(Part of this article was originally published in The Journal: News of the Churches of God, in the year 2000. A some edits are in this version as the CGCF/UCG 'merger' has since taken place, as well as a few more scriptures. Plus later updates have also been included.)
Which church, if any, should you be part of?
How about just being independent?
The Bible teaches:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1).
Although the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG) had various imperfections, by and large there was pleasant unity among the brethren. But what about now? There are probably as many groups (small and large) that once had their origins in WCG as there are denominations of Protestantism. Why is this? What, if anything, can be done about it?
Many of the articles this author has read concerning the scattering of WCG members place the blame on the ministry. And certainly this is consistent with the warnings in Ezekiel 34 concerning the bad shepherds. Probably the best modern quote on this subject this author ever heard was from a minister who had left WCG who said, "Those ministers who had earlier told members to lose jobs over the Sabbath, where not willing to lose their own jobs over the Sabbath." Actually, one of the reasons for the lack of unity is that many so-called shepherds were not committed to what they publicly proclaimed. But is this the only problem?
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own...My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. " (John 10:11-14,27).
Thus, while Jesus blames the hireling, He also teaches that the sheep are to know and follow Jesus.
In Acts, it strongly supports the concept that the original, but small, New Testament Church of God started out united:
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers...And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers...So continuing daily with one accord in the temple Acts 1:14;2:42,46).
Later Paul suggests this was no longer the case:
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).
The fact that doctrinal and other differences are shown in the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 also supports the concept that there have been differences in the Churches of God. The following statement in the Book of Acts shows that these differences among believers were often significant as:
Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them (Acts 15:2).
Now because parts of major four groups/eras (Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicean ones) were prophesied to be around at the end, this partially explains why there are many COG groups (as well as claimed COG groups) today.
Many are Called, Few are Chosen
Although many once part of the old WCG blame governance, the Tkach group, the ministry, the leadership of the various Church of God (COG) groups, and other external factors for the lack of unity, the fact remains that God holds each of us responsible for doing the right thing whether or not the ministry does its job.
As taught in Ezekiel 33:6:
...if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity.
The apostle Paul warned:
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears (Acts 20:27-31)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Well, since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, most who appeared to have obeyed during his life have fallen away.
Because apparently they failed to "test (or prove) all things; hold fast what is good" as Paul warned (I Thes 5:21) and, quite likely, had originally failed to follow the fundamental teaching of Herbert Armstrong, "Don't believe me, believe what is written in your own Bible!" It seems clear that most who attended the old WCG did not prove whether or not the doctrines were in fact true. This also seems to be consistent with certain prophecies (2 Thessalonians 2:3, Matthew 24:12-13, 2 Timothy 1:15, 2 Timothy 4:3, 1 Timothy 4:1; see also The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings). Zechariah 13:7-9 talks of a time where two-thirds will essentially fall away. So departures from the faith should not be a surprise.
Even though Jesus also taught, "But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13), most of the people that were once part of WCG have renounced what WCG used to teach. Most are not members of what this author will refer to as the 'greater Church of God'. This should not surprise us as it was predicted.
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Jesus likewise warned:
For many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14)
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Mat 7:13-14).
...for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us (1 John 2:19).
Parable of the Tares
Though it is not 'politically correct' to say this, it is possible that the following parable from Jesus is also applicable,
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." ' (Mat 13:24-30).
Thus, some who left the faith may have not have been uprooted earlier to assist those of us who still remain.
Why Many Groups?
Even though about one quarter of those who used to profess to believe have not renounced their affiliation with the greater Church of God, there are now many different groups.
Why are these groups separate?
Other than leadership issues (which this author considers to be secondary), a major reason is apparently that many who remain do not agree with some of the fundamental doctrines which were in place at the time of Herbert Armstrong's death even though Paul warned:
Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines (Heb 13:9).
