In this article, I discuss the following problem: there are thousands of Churches in the world and many of them claim to be the only true Church accepted by God and the only one whose doctrine is in accordance with the Bible. I do not name any church that would be the only true church of God. Instead, I try to bring forth the factors and conditions that must be fulfilled for the Church to be the Church of God. I believe that in many Churches there are individuals whom God accepts. The problem is that they do not form the majority in the Church and are not in charge of it. An important question arises: God says that the His people should go out of the harlot church in order not to be involved in its sins.
What is the Church?
The Greek word for Church or Congregation is ἐκκλησία ekklēsía. It means to be called out. Called out from what? According to my own interpretation called out of this world, the worship of false gods and the worship of God in a church when worship includes non-biblical teachings.
Rev 18:4Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you don’t participate in her sins and suffer from her plagues. Also 2 Cor 6:17 Therefore, “‘Come out from among them, And be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you. 18 I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
Where should God’s people go out so that people should not be part of her sins? When we read the whole chapter 18, we learn a lot more. Babylon the Great has just fallen. What is this Babylon the Great? The Revelation tells us that with this Babylon, the kings of the Earth have “engaged in fornication”, which is a figurative expression of the exercise of the false religion and the power it brings.
When Babylon is destroyed in one moment, Rev 18:9 KJV “And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning” And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more (KJV)”. Babylon the Great is a city, but not an ordinary city. It is revealed when the Bible describes its inhabitants.
Rev 18:10 standing far away for the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For your judgment has come in one hour.” Who live in this city – besides the merchants? It is revealed in verse 18:16, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls! 17 For in one hour all this wealth has been destroyed!”– The city, which was dressed in ‘fine linen, and purple’ means that the city had plenty of people dressed in linen, and purple, they are the servants of the Whore of Babylon.
This is the city that has the largest Christian church in it. ‘Come out of it my people’, says Christ to the world through John. The judgment and destruction of this city and its great church will come in a moment. From this Church says Revelation: ”and all the nations were deceived by your witchcraft” (18:23) and this church is guilty of:”In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24).
This city and the religious might it represents describe not only this one city, even though it is the centre of this harlot church. Believers and congregations can be found all over the world. ‘Get out of it’, says Christ. It is difficult because the church in question has a tight grip on people: leaving is forbidden people who do so are threatened with the most severe punishment – eternal separation from God’s connection. This kind of tight grip on the own parishioners keep also Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Already in the mid-16th century, efforts were made to define the qualities of a Church approved by God: “The marks, by which the true Church is known, are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin.” (The Belgic Confession, 1561). Until the Reformation, the Catholic Church was in supreme dominance and defined the doctrinal content, and also the sacraments and the Church order. In this article, I wonder what God thinks about the rather variegated patchwork of doctrines in the world’s churches.
In my opinion, the churches want to follow the doctrine of the Bible. Some say that everything else is out of the question. However, the Catholic churches (Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic) give much weight to tradition and the Church’s own regulations. The word of the Pope weighs a lot, he is after all – Vicarius Filii Dei – the alternate of the Son of God” on earth.
At the beginning of the Revelation, we look at the churches in the present Turkish region, how they had moved away from the apostolic faith and teachings. Rev 2:5 says: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I am coming to you swiftly, and will move your lampstand out of its place, unless you repent.” – A lamp and a lampstand depict a church and the status of the church as a maintainer of the true faith. If the church does not repent, it can be removed from among other churches. (Thayer’s Lexicon: to take it out of the number of churches, remove it altogether)
Unchristian churches are generally considered to be: Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, Urantia. In fact, I have become familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine in their weekly ‘Bible studies’. In fact, at these events, JW’s own books were studied, and from time to time, they glanced at their own Bible if it confirmed the biblical doctrine of the book. I stopped attending these events when I noticed how tightly they held on to their doctrines, which I could not accept. As human beings, they were exemplarily benevolent and striving for their mutual love to prevail at the church assembly.
I have written an article about some of the features of the Catholic Church. Their teachings include so many non-Biblical doctrines that I cannot regard their doctrine to be in accordance with the Bible. This is the most important question in deciding whether God will accept the Church as his own.
