TRACING THE ROOTS OF THE CHURCH OF GOD
When people think of the church’s beginning their mind goes back some two thousand years ago to the day of Christ and rightfully so. It did have its beginning then but Paul in Ephesians chapter 1 says that it was in the mind of God even before the foundation of the world. The prophets of old through the Spirit saw and foretold of the establishment of the church hundreds of years before Christ actually came to establish it (Psa. 72:16, Isa. 2:2-3, & other passages). We have the record of Jesus himself while He was here on earth saying that He would build His church. Most if not all Christians agree on the fact that Jesus built His church but some think He organized it before His death on the cross and yet there are others who believe it started after His death.
We believe that the day of Pentecost was a day of empowerment for the church but that the church already existed before that day. Paul spoke of the Church of God as being the house of God (I Tim. 3:15) and Jesus Himself said the Son of man (referencing Himself) is as a man who LEFT HIS HOUSE (referencing the church) and took a far journey (making reference to His journey back to heaven) (Mark 13:34). The day of Pentecost came a few days after the Lord took His journey back to be with the Father. Based on what Jesus said here, the church would already be in existence before He left. The Church of God believes the following scripture indicates the place and time that Jesus organized His church. “And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:” Mark 3:13-15
During the period known as the Dark Ages the church ceased to function, at least on the level it did during the first three centuries or so after its conception. Creeds and doctrines of men had made their way into the church and the truth became obscure and eventually hidden from sight but the last few hundred years produced men who had hungry hearts that were searching for more of God. These searching hearts (men such as Martin Luther, John Wesley, A. J. Tomlinson and others) uncovered glimmering jewels of truth that the early church had once understood and practiced. Martin Luther uncovered “Justification by Faith,” John Wesley “sanctification” and to A. J. Tomlinson was revealed “that to be the church (the continuation of what Christ had organized) her followers must accept the entire bible as the Word of God and be willing to walk in its light.”
On June 13, 1903 A. J. Tomlinson after spending some time in private prayer that morning walked down the mountainside to join others who had gathered there at a home for prayer and Bible study. During his prayer on the mountain that morning, as he sought God there was a divine revelation and Biblical understanding given him concerning God’s church. The following excerpt is taken from the book “Upon This Rock, vol. 1.” A. J. Tomlinson tells about it in his own words. “I came back down the mountain and entered the meeting. Questions were asked, Bible answers were given. They said they took the whole Bible rightly divided as their only rule of faith and practice. I said, well if you take the whole Bible rightly divided, that makes it the Church of God… You have agreed that this that I have said makes it the Church of God, and will you be willing to take it and keep it the Church of God? They said they were willing. I then asked if they were willing to take me in with the understanding that it IS the Church of God – not going to be, but IS the Church of God? They were willing. So I stood right there in front of the fireplace and Brother Spurling, who has gone to heaven, took the Bible and gave it to me. He handed it to me and said, “Will you take this as the Word of God, believe it and practice it, obey its precepts and walk in the light as God is in the light?” I thought deeply. I remembered what a time I had on the mountain. I meant business. God meant business… I took the obligation with deep sincerity and extreme sacredness never to be forgotten.”
We believe that the scripture prophesied of this time period when the church would rise back up and complete the mission that was handed to the early church by Christ Himself. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.” Isa. 60:1 (also read verses 4-5)
The early church was theocratic in nature (meaning that God’s will and His word were to have preeminence). The Church of God operates on this principle, that Christ is to have preeminence in all things. We are committed to holding on to all those things that are taught in God’s holy word.
The Church of God does not see itself as a man-made institution but rather as the continuation of the church which Christ built.