We are a small group of Sabbath keeping Christians, who meet and fellowship in homes, usually in Sunbury, Victoria, Australia, but also other nearby areas. A number of our brethren also connect with us remotely, from other parts of Victoria, other states in Australia, and other countries.
In our past, we had regularly met at a community hall in Williamstown, Victoria, which came to describe us as the “Church of God in Williamstown”, or sometimes by others as the “Williamstown Church of God”. That hall in Williamstown no longer exists, and we no longer meet there.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
What is our Identity?
To Whom do we Belong?
We live in an age where many people want to know about their ancestry, their origins are, what has helped make them what they are, what the ancient connections, culture and traditions are that have contributed in shaping them. Such background history can be personally reassuring if found to be true.
On a larger scale nationalistic zeal that arrogantly asserts territorial, ethnic, cultural, religious claims and identity, leads to animosities, divisions, insurrections, wars, as we see throughout the world and particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
Who are we? What does the Bible say in identifying those called to the Faith Jesus Christ defines? (Acts 6:7; 14:22; 24:24; 2Cor 13:5; Eph 4:13; 1Tim 4:1; Rev 14:12)
Our identity is founded in the calling by God the Father and his beloved, only-begotten Son (1Cor 1:2,9,26-31; Eph 1:3-12; 1Pet 1:13; 1Jn 3:1; Jude 1; Rev 17:14). That calling is registered with the names of the followers of Jesus in the Book of Life (Phil 4:3; Rom 8:28-30; 1Cor 1:2-3,9; 1Pet 5:10; 1Jn 3:1; Jude 1; Rev 13:8; 19:9; Ex 32:33; Ps 69:28; Dan 12:1).
People may ask us, “What church do you belong to?” And what is generally meant is, ‘What denomination do you belong to?’
Heb 11 gives a partial list of OT faithful (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham [who waited for the City whose Builder and Maker is God, v 10], Sarah, Isaac, Jacob [they declare plainly that they seek a Fatherland, v 14], Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, (and many others) “had trials of mockings and scourgings, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, for God provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us” (Heb 11:36-40). God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a City for them (Heb 11:16).
That City is given other names in Heb 12:18-23. “You have come to Mt Zion, to the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev 21:9-12), to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect (i.e., OT saints as in Heb 11), to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Heb 12:22-24). Abel’s sacrifice looked forward to the Lamb of God, and after Christ’s sacrifice the saints see its fulfilment. The Epistle to the Hebrews gives the OT and NT faithful the same identity and the same promises. Abel foresaw the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as did Abraham (Heb 11:4,17-19). The followers of Jesus Christ since 30AD have seen fulfilled what was anciently foreseen and believed (Ps 2:1-12; 1Pet 1:10-12). So what ‘church’ did people like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, David belong to? They belong to God the Father and his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who are creating an eternal family (Eph 3:14-19). For additional proof of this latter sentence see Heb 1 and 2 and the numerous cross-references to the OT in these chapters.
There are various biblical names for followers of the Way, the Faithful (Ps 31:23-24). Many Scriptures reveal the identity of those who “keep the Commandments of God and have the Testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 12:17; 14:12):
Church of God: Acts 20:28; 1Cor 1:2; 10:32; 11:16,11:22; 15:9; 2Cor 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1Thess 1:1; 2:14; 2Thess 1:1,4; 1Tim 3:5,15; the Church: Mt 16:18; 18:17; Acts 5:11; 8:1; 12:1; 1Cor 16:19; Eph 3:10; Col 4:15,16; Rev 2:1; 3:14
The Oxford English Dictionary (2009) gives a lengthy explanation to the origin of the word ‘church’, which comes from the ancient Germanic languages (e.g., kerke; modern German, Kirche). It’s possible that the Greek kyriakon (of the Lord) is the basis for this origin. However, the NT Greek word often translated as church is ekklesia, whose root is kaleo, to call. Ekklesia means assembly, people called to meet with purpose (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol III, pp 487-536).
Children / sons of God: Jn 1:12; 11:52; Rom 8:16-17,8:21; 9:8; Phil 2:15; 1Jn 3:1-2,3:10; 5:2; Rev 7:3-4; 21:12
Disciples: Isa 8:16,20; Acts 6:1-2,6:7; 9:1,9:19,9:25; 11:26;14:21,14:22; 20:30; 21:4,21:16
The Elect: Isa 42:1; 45:4; 65:9,22; Mt 24:22,24; Rom 8:33; Col 3:12; Tit 1:1; 2Tim 2:10
Beloved: Ps 60:5; Mt 3:17; Rom 1:7; 9:25; 1Cor 4:14; 10:14; 2Cor 7:1; Phil 2:12; Heb 6:9; 1Pet 4:12; Jude 3
The Flock: Mt 26:31; Acts 20:28,29; 1Pet 5:2,3; Jer 25:34,35,36; Ezk 36:38; Amos 7:15; Mic 7:14; Zec 9:16
Followers (imitators of what is of God): 1Thess 1:6; 2:14; 1Pet 3:13
