Church of God
The Church of God is the biblical name for God's Church. There are many denominations and churches that call themselves "Christian", but they also call themselves after the names of men, names of specific doctrines or names that are tied to geographical areas (e.g., Church of England). However, the Bible makes it quite clear that the Church is primarily that spiritual body that belongs to God ("of God"), rather than to men or narrow doctrines.
Origins of "Church"
The word "church" is only used in the New Testament of the King James Version. It is translated from the Greek word ekklesia, Strong's G1577. It is a compound word, and it is often translated "called out". However, there is much more to it, which is evident by the Strong's definitions.
In particular, "gathering" and "assembly" are frequently used in the various definitions, which shows that it is not just enough to think of the Church as being called out, but obviously it is called out in order to be called together. Peter makes it more obvious Christians are both called out and called together when he wrote:
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
~ 1Pe 2:9
To make it more clear, Christians are specifically called out of the world:
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Church of God
The biblical name for the church is "Church of God" (Ac 20:28; 1Co 1:2; 10:32; 11:16,22; 15:9; 2Co 1:1; Gal 1:13; 1Th 2:14; 2Th 1:4; 1Ti 3:5). One of the key verses, packed with a lot of theology, is Ep 3:14-15:
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
The Church is just the beginning of His family, and thus it is right and proper to be called after the name of the Father. Just as physical humanity is called "man", after the first man Adam, spiritual humanity is named after God.
This becoming part of the family of God is not just some mystical, metaphorical phrase like the evangelical term "born again" seems to mean, but it literally means becoming powerful beings, born again as spirit beings. This shows the importance of recognizing Who is in charge of not just the Church but the entire family of God, past, present and future.
Church of Christ
While Church of God is the proper name of the called out ones of this age, the Church is once in Scripture referred to as the "Church of Christ" (Ro 16:16). This is not improper, for Christ will marry the Church at His return (Ep 5:22-24, 32; Rev 19:7; cf 2Co 11:2).
However, the sheer number of references to "Church of God" over "Church of Christ" make it clear what the proper name should be.
The risen Christ addresses through John letters to seven congregations of the Church of God in what we now call Asia Minor (Rev 2-3). Paul writes many of his epistles to churches located "at" various locations. This shows it is not incorrect to refer to various congregations by their geographical location.
However, it is still evident, as already presented, that the proper name for God's Church overall is "Church of God". The Church belongs to God, not to some man, not to some specific doctrine, nor to an earthly location that might not even exist in a million years.
Simply put, saying "the church at xxx" location is shorthand for "Church of God located at xxx", as is evident in 1 Corinthians 1:2 where Paul refers to "the church of God which is at Corinth".
Keeps the Commandments
If a rose by any other name is just as sweet, it is equally true that calling a skunk a rose doesn't change its smell. It is not enough to simply have the name "Church of God". There are several Baptist and Pentecostal/Charismatic groups that use that name as well, but are they?
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.~ 2Co 11:14-15
Paul made it quite evident that ministers can claim to be the real deal even when they are really servants of Satan! The New Testament and even Jesus Christ Himself warned against following false teachers, false prophets and false christs.
This is not just a current problem. This was not just a New Testament era problem. It has been a problem since Adam and Eve of who to believe and why. The Old Testament even addresses this:
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
~ Isa 8:20
This may have been the verse Paul had in mind when he wrote of Satan transforming himself into an angel of light when he is in reality an agent of darkness. Over and over again, the Law is spoken of as a light (Ex: Ps 119:105).
The New Testament reinforces this in its entirety:
17 And the dragon [Satan] was wroth with the woman [spiritual Israel], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Jesus even plainly stated that He did not come to do away with the Law, contrary to how lawbreaking "ministers" (agents of darkness) want to twist it (Mt 5:15-18). One of the most obvious signs would be whether or not a particular organization upholds the Ten Commandments -- all of the Ten Commandments. That includes the fourth one:
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
God devoted four verses to this command alone! He only devoted one to murder!
It is interesting that the one command God said "remember" is the one in which people most like to forget. It is often called the "test commandment" because it was used to test Israel when they came out of Egypt. God tested them (Ex 16:4), whether or not they would rest instead of gathering manna on the seventh day.
Likewise, it is a test today. True Christians go against the grain of this wicked society and hold fast to God's commandments. Simply put, a real Church of God will be one with the proper name and will be keeping God's commandments, including the seventh day Sabbath.