Recently, the new leadership of the Worldwide Church of God announced that they would change the name of their organization–claiming that “Church of God” is not a Biblically mandated name. The real reason for this change is, of course, to break with any historical link associating them in any way with the late human leader of the Church, Herbert W. Armstrong. In a sense, it is not regrettable that Worldwide change its name, as this will only make “official” the fact that their organization is clearly no longer part of the “Church of God”–the spiritual Body of Christ (compare Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23; and Colossians 1:18).
At the same time, somebody asked me why we, in the USA, are calling ourselves, “the Church of the Eternal God.” As the true Church of God has long understood, the correct Biblical name is “Church of God,” or a variation of that designation. Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:11-12 that the Church would be kept in “Your name”–that is, the Father ‘s name; and the name of the Father is God (compare 1 Corinthians 11:3). The name of the Church is mentioned twelve times in the New Testament. Six times, it is identified as the “church of God” (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; Galatians 1:13; and 1 Timothy 3:5). In two instances, parts of the “church of God” are named in connection with a place or location (1 Corinthians 1:2 and 2 Corinthians 1:1–“the church of God which is at Corinth”). In two places, when referring to all of the local congregations collectively, the Bible speaks of “the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:16 and 2 Thessalonians 1:4). In one place, the Bible speaks of all the local congregations in Judea (1 Thessalonians 2:14: “the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus”). Finally, in one instance, Paul addresses the Church of God as “the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15), describing the nature and character of God the Father.
When we re-organized in the USA more than four years ago, we decided to register under “Church of the Eternal God,” describing another aspect of the nature and character of God the Father–the fact that He is “eternal.” Due to legal requirements, we could not register as “Church of God,” or even “Church of the Living God.” But the name “Church of the Eternal God” was available to us. This name is, in deed, very Biblical.
Deuteronomy 33:27 refers to God as the “eternal God.” The Hebrew is “qedem”–“what is before in time and place.” 1 Timothy 1:17 refers to God as “the King eternal.” Romans 16:26 speaks of the “everlasting God.” The Revised Standard Version says, “eternal God.” In Hebrews 9:14, the Holy Spirit is described as “eternal”–as it is the eternal power emanating from the eternal God Family (both the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ). Romans 1:20 speaks about God’s “eternal power and Godhead.” In Isaiah 57:15, it is said that God “inhabits eternity.” Genesis 21:33 speaks of the “Everlasting God.” The New International Version and the Living Bible say, “Eternal God.” Jeremiah 10:10 calls God “the living God and the everlasting King.” The New International Version says, “… eternal King.”
So we see that the name, “Church of the Eternal God,” as part of the spiritual body of Christ, is truly a Biblical name. With this assurance, let us continue to do the Work of God as powerfully as we possibly can, and to obey God the Father and His Son in all respects.