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This is the 4. Chapter of "The Man-Made Church."


4. The Name of the Church


by Frank L. Preuss


Paul uses terms like "the church of God" or "the churches of God" or "God's church". Twelve times the Bible speaks of the church of God and there is no reason to give the church any other name. The most outstanding sign of a denomination is that they have their own name. The simplest way to recognize a man-made church (a denomination, a sect) is that they made a name for themselves. They made a name for themselves - as the people of Babel who wanted to make a name for them (Genesis 11:4) and built the tower of Babel.

And these names are of course different from the name the Bible gives the church. And what is entirely obvious is that the name they give themselves - or that they make for themselves - is different from the names of all the other sects. There exists an entanglement of denominations. And the number of denominations increases with every Christian group that gives themselves a name - we have a confusion of denominations. That is why it was called Babel - confusion (Genesis 11:9). We get confusion when Christian groups want to make a name for them - Babylon. And Babylon is the place of antichrist. The creation of denominations and sects is the most effective means of the devil against the real church.

The giving of a name is for the outsider the most distinguishing sign that this Christian group is splitting from the body of Christ or actually splitting the body of Christ. For the insider it is just an outward sign of a development that was quite obvious.

Only few denominations name their group after a man like Luther or Wesley and call their church "The Lutheran Church" or "The Wesleyan Church", but the spiritual reason behind the forming of a denomination is always the same: boasting about men (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). We are Catholics say some, we are Protestants say others. Yes, but we are Baptist. We are Pentecostals. An even better description is found in 1 Corinthians 4:6: taking pride in one man over against another.

People can even give their denomination the name "The Church of God" and still be a denomination, because all other characteristics are that of a denomination.

So if someone asks us to what denomination we belong or at what church we are worshipping, we simply can say that we do not belong to any denomination, we are just children of God, Christians - believers. Or if the person asking has some knowledge of the Bible we might say that we belong to the church of God and so might cause some further questions and have the opportunity to explain what the real church is.

It is a powerful position a Christian can find himself in when he is witnessing and can answer the question regarding his church affiliation with the statement: I don't belong to a denomination, I have got nothing to do with a man-made church, I belong to God, I serve God and not a sect. The witnessing of a denominational person always becomes suspicious when a person realizes that he belongs to a denomination - a sect - and one gets the impression that he actually just wants to recruit members for his religious society. I however can explain that no denomination can provide salvation, only Jesus Christ can do that and that it is dangerous to belong to a denomination, because it may let people think that it will save them. Actually such a membership can be a good way to damnation.

I can answer the question to what church I go in a very scriptural way by saying, I go to the church that meets in the house of Brian (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15 and Philemon 2). When I say that I am part of the church that meets in the house of Brian, then I simply identify the place and do not boast about men or women, because Brian is may be just a brother who opened his house for the church of God to meet, but is not one of the elders.

In the following we want to list the scriptures which contain the name of the church. The book of Acts uses several times the words "the Way" as a name of the church:

Acts 9:2

if he found any of this way

Acts 18:25

this man was instructed in the way of the Lord

Acts 18:26

expounded unto him the way of God

Acts 19:9

but spake evil of that way

Acts 19:23

there arose no small stir about that way

Acts 22:4

and I persecuted this way

Acts 24:14

that after the way which they call heresy

Acts 24:22

having more perfect knowledge of that way

In Acts 20:28 Paul uses the first time the words "the church of God" and in his letters he always uses this name of the church:

Acts 20:28

to feed the church of God

1Co 1:2

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth

1Co 10:32

nor to the church of God

1Co 11:16

neither the churches of God

1Co 11:22

or despise ye the church of God

1Co 15:9

because I persecuted the church of God

2Co 1:1

unto the church of God which is at Corinth

Gal 1:13

I persecuted the church of God

1Th 2:14

became the followers of the churches of God

2Th 1:4

glory in you in the churches of God

1Ti 3:5

take care of the church of God

1Ti 3:15

which is the church of the living God

All spiritual Christians who speak of "the church of God" or of "the Way" are automatically in unity with all other spiritual Christians all over the world. They all belong to the same church, a spiritual church, an organism (not an organisation). Their church has the same name wherever they go. They are in unity with each other - they belong to the real church. And they are standing on a scriptural base and one can see that they know the difference between the real church and the imitation church.

