The Church is the spiritual body of Christ, a group of persons called
out by God and impregnated with His Holy Spirit. As a spiritual body,
the Church is made up of baptized, spirit filled individuals who are
scattered around the world. As a physical, external organization, the
Church has meeting places in many areas worldwide where members and
non-members alike, as well as. children and guests, meet in harmony to
worship God and to learn His Way under the guidance of an ordained
minister as their spiritual elder and leader. The main commission of the
Church is to preach the gospel as a witness to the world and to baptize
and spiritually nurture those whom God has called.
While God at times has dealt with particular human beings on an
individual basis, He has normally worked through the congregation of
Israel; in New Testament times this became "spiritual Israel" or the
Church. The Greek word for "church" (ekklesia) is a common noun meaning
group, "crowd" or "assembly." It is used collectively of the group of
persons with whom God is dealing and in whom dwells God's Holy Spirit.
The New Testament Church was originated and developed through Jesus
Christ and the preaching of His twelve disciples who were later called
apostles. The Church dates its origin from the first Pentecost following
Christ's ascension as explained in Acts 2. Here Luke records the
assembling together of Christ's disciples, the outpouring of God's Holy
Spirit upon them, and the consequent conversion of 3,000 of them who
believed in the gospel and person of Jesus Christ. From this point on,
"the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved" (Acts
A number of metaphors or analogies are used by the Bible to clarify the
organization of the Church and to explain the place of the members
within it. 1 Corinthians 12 describes God's Church as a unified organism
with the various members depicted as various parts of the body with
various responsibilities, administrations and duties. Each member has an
important contribution to the overall well-being of the whole body; each
has his own unique part in enabling the whole body of the Church to
accomplish its ultimate objectives. The Church is also referred to as a
spiritual building (1 Cor. 3:9-17) and as a family-the members being
spiritually related one to another (Eph. 3:15). They are called the
siblings of Christ (Rom. 8:29) who, as their elder brother, leads them
and directs them in their way (Heb. 2:10).
The name most often used by the Bible to refer to God's Church is "the
Church of God" (1 Cor. 1:2;
2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:13; 1 Tim. 3:5; etc.).
In accordance with this biblical example, we are named the "Church of
God"-adding the description "Intercontinental" to form our official
corporate name, "Intercontinental Church of God" in order to
differentiate ourselves legally from other groups who call themselves
"Church of God." Our name also delineates the scope of this Church.
The Church is also pictured as Christ's bride. The members live in a
state of expectation and preparation for the return of the divine
bridegroom (Eph. 5:22-32; Rev. 21:9). The bride is striving to prepare
herself to be acceptable to Christ by the process of spiritual growth,
in order to become perfect and to measure up to the full stature of the
Becoming a part of the Church of God is not an incidental matter. A
person is first called of God (John. 6:44), given an invitation as it
were. Before accepting, Jesus said a person should "count the cost" (Luke.
14:28), because the Christian life is often difficult. When a person
accepts this calling, he must repent of his past sins and go through the
ordinance of baptism by immersion. This symbolizes the washing away of
all his past sins. Then, with the laying on of hands by the ministry,
the person receives the begettal of the Holy Spirit. His covenant with
God is now signed and sealed. At this point a person becomes a
full-fledged member of the Church of God. He becomes a Christian, a
"saint," a begotten child of God reserved for the resurrection.
Members of the Church are exhorted to become a cohesive family unit.
Judging each other (Rom. 14:13), making spiritual comparisons among
themselves (2 Cor. 10:12), forming cliques, favoring one minister over
another (1 Cor. 1:11-13), gossiping, etc. are all divisive and
counterproductive of collective goals. What Christians should strive for
is working together to further the preaching of the gospel, serving the
poor, helping weak brethren, encouraging the dejected, visiting the
sick, aiding the elderly, bearing each other's burdens; these are the
fundamentals of Christianity and produce a strengthened church.
The Church constitutes the body of Christ, a spiritual entity (Col.
