A Comparison of Some of the Doctrines
of Protestantism and the Churches of God

Many of us were at one time members of a large Church of God which believed and taught that it was the only true Church. Now the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme, and the teaching of that Church is now that there are many Christians in all those other churches out in the world. Having been in one of those churches myself for thirty years, I donít doubt their sincerity or dedication to the truth or understanding they have, and they have certainly produced some outstanding preachers, and great books and literature, which have contributed immeasurably to our understanding, but the differences in Biblical truth and understanding between Protestantism and the Churches of God are too great to be ignored. This brief paper is a reminder to the Church of God of these irreconcilable differences.

Roman Catholics and Protestants alike have appropriated the name of Christ, but does this make them Christians in the Biblical sense of the word? The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch because they were followers of Jesus Christ. A Christian is one in whom is the Spirit of Christ, otherwise he is not a Christian, Romans 8:9. The Spirit is given to those who obey Christ, Acts 5:32. A Christian is one who has repented of sin, which is the breaking of the Law of God. John said that if we say we know Him, but donít keep His commandments we are liars, and that we must walk as Jesus walked, I John 2:4-6. If we fail to keep any one of His commandments we are guilty of breaking them all, James 2:10. Paul warned Timothy that in the last days men would not endure sound doctrine, II Timothy 4:2-4, and Jude instructed the Christians to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered," Jude 3. The whole New Testament is a record of apostasy from "the faith which was once delivered", so if the situation was so bad in the days when the Church had barely gotten started, how much worse do you suppose the situation is two thousand years later?

Jesus said His flock would be small; that the gate was small and the way narrow that leads to life and few would find it; that many are called but few are chosen [or become those who choose to answer His call]. There are approximately one thousand million Catholics and hundreds of millions of Protestants. To say that all those people in those churches are Christians is to make a mockery of Christís words.

When Luther began the Reformation, it was not with the idea of forming another church. He wanted to reform the Catholic Church, but was eventually forced to leave. But in the process, he took with him many of the heresies of the Catholic Church which still today infest Protestantism. This is why the Protestant Churches are called the "daughters" of Great Babylon, the Mother of Harlots," Revelation 17:5. In comparison with the doctrines and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, the doctrines of the Protestant churches do appear to be fairly pure, but unfortunately, the Reformation did not go far enough. Here then is a short summary of some Protestant doctrines compared with those of the Church of God.

CHURCH OF GOD

1. Sabbath. This is the 7th day of the week, the day Christ, the Creator, made by resting, and the day of which He said He is the Lord. The New Testament Church kept the Sabbath for around three centuries until the Emperor Constantine enforced the observance of Sunday.

PROTESTANTISM

1. Sunday. This is the first day of the week, the Day of the Sun. This day was celebrated by the pagans in honor of the sun god. The Emperor Constantine associated Sabbath observance with Judaism and enforced Sunday worship.

CHURCH OF GOD

2. Holy days of God. The Church of God keeps the holy days of Jehovah as outlined in Leviticus 23. The New Testament Church kept these days until the false church substituted pagan days and forced out true Christians.

PROTESTANTISM

2. Christmas; Easter; New Yearís; etc. These pagan holidays came from the Catholic Church into Protestantism, were never part of the worship of the New Testament Church.

CHURCH OF GOD

3. The Law established. God keeps the Law of God. Jesus said He did not come to do away with His Fatherís Law, but to make it more binding; to make it honorable. Paul said he upheld the law, that it was holy and spiritual, that the Church established the Law, Romans 3:31, 7:12, 14.

PROTESTANTISM

3. The Law abolished. Protestants say the Law has been abolished, thereby making a liar of Him whom they profess to believe. They say the New Testament teaches that Christ was the end of the law, when the true meaning in the Greek is that Christ was the goal of the law. In any case, you canít negate Christís own statement that He did not come to do away with the law.

CHURCH OF GOD

4. Mortal soul. The Bible does not teach that the soul is immortal. It says, "The soul that sins shall surely die," Ezekiel 18:4. God only has immortality, I Timothy 6:16, but when Christ returns for His people we shall then put on immortality, I Corinthians 15:54.