Prophetically, the reason has to do with the fact that in the time of the end that most are not Philadelphian. Most simply either did not understand what being Philadelphian was about and/or did not put that as a priority. Nearly all groups so misunderstand Bible prophecy that they will NOT know when the Great Tribulation will begin until it is too late (for some details, check out the post Is there a need for a prophet now?).
Furthermore, many groups have renounced what Herbert Armstrong claimed was God's form of governance. HWA himself taught:
In founding God's Church, Jesus worked primarily through one man, Peter, even though He originally chose His 12 disciples. Few have ever noticed that Peter was the real leader. Acts 15: Here is the crux chapter, not generally understood... The Jerusalem conference showed that PETER was preeminent over even Paul, although Paul was the ONE MAN God worked through primarily in the ministry to gentiles... This crucial crux chapter has been misunderstood, twisted and distorted. I have tried to take space to MAKE IT CLEAR in this article" (Armstrong, Herbert W. Originally published in Worldwide News article 2/19/78 and quoted in the LCN. Jan-Feb 1999; p.7).
But to go on with the things that have been restored...The government of God has been restored to the Church, and the government of God has been placed in the Church. You read that in Ephesians 4 and I Corinthians 12. Christ is the head of the Church and under Christ in the administration of the government are an apostle or apostles, then evangelists, then pastors, then all are called elders, all ministers all the way up clear down to the lowest. So then there are teachers and elders both speaking elders and preaching elders, deacons and deaconesses. And the Church is restored in that form of government. The Sardis Church even didn't have the right form of government (Armstrong HW. Mission of the Philadelphia Church Era. Sermon, 12/17/83).
The government of God is of necessity government from the top down. It cannot be 'government by the consent of the governed' (Armstrong HW. Mystery of the Ages. p.49).
Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote about Jesus' idea of governance:
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16).
In addition to rejecting aspects of governance, most groups have declared (or indicated) that since Herbert Armstrong preached the "gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 24:14) to the world that this either does not need to be done or at least it is not the leading priority for their group (Two articles with more details on these subjects are The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government and Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?).
Many, if not most, groups have changed the belief in Church eras and a place of safety. Many groups have eliminated tithing (or at least parts of it). Several groups have adopted a different calendar system. Several groups have gotten involved with the 'sacred names' movement. Several others have adopted Jewish customs and rituals (even though Jesus warned the Pharisees about that in Matthew 15; see also Messianic Judaism Beliefs Differ from the Continuing Church of God). At least two groups falsely claim to have a 'prophet' (see Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God and Concerns About Ronald Weinland's Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God). At least two claim to be led by 'apostles' (see Why Not the Restored Church of God? and Teachings of Triumph Prophetic Ministries). One or more claim to have a way to 'uncode the Bible' instead of reading it as written. Many former WCG members, frustrated by all the problems in the various groups, consider themselves 'independent' and refer to those in the groups as members of 'corporate churches'. It should be added that many of the independents have wildly different beliefs on what most of us once affiliated with WCG considered to be biblically backed doctrine.
The true cause of all of is that Jesus foretold that there would be a least four attitudes around at the time of the end within the Church of God: that of Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (and even multiple attitudes within each of those four). And that is what we see today. Many no longer believe in “Church eras” and fail to see that multiple Laodicean groups, to cite one example, were essentially prophesied to exist now.
The reality is that most who were once in the old Worldwide Church of God did not truly accept the doctrines taught as of the time of the death of Herbert W. Armstrong and did not have the same view towards the mission of the Philadelphia era and did not value the truth enough, thus this is why there are many groups. Personal vanity and other sins are also a major factor. Some value social contact more, some value convenience of local congregations, some value contact with certain ministers, some want control, some do not want to tithe, some just want to be on their own. But the reality is that most, as Herbert Armstrong said, DID NOT GET IT. Now, that does not mean that individuals in different COGs cannot get along, but the reality is that COG history is full of splits and difficulties, and that was prophesied. Information on COG history can be found in the free pdf booklet: Continuing History of the Church of God.
