According to David Barrett et al., editors of the World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions AD 30 to 2000, there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. Of these, 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations. By the middle of the year 2002, there were two billion people who professed Christianity, which is a vast increase since the year 1900.
However, many of those who profess Christianity have little understanding of what Christianity really requires of its adherents. On the other hand, others feel they are on the right track and have a special relationship with God. Still others refuse to involve themselves with organized religions, and those who believe they are true Christians. But are they?
The promise Jesus made was that He would build His Church and that it would never die. “And 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” (Matt. 16:18). This statement Christ made to Peter has convinced many that Jesus established a line of infallible spiritual leaders who would insure the genuineness of the faith up to the time of His return. Is this true? The name Peter means “small stone or pebble,” and the word “rock” means “massive stone.” What Jesus was saying is that He did not build the Church upon Peter, He built it upon Himself! He was the stone the builders rejected (Matt. 21:42). He also told His disciples that He would be with them until the end of the world (Matt. 28:20).
Either Jesus kept these promises or He did not. If He failed He cannot be our Savior. The answer to this question is extremely important. If we do not have a Savior, then Christianity is a hoax, and we do not have salvation. If so we could just as well adopt the notion, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Unfortunately, there are many today who follow this way of thinking.
A Massive Opulent Church?
Did Jesus say His Church would be a massive opulent church, a church that would be recognized and embraced by millions? Or did He imply that it would be made up of many denominations, all in disagreement with one another over various issues, yet at the same time making up His Church? What Jesus said will quickly dispel these notions. He told His disciples: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). The word for “little” is from the Greek word mikron (micro) meaning small, infinitesimal, hardly visible. Not once did Jesus imply anything other than that the Church He promised to build would be small and persecuted. He told His disciples: “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). Do most professing Christians keep His sayings? Like those of His day, the same is true today: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Near the time of the end, persecution will fall upon those who truly obey God. Jesus said:
. . . Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many . . . . For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. (Matt. 24:4-5, 7-9)
The Apostle Paul wrote the Thessalonians: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:7-8).
Of that true Church we read in the book of Revelation that it has little strength, implying how small it is:
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. . . . Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Rev. 3:8, 10-11)
Jesus implied that upon His return He would find little faith on the earth (Luke 18:8). This statement does not describe a huge, time-honored, and wealthy church which would be regarded by millions as the church that has maintained the faith. In fact: One of the first signs of the true Church is that it would be inconspicuous, hardly recognizable, persecuted, and made up of the weak of this world. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:26-27). The first sign of the true Church, therefore, is that it would be small, and hardly noticed by the world.
The Correct Name
Jesus emphasized the importance of the correct name. He prayed to the Father: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:11). What is the name Jesus prayed about? And why is this important? The answer: It is one of the identifying signs of the true Church. No less than 12 times is this name mentioned in the New Testament. The name is God’s name, therefore the Church is named the Church of God.
Below are the Scriptures that confirm the correct name for the true church should be “the Church of God”:
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy [Spirit] hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Cor. 1:2). “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32) But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” (1 Cor. 11:16).
“What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not” (1 Cor. 11:22). “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor. 15:9). “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia” (2 Cor. 1:1). “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it” (Gal. 1:13).
“For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews” (1 Thess. 2:14). “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (2 Thess. 1:4). “(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Tim. 3:5). “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
Keep in mind, that while the correct name for the true Church is “the Church of God,” it is only one identifying sign. Several more are found in the Scriptures. Some churches do call themselves by the correct name but do not possess the rest of the identifying signs. All seven signs are required for the identity of the true Church of God. A church that does not have this name cannot be the church that Jesus built. He clearly wanted the name of God to be on His Church and prayed to the Father that this be fulfilled.
A Commandment-keeping Church
Why is it so many today believe that Jesus “did away with the law”? One of the main reasons is that they fail to understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he referred to the law. In his epistles Paul addressed the futility of the Jewish requirement for circumcision and observance of the ritual law. These are what were “done away” by the sacrifice of Christ, not the Law of God. A second reason so many believe the law is done away is the failure to believe what Christ Himself said.
What did He say?
