What has happened to the Church of God? Where is the Church of God? Has anyone seen her lately? It seems there is great confusion in the land about this very matter. We have a multiplicity of groups who all make claims or hold beliefs that their group is the exclusive remnant from the Church of God at its inception in the book of Acts. Sadly, scattered sheep all over the land live with the pain of heartbreak, bitterness, and despair. Somebody is to blame for this wreckage and it is not God. Jeremiah told us who is to blame - “... the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture…” These were God’s sheep, but too many ministers feel as if they own the sheep and can do as they please with them. Rest assured, God’s hand is against these foolish pastors and the judgment of God will not slumber. Judgment must begin at the house of the Lord and I pray God hastens such judgment.
The Church of God must come to terms with itself and understand the cause for the awful conditions. How have pastors scattered the sheep? By dividing them into different factions, and preventing God’s people from enjoying fellowship based on unscriptural doctrines and practices. Fellowships and groups are sects - even if they take the name Church of God. Additionally, if you are supporting a group or a fellowship, then you are supporting a sect and you are supporting the harlot daughters of the beast - Protestantism. Beyond any doubt, it is the same as supporting the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, or any other Protestant organization.
The various groups of the Church of God do not need to come together any more than the Baptist or Methodist churches need to come together. Ultimately, they are all the same because the same spirit motivates them. If you are waiting for the restoration of unity among the divided groups of the alleged Church of God, then you are waiting for something that God will ensure never happens. If you are waiting for the ministry to reform its ways, restore fellowship, address problems, bind up the breaches, then your need for revelation is dire. The writer does not make these statements to disparage anyone, but they serve only to stir souls, awaken them from slumber, and encourage them to “anoint thine eyes.”
This blog post will endeavor to address some points relating to the condition of the Church today and the addition of biblical insight to clear away the mists of confusion and offer clear direction for Zion’s onward march.
Church of God Fellowships are Sect-ish
Sects are religious bodies that form from non-biblical ideas and positions. As a result, men implement these ideas and positions, and this places the family of God in unscriptural and unnatural relations and causes great confusion. These sects or fellowships carry with them an element of confusion because of origins that are often right. Furthermore, because some sects produced biblical results historically, they maintain a good appearance in the minds of men. Despite their history and appearances, sects are wrong because they are not scriptural. It was never God’s intention for His people to associate with a sect or a group. Contrarily, he died for a Church operating as a single unit comprising all the saved. The various Christian denominations are the work of Satan and stand as counterfeits compared to the true Church of God. As one commentary states, “False Christendom divided into very many sects is truly Babylon, that is, confusion” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary). Essentially, the defining characteristic of a sect is when the organization, control, and authority belong to men instead of God’s Word and Spirit.
Today, Church of God affiliates know better than to call themselves sects. However, many will attempt to mitigate the severity of conditions in the land by classifying the various sects as groups or fellowships. Dear soul, these Church of God groups are also systems of men who bear not the identifying characteristics of God’s true church. Discontinue your vain attempt to classify them as something less than Babylon when the Word of God renders them so. The Church of God groups today each have their identifying mark and refuse to submit to the Word and Spirit and contend for the faith.
Characteristics of Sect Church of God (a.k.a False Church of God)
Most fellowships have an obvious mark of sorts that identifies them. Examples are as follows:
- No neck-tie
- No music in the sanctuary
- Marriage and divorce
- Plain dress emulating late 19th-century attire
- Absence of facial hair.
- 7th Seal interpretation.
- Revelation 12 interpretation (Church in the wilderness)
- Pastoral authority.
- No medicine
This is not an all-encompassing list, rather it serves to point out identifying characteristics of fellowships.
- Strong Ministerial Control
- There is a strong emphasis on respecting the ministry and often they employ fear tactics to maintain ministerial power.
- There is an inability to hold ministers accountable to God’s Word lest one is no longer found in good standing within the group. This is often the case because the ministry will not hold each other accountable and thus the laity has nowhere to turn.
- The thoughts, sentiments, and welfare of the laity are secondary to the thoughts, sentiments, and welfare of the ministry.
- The ministry rules by their own means and judgments instead of God’s. Who they allow operating in positions, what decisions they make, how they handle matters, on whom they lay judgment, and on whom they do not lay judgment are all determined by political expediency rather than the mandates of the Bible.
- Unscriptural practices and corruption continue to exist because of an unwillingness to hold the Bible line. Often this can remain for multiple years and this eventually leaves souls disillusioned, discouraged, or divided.
- Controversial matters remain ignored in the name of a protocol, and/or by claiming to wait on God’s timing, and/or lack of courage by the ministry.
Lack of Holy Ghost Governance
- The lack of the Holy Ghost has left many fellowships with dry and bland services and general preaching without genuine substance. Contrarily, the lack of Holy Ghost anointing has left some fellowships with emotionally driven services and sensational preaching that generates significant excitement but also lacks substance and production.
