What great confusion there is over the word “church”! Satan comes to steal, kill, destroy, deceive, and counterfeit, and he comes with his body, the false church. But the gates of hell will not prevail against the true Church, the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Church” means “called-out ones.”
There are only two churches in this world – the true Church and the church that poses as the true. One is the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:21-22), and the other is the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9). There are many thousands of organizations, each parading as the true Church of God, with names of blasphemy. But there can only be one true Church. Where is it? Can we tell? Do we know? We must know. And when we know the true Church, we will also know the false.
“Church” means “called-out ones”: The Greek root words are “ek,” meaning “out” or “from,” and “kaleo,” meaning “to call.” It means there is a group of people called out. Called out by whom? By God.
“No one can come to Me unless the Father Who has sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44 MKJV).
Called out from what? They are called out from:
The works of darkness:
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:8-11 MKJV).
“For He has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13 MKJV).
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession, so that you might speak of the praises of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 MKJV).
The world, which lies in wickedness:
“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16 MKJV).
“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19 KJV).
Union with unbelievers:
(14) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness?
(15) And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever?
(16) And what agreement does a Temple of God have with idols? For you are the Temple of the living God, as God has said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
(17) Therefore come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord, and do not touch the unclean thing. And I will receive you
(18) and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
Mystery, Babylon the Great:
“And I heard another voice from Heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that you may not be partakers of her sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4 MKJV).
Saints live not in make-believe, but in reality; not in religion, but in reality.
Who is Mystery? She is the great harlot, false religion, which poses as the Bride of Christ, the true Church. She is the false church, the bride of Satan, his synagogue. God calls out of her all those who would walk with Him.
The true Church is the saints of God. They are not extraordinary persons of great religious works. They are not people “canonized” by the Catholic Church. They are not people whose bodies have been dug up, a century or so later, to see if corruption has been stalled or arrested. They are not people proven to be “saints” because signs or miracles occurred in relation to them after their deaths.
The saints of God are simply true believers in Jesus Christ, people who have repented of their sins and submitted to Him as Lord in all of their lives. The saints are those who live not for themselves, but for Him, if they are walking in the Spirit. They live not in make-believe, but in reality; not in religion, but in reality. Reality is what the true Church is all about.
Saints of God are not of the world, though they are in it. They don’t go by carnal reasonings, and they aren’t motivated by the same things that motivate unbelievers. Saints are ordinary people who have come into contact with, and rulership under, the Lord Jesus, confessing Him before men, before the world. They have received His Spirit and are being formed in His image, while He, more and more, manifests Himself through them in whatever way He chooses, much of the time unknown to, and unnoticed by, the world.
There is no partisanship with God’s people, if they walk in the Light.
Saints are sons and daughters of God. Their lives are hid in Christ, not advertised by God or man to the world. Any advertisements are a sham – an attempt to promote the selfish interests of men and their organizations, which have been formed presumptuously in the Name of God. Saints worship the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth, not in show and ceremony. They don’t “go to church,” because they are the Church – the Body of Christ – 24 hours a day. Obedient saints are not hearers only, but also doers of what God requires of them.
Saints love one another, by nature. This is not a worldly, romantic, social, or fleshly love, but a spiritual essence springing out of a life from the Head of the Body. Jesus said, “By this all shall know that you are My disciples, if you have love toward one another” (John 13:35 MKJV). There is no partisanship with God’s people, if they walk in the Light as He is in the Light.
Jesus prayed, “Your will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.” If there is no partisanship in Heaven, we ought not to support, or partake of, such on earth, and we won’t if we are the Lord’s, worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. But He is the Workman, and He will call out, purge, and sanctify all who are His. Those that are His will have fellowship together; they will encourage, exhort, reprove, rebuke, admonish, pray for, and work with, one another, directed by the Head of the Body of which they are inescapable members.
Since the beginning, many saints have fallen prey to falsehood and have practiced religion in the Name of Jesus Christ as though they worshipped Him. As a result, they have suffered untold consequences; they have suffered the plagues and wrath of God. Their hypocrisies have always found them out. Many saints (children of God) died in their sins, as in Noah’s day when they took persons of the world in marriage, having been forbidden to mix with the world and instructed to keep separate instead.
The Church of God is without earthly banner or government registration.
Yes, saints have perished because of sin – willfulness, iniquity, and selfishness. Doctrines in “Christian” circles teach that such cannot happen, that a saint is one who is ever saved; one who cannot fall, or if he does fall, he will not remain fallen, because he has eternal security. Men have their chosen Scriptures to support their arguments and can be very convincing, but they fool only themselves and those who love iniquity. They cannot fool the sincere worshipper of God.
