Statement of Fundamental Beliefs - THE CHURCH, ITS NAME AND ITS MISSION
The Name of the Church
Does it make a difference which church you attend? Many simply believe there is no difference from church to church. The truth of the matter is, there is a big difference! Jesus Christ taught He would build His church (Matthew 16:18)—not hundreds of divided, disagreeing and competing organizations. Jesus is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). When the Bible uses the word "church," do you know what it means? In reality, this word helps define the church to which you should belong! We need to understand the surprising answer!
"Church" is derived from the Greek word ekklesia, literally meaning "a calling out of" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, see "Assembly," p. 42). The Greeks commonly used this term when referring to a body of citizens gathered together to discuss the affairs of state. For example, the entire city of Ephesus, in an excited uproar against the Apostle Paul, formed an ekklesia in the outdoor amphitheater (Acts 19:29, 38–41). The word "church" simply means an assembly or gathering of a group of people.
However, this word profoundly changes when modified by God's name! The Church of God represents the group of "called out" followers of Jesus Christ. Yet what are God's people called out of? The Apostle Paul answers this question. Notice: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God… Therefore 'come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty'" (2 Corinthians 6:14–18).
The biblical name of the true Church is "the Church of God." God names things what they are. The name is clearly stated in both singular and plural form in twelve different places in the New Testament—including Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 10:32; 11:16 and 1 Timothy 3:15.
How would one be able to identify the true Church of God, the one that is a continuation of the church that Jesus built? No church hangs out signs identifying itself as "the false church," yet, clearly, with so many different competing ideas and doctrines, the various churches cannot all be right! There are several keys from scripture that help identify the church that Jesus Christ built, the one against which the gates of the grave have never been able to prevail.
Kept in the Father's name (John 17:11), it will be a commandment-keeping group. The commandment identified in scripture as the test commandment is observance of the seventh-day Sabbath (Exodus 31:12–17). The true church also is one that has a profound sense of mission. Jesus Christ said "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work" (John 4:34). The church that He built will have that same priority. After all, true Christians are those who seek to imitate Jesus Christ by following His example. Members of the true church are empowered and led by the Holy Spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). They have the love of God "shed abroad" in their hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5, KJV) and will radiate that love both toward God and toward their fellow man.
Finally, God's true assembly is metaphorically described as being closely "joined and knit together" as a body—with Jesus Christ as the Head (Ephesians 4:15–16). God's people are called out to be "perfectly joined together in the same mind"—all speaking and believing the same doctrines (1 Corinthians 1:10)! Today's churches that profess to be Christian display a sharp contrast to the true meaning of the words "Church of God."
Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed that the Father would keep His church "one"! (John 17:20–22). There is only "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," and one Father of all (Ephesians 4:4–6). It is this modern-day continuation of the very church that Jesus built to which you should belong!
The Living Church of God has congregations and ministers throughout the United States and Canada, and also in many countries around the world. If you would like to make personal contact with the congregation in your area, or if you have further need of information, please contact us.
If you would like to receive more information or have any questions please call our Canadian Regional Office toll free at 1-800-932-4264, or (905)814-1094 within Toronto, and ask to speak with a minister.