Have you ever noticed that churches in this world are often named after men, a devised system, or a kind of church government? The name may even offer insight into a significant doctrine they emphasize, or what men hope to make it — all-encompassing, universal or catholic. But is this the correct way to identify the true Church of God? After all, there is only one true Church of God – not thousands comprising a babble of confusing religions, beliefs, or doctrines!
So what are we looking for? I mean, the Bible should help us identify the name of God’s Church, right? Of course it does! Wherever that one true Church is, it will be named the “Church of God.” Read Jesus’ prayer in John 17:11, 12: “…Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me…. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name.”
A person’s name is important. When one acts in another’s name, one acts in his stead — by his authority. The name designates the source of the authority — it designates who the person is for whom one acts. It’s clear from the scripture above that the true Church is to be kept in the name of the Father, which takes the authority of His name. Since the name of the Father is God, the Church is simply named the Church of God. You can see why it would be important not to name it after a man or any other man-devised idea.
Twelve times in the New Testament, the Church is named the Church of God. In five such passages where the true name of the Church appears, the entire Body of Christ — the Church as a whole — is indicated. Thus, when speaking of the entire Church, including all its individual members on earth, the name is “the Church of God.” Here are these five passages:
1. Acts 20:28: The admonition to the elders is to “feed the Church of God.”
2. I Corinthians 10:32: “Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God.”
3. I Corinthians 11:22: “…or despise ye the Church of God, and shame them that have not?”
4. I Corinthians 15:9: Paul wrote: “I persecuted the Church of God.”
5. Galatians 1:13: This verse repeats the one last given — “I persecuted the Church of God.”
Where one specific local congregation is mentioned, the true Church is called “the Church of God,” often in connection with the place or location. Here are four more passages:
6. I Corinthians 1:2: “The Church of God which is at Corinth.”
7. II Corinthians 1:1: “The Church of God which is at Corinth.”
8. I Timothy 3:5: In speaking of an elder in a local congregation, Paul wrote Timothy: “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?”
9. I Timothy 3:15: “…Behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God.”
In speaking of the local congregations collectively, not as one general body, but as the total of all local congregations, the Bible name is “the Churches of God.” Here are the final three verses of the twelve which name the Church:
10. I Corinthians 11:16: “We have no such custom, neither the Churches of God.”
11. I Thessalonians 2:14: “For ye, brethren, became followers of the Churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus.”
12. II Thessalonians 1:4: “So that we ourselves glory in you in the Churches of God.”
In some New Testament instances, a descriptive adjective is added to the name, as the Church of God at Corinth, or the Churches of God in Judea. But that is not all. Many have appropriated God’s name (the Church of God), but are not proclaiming the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Neither are they teaching obedience to God’s Ten Commandments or repentance of transgressing that Law. They pervert nearly all of the doctrines found in the Bible to suit their own agendas, so by their fruits we understand that they are not representative of God.
While this is not an exhaustive study into the matter, it does provide oversight into the subject and gives a clear analysis from scripture into which direction we have to look in identifying His Church.