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What the Bible says about Church of God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 16:15-18

Christ had not yet built the church of God when this episode took place, though its formation had begun in that it had its Head, who had chosen and begun preparing a number of trainees, including the twelve apostles, to become part of it. Another year or two would pass before it would be prepared to begin carrying out its responsibility to preach the gospel to the world.

The epistle to the Hebrews did not exist when Jesus suffered a horrific beating and then was mercilessly crucified. Nor did it exist seven weeks later when Jews from all over the Mediterranean observed Pentecost in Jerusalem, and God gave a highly visible and audible demonstration of His awareness of this massive injustice while giving His Holy Spirit to those already loyal to our Savior.

The church did not officially exist until this last act, as God connected each of His chosen children with a truly holy, spiritual bond. Only then did the apostles and others began to fulfill their assignments from Jesus of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the people of Jerusalem. Then the church began to grow significantly in purpose, numbers, and unity.

On that Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:40-41, “with many other words [Peter] testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.' Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” After God healed a man's crippling affliction at the Temple, one he had suffered since birth, Acts 4:4 reports, “many of those who heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” In Acts 6:1, Luke writes that the number of disciples within the church was multiplying, and the internal organization to care for the brethren was taking shape. The church, with a dramatic growth spurt, was actively coming into being, demonstrating to the unconverted Jews that it was a spiritual force to be reckoned with.

All this vital activity within the tiny organization named “the church of God” took place within about six months and changed the course of world history. It all occurred within a small, second-rate province of the mighty Roman Empire. Considering this thin slice of history, we know that the Creator God engineered this spiritual activity as He moved to reveal His creative purposes to more than just a few Jews within the Jerusalem area.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Four)

Acts 1:6-8

Despite spending three-and-a-half years of intense training with Jesus, the apostles retained the common Jewish concept of the establishment of God's Kingdom. Paraphrased, Jesus said, "God is working it out. You need to focus your attention on another area at this time."

The work of God was about to make a dramatic turn, occasioned by something that had never occurred before in the history of the earth. God would give His Spirit, visibly manifesting His power in many, and simultaneously launching His church and the preaching of the gospel! His Family was about to make its greatest numerical advancement to that time. It was a unique time in history. It has not happened in that manner since.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing the Bride

Acts 20:28

The Bible names the body of believers "the church of God" in twelve specific passages, yet literally tens of thousands of religions today claim to be connected with the true God but have names bearing little similarity to what God names His church in the Bible. Because "church of God" is generic, the Bible adds "at Ephesus," "at Corinth," or at other locations to define which part of the church is meant in a specific context. Paul adds "living" in I Timothy 3:15, showing that God allows some leeway in expressing the church's name, utilizing more of God's specific names and attributes as part of the identification.

Staff
Biblical Symbolism: Symbols of the Church

1 Peter 2:4-5

Solomon's Temple was only a type of the true House of God, the real Temple, the church of God (I Corinthians 3:17; II Corinthians 6:16). Solomon's building was the "Temple of God" because of God's presence, and so it is today. God now lives in us by His Holy Spirit, just as His shekinah glory hovered above the golden Mercy Seat covering the Ark in the Holy of Holies. If God is active and present in us, we are living stones and part of His spiritual Temple.

Just as the Temple had many types of stones, rocks. and boulders making up the foundation, flooring, walls, roof, and pillars, so will God's spiritual Temple. The spiritual Temple of God is a work in progress. Undoubtedly, God is excited to see its different elements taking shape. He is building us, as living stones in a living Temple, "on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:19-20).

Jesus Himself says that a well-constructed house is built on the rock (Matthew 7:24-25). The foundation of the spiritual Temple has been laid and cannot be changed (I Corinthians 3:11); Jesus Christ is the Rock upon which He builds His church (Matthew 16:18). The eminent Jewish historian Josephus says about the foundation of Solomon's Temple: "Now, therefore, the king laid the foundations of the temple very deep in the ground, and the materials were strong stones, and such as would resist the force of time" (Antiquities of the Jews, 8.3.2). Impressive, certainly, but the spiritual Temple's foundations are even deeper!

Staff
Living Stones in God's House

Revelation 12:1-17

Chapter 12 is another inset chapter, in which John sees another wondrous vision. Its events do not follow those in chapter 11 at all: Chapter 11 ends with the blowing of the seventh trumpet and the announcing of the return of Jesus Christ, while chapter 12 suddenly introduces a brand new vision. Rather, chapter 12 is a highly condensed history of the true church within Israel, the woman.

God begins the record all the way back in the time of Jacob. In Genesis 37:9, Joesph dreams that the sun, moon, and stars all bow to him. Revelation 12:1 borrows from that vision to help us understand that the true church has its roots in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. It is, first of all, an Israelitish church, but its real roots are in heaven—where the sun, moon, and stars are. God is figuratively, symbolically pointing in the direction of the origins of the true church.

Chapter 12 unfolds a highly condensed history of that church. It takes us through the rebellion of Helel (who became Satan) and Jesus Christ being born of the woman. We find the Dragon attempting and succeeding in killing the Child, who is, of course, Jesus Christ. However, He is resurrected, so no really serious damage occurs to the Child born of the woman—Israel.

In verse 6, the woman flees into a wilderness. This takes us in time sequence up through the Middle Ages—through the Inquisitions, Crusades, and tribulations of the times where the church hid in the mountains, hills, and Alpine valleys of central Europe. Then, in verses 7-12, the narrative digresses somewhat, showing us something yet to occur: a war in heaven between Satan and his demons and Michael and the angels.

At the end of the chapter, we find the church again experiencing another, far more intensive tribulation that will be not only intense but much encapsulated in time. One part of the church will be protected, and another part will undergo a great deal of persecution.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 




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