2:19). As such, "the Church" is not merely a building, or even strictly
speaking a physical organization of persons who have "joined" the Church
by having their names placed on a computer listing. It is rather that
group of persons in whom dwells God's Holy Spirit. "For by one Spirit
are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one
spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13). Likewise, Romans 8:9 states that "if any man
have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Although any person
in whom God's Holy Spirit dwells is by definition a member of God's
Church, it is nevertheless erroneous to assume that any and all nominal
Christians are actually part of God's true Church. The Bible also
maintains that: "There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are
called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism..."
One area where the Intercontinental Church of God has been accused of
deviating from the early New Testament Church ironically demonstrates
just the reverse. The claim is sometimes made that while the early
church preached the doctrine of grace through Christ, the
Intercontinental Church of God preaches the doctrine of obedience to the
Law of God. Though often distorted-e.g. the Church does not preach that
salvation can be earned (see the appropriate doctrinal statements in
this ICG Correspondence Course)-there is an element of truth here, and a
significant element at that. To understand the critical parallelism, it
is necessary to first compare the religious environments of first
century Judaism in which the early church began with twentieth century
Christianity in which the Intercontinental Church of God began. Judaism
of the first century was extremely strict by modem standards; its
teachings were well known and stressed the enormous importance of
keeping not only God's law but numerous additions to that law as well.
In this environment, it would have been ludicrous for the early apostles
to emphasize the need to keep God's Sabbath, for example (see Sabbath).
They stressed what was new and revolutionary-that salvation was a free
gift and could not be earned, that Christ's death paid the penalty for
sin, that forgiveness and grace was available through Christ, that
Christ was resurrected, etc. Today, the religious environment is almost
diametrically the reverse, necessitating a change in the emphasis of
doctrinal teaching in order to produce the same overall result. The
prevalent Christian message for centuries has been about the person of
Christ, His shed blood, grace, salvation, etc. to the exclusion of the
importance of keeping God's law which Jesus and the apostles knew so
well. Consequently, owing to opposing religious situations and
circumstances, in order for the Church of God to clearly present to the
world precisely the same overall concept of God's total revelation as
did the early New Testament church, it is essential that more emphasis
be put on keeping God's law. What we preach and practice today is, in
the final result, as close as possible to what the apostolic church
preached and practiced. Whatever differences there may be only reflect
either cultural disparities and/or shifts in stress or accent needed to
generate the desired doctrinal identity.
Another demonstration of God's Church is its fidelity to the Word of
God. While recognizing that it has developed a certain body of
traditional beliefs, interpretations, and practices, the Church of God
is unique in its willingness to abandon tradition when it becomes
convinced that such is out of harmony with the Bible. The biblical
teachings rather than church tradition are considered the absolute
standard of right and wrong. Many other churches make this claim as
well. However, our own history over the past decades has backed up the
claim with decisive action. When certain understanding's and beliefs
were examined and found to be incorrect or lacking, they were changed or
modified. This fact has produced some astonishment in certain students
of religious history because churches as a rule are quite reluctant to
go against established tradition and usually greatly resist any movement
for change, no matter how much they may also claim to follow the Bible
as their ultimate authority.
The Church of God is administratively organized in accordance with
general biblical guidelines and in a manner viable in this 21st century
society. The head of the Church is Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), who
leads and inspires the Church and its leadership through His Holy
Spirit. Under Christ in authority are the ministers, theologians, and
Church executives who fulfill religious and administrative
responsibilities respectively in accord with such scriptures as I
Corinthians 12:28-30 and Ephesians 4:11-13.
Throughout biblical history, God's Church has had a relatively unified
basic commission-that of carrying God's message to those who have yet to
hear and accept it. Two scriptures which outline this commission are
Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:29-30: "And this gospel of the kingdom
shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations;...Go ye
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them...(and] teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. . ." (v. 19-20).
This message may at times be delivered through speaking, writing, by
one's very life or any combination of these and other possible means.