This much is true and should end all debate about whether a saint can be lost or not: If he believes and obeys the Lord, he will not fall or perish. Only rebels tempt God; only phonies and hypocrites deliberately sin, thinking they can get away with it. But only in obedience is salvation guaranteed; in disobedience, one is not fit for the Kingdom of God – destruction is guaranteed.
The Church of God is without earthly banner or government legalization or registration. Though formed of men, it is not fashioned by men. Imagine, Jesus’ spiritual Body formed by the carnal man, the sinner; the Creator’s Body formed by His creatures! Can anything be more absurd?
Jesus Christ doesn’t need a license by sinners in order to operate on His own earth, so that He can save sinners and be a witness to them. Does God need permission from His creation to do it good, when it cannot redeem itself, when it is thoroughly opposed to God, as the Scriptures teach, and for which cause it needs a Savior? Since when does Heaven need man’s permission to speak and to live in truth? Again, I say, absurd!
Imagine the widow asking for a receipt from the Temple priest for a tax credit!
Are not truth and righteousness a responsibility of all men under God, not merely something they do if permitted by other men? In this way, the Body of Christ rules on earth and is not subject to the ordination of men, though members of the Body of Christ obey the laws of this world where those laws do not contradict or oppose the laws of God or His will.
Let me tell you this: Any structure or organization that has a name, a license from the government (whatever earthly government it may be), fancy church buildings and hirelings for leaders (that is, priests, pastors, and teachers on staff with salary), religious garb of any kind, canned prayers and church services where you can count on a program of some sort, usually on Sundays, as well as other days of the week, when people get all dressed up to attend, various “ministries” specializing in youth, college, career, children, slums, or any other narrow focus, that structure or organization is not the Church of God.
“But we register with the government, not because we feel we need its permission, but so that we can have tax deductions for tithes and offerings,” you may say.
Oh, that’s just great! Imagine the widow giving all her living and asking for a receipt from the priest at the Temple so that she and the priest will get a tax credit from the Roman government! Imagine those in Acts selling their possessions for the benefit of the Church, and getting receipts from the apostles and elders so that they can submit them to Herod for financial advantage!
Imagine Jesus saying to Peter, “Before you get the church going, make sure you register with the government so that you can give out tax-deductible receipts. Otherwise, God won’t be able to bless you as much financially, and some of your people won’t give as much.”
Have not governments throughout history persecuted the saints of God unto death?
You may say, “We get a license only because the government is trying to protect society from cults and charlatans. It isn’t a bad thing. The fact that we can get a license shows we are legitimate.”
Really? Are you not aware of the blatant false churches formed in the name of religion, licensed by the governments in Canada, the U.S. and around the world? Even Satan worshippers can be licensed in the name of religious freedom.
I tell you, getting a license from the government is not a mark of legitimacy before God, but the very opposite. If the world is willing to grant a license, the world accepts the licensee. But Jesus said that His true followers would be hated and persecuted by the world.
Are not Buddhists, Muslims, Baha’i, and many others registered by the government as legitimate religious organizations, yet you would say they are deceived and deceiving people? But in some ways, are you not as them, if you are a member of a religious organization registered with the government?
Have not governments throughout history, religious and otherwise, persecuted the saints of God, the true Church, unto death, sometimes slaughtering whole cities to destroy perceived threats to their dominion and authority? I tell you, the piper will demand payment, and you will not be spared; neither will your children nor your children’s children. Do you believe me?
The true Church is a living organism.
For more tell-tale signs that a group, ministry, or organization is part of the false church, lacking any legitimacy before God, read The True Marks of a Cult.
The Church of God is seen, yet not seen. Members are real, but not found in a formal organization. When they meet, they do not have church services. There will be prayer, a discussion of spiritual matters, as well as mundane, some Bible study, gifts manifest, song, and ministering to one another. A few of these elements or activities could be missing from time to time.
It is God Who leads and directs; the Shepherd makes the decisions, and the sheep follow. Much of the time, they don’t meet in person, but they function in spirit as the Body of Christ nonetheless, everywhere they are, in all that they do, together or apart, He being ever with and in them. The true Church is a living organism.
There are not nearly as many saints (true Christians) as is supposed. There weren’t many in Noah’s day, Abraham’s day, any other day, and not many today. Vast numbers profess faith in Christ, but few, very few, are for real.
Some are living in sin, and one can hardly tell if they are true believers or false brethren. For all intents and purposes, these sinning Christians are like the phonies, yet the grace of God purposes to deliver them by election. They can be in the harlot system for a time, but they will eventually come out in obedience to God, or perish. Those being called out are in conflict with the children of darkness in varying degrees, depending on how much they have responded to God’s call.