What we must believe according to the Bible?
This is well summarized in the Apostolic Creed. It is the oldest creed originating close to the apostolic time. Later creeds go over the Bible. For example, the Athanasian Creed, which requires believers to recognize the equal deity of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit with the consequence that they otherwise lose their chance to be saved.
The deity of Jesus is therefore a fundamental doctrinal controversy. I have written about Jesus Christ in various articles in these pages. According to the Bible, it is certain that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. It is also certain that Jesus is Lord and Christ, because God the Father has made him so. The Bible never says directly that Jesus and the Holy Spirit would be equal in Godhead with God the Father.
Christian Churches therefore have their own opinions. However, the Church must not condemn those who do not recognize Jesus and the Holy Spirit as equal Gods with the Father, but confess Jesus as the only begotten son of God. The Bible prohibits believers from declaring a condemnation to anyone. It’s up to God and Christ.
1 Joh 4:1 Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every spirit who acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
There are many denominations in the world, each with its own secure doctrines of faith. They are often opposed to the views of other churches. It is clear that not everyone can be right. How does God relate to different views? In an article I asked why God did not give us a completely unambiguous Bible? Surely he could have put such clear words in the mouths of his prophets that there would be no problems of interpretation. I have no other explanation but this: God wants people to struggle and study the Bible to find the truth. People need to be patient for those who present other types of opinions, and not to curse them into the deepest hell. Paul spoke of the churches of God, in his letters to the churches in the present Turkish territory. 2 Tes 1:4 As a result, we boast about you among God’s churches—about your endurance and faith through all the persecutions and afflictions you are experiencing. Some Churches have added “Church of God” to the name of their Church affirming their adherence to the apostolic doctrine. Good if that were the case.
1 Tes 5:21 ”Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good.” God’s purpose is that men seek the truth, explore what the different directions of doctrine offer, and that men would establish their faith in versatile knowledge and ultimately conviction of the true doctrine. If a person is bound to a certain Church and its doctrine from the day of baptism, such a search for truth is not possible. That’s why people are told: Get out of that so that you don’t get involved in its sins. The question is whether it is possible to live in accordance with God’s will and at the same time be a member of such a church whose doctrine is not biblical? I interpret the biblical exhortation as leaving away meticulously because if Satan is given a little finger, he takes the whole hand. However, it is not up to me to attract people away from the Church they believe to be God’s. I have met many such people, for example Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I believe they are totally sincere in their faith.
Now that you have found the right truth and the right church, then what? Joh 17:14 I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 2 Tim 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. And again: Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh can’t please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his – These verses show that choosing the truth and observing it in life is by no means easy. It is often the case that small churches are unconditional regarding the observance of the doctrine they claim to be right. For large ones it is often enough to externally follow the Church’s instructions.
In the Bible, the First Church is described in Acts chapter 2:
2:42 And they were continuing steadfastly in the doctrine of the apostles, and in fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
44 All the believers were together, and they shared everything with one another.
45 They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need.
46 They had a single purpose and went to the temple every day. They ate at each other’s homes and shared their food with glad and humble hearts.
47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church those being saved from day to day.
1 Cor 12:11 But the one and the same Spirit works all of these, distributing to each one separately as he desires.
12 For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.
13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. – God wants to see the members of his own Church as one body baptized together in the Spirit.
Maybe we’ll see something like this in the last days: 2:17 ‘It will be in the last days, says God, That I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. 2:21 It will be, that whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Schism and how to prevent it
The main Churches interpret the body of Christ to mean congregations located on different parts of the world. The ecumenical movement seeks to unite the teachings and congregations of religions. How can this be successful? The God of the Bible is very strict about the right doctrine and does not tolerate false teachings. He does not allow traditions to be followed and priority must be given to the doctrine of the Bible.
Paul says in Eph 4:14 “that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; 16 in whom the whole body is united and held together by every ligament with which it is supplied. As each individual part does its job, the body’s growth is promoted so that it builds itself up in love”.