But regardless of the means, to preach the gospel to the world is the
express purpose, goal, commission and very reason for being of the
Church. Consequently, the central thrust of the leadership of God's
Church today is towards preaching the gospel which is referred to both
as an "announcement" and as a "witness and warning." The membership
realizes that the purpose of the Church is for the preaching of the
message and not merely for its own spiritual sustenance. The membership
is wholeheartedly and enthusiastically behind this effort; indeed they
recognize that the purpose for their own calling now is to help do the
Work of God in addition to growing in their own Christian development.
Although the Church is described as a comparatively small group or flock
(Luke. 12:32; Mt. 7:14), Christ nonetheless assigns it an awesome task to
fulfill. The members are to be worthy ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor.
5:20)-i.e. effective representatives of the godly way of life-and
proclaim to the world God's plan for mankind. They are required to let
their "manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Phil. 1:27),
i.e. they should be a positive example of Christianity in presenting the
gospel to the world.
The Church recognizes that its local congregations are a powerful means
by which the gospel may be preached both through the example set by the
membership of true Christianity and through the effect that the local
congregation should have on the community it serves.
The objectives of the local congregation include more than just the
spiritual development of its members. Every congregation supports the
work of preaching the gospel worldwide. Every congregation also serves
as a nucleus for new converts. It also fosters educational programs to
help all from the very young to the very elderly to grow in the
knowledge of Christ.
But "pure religion" involves more than preaching; it is a way of life
exemplified by the biblical teachings of "love of God" and "love your
neighbor as yourself. " The local congregations of the Church of God
endeavor to bear the burdens of the needy and be a light to their
communities through service to their fellow man and by the example of
their personal lives (James. 1:27).
Since the first qualification for being able to help others is for the
individual himself to be a living success, the Church actively seeks to
develop the potential of each member through nationwide programs for its
adults and its youth. These programs are designed to aid each individual
in sustained, personal growth and development so that all might better
reflect God's way of life to those around them.
But personal development is not satisfying unless it can be channeled in
a productive and creative way. Jesus exhorted His disciples to come to
the aid of those in need (Mt. 25:34-36). Such humanitarian activities
are the highest expression of love for God and one's fellow man (v. 45).
Therefore, the Church of God recognizes this God-enjoined responsibility
and strongly encourages each local congregation "as we therefore have
opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are
of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10). And though the Church does not
promote a lay-ministry concept it is firmly believed that each member
can be a powerful witness for Christ by living a truly exemplary life of
service and growth (1 Pet. 2:9-17).
Members of the Church of God are encouraged through weekly Sabbath
services, periodic Bible studies and other religious and social events,
to learn the true qualities of Christianity that are expressed in love
for God and love for neighbor. This love for one's neighbor means that a
true Christian will help his fellow man both in and out of the Church in
every reasonable way. A true Christian will set an example of hard work
on his job, during recreation and in all aspects of daily life. His
example of leading a godly life should positively influence those around
him and serve as his personal and individual witness of the truth of the
gospel of Christ. Historically, the example of the membership of God's
Church in the community has had a powerful effect on those with whom
they came into contact.
Likewise, as a group, the combined membership of a local
congregation-led by its minister-may, as a the opportunity arises, serve
its local community during disaster or time of special need. Once again,
the positive Christian example of such a local congregation in the
community will be a great testimony to the proper principles of God.
Thus the working nucleus of the Church of God, letting its "light so
shine before men" (Mt. 5:16), is the local congregation.
Members of God's Church are therefore exhorted to attend the religious
activities of the Church. These are not ends in themselves but
directives of God, designed to spiritually strengthen the individuals
and the local congregation as a whole so that the light of their
Christianity might burn more brightly. This policy is in accordance with
the command of God that Christians should not neglect to meet together
(Heb. 10:25). This scripture is actually a warning from Paul to
Christians "not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the
manner of some is" (Heb. 10:25). This warning was made in the
realization that daily cares can distract us from God and His plans for
us. Meeting together regularly on God's weekly Sabbath and His annual
holy days provides Christians with the opportunity to have spiritual
goals reestablished and spiritual vision renewed. One who would
habitually neglect Church services, with the exception of circumstances
beyond his control, is neglecting an important aspect of his spiritual
life. Local Church services also provide the community, as well as the
membership, with an open meeting to hear the truths of God that the
minister expounds from the Bible.
