Why are we called the “Church of God”?

WHY DID WE USE THE NAME “CHURCH OF GOD”?

There are numerous churches today with the name CHURCH OF GOD, from Pentecostal, Adventists, Holiness, and non Trinitarian denominations of Christianity.  All of them claim that they are the true church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ because they used or declare the biblical and historical name of the local churches of the New Testament: the Church of God.  So the question is why did we use this name?

BECAUSE THE NAME “CHURCH OF GOD” IS BIBLICAL

Let us look in the Holy Bible for guidance and evidence that this name is a biblical name for the local churches in the New Testament.

Act 20:28 (GNB)  So keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock which the Holy Spirit has  placed in your care. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he made his own through the blood of his Son.

1 Corinthians 1:2 (GNB) To the church of God which is in Corinth, to all who are called to be God’s holy people, who belong to him in union with Christ Jesus, together with all people everywhere who worship our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

1 Corinthians 10:32 (GNB) Live in such a way as to cause no trouble either to Jews or Gentiles or to the church of God.

1Corinthians 11:22 (GNB) Don’t you have your own homes in which to eat and drink? Or would you rather despise the church of God and put to shame the people who are in need? What do you expect me to say to you about this? Shall I praise you? Of course I don’t!

2 Corinthians 1:1 (GNB) From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and from our brother Timothy — To the church of God in Corinth, and to all God’s people throughout Achaia:

Galatians 1:13  (GNB) You have been told how I used to live when I was devoted to the Jewish religion, how I persecuted without mercy the church of God and did my best to destroy it.

1 Timothy 3:5 (GNB) For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of  the church of God?

1 Corinthians 15:9  (KJV) For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

1 Corinthians 11:16  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

1 Timothy 3:15  (KJV) But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

1 Thessalonians 2:14  For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they
have of the Jews:

2 Thessalonians 1:4  So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

12 verses in the Bible declares and proclaims that one of the names of the local churches in the New Testament is the Church of God.

OTHER NAMES FOR THE LOCAL CHURCHES IN THE BIBLE

Romans 16:16  Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

Romans 16:4  Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

1 Corinthians 14:33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

There are other names of local churches in the Bible aside from the name Church of God.

BECAUSE THE NAME CHURCH OF GOD IS HISTORICAL

After the death of the Apostles.  The Apostolic Fathers Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius and Hermas wrote about the Church of God.

I Clement 1:1 “The Church of God which is at Rome, to the Church of God which is at Corinth…”

Ignatius to the Trallians 1:7 “…For they are not the ministers of meat and drink, but of the church of God…”

Ignatius to the Trallians 3:1 “I Salute you from Smyrna together with the churches of God that are present with me…”

Ignatius to the Philadelphians 1:1 “Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the church of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ which is at Philadelphia in Asia…”

Ignatius to the Smyrneans 1:1 “Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the church of God the Father, and of the beloved Jesus Christ…”

Polycarp to the Philippians 1:1 “Polycarp, and the presbyters that are with him, to the church of God which is at Philippi…”

I Hermas Vision 2:32 “Thou art mistaken, said he, she is not.  I replied, Who is she then sir? He answered me, It is the church of God…”

III Hermas 9:175 “So the church of God, when it shall be purified…shall become one body, and there shall be one understanding, one opinion, one faith, and the same charity…”

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

There are so many churches today who uses the name CHURCH OF GOD, and sadly most of them are anti-catholic and anti-gay.  I believe that one of the biblical names of the local church is the Church of God it is biblical and also historical as preached by the Apostles of Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Fathers.  It is time to restore the church of God to its original state.  It is time to restore the church of God back to the primitive church or the New Testament times. While other churches of God are anti-catholic and anti-gay, Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd Church of God in union with the Christian United Church will always defend unity, ecumenism, inter-faith relations, justice for all, liberation and freedom from oppression, creedal or catholic expression, and inclusivity.  Here everyone is welcome, men, women, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgenders. This is our church, this is our denomination, this is the Church of God – CUC.

Where is the true church founded by Christ?

For the past 20 years of my life I have been attending, exploring, studying and observing different churches existing in my town.  I was born a Catholic but in 1990 my family especially my mother and relatives from my mother’s side became evangelical Christians and decided to join an Evangelical Church.  But that church was so far away, it was in Manila and we live in Cavite.  So my mom and I decided to look for another church that is near in our house.  We tried going to a Baptist church but it was too silent for us.  So we tried attending a Born Again Pentecostal Church it was noisy at first but we got a hang of it and we stayed there from 1991 to 1999.