Believers: Acts 5:14; 2Cor 6:15; 1Tim 4:12; 6:2
Sojourners, pilgrims, strangers: Lev 25:23; Ps 39:12; 119:19; Heb 11:13; 1Pet 2:11
Slaves / servants of God and of Jesus Christ: Isa 42:1; 63:17; Ps 79:10; 113:1; Mt 12:18; Acts 4:29-31; 1Cor 4:1; Rev 6:11; 19:2; 22:3
Saints (NT hagioi – holy ones; OT qedoshim – holy ones; chasidim – the merciful ones): Dt 33:2,3; Ps 16:3; 30:4; 149:1; Prov 2:8; Zec 14:5; Mt 27:52; Acts 26:10; Rom 1:7; Col 1:2; Jas 1:16; Rev 5:8; 11:18; 18:24
Righteous ones: Ps 1:5,6; 11:5; 112:6; Hos 14:9; Mt 13:43; 25:37,46; 1Pet 4:18
God-fearers: Acts 10:2,10:22,10:35; 13:16,13:26; Ex 18:21; Dt 31:12-13
The Body: Col 1:18,24; Rom 12:5; 1Cor 12:12,13,14; Eph 1:22-23; 3:6; 4:4-6,4:12,4:16; 5:23-24
The Way (i.e., followers of): Gen 3:24; Psa 25:8; 119:1,119:30,119:32; 139:24; Isa 28:7; Jer 2:17; 21:8; 42:3; Jn 14:6; Acts 9:2; 18:26; 2Pet 2:2,21
Christians: Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1Pet 4:16; Chosen ones: Isa 43:20; 65:15; Rev 17:14
Firstfruits: Jer 2:3; Rom 16:5; 1Cor 15:20; 16:15; Jas 1:18; Rev 14:4
Israel of God: Gal 6:16; Nazarenes: Acts 24:5,14; 28:22
God’s people are also called: Assembly of the saints: Ps 89:5,7; 149:1; 40:9.10; 22:22; Assembly of Yahweh: Mic 2:5; Brethren: Ps 22:22; 133:1; Isa 66:20; Mat 23:8; 28:10; Jn 20:17; Rom 10:1; Heb 2:12; Rev 19:10; Churches of Christ: Rom 16:16; Church of Christ: Acts 20:24 (from the Aramaic, a.k.a. Assembly of the Messiah); Church of the firstborn: Heb 12:23; Congregation of the righteous: Ps 1:5; 111:1; House of God: 1Tim 3:15; Heb 10:21; 1Pet 4:17; House of Yahweh: Ps 23:6; 27:4; 92:13; Hos 8:1; the Remnant: Isa 1:9; 10:20-22; 17:3; 28:5; 46:3,4; Jer 23:3; 31:1-14; Ezk 6:8-10; Amos 5:15; Mic 2:12, 13; Zeph 3:13; Rom 9:27; 11:5; Zion: Joel 2:15; Ps 74:2; 125:1; Isa 4:3-5; Heb 12:22; Rev 14:1.
Our Commitment to the Faith
We, as faithful brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ in the Church of the living God (1Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19-22), through our wholehearted conviction in living by all the Scriptures according to the Spirit of Truth, have separated ourselves from man-made traditions, superstitions, and corporate structures (Rev 22:18-19; Dt 4:1-6; Ezk 34:2-6; Heb 12:25-29). Our spiritual battles help us identify with the disciples of Jesus Christ (Mt 10:34-36; Rom 7; Dan 11:32-35) who walked away from the culture of those who rejected the Tree of Life for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Mt 23:2,13,23, 28-36; Jn 8:37-47; 2Pet 3:1-3; Rom 1:16-32).
This Christian life challenges our decision-making as it did Abraham (Gen 12:1-4), Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Deborah, David, Hosea, Jeremiah, Paul, Lydia (Acts 16:14-15), and all the brethren from all nations (Heb 11:36-40; Ps 72:11,12,17; Isa 2:2; Mal 3:12; Mt 24:14; Lk 24:47; Rom 1:5; Rev 7:9). As our spiritual ancestors did, we follow the same Gospel (Gal 3:8; Jude 14), believing in one God, our Father, and Jesus Christ his Son, whom he sent, and that Jesus Christ is Creator (Col 1:16), Saviour (Jn 3:16-17), Redeemer (Isa 59:20), and Messiah (Jn 17:3; 2Tim 1:10; Jn 1:14,18; 13:20; 14:28; 20:17; Rev 1:6; 5:9-10). We are called to fulfil the Father’s Law, just as Christ gave us example by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 2:11-16; Mt 4:4; 5:17,5:48; 7:12). God’s Law includes the Ten Commandments (Rev 12:17; 14:12), Sabbaths and Festivals (Jn 17:17; Ps 119:97-104; Nah 1:15; Ezk 20:12-25; 2Jn 9-11), kept to their fullness (Mt 5:17; Rom 7:12,14). The Bible reveals we must live by the inspired Word of God (Dt 8:3; Mt 4:4; 2Tim 3:16).
As members of the Body of Christ, we meet (Heb 10:23-25), and will continue to fellowship with like-minded disciples of the Way (Acts 16:17; 18:26; 19:9, 23), who observe the Sabbaths and Festivals which outline the Gospel of Salvation (Lev 23; Ezk 20), and which we want to zealously and joyfully share with all those whom God is calling (Jn 6:44-45, 65-69; Jn 13:34-35). Like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12), we regard our Faith as an enduring personal responsibility of growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2Pet 3:17-18; Dt 30:15, 19-20; Jude 20-21; Rev 14:4,12; 19:7-9).
Our faith continues to be built on the foundation of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and Jesus Christ (Eph 2:19-22), and the God they worshipped (Jn 1:18; 17:3; 20:17; Col 1:2-4; Rev 1:5-6). We are commanded to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2Pet 3:18; Ps 19:14), and to become perfected as the Father in heaven is perfect (Mt 5:48). We strive to uphold all the teaching of the Scriptures (Isa 8:16,20); to be zealously obedient to the will of God (Rev 12:17; 14:12; Mt 4:4).
Despite the scattering of the sheep (Jer 23:1-3,20; Ezk 13:1-23; 34:1-24), we, as disciples of the Way (Jn 14:6; Acts 19:9), have God-given responsibility to share the grace given us (Gal 6:10; Heb 13:1,16; Jn 10:14-16), and so vital to the daily spiritual life of us all (1Jn 3:1-3).
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.