PROTESTANTISM

4. Immortal soul. Protestants believe the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul. This is the lie Satan persuaded Eve to believe when he said, "You shall not surely die."

CHURCH OF GOD

5. Family of God. The bible teaches that God and Christ are a family composed of a Father and a Son. The Holy Spirit is the power by which they operate.

PROTESTANTISM

5. Trinity. The Scriptures do not teach that God is only one being, or three beings, or even three beings in one. It is beyond the scope of this summary to go into all the Biblical proofs.

CHURCH OF GOD

6. God is a personal being. When Genesis says man was made in the image of God, it includes the meaning of form and shape. The Scriptures demonstrate God as having eyes, hands, arms, legs, feet, a body, hair, fingers, etc. Some try to denigrate this picture by saying that He also is pictured as having wings and feathers. This does not do away with the great preponderance of Scriptures indicating He has a shape. Jesus Himself said that His Father has a shape, John 5:37. Even today we talk about taking someone under our wing, or that somebody has ruffled our feathers. We donít literally have wings and feathers.

PROTESTANTISM

6. God is a blob. Protestants generally believe that God, being Spirit, can have no shape. They teach that the references to God having parts like a human being are anthropomorphisms. Why is it so hard for people to believe the plain statements of Scripture? After His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples in a locked room, as He was then composed of spirit.

CHURCH OF GOD

7. Passover. At the last Passover with His disciples, Jesus instituted the symbols of bread [unleavened] to represent His body broken for us, and wine [not grape juice] to represent His blood shed for us. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 11:23-26, that he received instructions from Jesus Himself that Christians are to keep the Passover [every Nisan 14] to remember His death until He returns. At that time He is going to drink wine again [NOT grape juice] with us in His Kingdom.

PROTESTANTISM

7. Communion. Protestants have substituted a communion service for Passover. This is a modified form of the Roman Catholic Eucharist. This is held at various times. Some hold it monthly; others, twice monthly; yet others have it three times a year; and yet others, every week. It can be celebrated with leavened bread and grape juice, as it was in the church I attended as a child.

 

CHURCH OF GOD

8. The afterlife. Heaven. The Bible teaches that at death the body is asleep in the grave until the resurrection. The first resurrection for the saved, and the second resurrection for the unsaved, Daniel 12:2; I Corinthians 11:30, 15:51; I Thessalonians 4:14. Christians are going to inherit the earth, Revelation 5:10; Matthew 5:5.

PROTESTANTISM

8. The afterlife. Heaven. Protestants teach that at death the saved go straight to heaven. John says that "no man has ascended into heaven." The New Testament says, "David has not ascended into heaven," Acts 2:34. I Corinthians 15:18 shows that if Christ had not risen from the dead, those who had "fallen asleep in Christ are perished." In other words, they could never come back to life again. They are not in heaven.

CHURCH OF GOD

9. The afterlife. Hell. The Scriptures say that the soul that sins shall die, Ezekiel 18:4. "The wages of sin is death, [not eternal life in hellfire] but the gift of God is eternal life," Romans 6:23. [c.f. Revelation 20:5-6, 11-14.]

PROTESTANTISM

9. The afterlife. Hell. Protestants twist Scriptures to support the doctrine inherited from Catholicism that the unsaved donít die but have eternal life in hellfire. The wages of sin is death, not eternal life in hellfire.

CHURCH OF GOD

10. Salvation. People who keep the Holy Days of God know that there are two harvests; the first small harvest, [the firstfruits] in the present age, and a later, greater harvest at the end of the millennium. Revelation 20:4-6.

PROTESTANTISM

10. Salvation. Protestants believe this is the only day of salvation, and those who are not saved in this life, even if they have never heard of Christ, are doomed to eternal hellfire. This doctrine is partly based on a mistranslation of II Corinthians 6:2, quoted from Isaiah 49:8, where the indefinite article is used. This doctrine is dishonoring to God. There are far more unbelievers than believers in the world, and if this doctrine was true, it would mean that Satan has more power than God, since he has many more followers.

