other cities.
Acts 15:36, And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, “Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the Word of the Lord, and see how they do.”
The local church or churches of God should have residence in one city or providence and are subject to place and time, where they are located in the city and the time of their existence. Without these local churches, which Christ uses to build up His disciples, the universal church could not exist. The Local church is where problems between the members or administration, utilizing God’s Holy Spirit are worked out, Matthew 18:15-17.
The Universal Church
The Local church, even with its problems and opinions, is the sum total of all the Churches in every city and establishes the universal church. Without the workers in the local church, there would never be a universal church. Christ is the Rock and foundation over the local churches which are in the process of working toward unity. When the totality and unity is completed under Christ, then will come to pass the glorious church, presented to Himself as a bride, the heavenly Jerusalem, Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 19:7; 21:2. The universal church is spiritual in nature, unlike the Local churches which are physical and have a body of believers who are working by being built up according to Biblical understanding.
Today, we are able to enter any church structure or church organization with its shingle over its door which says, church of this or church of that, claiming to be God’s local church, but the problem arises by what is taught in these churches or organizations. As the Apostle Paul describes:
1st Corinthians 1:12, “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’. 13, Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
It has been two thousand years since Jesus Christ proclaimed to Peter that He, Jesus, the Rock of our salvation, 2nd Samuel 22:47, Matthew 16:18, would build His church. Sadly, as we read as in 1st Corinthians 1:12, the problem during Paul’s day still exist today, and even more so. We hear of Churches whose purpose is to get their people saved, being a nice and kind person, or that the church’s purpose is a vehicle for entering heaven, neglecting the primary teaching of Jesus Christ Who had no where to lay His head, Matthew 5:20. It is only natural that there would be one head, Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:23, and one body,1st Corinthians 12:12.
How many Churches is Christ Building?
We can stroll through the pages of the phone book or drive through the streets in any community and see countless number of churches with many different names. These churches are all called denominations. The word denomination, according to Websters Dictionary means, the act of dominating, a particular religious body with a specific named organization.
According to church history, the Church that Jesus Christ started after His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and acceptance by His Father can be read in John 20:22. After maturing with knowledge and understanding, they were sent out to minister the word on the day when Pentecost had fully come, Acts 2:38. Since that time the churches have passed through many hands and has become very complicated and divided.
The Pattern for the Church according to the Spirit in New Testament
According to scripture, Jesus Christ paid the price with His life for the Church, Ephesians 5:24. There should be one church located in every city or providence just as it was in the days of the early apostles and in the writing of the Book of Acts, the Epistles, or the Book of Revelation. Jesus mentions fleeing to a different city when being persecuted.
Matthew 10:23, “But when they persecute in this city, flee into another: for verily I say unto you, you should not have gone over the cites of Israel, till the Son of man be come,”
Problems arise today because we see many different churches with different names and denominations. In many of the large towns or cities there could be as many as three, four or more churches with different names all competing with one another.
Could you imagine multiple ruling or governing bodies within the same city or providence? There would be nothing but confusion. Men use common sense in ruling a city. God is no different. The church with its many membered body should not be in competition with one anther or the result would be confusion as well. Competition and confusion will never escape the denominations.The church that Jesus Christ died for should not in competition with one another.
The Headship over the church Denominations
Many denominations have a headquarters over their local denominations. Who then governs the Local congregations? Christ does. As soon as a headquarters intervenes in the affairs of the local church, Christ leaves. Why? Because now the local churches are under the authority of men and not the Sprit of Christ Jesus and the authority and head of the church. Jesus Christ will not marry many churches, or different denominations. He does not practice bigamy. He lives within his own laws, one husband with one wife.
Revelation 21:2, And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Notice how the new Jerusalem is described as a city? How did she become the bride to whom Christ would marry?
Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. 2, With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another, in love. 3, Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4, There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5, One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6, One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
All the local churches will eventually work to be unified and become one, pursuing peace with one another through the Spirit of God. Although each member is an individual, there will be unity developing into oneness, as God and Jesus with the Holy Spirit are one.