The Bible does not endorse “group think,” but instead endorses individual responsibility for one’s spiritual life (Matthew 10:34-37, Philippians 2:12). But the Bible also teaches that those that will not properly 'gather together' (Zephaniah 2:1-3), with the true Philadlephia remnant (Revelation 3:7-10) will not receive the promised protection from the coming 'hour of trial.'
Yet, many that I have spoke with that claim to be in the COG, but were not supporting the Philadelphia work have basically told me that they were not in a more faithful group because of their friends, family, etc. were part of it (cf. Matthew 10:34-37), its location/activities were less conducive (cf. Matthew 13:45-46), they liked/dislike a certain minister (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5-6), there was not a local congregation near-by etc. But all those criteria are discounted in the Bible.
Pride is perhaps the biggest factor affecting unity. The Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-18) seem to have a major problem with pride.
Speaking of the Laodiceans, it should be noted that unlike the message to the other six churches of Revelation 2 & 3 which starts out addressing each singulary, the message to the Laodiceans is addressed in the plural form. What does that mean? Well, that helps show that multiple Laodicean churches would be around at the end. The splits that now exist were basically prophecied over 1900 years ago. Clearly this indicates that, because of lukewarmness, there would be many groups.
From an outside perspective (only God truly looks at the heart) it appears that most remaining outside of the Continuing Church of God do not seem to feel that they really need "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) while getting the gospel out as top priority in truth. How can we be together if we do not "all speak the same thing" (I Corinthians 1:10). Others who claim to do this, sadly, often rely more on traditions of men than the word of God.
It should be added that those of us who still believe in Church eras, believe that there will be at least four different broad groups (not limited to any particular corporations) during the end time. One that compromises (Thyatira, Revelation 2:18-26), one that has a name that it is alive, but is dead (Sardis, Rev 3:1), another who keeps Jesus' command to persevere (Philadelphia, Rev 3:10), and the final one that is lukewarm where, apparently, the people do not care that they have problems (Laodicea, Rev 3:14,16; note 'justice of the people' is how Smith's Bible Dictionary translates Laodicea).
Perhaps it should be noted that with the Laodicean COG's, there are dozens of wrong prophetic teachings which will prevent them from realizing that the Great Tribulation will begin unless they repent. These are documented in the article The Laodicean Church Era.
Efforts at Unification
Since as Paul wrote, "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5), it would seem to make sense that those of us in the Church of God should be united now, if possible.
Some public efforts towards unification within the various fellowships seem to be happening. The Bible Sabbath Association has long tried to cooperate with many groups, though they later changed. The old Giving and Sharing used to as well, before it essentially shut down with its founder's death.
The discussions between the United Church of God (UCG) and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship (CGCF) did not surprise this author as he had long felt that the two groups may eventually merge. However, the following comment in a publicly disclosed letter from UCG's board to CGCF's board (dated May 10, 2000) was a surprise:
Many have asked the question in recent years, 'Why do people who believe the same doctrines assemble in different places and refuse to meet together?' We need to answer this question. At recent Feasts members and ministers of both of our churches have enjoyed fellowship, combined youth activities, talent shows, and visiting for services. It has been recognized by most of us that our common heritage remains strong, our teachings and understanding of Gods word are the same, and what differences remain are primarily a matter of perceptions or past hurts.
Unless at least two of the people once on CGCF's board have changed their positions on certain doctrines, the differences are more than "primarily a matter of perceptions of past hurts"--they hold to different doctrines in certain important areas. Essentially, UCG has changed governance (but so had CGCF) and changed the priority of proclaiming the gospel (but so, essentially, had CGCF). (For partial documentation, please see the article Differences Between the United Church of God and the Global Church of God in The Journal issue January 31, 1998 which includes older quotes from the leadership and some of the membership of these two organizations. There is newer article at the author's web site titled Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God which documents some of the current differences between two groups which had their origins in the Worldwide Church of God. (RCG has repeatedly called for unification with it, but what it wants is not biblical, see also Why Not the Restored Church of God?)