During my high school days I was suffering from “identity crisis” because I don’t know if I will accept my sexuality or not because of the teachings that was taught to me that homosexuality is a sin.  But as a Christian I read and explored the bible and I read the stories of Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David, Centurion and his servant in Luke 7, and also Jesus and John.  And it confused me.  And during this time I was also confused on the fact that there are so many churches in our town.  So I went and attend services of the Mormon church, Jehovah’s witnesses, Iglesia ni Cristo, Ang Dating Daan or Members Church of God International, El Shaddai and numerous Born Again Pentecostal Fundamentalist Ministries or Fellowships.  And during that time one of my main question is where is the true church founded by Christ?

I read in the Bible in Matthew 16:18 that Jesus Christ our only Lord and Savior built his church.  So I was asking everyone where is it but none of them convinced me.  So my spiritual journey did not stop there.  In 2000 I was invited by a member of the Metropolitan Community Church Manila.  When I first attended their Sunday worship I was totally shocked!  because everyone is gay and the worship service was too gayish for me and during that time I was in the closet but I was happy but I was shocked.  So I didn’t go back for another 3 months.

After 3 months I thought I was ready to face myself and want to come out so I went to MCC Manila and became a member and eventually became the Assistant Pastor in 2001.  At this church I learned so much about sexuality, ecumenism, understanding different churches and different traditions, respecting different beliefs, same sex relationships, same sex holy unions and many others.  In 2005 I was elected as the Interim Pastoral Leader of MCC Philippines formerly called MCC Manila and ended my term in 2008.  I had so many good memories and also bad ones.  I learned to accept that there is no perfect church because we are not perfect.  A perfect church is an empty church.  After being an IPL of MCC Philippines I decided to retire early and be an ordinary citizen of the republic of the Philippines.  So I decided to be a call center agent.  But something happened.  Our account was pulled out and 80 of us didn’t have work.

I remembered the Prophet Jonah when he was called by the Lord to preach in Nineveh and doesn’t want too because he said he is busy to do that.  So he went far away just to escape God’s calling and he rode a boat and then disaster came.  You know the story.  He was eaten by a big fish and he was there for three days and nights and when the fish opened its mouth it was on dry land on the shores of Nineveh.  So Jonah said Ok Lord I will preach less another fish will eat me again. To make the short story long I compared myself to Jonah.

One night I was praying because of this question that has been bothering me for such a long long time.  Where is the church founded by Christ? I opened my Bible and I read Acts Chapter 20, when I came to verse 28 I felt that the letters was alive as if it was jumping out of its page.  And so I read:

Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of God which he purchased with his own blood…”

God gave me a revelation in this particular verse.  If I want to be a member of the true church founded by Christ I must look for a bishop.  Not just a Bishop from any church but a bishop with a historic episcopate or ordained by the apostles that will assure me that the church that I am in is connected to the true church or true body of Christ.  But I reasoned with God there are many churches today with apostolic succession like the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Churches, the Assyrian Churches, the Ethiopian Churches, the Indian Churches and most of them are anti-homosexual so how can I belong with them it’s impossible?

Well I never learn do I? I read in the Bible that all things are possible with God.  So one night I had a chat with a Bishop at facebook and he was starting the Christian United Church.  It was n inclusive, welcoming and affirming church for ALL PEOPLE straights and gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.  And as we chat I learned that this Bishop has a historical episcopate in an unbroken chain from the Apostle Peter.  And I was stunned.  And I told myself I want to belong to this church.  And I decided to join.  He did not offer me any money nor a monthly salary.  The spiritual tradition of the historic episcopate for me is enough.  Now I feel at peace that I am now connected to the true body of Christ, the true church of God or church of Christ and that is connecting to the Bishop.

Tertulian (160 – 220 AD), a prolific Christian writer in from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa writes:

Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men…

Irenaeaus, an early church father also writes:

Wherefore we must obey the priests of the Church who have succession from the Apostles, as we have shown, who, together with succession in the episcopate, have received the mark of truth according to the will of the Father; all others, however, are to be suspected, who separated themselves from the principal succession.

So for me the historic episcopate of our Bishop, H.E. Bishop David Strong is enough for me to be joyful, secured and assured that I am connected to the body or church that was founded by Christ.  I am so exited, humbled and honored to be one of the local pastors of the Christian United Church and I have promised God that I will serve inside this church as long as I live.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!