There are many examples of saints of God being alone for periods of time.
Those who are the Lord’s and walking with Him are without earthly banner, without legal license, and without man’s will or doing. Saints are not baptized into the Body of Christ by water, but by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). The true Church is mystical – it includes saints here on earth and those who have passed on in Christ. Though it is composed of flesh and blood members, it is not acknowledged by the carnal man. The Church is the living Temple of God, made without hands.
Church members or saints may be alone for a time. They may not know that there are others. Elijah thought he was the only one, and then the Lord informed him that He had reserved unto Himself 7,000 others whose knees had not bowed to Baal and whose mouths had not kissed him.
There are many examples of saints of God being alone for periods of time, such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, many prophets, John, and others. There is nothing at all strange about a saint being alone (at least not to God or other saints).
It is taught in the false church that one must not be alone, for he will fall prey to the Devil as a stray sheep. The opposite is true. If one remains as a true believer in the fold of any organized church, he will die, because that organization is one of the thousands that mimic the Body of Christ; the wrath of God is upon such organizations, and it will be poured out until they are destroyed.
The harlot church loves pomp, ceremony, ritual, formality, power, fame, greatness, physical prosperity, and the respect and praise of men. So it gets a name and license, erects a fancy building (as fancy as it can afford), holds services, produces uniform study literature, and organizes all sorts of activities to “win souls” and raise money. The leaders of the harlot church are trained and taught in Bible schools or seminaries by men, not by God.
The world didn’t love the saints then; it doesn’t love the saints today.
These leaders receive degrees and diplomas, sometimes dress in religious garb, may wear “clerical collars,” and call themselves by any variety of titles. The harlot church advertises, vaunts, and presents itself as the true, living Church of God. Thousands do these things proclaiming (explicitly or implicitly) that all others are off base. The harlot church adulterates what is good, true, honest, just, and pure. It is recognized, applauded, respected, and accepted by the world. Its leaders are often famous and loved by many. These are all the works of men, the paths of the destroyer (Psalm 17:4).
Jesus clearly warned that His Church would not be accepted or respected by the world, but hated (Matthew 10:22, 24:9; Luke 21:17; John 15:18, 24, 17:14). The world didn’t love the saints then; it doesn’t love the saints today. What is loved is of the world, not of God.
“And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15 MKJV).
Tell me, where did you ever read of Jesus or His disciples wearing religious garb? Was it not those with religious garb who killed Him and His followers? When did Jesus call for church buildings? When His disciples were impressed with, and remarked on, the structural magnificence of the Temple, did He not downplay such?
Did He ever indicate that the disciples should build their own, when the Temple was destroyed? Did He call on His disciples to have titles? Did He institute formal ceremonies or rituals? Did He encourage any of the religious garbage you see today? Not in the very least. In fact, it was people who did such things who were His greatest opposition, and men killed Him because He testified against them.
The saint can’t fellowship with darkness, with those who walk in unrighteousness.
Only true believers know these things to be true. The tares love, cling to, and defend the false church, diplomatically or vehemently. But read about Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, in Revelation 17 and 18, and know both her works and her end. Those in her die with her. Those who come out, the called-out ones, are saved. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes, not loving their lives to the death.
So many of you say you believe. You think that because you have an intellectual acknowledgment of God, are nice to people, are a positive thinker, do your bit in your community, and “live by the golden rule,” you are accepted of God or He will require no more of you. Wrong! Are not many in the world in agreement with your philosophy? Aren’t they similar in conduct? Of course they are! I tell you, both you and they will perish in ignorance, falling drastically short of what real Christianity is about.
(“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”) is a verse that has been used as a bludgeon on the heads of every true saint, when he decides to follow the Lamb outside the city:
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:12-14 KJV).
The saint cannot fellowship or assemble with darkness, with infidels, with sons of Belial, with the tares, with those who walk in unrighteousness.
The gates of hell are all organizations that pose as the Church of God.
But now I will inform those of you who go to church of your need to heed that verse, the admonition in Hebrews 10:25. Note that it says “the assembling of ourselves together.” When one goes into, or remains in, organized religion or darkness of any kind, knowing better, that one has forsaken assembling with the true Church. He has taken the broad path that leads to hell.
“But if we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 MKJV).
The gates of hell are all organizations that pose as the Church of God. Did you hear? I’ll repeat: The gates of hell are all organizations that pose as the Church of God. They open their gates to all those without and shut them on those within. They are the “high places” condemned by God in the days of Israel of old.
The Lord, however, will deliver all those who not only want the truth, but have a love for the truth. Jesus has the keys of death and of hell and opens and closes as He wills. He will set any captive free who prefers to worship the Creator, rather than the creature.