Lest this author give the wrong impression, he is pleased when groups once affiliated with WCG are talking and may possibly merge or cooperate. The only objection is that unity based on doctrinal compromise (which may happen if some of the groups merge, and did happen in the case of the CGCF/UCG 'merger') is not good thing (it should be also understood that some minor differences of opinion are normal and not considered to be doctrinal compromise). Let us not forget our world history--the Catholic (which means 'universal' or 'unifying') Church has a history of compromise for growth--we are not to be one of her daughters (Revelation 17:5;18:4).
If, however, the doctrinal issues are properly resolved (and one would hope they would be able to be resolved to agree with the Bible and traditional WCG teachings in mind) then unity is 'good and pleasant' (Psalm 133:1).
Why are You Where You Are?
Irrespective of what happens in or between the various groups, when was the last time you asked yourself why you affiliate with who you do (or don't in many cases)? Since the Bible is to be the source of doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16), it is from the Bible that information to help deciding where one should fellowship can be found.
Perhaps the most fundamental is what Paul wrote:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Jesus similarly taught that:
Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matt 7:22-23).
Thus, one should not be part of a group that practice (or teaches lawlessness; see also Mystery of Iniquity)--the current WCG (now called Grace Communion International) sadly is a group like that.
The Bible clearly indicates that one should not make their religious decisions on the basis of what family members decide (Luke 14:26).
Jesus also taught, And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:27)
Thus one probably should not chose one fellowship over another because one seems 'easier' to bear..
The Bible indicates that financial reasons are also unacceptable (Matthew 13:22). Family reasons are also unacceptable according to Jesus (Matthew 10:34-37). The fact that one likes the preaching style of one minister (or group) more than another also does not seem to be biblically sanctioned (1 Corinthians 1:12-13), nor does the fact that one does not like aspects of the leading minister (2 Corinthians 10:10).
Where Should One Be?
Other than avoiding churches that practice lawlessness, there are other biblical guidelines that give information on where one should be. Does the group "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)? If so, great, but is this the only criteria?
Jesus taught that His people would be set-apart by the truth:
17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:17-19)
Sadly, nearly all COG groups have doctrinal and/or prophetic teachings that they insist upon that are not true. Because of that they cannot hold the end time Philadelphia mantle as they are not, "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). Notice also:
4 For the word of the Lord is right, And all His work is done in truth. (Psalms 33:4)
10 Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully, (Jeremiah 48:10)
The work needs to be done in truth and those that insist on doctrines and prophetic teachings that are not true are not leading the Philadelphian remnant of the Church of God. That is a big part of why the Laodiceans and other non-Philadelphians are not promised protection from the 'hour of trial' (the Great Tribulation) like the Philadelphians are (Revelation 3:7-10).
The Bible also teaches:
3 I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. (Psalms 101:3)
If you, and/or the group you may be part of, have fallen away, now is the time to repent, change, and do what is right (cf. Galatians 6:1).
Jesus also taught:
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples...You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit (John 15:7,8,16).
Thus individual members are to bear fruit. And:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matt 7:15-20).
Thus groups should be judged by their fruits! The next verse says:
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
What is the will of the Father regarding fruit? That we bear much of it! Thus, whatever group you are affiliated with should be trying to bear fruit.
Jesus clearly indicates that this is not just talking about an individual improving one's own life as He said:
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it (Mark 8:35)
But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:23).
Therefore, it appears clear that one should be affiliated with a group that places a high priority of developing fruit through proclaiming the gospel! Even though this author has heard some say that this is the job of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3,7) or the 'third angel' (Revelation 14:6), here is what Jesus says this to those who want to wait for someone else:
Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4:35).
I believe that the evidence demonstrates that the Continuing Church of God (CCOG) has done the best job in terms of priorities on proclaiming the gospel while relying on the Bible over traditions of men than any other group. The CCOG has picked up the Philadelphia mantle and is leading the final phase of the work.
