Author: Michael Smith
The Church is not a group or organization of man but a divine institution composed of every saved individual. In Acts 2:47 the scripture says, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Salvation is the redemption of sin through the blood of Christ. When individuals repent and depart from iniquity, they become one with the body of Jesus Christ – of whom Christ is the head (Eph 1:22-23).
Entrance into the glorious Church of God is not obtained through joining a congregation or having a name written in a book here on earth. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (I Cor. 12:18). Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep … I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:7,9).
Scripture after scripture supports the fact that the body is composed of the saved. We are only saved through Jesus Christ. Hence, man cannot put us into the church, nor can man put us out of the church. Sin is what separates us from being part of the body of Christ – the Church.
The Church is bigger than you and me. None of us have salvation to offer except Christ. There are people who through Christ have been born again and become new creatures. They may have never heard of the ‘Church of God’ but they are members due to their experience of salvation. On the other hand, there may be people going to a congregation with a sign over the building ‘Church of God’ who are not actually in God’s church if there is sin in their lives. Hence, God’s church is the only Church that is pure and without sin – as it is divinely composed of the pure and holy. This is why the ‘Church of God,’ Mount Zion, reigns above all religious organizations of man.
Clearly then, to be part of the Church of God, religious history and past affiliations are relatively unimportant. Receiving material from a particular congregation or group does not make one part of the Church of God. Membership is only contingent upon a born again experience. All the redeemed, the world over, are part of the true Church.
Ephesians 4:4-6 states “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” God is not a polygamist and has only one Church. This should not be confusing when we understand, as previously explained, what the church really is.
Some members in the body of Christ will not have attained all the light and understanding that other members possess. It is God’s will and purpose to draw each one through the Holy Spirit that we might “…come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). As people grow in Christ, they will come into a fuller awareness and understanding of the pure doctrines of the Bible. Christ can never be separated from truth.
The visible body of Christ on earth is a group or a congregation of believers who are openly unified in the oneness of God’s faith and Spirit. Wherever the two witnesses – the Word and Spirit – are having full freedom and right of way, there is the visible body. Although there will often be tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:37-42), where the Word is being uncompromisingly taught and lived in its fullness under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, that is the visible body.
Therefore, it is possible for someone to be in the Church of God but not be part of the visible body due to their fellowship of a false system of religion and/or lack of doctrinal understanding. It is God’s will for all to leave the systems of man’s religion and be joined with other believers in the purity of doctrine and Spirit. “Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins…” (Revelation 18:4). When people fail to forsake the religious organizations of man, their spiritual life usually quickly ebbs out due to the influence of erroneous doctrine and lack of Holy Spirit empowerment. If an individual chooses not to leave spiritual Babylon once they have light on the subject, it is a case of disobedience to God. The end result will be spiritual death. God continues to call His people to unity in the oneness of His Spirit and faith.
God has one church; however, the visible body of Christ is not dependent upon one’s knowledge of all other geographical representations of the one body. Being part of the visible body is not dependent upon what time period a congregation broke free from others who were compromising – if such be the case. A congregation is not part of the visibility just because of an association or history, as the true test of visibility is the Word and Spirit. But when people who are operating in the fullness of God meet, there is a sweet fellowship of love, and unity should be the natural outcome. Where there is a lack of unity, either the Word or the Spirit (or both) is not having total liberty among one or both groups.
In the early 1900’s, there was an ignorant fisherman in Nigeria who gave his heart to Jesus Christ. That made him a member of the Church of God although he had never heard of the church. This man began to minister and God revealed the wonderful, pure truths of the Bible to him. A congregation was raised up which made them part of the visible body of Christ, as the Word and Spirit were operating in their full capacity. Subsequently, this brother came into contact with some of the pioneer brethren from the Church of God reformation in the United States. They were teaching the same thing and had the same spirit. Both groups of people then were the visible body in different locales. Once they made contact, there was a unity that spontaneously flowed between them.
So, as we enter into the Church of God only through a heart relationship with Christ, we enter into visibility only through the working of God as well. Sometimes various professed Church of God groups get in a tug of war saying, “Come to US.” The cry from God’s true people should be to enter through the door of Jesus Christ and forsake all false doctrines and man’s religion. The result will be holiness and unity with God’s visible body on earth. God’s Church should transcend culture, tradition, and history, and be founded on the truth of the rock Christ Jesus.
A vision of the church is imperative to keep from becoming just another denomination amongst many. Understanding this basic teaching will keep God’s people from falling into the quagmire of Church of God sectism. “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach” (Isaiah 4:1). Let all who profess to be in God’s church partake of the whole Word of God and be adorned with the holiness and righteousness of Christ.
May the Lord give all His people a greater vision of the wonderful Church of God. May we die out in a greater way to our thoughts and opinions and be joined together in the fullness of the Word and Spirit. Thank the Lord for the glorious Church of God.