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:17-19)
Consider this. Jesus came to “fufill,” that is, to “fill up,” “to make replete,” “to perfect.” Fulfill does not mean “to do away.” He said that no single portion of the law would pass away as long as heaven and earth stand. Do heaven and earth still stand? Jesus’ statement paralleled what was righteousness’ sake; he willmagnify the law, and make it honourable, [that is, magnificent]” (Isa. 42:21). This is what the Sermon on the Mount was all about. It is the heart and core of Christianity. Jesus raised the Law of God from the physical plane to the spiritual, so that men are now judged, not only by the deed, but by the intent of the heart. He emphasized: “. . . It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17).
Members of the true Church of God clearly understand this. When asked a question about how to enter into eternal life, Jesus answered: “. . . Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17). In the following verses Jesus explained which. This text has been seized upon in an attempt to prove we need not keep Saturday the seventh-day Sabbath. The first four commandments, which include observing the Sabbath, teach us how to honor and obey God, and the last six teach us how to love our fellow man.
Would it make any sense for Christ to teach that we should love our fellow man but show disregard and even contempt for God, by rejecting the first four commandments? Jesus did not need to emphasize the first four commandments to the Jews of His day. This was because they kept the first four while ignoring the last six. The reader should carefully look over Matthew 19:16-22 to see the reaction of the young man. He had asked Jesus what he must do to enter eternal life. It is clear why Jesus answered as He did. He knew the young man was covetous. This is seen by his response to Christ’s answer. Paul, the Apostle who supposedly taught that the law is done away and that all we need is faith in Christ, said this: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31).
Some of the most negative passages in the Bible address those who disobey the Law of God: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:7-8). “Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs [a euphemism for sodomites], and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev. 22:14-15).
Remember this: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Jesus said His entire teaching was given Him from the Father (John 12:49), and Jesus taught obedience to the Law of God!
Sabbath and Holy Days
The fourth sign of the true Church is that it observes the seventh-day Sabbath and the annual Holy Days. Both the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days were given before the Law of Moses was ratified. The Sabbath was given at Creation. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made” (Gen. 2:1-2).
The Sabbath is one of the important identifying signs of God’s people:
Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. . . . Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD . . . . Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (Ex. 31:13, 15-17)
While the Sabbath is listed as the fourth commandment, it did not originate at the time God gave the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. In fact, all of the Ten Commandments were in effect and were violated before the time of Moses. For proof see our website article entitled, Sin What Is It?
Jesus said He was the Lord of the seventh-day Sabbath, not Sunday, the first day of the week. Not one single passage in the entire Bible sanctions Sunday as a day of worship. And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).
This day the seventh day of the week was the day Christ observed all His life. “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16). “And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue . . . “(Mark 6:1-2).
This same day was observed by the Apostle Paul the man who supposedly did away with the Law of God.”But when they (Paul and his party) departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down” (Acts 13:14). “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2).
So what do we see? Not only did Christ and the Apostles keep the weekly Sabbath, they also kept the annual Holy Days. “And when he [Christ] was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast” (Luke 2:42). “And he [Christ] said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples” (Matt. 26:18). “Go ye up unto this feast: I [Christ] go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?” (John 7:8-11).
The Apostle Paul instructed the Corinthians: “Therefore let us keep the feast, [unleavened bread] not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8).
In the book of Acts, Luke records the following: “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days” (Acts 20:6). “For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16).
“When they desired him [Paul] to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus” (Acts 18:20-21). The chronology of the book of Acts shows that this feast was the Feast of Tabernacles, AD 52.
The above texts clearly show that Christ and the apostles kept the seventh-day Sabbath and the annual Holy Days. They are not done away as some would tell us.
An important text that proves Christians are to keep the weekly Sabbath is found in Hebrews 4:9. Paul wrote about Israel’s entrance into the Holy Land and equates it as a type of Christians entering into eternal life. The word “rest” describes this type. This word “rest” (Gr., katapausin ) is used in the passages leading up to verse nine. Verse nine then becomes crucial. Why? Because the word “rest” in this text is a mistranslation. The word for “rest” (v. 9) in the original Greek language is sabbatismos, which means “a keeping of the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is the type of the millennial rest which will take place in the Kingdom of God. Paul says, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”
Do not allow yourself to be mislead into believing the Sabbath and the Holy Days are done away. The fact is: They are required today, and as noted, there is not a single text in the Bible that authorizes Sunday worship, or any of the other religious days observed by the churches of this world.