The Bible makes every effort to encourage the members of the church to build in love, avoiding all kinds of doctrines, to him who is the head of the true Church — to Christ.
2 Cor 11:4 warns: For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different gospel, which you did not accept, you put up with that well enough.”
The biblical idea that there should be only one church whose head is Christ is a beautiful idea. What is the reality? There are thousands of Christian Churches, and most disagree doctrinally. The Catholic Church, through its strict hierarchical structure, has been able to better keep the churches around the world in conformity. Doctrinal schisms however, began already during Paul’s time.
The members of the congregation affirmed in 1 Kor 1:12 to be … “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas [Peter],” or “I belong to Christ.”, Indignantly Paul rightly says: 1:13 ”Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?” – It must be said that, despite everything, Paul managed to keep the churches under one head, Christ, better than today. At Paul’s time, communication was difficult and it took months for the letter to be delivered.
The doctrinal dispersion of the churches is manifested in, for example, from the Romans: 16:17 ”Now I beg you, brothers, look out for those who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such people are not serving Christ our Lord but their own desires. By their smooth talk and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.”
What does God think of the following Churches?
1 Tes 5:21 ”Instead, test everything. Hold on to what is good,” This could be considered a good guide for Christians who think about which Church to join. Instead of joining one Church in turn and experiencing all the Churches, one could instead study the doctrines of all Churches and choose the one whose doctrine is as close as possible to the apostolic teaching.
Jesus taught in Mat 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls..
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In the following passages I go through a few churches from the point of view of how closely each one follows the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, and whether participation in the activities of the Church is in accordance with Jesus’ promise mediated by Matthew.
The Catholic Church
Even the starting point of the Catholic Church is distorted. Saying to Peter that “on this rock I will build my Church,” Jesus didn’t mean Peter as the rock. The early church was a group of congregations in the present Turkish region and the Middle East. When the number of congregations grew, it became necessary to create a common leadership for these churches; the Catholic Church (Catholic meaning a ‘common’ church) was formed. It took for itself the right derived from Peter to become the Church of all Christianity. It nominated bishops and popes to follow Peter; Peter was supposed to be the first bishop of Rome.
In the 16th century, Reformation was born in opposition the teachings of the Catholic Church. Reformation was initiated by Professor Martin Luther of the University of Wittenberg, who nailed the 95 famous theses on the door of the church. These theses opposed certain teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. In England, John Wycliffe opposed the power of the Pope, the worship of saints, the celibacy of the priests, and the sale of indulgences. The Catholic Church, of course, opposed Wycliffe’s theses as heretical, and in 1415 the Church declared him heretic. Some years later, the Catholic Church dug his bones from the tomb and burned them. The ashes were thrown into the river.
Reformation was on the right track, but the work was left halfway. The result was bitter wars and when they ended the Catholic world remained catholic, and the Churches of protestant countries that had left the Catholic Mother Church have not in all respects adhered the word of the Bible.
The Evangelical- Lutheran Church today is like the Laodicean Church, which Christ depicts blind (needs eye salve) and lacks religious zeal (is neither cold nor hot). Does Christ vomit at least part of the churches belonging to this group from his mouth? Have these Churches become too official, whose services are formalistic, not declaring the coming of the kingdom of God? The mission of the Church is to guide its members into the kingdom of God. Therefore, the doctrine of the Church must not deviate from the doctrine proclaimed in the Bible, which clearly states what kind of people cannot inherit the kingdom of God:
1 Cor 6:9 Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals,
10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God.
6:19 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God.
6:20 for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
The existing big churches are often indifferent to the lives of their parishioners. Everyone can live the way they want. Especially Evangelical-Lutheran churches are indifferently free-minded. The walls are wide and the ceiling is high. It seems that those who live in sin will be at peace, but those who want to cherish the apostolic faith in the Church are mostly just distractions that are hardly tolerated. The issues of controversy are attitudes towards women’s priesthood, the same-sex marriages, and generally attitude towards gays.