- Fellowship meetings, revivals, and regular services are predictable because men will not allow the Holy Ghost the control.
- Functioning within the group requires the appropriate marks/characteristics of men regardless of the Holy Ghost’s anointing.
- The taints of worldliness and compromise often hold influence within the congregation or fellowship due to general preaching and lack of Holy Ghost influence.
False Church of God damages souls and many depart with no intention of ever returning. The inconsistencies, corruption, and injustice by the ministry are proof to many that there is nothing divine about the group. The gross misrepresentations of God’s church stand responsible for the confusing religious landscape. However, it is time to clarify that these groups are not the Church for which Christ died, but they are sects and nothing more. Truly these groups make tall claims and fall woefully short. They claim possession of the Word and Spirit but do not submit to their authority. They claim deliverance, healing, and power over spirits, and yet the unclean and unholy hold place and prominence within them. Scattered over the land, we find the bruised and bloodied sheep who suffered at the hands of these systems in the wake of these fellowships. The pastors scattered and destroyed the sheep and God is against them (Jeremiah 23:1). God needs a ministry that will cry against these conditions and stand against these false prophets who contend for systems of men and not for the Church of God.
Forming Another Group
The writer is not interested in forming another group. If the writer is so doing, then he is assuredly wrong. There is no rallying cry for God’s people to affiliate with a particular group or party. The cry of this time is to once again build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and the chief cornerstone - Jesus Christ. God’s people must forsake fellowships and sects and return to Jerusalem and serve God together. Any place where men hold control and power, and the Spirit of God and the Word of God do not, is a sect. The doctrine and standards upheld by God’s ministry must only come from God’s Word and Spirit. Anything less than the Bible line is not of God and should not stand as a barrier to unity. However, any who are unwilling to meet the Bible line cannot stand in unity with God’s people. Ultimately, God only built one church and we must meet his standard and walk in the light of His spirit. Flesh and blood will never have an agreement that is acceptable with God, but only submission to the Word of God and Spirit of God accomplishes genuine unity.
When the disciples met in the upper room in Jerusalem per the instruction of Christ, they did not form a sect. On the day of Pentecost, they received the Holy Ghost and the Church of God was born. Producing the Church of God today requires his people to follow the same pattern. If we follow the pattern set forth in the Bible, then we will get the right results. Sadly, some argue that you should not oppose fellowships and groups so vehemently because you are in jeopardy of simply forming another group. Should you condone sin because it is possible for you to fall into sin? May God clear the Babylonian smoke from the eyes of precious souls who appeal to such sad reasoning. Sectarianism is of the devil and it is the job of God’s holy ministry to pour the judgments of God on all that is not of God.
If you stand in opposition to those who decry the sin of Church of God fellowships, then you are part of the problem. If you support a ministry that perpetuates fellowships, refuses to deal with controversy, holds people to commandments that are unscriptural, does not allow the Spirit of God full control, condones sin and worldliness, and does not contend for the faith delivered to the saints, then you are part of the problem. You will never experience freedom until you take a stand for God, the Word of God, and the Church of God. Anything less than such a stand is fellowship building (sect building) and you will stand guilty before God for contributing to the division of God’s people. I am in fellowship with all the saved, and I pray God destroys the mechanisms of men that prevent God’s people from experiencing what rightfully belongs to them. Precious soul, are you letting your ministry, group, family, or sentiments keep you from taking a stand against the spirit of sectarianism? We might call them groups or fellowships, but it is the same harlot daughter because it is the same spirit.
Can Fellowships/Sects Be Fixed?
No. This is not to say that there is no hope for ones who find themselves in a sect/fellowship. However, if one is waiting for a sect to reform themselves, then that is an eternal wait. Martin Luther advocated justification by faith, however, could the Luthern sect experience a reformation now? Methodists advocated the doctrine of Sanctification, and in their history had the powerfully anointed John Wesley, however, can the Methodist sect experience a reformation now? Absolutely not. Assuredly, one may get saved under such conditions, but a fulness of truth requires a coming out of those sects. Just as those rank sects will not experience a reformation, neither will Church of God fellowships experience a reformation.
Undoubtedly, there are some congregations and individuals that can escape the devastating effects of sectarianism, but it will require a coming to the Bible line and a stand that fiercely opposed to the systems of men - especially those who call themselves Church of God.
The writer will work with any who desires to contend for the faith. However, that requires allowing God’s Word free course and liberty without attaching strings, placing restraints on certain subjects, or forbidding the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in any manner. Wherever disagreement exists, a willingness to seek the truth and find it must also exist. Furthermore, rejecting tolerance of an agree-to-disagree attitude is necessary because we must know the truth. When the Spirit of God is allowed to operate, then we are led into all truth.
Is the Come Out Message Relevant? Does the 7th Seal Have A Come Out Message?