As already mentioned, the Church of God traces its spiritual history
back to the apostolic church of the New Testament. This claim is founded
on the fact that what we believe and teach in the twentieth century are
the same basic doctrines that the original Church believed and taught in
the first century.
Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not
prevail against it" (Mt. 16:18). Consequently, we believe that God has
always had, from Christ's time to this, some faithful group which He has
used to perpetuate and propagate His truth.
Although the Church of God recognizes that its recent history is short,
it sees many spiritual and doctrinal predecessors through the last two
millennia and traces its history genealogically as well as spiritually
to the New Testament Church.
It has never been the responsibility of God's Church to evangelize for
the express purpose of proselyting new members. God is the one who calls
persons to His Church by opening their minds to His gospel (John. 6:44;
Rom. 9:15-16). Nevertheless, as a result of the preaching of Christ's
disciples, new converts-as called by God (John. 6:44) and in numbers God
chooses (Acts 2:47)-are brought into the Church. Here they are nurtured
through God's Word and helped by the ministry and each other to grow in
grace and the knowledge of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2
READ THESE SCRIPTURES FROM YOUR OWN BIBLE:
Acts 2 - Church begins on day of
Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:47 - The Lord adds to the
1 Corinthians 12 - God's church is a
1 Corinthians 3:9-17 - The church is
a spiritual building.
Ephesians 3:15 - The members of the
church are spiritually related to each other.
Romans 8:29 - We are the siblings of
Hebrews 2:10 - Jesus leads the
church members and directs their way.
1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians
1:13; 1 Timothy 3:5 - Name of church is Church of God.
Ephesians 5:22-32; Revelation 21:9 -
Members live in a state of expectation and preparation for the
John 6:44 - a person must be called
by God to the church.
Luke 14:28 One must count the costs
Romans 14:13 - Do not judge one
2 Corinthians 10:12 - Do not make
spiritual comparisons among yourselves.
1 Corinthians 1:11-13 - Do not form
cliques, favoring one minister over another.
Colossians 2:19 - The church is a
1 Corinthians 12:13 - By one Spirit
we are all baptized into one Body.
Romans 8:9 - If any man has not the
Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.
Ephesians 4:4-5 - There is one body,
one Spirit, one Lord, one faith and one baptism.
Ephesians 1:22-23 - Christ is the
head of the church.
1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Ephesians 4:11-13
- Offices and positions in the church.
Matthew 24:14, 28:29-30 - The
commission of the church to preach the gospel.
Luke 12:32; Matthew 7:14 - The
church is a small flock.
2 Corinthians 5:20 - We are to be
ambassadors for Christ.
Philippians 1:27 - Let your conduct
reflect the gospel of Christ.
James 1:27 - Definition of Pure
Matthew 25:34-36, 45 - Come to the
aid of those in need.
Galatians 6:10 - Do good to all
1 Peter 2:9-17 - Be a powerful
witness for Christ by your godly behavior.
Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine
Hebrews 10:25 - Do not forsake the
assembling of yourselves together in church services.
Matthew 16:18 - Jesus said He would
build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
John 6:44; Romans 9:15-16 - God
calls people to His church.
2 Peter 3:18 - Grow in the grace and
knowledge of the Word and Savior Jesus Christ.
1] The greatest truth of the Bible is that God is
reproducing Himself through mankind. True or False?
2] Humanity's goal and purpose of existence is, ultimately, to enter
God's family and to become literal sons of God. True or False?
3] Humans are immortal, born with an immortal soul. True or False?
4] The fact that human beings were made with the potential and destiny
of entering God's family is fundamental to our knowledge of who and what
we are. True or False?
