It is true to say that the Church of God has never been part of mainstream Christianity, and it would be equally true to say that for the last 2,000 years, the doctrines of the Church have been taken purely from the Bible.
Syncretism has become commonplace in mainstream Christianity and is defined by Webster’s as “the combination of different forms of belief or practice.” This word syncretism does not appear in the Scriptures, but the subject is certainly addressed and condemned. We have to see the faulty trap of syncretism (combining right aspects of godly worship with wrong practices).
Since syncretism has been a part of “Christianity” for nearly 2,000 years, the Nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote that “millions of people through the centuries have little by little cheated God out of Christianity.”
Syncretism is manifested in Sunday worship where pagan traditions have influenced “Christian” thinking and practice. December 25 is supposedly Jesus’ birthday but was an adaptation of the birthday of the pagan’s sun god. Easter eggs and bunnies are derived from ancient Egypt and Persia where “friends exchanged decorated eggs at the spring equinox.” St Valentine’s day is connected to “a pagan Roman festival, Lupercalia.” Wikipedia states that “Halloween was originally influenced by western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain.” These, and many more, are festivals that many churches adopt and celebrate but which are directly opposed to true Christianity.
Deuteronomy 12:30-32 gives this warning: “… take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”
That was God’s instruction then, and it is today as God does not change (Malachi 3:6).
In our booklet “The Authority of the Bible, ” the following comments are made on pages 9 and 10:
“However, there are those who set themselves apart FROM the Truth and this kind of approach was prophesied to become prevalent just before the return of Jesus Christ to the earth: ‘Now the Spirit expressly says that in LATTER TIMES some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron’ (1 Timothy 4:1–2).
“Note this further warning from Paul to Timothy: ‘Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables’ (2 Timothy 4:2–4).
“Only the truth is contained in God’s Word, because God cannot lie (compare Titus 1:2). He even truthfully exposes the lies of Satan, demons, and certain people, but He makes it clear, of course, that we are not to follow those lies and fall prey to deception. The truth we are to embrace can be proven from the Bible! Nonetheless, God has clearly revealed that liars would arise and claim that what they teach is true. That has happened and it continues to happen, but we must use God’s Word as the only measure for the truth.
“Here is a vital key for each of us to use to prove what is true in the Bible: ‘Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING [or handling, compare the Revised Standard Version] THE WORD OF TRUTH’ (2 Timothy 2:15).”
Our Biblical doctrinal understanding is contained in our Statement of Beliefs which can be found on our websites. There are a number of truths that are embraced by other organisations but, unfortunately, they also embrace wrong practices.
For example, there are a number of churches that keep the 7th Day Sabbath as we do—but then stray into error on other key doctrinal areas.
There are those who understand the Bible’s teaching about clean and unclean foods—but then they stray into error on other key doctrinal areas.
There are those who believe that the trinity (One God or Person in three Gods or Persons) is a false doctrine—but again they hen stray into error on other key doctrinal areas.
The same could be said about the correct understanding about tithing, baptism by immersion, keeping the Passover annually—but again organisations that embrace such truths are then wayward in their other doctrinal understanding.
It is not that easy to find some doctrine and belief that is unique to the Church of God. There are bits of truth here and there in other groups, mainly combined with a lot of error and misunderstanding.
But among others, one BIG difference, which appears to be unique to the true Church of God, is the meaning of the Last Great Day which follows the 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles!
There are those who believe that “the person who physically dies in his sins without Christ is hopelessly and eternally lost in the lake of fire. Therefore, he has no further opportunity of hearing the Gospel or for repentance.” (This quote is taken from one representative website). This would mean that God is not fair, and that is certainly not true.
This is quite a dilemma for mainstream Christianity. They just cannot explain this at all. If a minister were to answer that a child is condemned for eternity because it never accepted Christ, it begs the question: How can God be fair when someone who has never had a chance is condemned for ever? The truth is that God wants to save all those who have ever lived.
As God is fair, He will not condemn anyone to the lake of fire who has not had the chance for salvation and as “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). He must allow everyone a chance for eternal life, which must include all those born before Christ and all those in many parts of the world in the last 2,000 years who have never heard the Saviour’s Name. This is something that affects billions of people, both living and dead.
The mind of a fair and loving God is written as follows; “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). This clearly shows what God wants to happen. One of the greatest errors in the mainstream Christian religion is that they believe that this is the only day of salvation and that there is a battle going on between the forces of good and the forces of evil. If that were true, Satan would be winning hands down, but that belief is in error.
In our Statement of Beliefs, this unique piece of understanding is quoted as follows:
“The Last Great Day which immediately follows the Feast of Tabernacles, once a year. This day symbolizes a 100-year period called the ‘Great White Throne Judgment,’ during which all persons who have ever lived and who were never called by God for salvation during this life, will have their first opportunity to accept Christ as their Saviour (Leviticus 23:36; John 7:37; Revelation 20:11-12). At the end of that period, there will be a judgment during which all people who have ever lived and who have refused to accept Christ as their Saviour, will be finally condemned to eternal death and destroyed in Gehenna fire (Revelation 20:13-15).”
The reason why this Last Great Day understanding is so important is because it single-handedly destroys all of the false concepts that exist about the fate of those who have never been given the opportunity for salvation down through the ages. The Last Great Day has meaning that is incomprehensible to the world. They don’t keep the annual Feast days, and so they simply cannot understand.
In the Good News magazine in September 1982, this comment was made: “This last of God’s annual Holy Days pictures one of the most wonderful and least understood doctrines of the Bible – the time of God’s final judgment. It answers the question: What is the fate of the billions who… have never understood the truth about God’s plan?”
But what understanding we have! Because we keep this day we understand that those who have died without being called in this life and who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ or the message He brought, WILL, after the millennial rule of Jesus Christ, have their opportunity for salvation.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)