“Are you going to church?” is commonly asked. I say “I am the Church!” As I am a true believer, am I not a member of His Body, and therefore am I not the Church? I am also in the Church 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Yes, but don’t you need to get fed?” it is asked, implying that only by going to a church service can one be fed spiritually. But what is a church service? Jesus Christ is real, natural, and down-to-earth. So are we, since we were created as Him. Do you really think He is asking for a bunch of people to sit or stand around (or dance) in front of Him, mouthing all sorts of things as though He gets pleasure out of having His ego stroked, as though He loves your foolish flatteries?
Children of darkness hire for themselves preachers to tickle their ears.
Do you really believe Him to be such a fool, an egotistic, glory-seeking, arrogant, pompous tyrant? Truly, are you not creating Him as you fancy yourself, and in your perversity, are you not treating Him the way you would like to be treated by men? Tell the truth, if you can, and say it is so.
Little do such people who think this way realize that the sheep of God have a Shepherd with or within them, and that He feeds His sheep daily and faithfully. In the fullness of time, He also sends His apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who feed the sheep what they receive from the Chief Shepherd, not lording it over them, but being an example to them. The food gives healing and nourishment to those in need and who ask for it. Those in true ministry from the Lord also use the rod when needed; correction is crucial.
The True Friend gives His true friends to His sheep, so that all may become His true friends in the end. They have no titles, no degrees in theology (which word God hates), and are not hired by congregations or organizations. Imagine, sheep hiring a shepherd and telling him what he ought to do, when and how he ought to do it, and for how much!
Children of darkness hire for themselves preachers to tickle their ears, performers to entertain them, and vessels of salve to relieve their wicked consciences! Would it not be unspeakably more profitable to put away sin, vanity, and the gods of pleasure and entertainment? People, these are the whoredoms God hates! It is for these very reasons that things don’t go well for you.
Because your preachers are eloquent and impressive, do you think God will excuse you or justify you in your sins? Do you think you can “play church” and escape damnation with your substitutes for His righteousness? If you think so, you are in for a rude awakening.
People, the religious garb, the pulpits, and the pews are Satan’s horns and tails.
And then you will say, “But how should I have known? It looked so good, so real! They were uplifting Jesus and always talking about being good and godly. We were singing hymns to the Lord! Doesn’t the Bible talk about that in Psalms, Acts, and Corinthians? I thought I was doing right! How could we have been so wrong?
“The pastor was a close friend. He helped us out a lot at times when we needed it. The church prayed for us when we had problems. I should have known that the counterfeit would pose as the real! What was I expecting – sneers, horns, and tails? What did I think truth was anyway?!”
People, the religious garb, the pulpits, and the pews are Satan’s horns and tails. The smiles and flatteries are the sneers; the regulated dead praise and songs are the sacrifices of fools, all unacceptable to God.
“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools. For they do not know that they are doing evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and do not let your heart be hasty to say a word before God. For God is in Heaven, and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 MKJV).
Remember Nadab and Abihu:
“You shall offer no strange incense on it, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meal offering. Neither shall you pour drink offering on it” (Exodus 30:9 MKJV).
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And there went out fire from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (Leviticus 10:1-2 MKJV).
The false church teaches some truths, common sense, and law, which is good, but never does it teach one to take up the cross in obedience by faith, against all reason and logic, at all costs, for it would lose its own. A house divided perishes.
Abraham was called alone, obeying through faith, and so are all his children.
To deceive, it must have some apparent truth, but the things it gives are dead (though appearing to be much alive in the flesh) and breed only pride, vanity, and self-righteousness. Unless the old man is crucified within by obedience to God’s personal directions, all is lost in the end. By the grace of God, we stand and are kept by our Saviour, Whose Body we are.
Much of the time, we stand alone, and so it must be as the Lord proves us. Will we walk with Him because we choose to do so or because others choose to do so, and we wish to be with them? Do we do the right thing or the popular thing? Abraham was called alone, obeying through faith, and so are all his children.
There comes the time, however, when God “sets the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6), and then is a day of great rejoicing. It’s a long awaited homecoming! Of these and thus is the church of God comprised. Glory to God!
We received the following response to The True Marks of a Cult. The writer asks us what we suggest as the alternative to the churches and religious systems that he advocates.
We read of the high places in Kings and Chronicles and we imagine all sorts of things happening in them. Little do we know that they exist today, and that we ourselves are their frequenters and ardent supporters, perishing as we go.
Satan promotes legitimacy and credibility of his kingdom by glorifying his gates of Hell in order to keep men in darkness and maintain his control over their souls. And men must justify their lawlessness and independence of God, because they worship what, when, where, and how they please. As it is written, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).