Recognizing the Church

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Jesus said His Church would not die (Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
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Just as at the beginning of the Church, God calls people out of the world (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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; Revelation 18:4 Revelation 18:4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.
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) and into His Church to do a job. Just as Peter called on his audience to repent and be baptized, those God is calling today realize the seriousness of their sins and commit themselves to God and a life of change.

How do those who accept God’s call into His Church respond to that call?

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13 1 Corinthians 12:13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
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Water baptism, as discussed in Lesson 8 , is a sign of the repentant Christian’s belief in Christ’s sacrifice to cover sins. It represents the death of the old person and the beginning of a new life committed to doing what God says to do. The resulting changes are made gradually through the power of God’s Spirit, which God gives to the Christian at baptism.

How can we identify and avoid false teachers?

“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 thorn bushes 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. 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. 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!’” (Matthew 7:15-23 Matthew 7:15-23 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Why by their fruits you shall know them. 21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
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Christ warned us to beware of those who masquerade as true teachers, who outwardly might say and do the right things but whose real actions and achievements are not godly. Ultimately their teachings and doctrines amount to practicing “lawlessness”—rejecting obedience to God’s laws. Christ says He will reject those who reject and disobey His laws.

What fruit will be growing in the lives of true Christians?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
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God’s Spirit makes it possible for the new Christian to begin to produce the unselfish characteristics of God Himself. As with fruit on a vine, godly character traits do not suddenly appear at baptism, but must be nurtured and grow over time. A major purpose of the Church is to assist us in developing this spiritual fruit.

What is a hallmark of true Christians?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 John 13:34-35 34 A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
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The Church of God will be growing in the same unselfish, godly love that Christ showed. This outgoing concern is far above the natural brotherly love or even a mother’s love, which is often said to be the highest form of human love. God’s love is totally unselfish and outgoing, as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 and exhibited by Christ when He gave His life for us.

Will members of the Church be perfect?

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9 1 John 1:8-9 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
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“For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3 1 Corinthians 3:3For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men?
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God’s Church is made up of human beings who still have weaknesses. Each has a long way to go in reaching for the perfection offered in Christ. Paul’s words of correction in his letters to the Corinthians show some in God’s Church can still have major human weaknesses to overcome. We can be thankful, though, that God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7 1 Samuel 16:7But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.
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). True Christians continue to repent and change as they recognize their shortcomings. They continue to forgive and support their brethren as they struggle for spiritual maturity in Christ (Galatians 6:1-2 Galatians 6:1-2 1 Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
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They cannot, however, continue to willfully and deliberately practice sinning as a way of life. “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10 1 John 3:10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.
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How does the Bible define the love of God?

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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“Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘ “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets’ ” (Matthew 22:35-40 Matthew 22:35-40 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
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God’s law defines God’s love. Here Jesus summed up the meaning of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) in the two great commandments. The first four of the Ten Commandments show us how God expects us to show our love toward Him. The last six show how He expects us to show love for our fellow human beings. These fundamental spiritual principles are expanded throughout the Bible. For example, Jesus magnified the meanings of the commandments prohibiting murder and adultery in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-32 Matthew 5:21-32 21 You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; 24 Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, whiles you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, You shall by no means come out there, till you have paid the uttermost farthing. 27 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: 28 But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. 31 It has been said, Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce: 32 But I say to you, That whoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.
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), showing that thoughts of hate and lust violate their intent.

Will the Church always keep the Commandments of God?

“… The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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The woman of Revelation 12 represents God’s people just before Christ returns. At that time the dragon (Satan; Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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) persecutes the Church, which continues to faithfully keep the Commandments of God.

Will the Church today believe and practice the same things Christ and the early New Testament Church did?

“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6 1 John 2:3-6 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that said he stays in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
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“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3 Jude 1:3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write to you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write to you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
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The Church continues to obey God’s commandments and walk as Jesus walked. It contends earnestly to follow the faith laid down throughout the Bible and practiced by the Church in the apostolic era.

