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Written by Rod Salzman
Fifty years ago I walked into my first Church of God meeting. It was a bible study held in a basement conference room. Being downstairs, and not that easy to find, I felt I was in a secret meeting of Christians - like being in the catacombs of 1st century Rome!
I guess you have worked out that I was excited, if not a little naive.
I was met by a friendly Keith. He was to be my mentor for the next few months. I felt cared for, and wanted. This experience was in contrast to my then university experiences, where human contact was seen through the bottom of a drinking glass.
Jesus said that you will know them by the love they show: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).
And for my first meeting this was exactly so. Keith has long gone but often I am still bowled over with such a loving welcome.
Since then both church and I have gone through many a “grandpa's hammer” experience. I am not the same, and neither is the church. Both the handle and head of grandpa's hammer have changed and grown.
Love was found in the early church. Those who had much willingly shared what they had with those who had little. “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common” (Acts 4:32).
Often Christians met in houses: For example we read when the apostle Peter had been delivered by an angel from the hand of Herod he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John and many had gathered in this home to pray (Acts 12:12). These small house gatherings encouraged family-like relationships among the Christians.
Women felt liberated (Acts 16:14), slaves felt freed (Phil 1:16) and attitudes changed (Acts 10:34).
So church is awesome. We can expect a family. In this family we can expect real love and close relationships. As part of this family, our part is to grow in love and acceptance of others. This is what the world needs now.
". . . I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in . . . the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). In this booklet we examine the fruits Jesus and His apostles said would identify His Church. We look at the contrasting fruits that identify those who are influenced by a different spirit and preach a different gospel. We will learn, not from human tradition or opinion but directly from God's Word, how we can distinguish "the church of the living God" (1 Timothy 3:15) from those who follow "false prophets" in sheep's clothing.
Is the devil real? Many people assume he’s just a mythological figure or some sort of symbol of all evil. But your Bible tells a very different story. It describes a very real being of enormous power and influence over human beings. In fact, it tells us that this being “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). It describes him as “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4)—an evil spirit being who desires to be worshiped by human beings and who tries to usurp the one true God. How does he deceive the entire world? A major way is through false religion—by infiltrating churches and denominations and subtly influencing them into teaching a “different gospel” and “another Jesus” quite different from what the original apostles taught (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-9). Could you possibly be influenced by this being? How can you know? You need to read this issue of Beyond Today! It’s vitally important that you understand the truth!