The following points could justifiably include great detail. However, many of these points will stand as generalities for now in order to answer the questions concisely.
- The banner message of the 6th seal was unity and a call out of Babylon. Denominationalism trapped God’s people, thus causing God to send a ministry that poured judgment on Babylon to set souls free from the bondage of men. Men scattered the people of God in different sects/fellowships, which was never God’s will. Therefore, the conditions across the religious landscape necessitated a call out of these systems of men to the one church.
- Revelation 18:4 directs the call out of Babylon to “my people” - God’s people. It is important to note that the sixth seal ministry did not call sinners out of Babylon. Among these Protestant bodies were saints of God to whom God sent a message. The message required their exodus or they would become guilty of sin. Essentially, there were justified and sanctified souls in the various denominations who were ready to respond to the call out of Babylon. God’s people are holy people, and that is to whom God directed the call.
- Today, Church of God preachers strongly oppose “Babylon” by preaching on the doctrine of holiness and living free from sin. While preaching freedom from sin is biblical, and many false churches do not teach holiness biblically, this is not who God was calling out of Babylon in Revelation 18:4. The call to sinners is a call to repentance - even if they go to church.
- Essentially, the sixth seal brethren called out saved, sanctified, divine-healing-believing individuals from Babylon, or they became sinners in the eyes of God.
- The conditions that exist today among Church of God fellowships replicate the conditions that caused God to send a “come-out” message in the late 1800s. The people of God - saved and sanctified saints of God, are currently scattered among various groups/fellowships that hold saints in bondage and bear the same characteristics of that Protestant system. This is truly the age of Church of God Protestantism.
- The conditions necessitate another “come-out” message. Motivations for advocating another come-out message is not to recreate the glory of another era - no, the times demand this message. The conditions across this land demand another “come-out” message. Where are the saved and sanctified folks today that are found scattered across the world? The Church of God, so-called. I believe there are many true saints of God all over the land, but the systems of men (False Church of God) prevent them from enjoying the unity that God ordained.
- A second “come-out” message is scriptural. A more detailed post on this subject is forthcoming but here are a few points for consideration.
- Revelation 10:7 portrays the “days of the voice of the seventh angel” - it was under the sixth angel that the message of unity and “come-out” occurred first. Furthermore, this was the banner message of the sixth seal ministry. Now God is portraying occurrences that transpire under the seventh angel.
- The voice directs John to take the little book (the Word of God; specifically, the message for the current time) from the angel (Christ) who is standing on the sea (Catholicism) and the earth (Protestantism) (Revelation 10:8).
- The ministry must stand in the same position as Christ and must get the message of the hour from Christ. Additionally, it was an open book in the angel's hand - meaning God opened understanding for the seventh period of time. However, it was up to John to receive the message. God is looking for a ministry to get in position - to stand where he is standing - and receive the message of the hour.
- John receives the message and then must do something with it. The message of our time may taste sweet in the mouth, but there is an application that is required. John had to do more than receive the message, but then he had to digest the message - make it a part of him (Revelation 10:9-10).
- Key Point: “Thou must prophecy again” (Revelation 10:11). If something is prophesied again, then it was prophesied before. Prophecy is preaching what God revealed. Strong’s says this in regards to this word prophecy, “to utter forth, declare, a thing which can only be known by divine revelation.”
- What was prophesied or preached before the seventh angel sounded? What the sixth angel sounded - “come out of her, my people.”
- If the sixth seal called the saints out of Babylon then, then where are the saints now that God wants to call out? Then, saints were in the Methodist, United Brethren, Presbyterian camps. Now, they are in the False Church of God. Rank Babylon does not advocate justification and sanctification and thus the general message to them is the call to repentance. However, many still find an experience of justification and sanctification in Church of God groups today, but places called the Church of God will bind men and women in their systems or fellowships and prohibit God’s people from enjoying fellowship one with another.
- Identify False Church of God and label it as sect Babylon.
- Actively oppose and antagonize False Church of God by placing the judgments of God’s Word on man-rule.
- Uphold the Word of God as the only measure by which fellowship is determined.
- Genuinely allow the Spirit of God and the Word of God to govern the Church of God as he sees fit.
Dear soul, if your spirit longs for freedom from the dictates and whims of carnal men; if your spirit longs for liberty to live and operate as the Spirit leads; if you are longing for the old paths, wherein is the good way, then it is time to put on your strength and face your foes. It is time for you to leave the organizations of men that created the rubble and confusion in the land and stand for God’s Word - for that Word is truth. It will indeed cost you a great price, but it is better to pay such a cost now than to die with a fellowship and pay the cost that results in an eternity without God. May God grant you the courage to take that step of faith and forsake man-rule so that you may enjoy the fulness of the Holy Ghost in charge. God needs you, other souls need you, the Church of God needs you.