1 Cor 14:35 But if they desire to learn anything, let them question their husbands at home; for it is a shame for a woman to speak in a church. 1 Tim 2:12 ”Moreover, I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. Instead, she is to be quiet.” – Is it that this and the following behavioural guidelines were intended only for people who lived two thousand years ago. Today’s people are said to live in a completely different world and they are not affected by these ancient Bible instructions. Really? On the other hand, at the time of Jesus, there were several women in the church who played a significant role in the church and were not left home. In his letters, Paul sent greetings to them and in this way showed respect for women.
1 Tim 1:10 for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and for any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;
3 Moos 18:22 And you shall not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is a perversion. 3 Moos 18:23 “You shall not lie with any animal to defile yourself with it; neither shall any woman give herself to an animal, to lie down with it: it is a perversion.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness,
Gal 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies,
Gal 5:21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man may sow, that he also will reap.
Eph 5:5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.
Col 3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;
Col 3:6 It is because of these things that the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.,
Heb 12:14 Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
Heb 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: but God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.
Rev 22:15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
The above list of horrors, of which the Bible warns parishioners. The Churches do not accept these, but they are often silent and do not interfere with what is happening in the Church. The true Church of God must not tolerate and quietly accept these unbiblical conducts, some of which were familiar even during Moses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society)
There are small doctrinal questions and then there are great ones. As an example of a small one is to say, as JWs claim, that Jesus was crucified on a stake and not a cross-shaped tree. Bigger doctrinal bias is, to claim that Jesus is Michael the Archangel.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are easily identified by circulating from door to door to conduct a Bible study with those living in the apartment. However, Jesus gave a different kind of instruction for preaching the gospel; the gospel was to be proclaimed publicly and openly. The proclaimers were allowed to stay in a host family and enjoy its hospitality, but as Luke said: 10:7 ”Remain in that same house, eating and drinking the things they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.”
For Jehovah’s Witnesses, proclaiming the kingdom of God is an important part of their activities. The doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses differs in many respects from the doctrine of other Churches. Perhaps the most striking is that Jesus is not God, he is the Son of God, who at the beginning was the Archangel Michael. The general public also knows that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions, even if the patient is at risk of dying.
At one point, I investigated these verses of the Bible they refer to: all the verses in the Bible that mention blood are about eating food with blood used in the cooking. This is because the animal’s soul (i.e. its life force) is in the blood. Acts of the Apostles provide blood instruction: 15:20 ” but that we write to them that they abstain from the pollution of idols, from sexual immorality, from what is strangled, and from blood. 15:29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality, from which if you keep yourselves, it will be well with you. Farewell.”
– The instructions relate to eating meat where blood has not been let run off.
I have a couple of times participated in the in commemoration of Christ held on 14th day of Nisan when the Eucharist was distributed. Communion cups and communion bread circulate from one participant to another, but the participants are not allowed to enjoy the wine or bread; it is only for those who believe they belong to the so-called “small group” of 144,000. The number of this small group has been filled up a long time ago and the members of the group have died and therefore new members cannot be added into this – and no one else can enjoy the Lord’s Supper.
The peculiar interpretation of the words of Jesus concerning the Eucharist: 1 Cor 11:25 ” In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” – In that situation, of course, Jesus showed his words to the apostles, but he in no way limited his message to the few of the elect. “As often as you…” simply refers to all believers who gather to remember the Lord’s death. Jesus further stated: 11:28 ” A person must examine himself and then eat the bread and drink from the cup.”.– According to this statement of Jesus, the Lord’s supper is meant for all men after he has tested himself.
Church leaders are to be servants of its members, and they must be like Christ, humble and modest. The former leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses built a huge mansion for Jesus to be his home for his second coming, but when Jesus did not come, he took it to himself.
Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
Two young men in dark costumes with briefcases came to my home. They told me they were the elders of the Church. I realized that their religion demanded mission work abroad for a certain time. A mother of a young man said she was happy when her son had had time to see the latest Star Wars movie before leaving for a foreign mission (as it should probably not be possible during a mission abroad). I have no other experience of them than other than this one hour visit.