5] We read about the origin of the New Testament church in...
a. Acts 1
b. Acts 2
c. Acts 3
d. Acts 7
6] The church was begun on the Holy Day of...
a. first day of the Days of Unleavened Bread
7] Which of the following metaphors or analogies does the Bible use to
describe the church?
a. a unified organism with members depicted as various parts of the body
b. a spiritual building
c. a family
d. all of the above
8] Fill in the missing words. According to several scriptures in
the Bible, the name of the church is...
the ______ of ___.
9] The church is often referred to as the "bride". The bride is...
a. in a state of expectation of the return of the bridegroom, Christ
b. striving to prepare ;herself to be acceptable to Christ, through
c. striving to become perfect and measure up to the full stature of the
d. all of the above
10] Which item best applies? A person becomes a member of God's
a. he begins attending services
b. he accepts Jesus as his personal savior
c. he is baptized
d. he is called by God
11] When one accepts the calling of God, they must...
a. repent of all past sins
b. be baptized by full immersion in water
c. receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands
d. all of the above
12] Which of the following items apply? Church members should
strive for working together to...
a. further the preaching of the gospel
b. serve the poor
c. help weak brethren
d. encourage the dejected.
e. visit the sick
f. aid the elderly
g. bear each other's burdens
h. all of the above
13] Which best completes this sentence? The church is...
a. a building
b. a physical organization of persons
c. a list of names on a computer listing
d. a group of persons in which the Holy Spirit dwells
14] All people who call themselves "Christian" today are part of God's
true church. True or False?
15] The church of God teaches...
a. grace only
b. keeping the Law of God only
c. grace and the keeping of the Law.
16] Which two-word phrase best fills the blanks?
________ ________ are considered the absolute standard of right and
a. biblical teachings
b. church traditions
17] The church of God has never had to change any of its teachings.
True or False?
18] Which item best applies? The head of God's church is...
a. the corporate CEO at headquarters
b. the ministry
c. the church Board
d. Jesus Christ
e. all of the above
19] To preach the gospel to the world is the express purpose, goal,
commission and very reason for being of the church. True or False?
20] The membership is wholeheartedly and enthusiastically behind the
commissions and Work of the church. True or False?
21] The Bible describes the church as being a large church with tens of
thousands of members throughout the world. True or False?
22] Members are to be effective representatives of
the godly way of life and be worthy of the gospel of Christ. True
23] The local congregations are a powerful means by which the gospel can
be preached. True or False?
24] Which of the following items apply? The objectives of the
local congregation include...
a. spiritual development
b. to support the work of preaching the gospel worldwide
c. serving as a nucleus for new converts
d. fosters educational programs to help all from the very young to the
very elderly to grow in the knowledge of Christ
e. bear the burdens of the needy
f. to be a light to their communities through service to their fellow
man and by the example of their personal lives
g. all of the above
25] The second commission of the church is to feed the flock. That
is, to develop the potential of each member through sustained personal
growth and development. True or False?
26] Jesus exhorted His disciples to come to the aid of those in need.
Such humanitarian activities are the highest expression of love for God
and one's fellow man. True or False?
27] Which of the following apply? The love of one's neighbor means
that the true Christian...
a. will help his fellow man both in and out of the church in very
b. will set an example of hard work on his or her job, during recreation
and all aspects of daily life.
c. will be a witness for Christ by leading a godly life
d. all of the above
28] Which of the following apply? The admonition to attend church
services when possible is...
a. found in Hebrews 10:25
b. is a directive by God
c. is a warning from Paul
d. all of the above
29] Meeting together regularly on God's weekly Sabbath and Holy Days
provides Christians with the opportunity to have spiritual goals
reestablished and spiritual vision renewed. True or False?
30] The Intercontinental Church of God teaches and believes in the same
basic doctrines that the original church believed and taught in the
first century. True or False?
31] Which of the following statements are true?
a. the church is not responsible for proselyting new members
b. only God can call a person to the church
c. God uses the church's preaching of Christ to call new converts
d. God determines the total number of members for the church
e. all of the above