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Distinguishing Characteristics of the True Church


What did God do when the whole world came together as one and built the tower of Babylon to challenge Him? He confused their languages and forced them to spread out over all the earth. In the same way He protects His church today by confusing the Spiritual languages of His church. It makes it so much more difficult for satan to attack and take over the church, as He now has multiple churches to infiltrate and take over. All churches have some piece of truth that they overemphasize. We need balance restored in the churches, as it so easy to drift from the narrow straight path into the ditch on either side.

What did Jesus and the apostles teach about the true church? We have so many warnings about deception, about wolves in sheep’s clothing. We have to be prepared to critically analyze our churches against what the Word of truth teaches.

Characteristics of the true Church:

  • True church will have Missions and evangelize, do baptisms, will cast out demons, speak in new tongues, do deliverance, have poison immunity, will lay hands and pray for people, will have healings

[Mar 16:15-18 NKJV] 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

  • True church will often have Communion

[1Co 11:26 NKJV] 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

  • True church will wash each others Feet

[Jhn 12-17 NKJV] 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for [so] I am. 14 “If I then, [your] Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

  • True church will Fast

[Mat 9:14-15 NKJV] 14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

  • True church will be a body in unity carrying each others burdens and ministering to each other humbly in their offices and functions

[1Co 12:12, 14, 18, 20, 25-28 NKJV] 12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also [is] Christ. … 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. … 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. … 20 But now indeed [there are] many members, yet one body. … 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but [that] the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with [it]; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with [it]. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

[Rom 12:4-16 NKJV] 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, [let us use them]: if prophecy, [let us prophesy] in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, [let us use it] in [our] ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 [Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 [Be] kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

[Eph 4:11-13 NKJV] 11 And He Himself gave some [to be] apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

  • True church will give enough freedom for the Spirit to flow, and the members should participate orderly in the church service

[1Co 12:4-11 NKJV] 4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit [of all]: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another [different] kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

[1Co 14:26-33, 39-40 NKJV] 26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, [let there be] two or at the most three, [each] in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if [anything] is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not [the author] of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. … 39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

[Act 9:31 NKJV] 31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

[1Th 5:16-22 NKJV] 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

  • True church will speak the truth in love, have sound doctrine and teachings, not be full of rules and regulations

[Eph 4:14-16 NKJV] 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

[Heb 13:9 NKJV] 9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For [it is] good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. …

[Col 2:4, 6-10, 16-23 NKJV] 4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. … 6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. … 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in [false] humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase [that is] from God. 20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as [though] living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, [false] humility, and neglect of the body, [but are] of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

  • True church will hold each other accountable, turning members from sin with gentleness, with patience, producing godly sorrow, thus showing their love and care

[Jas 5:19-20 NKJV] 19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

[Gal 6:1-5 NKJV] 1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who [are] spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.

[2Co 7:1, 8-12 NKJV] 1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. … 8 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance [leading] to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, [what] clearing [of yourselves], [what] indignation, [what] fear, [what] vehement desire, [what] zeal, [what] vindication! In all [things] you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, [I did] not [do it] for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.

[Rom 15:1-2, 5-7, 14 NKJV] 1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please [his] neighbor for [his] good, leading to edification. … 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind [and] one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. … 14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

[1Th 5:14-15 NKJV] 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

  • True church should excommunicate sinners and people that cause strife or division

[Mat 18:15-17 NKJV] 15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 “And if he refuses to hear them, tell [it] to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

[Rom 16:17-18 NKJV] 17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

  • True church will have Elders

[Act 14:23 NKJV] 23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

[Tit 1:4-9 NKJV] 4 To Titus, a true son in [our] common faith: Grace, mercy, [and] peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. 5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you– 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

  • True church will have healings and anointing with oil, confession of sins to each other, praying for each other

[Jas 5:14-16 NKJV] 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess [your] trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

  • True church will have faith and love that becomes action in hospitality, ministering to prisoners and the mistreated and less privileged

[Heb 13:1-3 NKJV] 1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so [doing] some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them–those who are mistreated–since you yourselves are in the body also.

[Jas 2:14-20, 24, 26 NKJV] 14 What [does it] profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what [does it] profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? … 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. … 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

[1Jo 3:13-19 NKJV] 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love [his] brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.

[Mat 25:31-36, 40-46 NKJV] 31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides [his] sheep from the goats. 33 “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 ‘I [was] naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ … 40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did [it] to one of the least of these My brethren, you did [it] to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 ‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do [it] to one of the least of these, you did not do [it] to Me.’ 46 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  • True church will look after Widows and orphans

[Jas 1:27 NKJV] 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

[Act 6:1, 3, 6 NKJV] 1 Now in those days, when [the number of] the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. … 3 “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of [good] reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; … 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.