Mormons are especially known for being polygonal, which is forbidden in today’s society. The second point is that even though they value the Bible, a more important book for them is the Book of Mormon. To me, it seems that Jesus is displaced.
Restored Church of God
”No one wants to harbor the thought that they may have been deceived and betrayed by a false prophet or religious fraud who claims to be “God’s Apostle” or “God’s Prophet” and who said his church was “God’s only true Church” with “absolute truth.”
This kind of thoughts are raised by those who have dissociated from the RCG. These highlight the procedures of the RCG predecessor, Herbert W. Armstrong and the present leader David C Pack, for the religious content of the Church; for example a large number of unjustified prophecies. How do you recognize the Church that is not of God? A very sure way is to investigate whether a church leader has been guilty of making predictions that have not materialized, though they are said to originate from God. HWA made about 200 such predictions during the years he was in charge.
Similar predictions that do not originate from God have also been produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Usually, their predictions have concerned the timetable of Jesus’ second coming. According to the latest prediction, Jesus was supposed to come in 1975. This caused enormous joy among the members. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses also sold their possessions in order to be able to make their living with those funds while they were preaching the coming of the kingdom of God under Jesus. When this did not happen, the board of directors of the Jehovah’s Witnesses withdrew from all responsibility, even though they had been involved in supporting the prophecy. The event shows how dedicated the members of Jehovah’s Witnesses are to their calling and, secondly, how their church leadership bears no responsibility for false prophecies.
Of course, it is necessary to study the doctrine of whether it is in accordance with the Bible. Here is the problem that there are so many opinions on the interpretation of the doctrine. Is Godhead formed of three persons, or do we have only one God the Father? This is what the Jews have believed through the ages, and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe today. Or, do we have two Gods i.e. Jehovah and His Son Jesus – as the RCG Church believes?
It is also worth looking at the Church’s leadership. The previous leader of WCG, Herbert W. Armstrong, turned out to be a false prophet and false Elijah. The leader of RCG, David C Pack, does not get a better mark, at least from those members of the Church who, after being disappointed with the Church and its leaders, have given evidence of RCG’s unchristian doctrine and pressure on members.
The RCG has an interesting interpretation of the lost tribes of Israel: these tribes are found among the nations of the world today. The United States and Britain are part of Israel, being one of its lost tribes. In general, one can ask what happened to the lost tribes of Israel? Have they merged into the pagan world and lost their pure Judaism? But how could the USA be a descendant of a lost tribe? The US has received immigrants from tens of countries and there is no pure ‘USA race’ in the racial sense (except Native Americans). I don’t know how David Pack justifies his wild doctrine, even though he has written a book about it.
Matthew testified that in the end times many false prophets will arise: 24:11 Many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray.
Mat 24:24 For there will arise false christs, and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones.
Apt 20:29 For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
When you get to know these people’s personal experiences of cruel treatment and economic exploitation under the guise of religion, you can only say that the Bible was able to warn of this for two thousand years ago. I can’t say how much of this happens outside Jehovah’s Witnesses and the RCG. The religious organization has a great power and a tight grip on its members because they present themselves as representatives of God. The members believe in their intimidation of the fiery lake of hell, if they leave the church they have joined, and to which they are usually bound by baptism.
If you are a baptized RCG member and you are separated from the Church, you have no chance of salvation according to the RCG doctrine. The explanation is that you have never received the gift of the Holy Spirit because it is only received by a devoted member of the true Church of God, where Jesus Christ is working and the Church is, of course, the RCG. If you do not repent and get back, you will have to suffer during the upcoming tribulation when the other Church members are brought to safety and, of course, at the last judgment you will find yourself to be in the fiery lake of hell.
Safeguarding the unity
Rom16:17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create divisions and sinful enticements in opposition to the teaching you have learned. Stay away from them!
Tit 3:10 Have nothing to do with a person who causes divisions after you have warned him once or twice 11 For you know that a person like this is corrupt and keeps on sinning, being self-condemned.