The True Gospel
How many times have we seen the word “gospel?” We see it on billboards and in advertisements and in periodicals. It is almost ubiquitous. Most people believe it refers to the four gospels of the New Testament. In fact, one minister on a talk show was asked what the Gospel was. He replied, “You know, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” The four gospels are not the Gospel. The word gospel means “good news” and this was the message God brought to man through Jesus Christ. We read: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). The gospels tell us that “. . . Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23). “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him” (Luke 8:1). In brief, the Gospel was the good news about the Kingdom of God. Understanding this message and preaching it is one of the signs of the true Church of God.
This message is not understood by the vast majority of professing Christians today. They have been led to believe that the words ” Kingdom of God” refer to heaven where the saved supposedly go after death. The Jews of Jesus’ day also did not understand the message Jesus brought. They thought the Kingdom of God would be the restored Jewish nation when the Messiah would free them from Roman control. But Jesus said: “. . . My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).
The Gospel of the Kingdom was not a message about the person of Christ. Jesus did not go about preaching about Himself, about His deeds, miracles, healings, etc. The gospel of the kingdom was the message about the coming government of God, a government (kingdom) that would be established on earth at Christ’s return, a government that would then continue forever.
Jesus said to His disciples:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matt. 25:31-34)
One of the Old Testament passages that prophesied of this kingdom is found in the book of Daniel:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Dan. 7:13-14)
The return of Christ is emphasized in Revelation 19:11-16:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
This same message about the establishment of the Kingdom of God was preached by Paul and the apostles. “And now, behold, I [Paul] know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more” (Acts 20:25). “And when they had appointed him [Paul] a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28:23).
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (Jas. 2:5). “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).
The fact is: The only hope of life after death is the resurrection and access into the Kingdom of God.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:50-53)
For those whose interest is in what this world has to offer, Jesus emphasized entry into the Kingdom of God above anything else. Jesus told His disciples: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
What Is The Holy Spirit
The main controversy that raged in the early centuries of the church was over the position of the Father and the Son in the Godhead. In the end it was rightly decided that the Father was Supreme, followed by the Son, but both equal. Those who disagreed held that Christ was not really God, but a man who had lived the kind of life that advanced Him to the Godhead. Originally labeled as Arianism, this doctrine continues today in Unitarianism. At the time of the dispute, referred to as the Arian Controversy, only the two Supreme Beings were under consideration, and there was no thought about the Holy Spirit. The addition of the Holy Spirit to the Godhead was an add-on that was adopted a century or two later. The idea of a Trinity seemed logical since this idea had been embraced by pagan religions for generations. For example, “in the unity of that one and Only God of the Babylonians, there were three persons.” Images of the Triune God were found in both Babylon and Assyria (The Two Babylons, by Alexander Hislop, pp. 16-17).
When the Holy Spirit was elevated to the Godhead, it was viewed as the third person of the Trinity, a doctrine that is believed by millions of professing Christians today. But is the Holy Spirit a third person, and should it be considered a part of the Godhead? The interested reader who would like a detailed analysis of this question should refer to our website articles entitled, The Holy Spirit What Is It?, and The Trinity and the Nature of God. To be brief: Neither the Old nor New Testaments supports the idea of a Trinity. A text often quoted to prove a Trinity is 1 John 5:7-8. All scholars recognize that the words “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth,” were added as an interpolation.
Barnes Notes tell us:
It is missing in all the earlier Greek manuscripts, for it is found in NO Greek manuscript written before the 16th century. Indeed, it is found in only two Greek manuscripts of any age one the Codex Montfortianus, or Britannicus, written in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and the other the Codex Ravianus, which is a mere transcript of the text, taken partly from the third edition of Stephen’s New Testament, and partly from the Complutensian Polyglott. But it is incredible that a genuine passage of the New Testament should be missing in ALL the early Greek manuscripts.
It is missing in the earliest versions, and, indeed, in a large part of the versions of the New Testament which have been made in all former times. It is wanting in both the Syriac versions — one of which was made probably in the first century; in the Coptic, Armenian, Slavonic, Ethiopic, and Arabic.