Saying "I belong to the church of God" is also expressing that it is God's church and not mine. Denominational people are distinguishing themselves normally by saying "my church", talking of "their church". It is not God's church, but it is theirs. They don't allow God and the Holy Spirit to run the church, but they do it themselves, they do it and especially their clergy.

So if we talk about the church, we have to understand and make it clear to others that it could be the church building or it could be a denomination or it could be the real church, the church of God, the body of believers, the body of Christ.

Giving a name to a church is a typical carnal act. It is an expression of not understanding the body of Christ. But it is also the desire to be accepted by the world and to be able to communicate with the world - to be part of this world. It is absolutely necessary to have a name because a denomination is a worldly organization and organizes its church by means of worldly things like church buildings, bank accounts, tax numbers, offices, telephone numbers, street addresses, postal addresses etc. A denomination operates the same way as a company, a sports club or a welfare organization. For all of them it is absolutely necessary to have an official name. Without it they cannot operate.

The real church is a spiritual organism and not an organization. The Holy Spirit is in control of everything. The contact with the world is done by its members - and they do it in their own name. Is one member highly active and let us say his name Paul, then this member Paul goes and buys tickets for a boat trip across the Adriatic Sea for himself and may be for all his companions. Paul pays the income tax for the income he receives. Paul pays the rent for the house in Rome and not the church that meets in his house. Paul, as an individual, receives financial help from the church in Philippi and this money again was entrusted by the church in Philippi into the hands of individuals who brought it to Paul. Paul organizes and pays for a place that prints and distributes Bibles and tracts. Paul's great Christian television network operates in his name.

There is nothing wrong when Christians work for other Christians. Paul had people helping him and he worked to provide for himself and for his companions or he received financial help from churches he had previously established. There is nothing wrong when several Christians work together to promote the gospel, as long as they do not start "their" church and as long as they are not trying to make money out of that organisation and think that godliness is a means to financial gain (1 Timothy 6:5). There is nothing wrong to deal with the world, we only should not become engrossed in it (1 Corinthians 7:31).

If we want to know if a person belongs to a denomination we have to listen to that person. If that person mentions the name of the church and it is not "the church of God" or "the Way" we can already assume that this person belongs to a denomination. The name of the church he mentions is not in the Bible. It is even easier when the person says, "This is the church where I am worshipping" and we see a church building, may be with a beautiful steeple, we see a name board in front of the church, with the name of the denomination written on it and may be the name of the pastor with the title "Reverend" in front of it. In this case we have three facts that proof to us that it is a man-made church. The most significant is the name of the denomination, a loud crying symbol of division, division from the body of Christ, the church of God. The name of the pastor speaks to us of no plurality of eldership: they have only one elder and not several, as it is always the case in the New Testament. It speaks of a spirit of domination and of "clergy and laity". And the title in front of the pastor's name tells a story of not knowing scriptures, of blindness and carnality. Christians have only one title for one another - brother - no other title is used in the Bible for Christians.

And the steeple is fittingly described in Genesis 11:4 "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth." What a beautiful way of describing a denomination; "they make a name for themselves." The most prominent sign of a denomination is their name; they like to make a name for themselves. And all these three names, the name of the denomination, the name of the "pastor" and the name of his title are symbols of killing the church, symbols of the end of the revival, the end of the church: the church does not get scattered over the whole earth, the church came to a standstill, to a death, and this church building is announcing to the world the death of God's church. It is a big tombstone.


This is the end of "The Name of the Church."

Next chapter: [5]


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