1 Cor 5:12 For what have I to do with also judging those who are outside? Don’t you judge those who are within?
1 Cor 5:13 But those who are outside, God judges. “Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.”
Already in the days of Paul, attention was paid to the unity of the church and the dangers that threatened the church, if it were to keep doctrinal unity. Not only was the doctrinal disagreement a threat, but also the behavior of the parishioners. To the Romans, Paul writes that parishioners must withdraw from those who disagree or otherwise aggravate. It is the heresy you should avoid, as well as other sinners such as adulterers, greedy, idolaters, blasphemers, drinkers… These should not be socialized or even eaten with. “put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Also 2 Tes 3:6 guides: ” Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks in rebellion, and not after the tradition which they received from us.”
What kind of Church does God want?
God wants the Church to be united, not dispersed and discouraged by contradictory doctrines. 1 Cor 14:33 ” for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies [churches] of the saints,”… decently and in order.” (14:40). Paul emphasizes in his letter to the Philippine 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your state, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel; 2:2 then fill me with joy by having the same attitude, sharing the same love, being united in spirit, and keeping one purpose in mind.
Small religious communities are often very scrupulous to guard the purity of the doctrine and the proper behaviour of parishioners. Especially the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the RCG have dismissed parishioners who deviate from the doctrines confirmed by the leadership. The “shunning” has been rigorous; not even the closest relatives are allowed to be in contact with the dismissed person. The shunning is justified by the Bible’s instructions that such a person you are not allowed to socialize with, not even eat together.
Indeed, the Bible calls for the removal of those who do not follow the promptings of the leadership in terms of doctrinal purity and proper conduct. But, wouldn’t it be enough just to separate the person from the church? A friendly greeting and conversation could lead to the desired change and would not need to completely break off the normal forms of polite interaction between people.
Church leadership may impose on the parishioners’ ways of conduct that have no Biblical foundation. For example, in the 1970s, Jehovah’s Witnesses were forbidden to smoke. If a member did not quit smoking within 6 months, the member was dismissed. But wine and other alcohol you are allowed to use reasonably. When I asked a Jehovah’s Witness why smoking tobacco was forbidden, I got a counter-question, “don’t you think smoking is unhealthy”? I would have required a Biblical reasoning. Yes, it is unhealthy alright. However, the Bible’s doctrine is not based on visions of health. ”That which enters into the mouth doesn’t defile the man; but that which proceeds out of the mouth. ”(Mat 15:11).
Ilm 3:14 And to the angel of the church of Laodicea, write: These things says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Head of the creation of God:
15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot.
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.
17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked;
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.
19 As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me. 21 He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Christ wanted the believers in God’s church not to be indifferent, but to be zealous.
The Laodicean Church considered itself to be rich, who didn’t need anything. Christ, however, said the opposite was true, saying, “You are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” He urged to buy “eye salve” to see. But Christ has a promise to give: If someone hears his voice and “opens his door” to him, Christ enters and “dines” with him. Christ rebukes and punishes those whom he loves. And the greatest promise: who wins gets to sit with Christ on his throne. – There is a lot of symbolism in this verse of Revelation: “eye salve”, “open the door to Christ”, “dine”. Buying eye salve means finding information to see the truth. Opening the door to Christ means receiving Christ in one’s heart. At that time, dining took place by settling down; Christ offers rest and peace to anyone who receives him. Joh 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. Matthew Henry puts it this way in his commentary: ”Christ and his repenting people will enjoy pleasant communion with each other”. I think Pleasant Communion must be interpreted as pleasant interaction. “Eating” can of course mean normal eating, but in this context it has a different meaning.
John describes this interaction, connection with God saying: We [God and Christ] come to him and we will stay with him. – Then the state of man is calm and happy as he has a connection with God and Christ. Isaiah also spoke of this connection saying: 58:9 Then you shall call, and Jehovah will answer; you shall cry, and He shall say, Here I am.” And 65:24 ” It shall happen that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”.
Do not believers notice the dispersion of Christianity into thousands and thousands of churches? It’s not God’s purpose. Satan is not dispersed, his troops are completely unified. Why don’t Christians fight for unity? Not for being divided into disagreeing denominations fighting with each other; even religious wars – long and bloody – have been waged for faith.