  • True church will collect offerings so that it can take care of pastors and the other members

[Gal 6:1-10 NKJV] 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

[1Co 9:4-11 NKJV] 4 Do we have no right to eat and drink? 5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as [do] also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or [is it] only Barnabas and I [who] have no right to refrain from working? 7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? 8 Do I say these things as a [mere] man? Or does not the law say the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say [it] altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, [this] is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, [is it] a great thing if we reap your material things?

  • True church will be a place of praise, doing good and sharing

[Heb 13:15-16 NKJV] 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of [our] lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

The letters by Jesus to the churches in revelation, clearly explains what Jesus expects from His church. All have some good and bad characteristics.

  • Ephesus commended for their works and patient endurance but scolded for losing their first love. You can be the perfect church and do all of the above correctly, but still miss the mark if you do put Jesus first and central to all you do.
  • Smyrna commended for their steadfastness in tribulation and sufferings, and while being slandered when satanists hid among them. No scolding
  • Pergamum commended for holding fast his name and not denying the faith. Scolded for eating food sacrificed  to idols, practicing sexual immorality and teaching bad doctrines.
  • Thyatira commended for works, love, faith, service and patient endurance. But scolded for harboring Jezebel!
  • Sardis had nothing good said about it. Scolded for having incomplete works. Our works show the state of our faith and love. If we do not produce the correct works, the correct fruit, then we do not have the correct Faith or Love!
  • Philadelphia commended for their works, keeping the word and not denying His name and their patient endurance. The only church promised to be kept from the hour of trial. No scolding
  • Laodicea no commendation. Scolded for being luke-warm, not realizing their dependence on God, and trusting in their own provision.

So in Jesus’ own words, the true church will have these attributes or characteristics:

  • Has complete works,
  • has patient endurance,
  • is steadfastness in tribulation and suffering,
  • holds fast His name,
  • does not deny the faith,
  • has love that becomes action,
  • serves,
  • keeps his Word.

Jesus disapproves of churches:

  • that do not love and keep Him central,
  • allows idols,
  • allows sexual immorality,
  • has bad doctrines,
  • allows spiritual infestations like Jezebel to take hold,
  • has incomplete works,
  • is luke-warm, lacking zeal, trusts in their own provision and not God’s.

And from the teachings of the apostles and other teachings of God, the true church:

  1. Will have Missions and will evangelize, do baptisms, will cast out demons, speak in new tongues, do deliverance, have poison immunity, will lay hands and pray for people, will have healings
  2. will often have Communion
  3. will wash each others Feet, and humbly serve each other – won’t put leaders or each other on a pedestal
  4. will Fast
  5. will be a body in unity carrying each others burdens and ministering to each other humbly in their offices and functions
  6. will give enough freedom for the Spirit to flow, and the members will participate orderly in the church service
  7. will speak the truth in love, have sound doctrine and teachings, not be full of rules and regulations
  8. will hold each other accountable, turning members from sin with gentleness, with patience, producing godly sorrow, thus showing their love and care
  9. will as last resort excommunicate sinners and people that cause strife or division
  10. will have Elders
  11. will have healings and anointing with oil, confession of sins to each other, praying for each other
  12. will have faith and love that becomes action in hospitality, ministering to prisoners and the mistreated and less privileged
  13. will look after Widows and orphans
  14. will collect offerings so that it can take care of pastors and the other members
  15. will be a place of praise, doing good and sharing

But what does the church consist of? The family is the building blocks of the church. We can only become the true church if firstly, we are prepared to assume these characteristics in our own families. And secondly, we can only become the true church if we as individuals are prepared to assume these characteristics in our own lives. If these characteristics is not a part of your life individually, if it is not a way of life in the family, how can it truly manifest in His church? If it only surfaces on Sundays it’s an act, a show or mask we out on for a day to please our conscience.

Realize that all will face the judgement of Christ. The lost to condemnation for their bad works. But we also will be judged. Not for our bad works, those are forgiven, but we will be judged on our good works. An unbalanced teaching on grace, produces the luke-warm Laodicean church. As we have seen, your works is just as important as your Faith. You faith is dead if it does not become works. Your love is useless if it does not become tangible works. Your church is not approved of by God, if it has incomplete works. The only time works are condemned, is if you try to save to save yourself by it! Your works (fruit) proves that your faith and love has become genuine and you are indeed an overcomer.

So let’s become a church that Jesus can commend and not scold. That would disciple and motivate its members to be the people God wants them to be. Let’s have our faith and our love become real action and not just lip service. Let’s find the right balance and stay on the narrow path that leads to salvation. Let’s have our master say to us, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’