Have you ever wrestled over the term, “God’s true Church”? Surely it is either God’s Church or it is not. If it is God’s Church, then it would be true. “… the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
However, we all know that the real issue is that many different churches of varying beliefs and practices call themselves God’s true Church. In the latest edition of The Atlantic, an article about Mormons quotes the founder, Joseph Smith, as referring to the Mormon/Latter Day Saints church as God’s true Church. Those of us who cut our spiritual teeth on the numerous writings of Mr. Armstrong will remember how he frequently referenced God’s true Church.
As we think about Passover and the unifying effects of Christ’s sacrifice, we might do well to focus on what makes it God’s Church. We will take notice of the foundation of the Church and who is the Head. With those in place, we will not need the additional word “true”.
Jesus Christ is the Rock upon which God’s people stand. “… For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). Christ is the foundation, and He is the chief, or head. “… Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). There is no other foundation upon which the Church stands, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). Additionally, the book of Revelation describes Christ as being spiritually in the midst of His Church. “… and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man …” (Revelation 1:13).
We fit into this picture through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “… the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). We have been individually purchased by His blood and our lives are owned by Jesus Christ. With this purchase we are placed (baptized) into His body as members individually. But the body is not one member but many. (1 Corinthians 12:13, 14, 27). This body is the body of Christ and is the Church. “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22, 23).
The Church is a living, dynamic organism where all parts are mutually dependent. That dependence is created by the indwelling presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Each person covered by the blood of Christ has life – the same life – not individual lives independent of one another. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
The Church of God must incorporate all of these spiritual elements if it is to be God’s Church. And if they are incorporated, then there will only be one body. The understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and how it effects a human life will separate the true from the false. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). Keeping Christ’s words is a major distinguishing factor for what is true.
It is the indwelling presence of Christ and the Father that distinguishes God’s Church. “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
God’s Church is true because the Father and Son are true.