According to a recent handbook of American churches, there are more than 250 religious groups in the United States. Each of these professes to be God's true church and the custodian of truth. At the same time, each group is different from the others. The teachings of one church often vary significantly from another.
Obviously all the churches cannot be right. Many people ask, "Can I know which is God's true church today? Does it make any difference which church I attend?"
This study will help you discover a Biblical profile of God's true church. Throughout the history of the world God has always had a people who followed Him. This group of loyal and committed followers have composed His church in every age.
1. How does God identify His followers in the early, formative stages of the church? Genesis 26:4, 5.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws."
Since Abraham was faithful to Him, God desired to acquaint the nations of this world with a knowledge of the true God through the family (or church) of Abraham. Abraham's son, Isaac, passed God's blessing to Jacob. Jacob's twelve sons became the progenitors of the nation of Israel. Israel was the Old Testament church through whom God desired to reveal to the world a knowledge of His glory.
2. How does God describe His special relationship with Israel? Deuteronomy 7:6.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth."
Throughout the Old Testament, Israel, though at times faithful, showed open rebellion and drifted away from God.
3. How does God describe those who remained faithful in spite of the rebellion of the majority? Haggai 1:12.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "Then Zerubbabel . . . and Joshua . . . with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, . . ."
The word "remnant" means those who remain. A portion of Israel remained faithful. Thus obeying the voice of God they formed the nucleus for the New Testament church.
4. Since the Jews rejected Jesus, what did He say He would do? Matthew 16:18.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."
The "Rock" in this verse refers not to Peter, but to Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:4; Psalms 62:7; 1 Peter 2.6-8). Jesus declared that upon the solid foundation of Peter's statement that He was Christ, the divine Son of God, He would build His church. This church, a visible body of believers, is to be based solidly upon the words of Jesus. Just as throughout history His followers were to be faithful to His words, so His New Testament believers were to be faithful.
5. What instruction does Jesus give His New Testament church? John 14:15.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
6. What is the New Testament church called? I Timothy 3:15.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
7. Upon what is the New Testament church based? John 17:1 7.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth."
The New Testament church is based upon the Word of God, characterized by obedience to Christ in obeying His commands.
8. Will God have a church at the time of the end characterized as the "remnant" who remain loyal and true to God? If so, when would this church rise? How would it be identified?
A. The true church would rise sometime after 1798:
B. What two identifying features does God give of His remnant church? Revelation 12:17.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "And the dragon (Satan) was enraged with the woman (church) and he went to make war with the rest (last part) of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
9. What is the testimony of Jesus? Revelation 19:10.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
According to prophecy, the true church would rise sometime after 1798. It is revealed keeping the commandments of God, including the Bible Sabbath and having within its midst the gift of prophecy. Notice carefully the following Biblical profile of the message preached by the true church as characterized in Revelation 14:6-12.
The true church preaches:
A. The Everlasting Gospel—Revelation 14:6. The gospel is the "good news" that Jesus has forgiven our sins, that through His death we can become the children of God and that through His power our lives can be transformed.
B. The Hour of God's Judgment Has Come—Revelation 14:7.
The true church teaches we are living in the judgment hour preliminary to the coming of Christ.
C. Fear (Respect) God and Give Glory to Him—Revelation 14:7
The true church teaches the necessity of obedience to God's moral and physical laws for the "born again" believer. It directs the attention of men and women to the fact that their bodies are the temple of God. I Corinthians 6:19, 20.
D. Worship Him That Made Heaven and Sea and the Fountains of Water—Revelation 14:7
The true church calls men and women to worship on the Bible Sabbath as a memorial of creation (Revelation 14:11; Exodus 20:811). It calls them to return to the Bible Sabbath of the seventh day, Saturday.
E. Against the Mark of the Beast
The true church warns men and women not to accept the sign of human authority of worship on the first day, but calls to worship the Creator on the seventh (Revelation 14:911). It warns of the crisis of authority over worship which is coming.
F. Blessed Are the Dead Which Die in the Lord . . . and Their Works Do Follow Them—Revelation 14:13.
The true church teaches the truth about death. It clearly reveals that death is a beautiful rest until Jesus returns, at which time the righteous dead are resurrected and caught up with the righteous living to meet Jesus in the air.
The following is a summary of identifying points of the true church.
• Rises after 1798 in the time of the end.
• Leads men and women to obedience to the commandments of God.
• Has the spirit of prophecy.
• Teaches the beauty of the gospel that we are only saved through Jesus.
• Reveals the truth about the judgment since 1844.
• Enables men and women to understand that their bodies are God's temple, leading them to refrain from alcohol, tobacco, and unclean foods.
• Explains the significance of the Bible Sabbath on Saturday, the seventh day.
• Warns against the Mark of the Beast.
• Teaches that death is but a sleep until the resurrection.
MY DECISION: "Lord, I thank You for preserving the chain of truth through the centuries. I dedicate my life to following Your truth and sincerely desire to discover Your true church. Thank You, Lord, for Your promise to guide me.