CHURCH OF GOD

11. Sign of the Messiah. The only sign Jesus gave to the Pharisees of His Messiahship was that as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so He would be three days and three nights in the grave. The Church of God recognizes that Jesus was crucified late on Wednesday, and arose late on the Sabbath, so fulfilling the sign.

PROTESTANTISM

11. Sign of the Messiah. The apostle Paul taught that if any one preached another Christ from the one he [Paul] preached, he would be accursed, Galatians 1:8. In Paulís day, many were already preaching another Jesus, II Corinthians 11:4. Protestants, and all who keep Easter, are denying the true Jesus, and worship "another Jesus" who was in the grave only two days and one night, thereby denying the sign Jesus gave that He was the Messiah.

CHURCH OF GOD

12. Clean and unclean. God, who made all things, knows what is good for food and what is not. He has told us in His Word that certain creatures are unfit to eat. Without revelation we would not know what is fit to eat and what is not.

PROTESTANTISM

12. Clean and unclean. Protestants twist some of Paulís writings to justify their belief that anything edible is good to eat. The main passage to which they refer has nothing to do with the eating of food. The whole context of a passage has to be taken into consideration. The vision Peter had of the sheet being let down from heaven had nothing to do with clean or unclean animals, but with his attitude toward the Gentiles. This was years after Jesus returned to heaven and Peter still ate nothing unclean, Acts 10:11-11:18.

CHURCH OF GOD

13. Holy Spirit is the power of God, not a person. [See No. 5] This is the teaching both of the Old and New Testaments.

PROTESTANTISM

13. Holy Spirit is a person. This unbiblical doctrine came into the Roman Church from paganism, and teaches that the Holy Spirit is the third person of a closed trinity. The New Testament clearly shows that God is a Father and has a Son, Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth are named, Ephesians 3:14-15.

CHURCH OF GOD

14. The gospel. Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel. What was this gospel? It was the gospel of the Kingdom of God, Mark 1:14. It was the Gospel OF Christ, not a gospel ABOUT Christ. The gospel is a message from God about His coming Kingdom which Christ is going to establish at His return. Certainly the death and resurrection of Jesus are part of the gospel.

PROTESTANTISM

14. The gospel. Protestants preach a gospel ABOUT the person of Christ, and not the gospel which He came to bring from the Father. Many believe and teach that Christians are working to bring in the Kingdom of God on earth by their own efforts. This is a false gospel.

The foregoing doctrinal comparisons are necessarily brief, but serve to remind us of the tremendous heritage of truth which is ours and which we must never lose. The New Testament is a record of the struggle, particularly by Paul, to maintain true doctrine in the face of appalling obstacles, and which left Paul at the end of his life virtually alone in the battle. Satan is constantly seeking to subvert truth and the Church of God. And we today bear the scars of yet another satanic attack which has left a large Church of God in ruins, destroyed by those who were charged by Jesus Christ to uphold the true faith, but who allowed Satan to enter in. They forgot the lessons of Church history, and as the Spanish-American philosopher Santayana warned, "He who does not learn from history is condemned to repeat it." Friends, we have seen history repeated in ways we could never have imagined or possibly even believed. Let us who have left an apostate church take heed to ourselves and not think we are safe. The battle continues. At one time in his life, Paul, who accomplished so much, was still able to say that he had not yet attained to that to which Christ had called him. How much less can we? So let us remember that we have been called and chosen to serve and obey our Saviour, and to preserve the true faith and not lump ourselves in with all the apostate churches of Christendom, no matter how plausible they seem.