Feed my lambs
Joh 21:15 So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”(Joh 21:15-17). – Why did Jesus ask the same thing three times? Therefore, because it was so important. This feeding lambs / sheep is a figurative expression for providing spiritual food for God’s Church members.
It is the duty of the Church leadership not only to provide the Church with spiritual food, but also to nurture the Church so that there is mutual love among it. Doctrinal unity is also important; If there are different doctrinal groups in the Church, the Church will not be the Church of God. That is why management must separate those members from among those who do not remain united in teaching but break down the Church in different directions.
The matter can also be seen in the opposite way: if the doctrinal line of the congregation is not in accordance with the Bible, the member must act as 2 Corinthians 6:17 exhorts: ”Therefore, “‘Come out from among them, And be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you. 18 I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” – This is what the Jews did who separated from the Jewish Synagogue and became Christians. The Gentiles who had previously worshiped idols also left the old gods and joined the new apostolic Church. In this way should Christians do today if they find that their own Church does not follow the teachings of Jesus and the apostles and does not preach the right gospel. Rev 18:2 He cried with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and she has become a habitation of demons, a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird!
3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality, the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from the abundance of her luxury.”
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, that you have no participation in her sins, and that you don’t receive of her plagues,
I have noticed that there are a lot of Christians whose Christianity is only that they have been baptized as a child. There are also hundreds of millions of Christians who do not love the truth enough to make sure whether their church teaching is in accordance with the Bible. They attend the mass, and make signs of the cross, pray for the saints etc. With my wife we watched an Italian TV series about a Catholic priest who assists the police and helps to solve crimes and he is exemplary in many respects as a congregation shepherd. However, he does not see anything wrong in praying to Virgin Mary or the saints, or by telling the dying man that he goes straight to heaven. Satan’s ingenious plan works; he combines the good and the right Biblical word with false truth and everyone swallows it as the full truth.I have noticed that there are a lot of Christians whose Christianity is only that they have been baptized as a child. There are also hundreds of millions of Christians who do not love the truth enough to make sure whether their church teaching is in accordance with the Bible. They attend the mass, and make signs of the cross, pray for the saints etc. With my wife we watched an Italian TV series about a Catholic priest who assists the police and helps to solve crimes and he is exemplary in many respects as a congregation shepherd. However, he does not see anything wrong in praying to Virgin Mary or the saints, or by telling the dying man that he goes straight to heaven. Satan’s ingenious plan works; he combines the good and the right Biblical word with false truth and everyone swallows it as the full truth.
Ilm 18:4 “Then I heard another voice from Heaven saying,” Come out of my people, so that you don’t get in her sins and suffer from her plagues.
At the beginning of this passage, John heard the angel declare how the Babylon the Great has fallen. Now, John hears another voice calling “Get out of it”
The question arises: At what period of time is this call directed? Does the exhortation in the Revelation refer to the Church in John’s time or does it also concern the Churches of today? John saw his vision some decades after Christ’s ascension. The assemblies were scattered and small. However, they had a powerful apostolic spirit, and the members of the Church were eager to hear from the apostles. The doctrine was rather unified. There was not any Catholic Church, it was just developing. There was no big harlot with whom world leaders were connected. I think it is meant for the end-times; Babylon the Great (the false powerful church supported by Satan, with great influence in the world) has been crushed. This has not yet happened, but it does not mean that it would not be appropriate to leave this mighty church.
Another question: In the wrong Church, there is a part of good that God values. Couldn’t I stay in this church and see to it that I do not take part in anything against the Bible, only that which is good? Such thinking is understandable. However, the Bible warns that, by staying in this harlot Church, you risk in participating in its sins and receiving her plagues.
I myself have experienced this problem when about fifty years ago I left my Church. I have not found the Church of God in my own country. Through the Web, however, I have got to know a Fellowship working outside the official Church, whose mission is to restore the apostolic faith. The idea behind it is: we have only one God who gave his only Son a task to proclaim of the kingdom of God and the gospel of salvation.