This includes worshiping God on the days commanded in the Bible and observed by Jesus and the apostles. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus, Paul and the Church regularly assembled on the Sabbath, obeying the Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11 Exodus 20:8-11 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
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; Mark 6:2 Mark 6:2And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From where has this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given to him, that even such mighty works are worked by his hands?
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; Luke 4:16-32 Luke 4:16-32 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered to him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say to them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. 22 And all bore him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? 23 And he said to them, You will surely say to me this proverb, Physician, heal yourself: whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your country. 24 And he said, Truly I say to you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 But to none of them was Elias sent, save to Sarepta, a city of Sidon, to a woman that was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. 28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill where on their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30 But he passing through the middle of them went his way, 31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. 32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
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; Luke 13:10 Luke 13:10And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
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; Acts 13:14-44 Acts 13:14-44 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, You men and brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. 16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and you that fear God, give audience. 17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelled as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. 20 And after that he gave to them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave to them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. 23 Of this man’s seed has God according to his promise raised to Israel a Savior, Jesus: 24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think you that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there comes one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26 Men and brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and whoever among you fears God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher. 30 But God raised him from the dead: 31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the fathers, 33 God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you. 34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 35 Why he said also in another psalm, You shall not suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption: 37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. 38 Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins: 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest that come on you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 41 Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it to you. 42 And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles sought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
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; Acts 17:1-3 Acts 17:1-3 1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ.
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; Acts 18:4 Acts 18:4And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
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). So today members of God’s Church meet together on the Sabbath to worship Him, learn more of His ways and fellowship with each other—with even greater urgency as the return of Christ approaches (Hebrews 10:24-25 Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
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). Members also observe God’s other commanded festivals, just as Christ and the Church did (see “What Did the Early Church Believe and Practice? ,” page 8). As we will see in a future lesson, the festivals of the Bible help remind members of the Church about God’s awesome plan each year.

The Church uses the Bible as its guide and does not seek to add nonbiblical teachings and practices.

What is God’s Church called in the Bible?

“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” (Acts 20:28 Acts 20:28Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.
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The phrase church of God appears eight times in the Bible (Acts 20:28 Acts 20:28Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.
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; 1 Corinthians 1:2 1 Corinthians 1:2To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s:
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; 10:32; 1 Corinthians 11:22 1 Corinthians 11:22What? have you not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise you the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
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; 1 Corinthians 15:9 1 Corinthians 15:9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
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; 2 Corinthians 1:1 2 Corinthians 1:1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
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; Galatians 1:13 Galatians 1:13For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
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; 1 Timothy 3:5 1 Timothy 3:5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
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). “Churches of God” appears another three times (1 Corinthians 11:16 1 Corinthians 11:16But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
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; 1 Thessalonians 2:14 1 Thessalonians 2:14For you, brothers, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for you also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
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; 2 Thessalonians 1:4 2 Thessalonians 1:4So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure:
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) and “the church of the living God” occurs once (1 Timothy 3:15 1 Timothy 3:15But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
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What work will the Church of God be doing?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
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God’s Church continues to do the same work that Christ commissioned His disciples to do—part of the same work that Christ Himself did (Mark 1:1-14 Mark 1:1-14 1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 And there went out to him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; 7 And preached, saying, There comes one mightier than I after me, the lace of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. 9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending on him: 11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 12 And immediately the spirit drives him into the wilderness. 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him. 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
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The Church is to spread the good news of Christ’s coming Kingdom to the whole world. The gospel of the Kingdom of God shows the hope beyond the bad news humanity is bringing on itself. Though few seem inclined to listen now, God’s loving warning impacts everyone at some point. God wants all to come to the knowledge of the truth and to be saved at the appropriate time (1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
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). Members of the Church pray fervently that God will call more laborers now to help in this tremendous undertaking (Matthew 9:37-38 Matthew 9:37-38 37 Then said he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; 38 Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
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The Church not only scatters the seed of the gospel (Mark 4:2-20 Mark 4:2-20 2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said to them in his doctrine, 3 Listen; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9 And he said to them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear. 10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. 11 And he said to them, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. 13 And he said to them, Know you not this parable? and how then will you know all parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution rises for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirty times, some sixty, and some an hundred.
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), it also actively welcomes those God is now calling. It is teaching them the precious truths of the Bible and nurturing them in their spiritual growth.