Many Church of God people now say that doctrine is unimportant, that love is the important thing. So how important is doctrine? According to II Thessalonians 2:13, the people of God were "called through sanctification and BELIEF OF THE TRUTH. When I left the Baptist Church to associate with the Worldwide Church of God, I did so because I discovered, after trying to prove them wrong, that they were teaching the true doctrines of the Holy Bible. The fact that the leaders of that Church later "changed the truth of God into a lie," does not alter the requirement for Christians to "Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," Jude 3. I agree that love is important, but we must have the right definition of love. Letís have a look at some Scriptural definitions of love. Jesus said, "If you LOVE me, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS." "He that has MY COMMANDMENTS and KEEPS them, he it is that is LOVING ME." "If a man LOVES Me, he will KEEP MY WORDS." "He that is NOT LOVING ME, is NOT KEEPING MY SAYINGS."

The apostle John wrote, "For this is the LOVE of God that we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS."

"He that says I know Him and KEEPS NOT HIS COMMANDMENTS IS A LIAR." "This is LOVE, that we WALK AFTER HIS COMMANDMENTS." So we can easily see that LOVE for God is not possible without KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS of God. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. The commandments of God are the true doctrines. God says, "I give you GOOD DOCTRINE, forsake ye not my LAW," Proverbs 4:2. In Isaiah 28:9, God tells us that those who are weaned from the milk, He makes to understand doctrine." [c.f., I Corinthians 3:3; Hebrews 5:12-13] Paul wrote to the Roman church, "God be thanked that you were the servants of sin, but you have OBEYED from the heart that form of DOCTRINE which was delivered you," Romans 6:17. His instructions to Timothy regarding doctrine are quite specific, "I besought you to abide still at Ephesus . . . that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine," I Timothy 1:3. Already at work in Paulís day were those who were perverting the true doctrines. "Put the brethren in remembrance of . . . good doctrine whereunto thou hast attained;" "give attendance to . . . doctrine;" "Take heed to thyself and unto the doctrine;" "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially those that labour in the word and doctrine," I Timothy 4:6, 4:13, 5:17. The watering down and even outright abandonment of the faith and doctrines once delivered to the saints is a direct fulfillment of Paulís prophecy in II Timothy 4:3-4, "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ó and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables." In Titus 1:9, a bishop is described as one who is "holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convict [Gk. elencho] the gainsayers." To Titus, Paul says, "speak the things which become sound doctrine," Titus 2:1.

Unfortunately today, many are being "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive," Ephesians 4:14.

Throughout the New Testament Scriptures, Paul constantly warns Christians against being deceived and being taken in by the philosophies and vain traditions of men. He was always at war against Gnostic heresies and every kind of false doctrine. So why would Jesus Christ allow heresies into His church? Paul gives us the answer in I Corinthians 11:19, "For THERE MUST BE ALSO HERESIES AMONG YOU THAT THEY WHICH ARE APPROVED MAY BE MADE MANIFEST AMONG YOU." There you have it. Christ is sorting out those who are truly His, those who are determined to follow their calling to "sanctification and a belief of the truth."

Are YOU determined to continue in the "faith once delivered to the saints," or are you one of those Paul prophesied would in the latter times "depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and DOCTRINES OF DEMONS"?

Christ has given to each one of us the responsibility to come out of Babylon, Revelation 18:4-6, to hold fast our crown; to keep THE FAITH; to maintain pure doctrine; to "Prove all things," II Thessalonians 5:21.

We are not obliged to believe, follow, or obey ANY minister who does not continue in the doctrines of the Bible. We are commanded to "test the spirits," I John 4:1. And Jesus especially commended those who "hast tried them which say they are apostles and hast found them liars," Revelation 2:2. May God give each of us the courage to keep the faith and remain in the love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and "lay hold of the hope set before us, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast and which enters into that within the veil; into which the forerunner, even Jesus has entered for us," Hebrews 6:18-20.

ó written by Steve Gough, Christian Biblical Church of God, P.O. Box 300-552, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand. W

Unhindered Power?

The revised Catholic Catechism, section, #882, states that the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peterís successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." Further, "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has FULL, SUPREME and UNIVERSAL POWER over the whole Church, a power which he can ALWAYS exercise UNHINDERED," (page 254). So, when you see a religious organization where the leader demands, and receives, unhindered power over the whole Church, for life, you know what kind of Church it is.