It is never quoted by the Greek fathers in their controversies on the doctrine of the Trinity a passage which would be so much in point, and which could not have failed to be quoted if it were genuine; and it is not referred to by the Latin fathers until the time of Vigilius, at the end of the 5th century. If the passage were believed to be genuine nay, if it were known at all to be in existence, and to have any probability in its favor it is incredible that in all the controversies which occurred in regard to the divine nature, and in all the efforts to define the doctrine of the Trinity, this passage should never have been referred to. But it never was; for it must be plain to anyone who examines the subject with an unbiassed mind, that the passages which are relied on to prove that it was quoted by Athanasius, Cyprian, Augustin, etc., (Wetstein, II., p. 725) are not taken from this place, and are not such as they would have made if they had been acquainted with this passage, and had designed to quote it. The argument against the passage from the external proof is confirmed by internal evidence, which makes it morally certain that it cannot be genuine.
Another text used to support the idea of a Trinity is the word “he” in John 14:16-17; 15:26. In the Greek language nouns and antecedents must match in gender. Since the word “Comforter” is masculine in the Greek language, the pronoun must also be masculine. So the word “he” is simply a grammatical requirement of the Greek language, and by no means supports the idea of a third person in the Godhead.
The Scriptures reveal that God’s Spirit is “God acting the power of God in action.” The Holy Spirit is the active power of God residing in the conscious mind of man, through Jesus Christ. Jesus promised: “. . . If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).”But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13). “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
The Apostle Paul wrote that the Spirit of Christ was living in him. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). He added: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. . . . For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” ( Rom. 8:9, 14). “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (v. 4).
One of the signs of the last days would be a religious atmosphere that appears to be godly, but would deny the power of God (2 Tim. 3:5). How? By disregarding the influence of the Holy Spirit to transform lives, and to bring about righteousness in the lives of professing Christians. Instead, most Christians hold to the doctrine of the Trinity the idea that the Holy Spirit is a third person in the Godhead. Little is said or understood about the transforming power of God by means of the Holy Spirit, which is given to man upon repentance and baptism. Understanding this truth is one more of the signs of the true Church. It is no joke when somebody said that one is thought to be in danger of losing his soul by denying the Trinity and of losing his wits trying to understand it.
Whom God Accepts
Members of the true Church of God clearly recognize whom God accepts as His own. The reader may recall that the message that Jesus preached demanded repentance. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Jesus instructed His disciples: “. . . Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). Near the time of His ascension into the heavens, He instructed His disciples: “. . . That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
The Apostles preached this message. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit]” (Acts 2:38). “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19).
Later when Phillip preached in Samaria, we read: “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). In the jail at Phillipi, Paul told the jailor: . . . Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).
Repentance and baptism are required for salvation. They are also required before God will accept anyone as His. You cannot come “just as you are,” but if you seek God honestly and sincerely; you can find Him and start on the path toward salvation. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7). Paul told the Athenians: “And the times of this ignorance [of gross idolatry] God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).
Upon repentance and baptism, God promises the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). But He does not give this gift in a casual manner. “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy [Spirit], whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32).
The Holy Spirit enables those who belong to God to be able to live a godly life.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy [Spirit]. (Titus 3:3-5)
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Those called of God become members of the body of Christ by receipt of the Holy Spirit. But this gift is not given unless one first repents and is baptized. Repentance means to change. It means to stop sinning. Sin is defined as the transgression of the law the Ten Commandments. For a full explanation of what this means refer to our website article entitled, All About Water Baptism. This article explains the meaning of repentance and what water baptism signifies and how it should be done. Only those who repent and are baptized are accepted by God. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” ( Rom. 8:9).
So what are the identifying signs of the True Church? It is a small church, not generally recognized by the world. It has the correct name. It is a commandment-keeping Church. It observes the seventh-day Sabbath and the annual Holy Days. It has the true Gospel. It rejects the doctrine of the Trinity.
One becomes a member of the body of Christ by accepting Christ, repenting of sin, being baptized by immersion, and receiving the Holy Spirit. Those called of God and meeting these requirements are accepted by Him.