While the author clearly feels that many of the COGs have not done a good job of publicly proclaiming the Gospel and remaining faithful to doctrine as they should have. This does not mean that the efforts of those such as formerly LCG's Dibar Apartian, UCG's Scott Ashley, CGI's Ian Boyne, and in the past former Church of God, aic's Brian Orchard, and others have gone unnoticed. These men all seem to have been faithful in their efforts to support what they believed the Church of God stood for, under what could be considered extreme conditions. Perhaps, if doctrinal differences can be resolved, we could, in that theory, combine together. But, because of the time we are in and the prophecies related to Laodiceans, do not expect all the COGs to unite.
Attendance in Other Fellowships
So let us assume you have examined the teachings of the various groups. You have determined which group best contends for the the faith once delivered (Jude 3), is true to the Bible (II Timothy 3:16), bears fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), and is proclaiming the gospel (Matthew 24:14;28:19-20; Mark 8:35).
So are there times it is proper to attend services of another fellowship?
The biblical answer is yes. The apostles often attended Jewish services when Christian churches were not around (e.g. Acts 14:1). They also attended Christian church services when they were available (Acts 14:27;15:4).
The author himself has attended with several other fellowships at various times primarily because he does not wish to, "forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some" (Hebrews 10:25). Initially, he did so because there was no ability fellowship with a Philadelphian remnant group when he first left WCG. And other times he did so, because that group did not have services available in various locations he traveled to. These seem to be biblically acceptable reasons and are also consistent with the traditional teachings and practices of the old WCG. It should be added that when he attended at those other fellowships, he was not disruptive nor argumentative, but grateful for the opportunity to fellowship with those of similar faith.
The author, however, does not believe that one should regularly fellowship with a group other than the one's primary group if the opportunity to fellowship with one's primary group exists. If one is truly in the group that is most appropriate, Ecclesiastes 9:10 would seem to apply, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might."
Unity in the Churches of God is still elusive as division was prophesied.
The desire for unity is not new. Paul wrote:
"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" (Ephesians 4:1-7).
Paul admonished unity and one faith. This would not have been necessary to write if complete unity existed.
In His messages to the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3, the first six start out stating, "And to the angel of the church in...write." However, that differs from the seventh message. Notice what it states:
14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write (Revelation 3:14)
As this article mentioned before, the message is to the LAODICEANS PLURAL. This strongly supports the view that there would be a lot of Laodicean churches in the end time. One of the main reasons that there is lack of unity amongst those who once were part of the old WCG is that few of them truly felt that they were called to be Philadelphian Christians. Most discounted that, while others have totally misunderstood what it meant to be Philadephian. The Laodicean churches also do not understand key aspects of end time prophecy and not understand many signs associated with the end (see also The Laodicean Church Era).
The COG does not need organizational unity as much as it needs people to wake up and be Philadelphian. If those within it will do so and rely on the Bible above personal preferences that they tend to have, such Philadelphian organizational unity can be attained. And such unity, to some degree, will happen prior to the start of the Great Tribulation (cf. Zephaniah 2:1-3; Revelation 3:7-14).
The Bible warns, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (II Corinthians 6:14). While this author strongly believes that most of those in the greater Church of God are believers, there are areas where many no longer believe what WCG used to teach. The Bible also warns, "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3).
It is the author's fervent hope that the those who are or were in the Churches of God need to examine the teachings and practices of the Bible and various groups and make their decisions based upon biblical guidelines--this should be done irrespective of any possible discussions between the different COG groups. It is also his hope that the various groups can examine each others differences, agree to officially resolve them, resolve them to teach "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), and unite if possible. In order to help the matter, all members of the Church of God family should individually do the same.
This latter hope, if realized, would result in true unity of the faith and maybe even organizational unity for the end time remnants of the Philadelphia Church. For others, it will come later--after Jesus returns (Zechariah 2:10-12).
Which COG do I believe is the most faithful? That would be the Continuing Church of God.
Back to COGwriter home page
B. Thiel. Unity: Which COG for You? www.cogwriter.com (c) 2000/2002/2006/2007/2008/2010/2012/2013/2014/2015/2016/2018 0203