Category Archives: B. Biblical Doctrine of “Church”

The Meaning and Results of Apostasy, the Final Outcome of Gospel Preaching, the Social Gospel, Emphasis on the Word of God, the Three Directions of Liberal Preaching, the Only Solution to Racism and all the Problems of Mankind, How Men Become Brothers no Matter Their Color, the Only Way to Transform Mankind

Modifications of Non-Copyrighted Comments of Dr. J. Vernon McGee
Published August 22, 2017

In 2 Timothy, an ominous dark cloud is seen on the horizon. It is the coming apostasy. Today, apostasy has broken like a storm, like a Texas tornado, on the world and in the churches. Webster defines apostasy as “total desertion of the principles of faith.” So apostasy is not due to ignorance; which results in heresy. Apostasy is deliberate error. It is intentional departure from the faith. An apostate is one who knows the truth of the gospel and the doctrines of the faith, but he has repudiated them.

Paul in 2 Timothy speaks of the ultimate outcome of gospel preaching. The final fruition will not be the total conversion of mankind, nor will it usher in the millennium. On the contrary, there will come about an apostasy which will well-nigh blot out the faith from the earth. In fact, there are two departures that will occur at the end of the age: One is the departure from the faith. Luke 18:8  “… Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” This, in context demands a negative answer. The other is the departure of believers, those who are members of the family of God, which is what we call the “rapture.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”).

This view is not in keeping with the social gospel today which expects to transform the world by tinkering with the social system. Such vain optimists have no patience with the doleful words of 2 Timothy. The cold and hard facts of history and the events of the present hour demonstrate the accuracy of Paul. We are now in the midst of an apostasy which is cut to the pattern of Paul’s words in remarkable detail.

Most churches have entered the orbit of an awful apostasy. A remnant of New Testament churches are not affected. All members of the family of God are on their way to glory. I believe that many true believers attend apostate churches, not knowing enough about Bible principles to know of the apostasies of the churches they attend. For example, many believers attend corporate 501c3 churches without understanding that such status grieves our Lord who “loved the church and gave himself for it.” Pastors, leaders, “Christian” lawyers, etc. of such churches are either apostates (know the truth but depart from it) or do not know the truth and are therefore heretics.

Because of the threat of apostasy, Paul emphasizes the Word of God here more than he does in any other epistle. In fact, both Paul and Peter agree. Each of them in his “swan song” (2 Timothy and 2 Peter) emphasizes the Word of God and the Gospel.

My friend, the gospel rests upon a tremendous fact, and that fact is the total depravity of man. In other words, man is  a lost sinner. Someone has put it like this:

  • “Where education assumes that the moral nature of man is capable of improvement, traditional Christianity assumes that the moral nature of man is corrupt and absolutely bad. Where it is assumed in education that an outside human agent may be instrumental in the moral improvement of men, in traditional Christianity it is assumed that the agent is God, and even so, the moral nature of man is not improved but exchanged for a new one.

Man is in such a state that he cannot be saved by perfect obedience—because he cannot render it.  Neither can he be saved by imperfect obedience—because God will not accept it.

Therefore, the only solution is the gospel of the grace of God which reaches down and saves the sinner on the basis of the death and resurrection of Christ. Faith in Christ transforms human life. We have a showcase today all over this land of a relatively small number of men and women who have been transformed by the gospel of the grace of God.

Liberal preaching, instead of presenting the grace of God to sinful man, goes out in three different directions. From some liberal pulpits we hear what is really popular psychology. It majors in topics such as this: “How to Overcome” or “How to Think Creatively” or “How to Think Affirmatively or Positively,” or “How to Drive Your Life Purposely.” It says we are on the way upward and onward forever! That is popular psychology, and it is not getting anyone anywhere.

A second type of liberal preaching involves ethics. It preaches a nice little sweet gospel—a sermonette preached by a preacherette to Christianettes. The message goes something like this: “Good is better than evil because it’s nicer and gets you into less trouble.” The picture of the average liberal church is that of a mild-mannered man standing before a group of mild-mannered people, and urging them to be more mild-mannered! There’s nothing quite as insipid as that. No wonder the Lord Jesus said to the church of Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor how, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3.15, 16). That would make anybody sick to his tummy. That’s another reason I call these people Alka-Seltzer Christians. They’re not only fizz, foam, and groth, but they cause you to need an Alka-Seltzer.

Then there is the third type of liberal preaching which is called the social gospel. They preach better race relations, pacifism, social justice, the Christian social order, and union of church and state (church and state working with, over or under the other; church incorporation and 501c3 are two of many manifestations of this relationship). It is Christian socialism pure and simple.

In contrast, when the true gospel is preached and men come to Christ, they all become brothers. We don’t need all this talk about better race relations. You cannot create better relationships by forcing people together. Only the gospel of the grace of God will make a man into a brother of mine. When that happens, the color of a man’s skin makes no difference at all.

The solution of man’s problems can come only through the grace of God. We need to recognize that God creates out of nothing. Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing of him. The grace of God through Jesus Christ is the way to transform and save mankind. That is what 2 Timothy teaches, and that is why it is important to study 2 Timothy.

Click here to go to God’s Plan of Salvation.

For a Bible study of 2 Timothy, click here.

The Local Church: A Building or What?

Is this a church?
Is this a church?

Many call the building they meet in a “church.” According to the Bible, is that building really a church? Or is the church something else according to the word of God? What is a church? Read the Scriptures cited below then listen to the study which is partially quoted and linked to below for some answers.

Ephesians 2:19-22 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 11.3 “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

Hebrews 9:1-15:  “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.  For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.  And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.  But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

Thus, one can see that God does not dwell in a building and never has. He did not dwell in the Temple. See, e.g., 1 Kings 8.27. Today, the Holy Spirit dwells in believers. When they come together, they are a church (an assembly) who form a spiritual organism. See 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. When they leave the building, if indeed they are meeting in a building, when they turn off the lights and go home, the Holy Spirit (God) is not in that building and the church is no longer in that building. If they meet under a bridge, the church is under that bridge while they meet there. If none of those who come together are born again believers, baptized into that church, then they are not a Bible church since the Holy Spirit indwells none of them.

Some excerpts from a radio teaching by Dr. J. Vernon McGee on 1 Kings 5 (the complete teaching is linked to at the end):

“Man has been a builder from the beginning. In Genesis 4.17 we are told that Can “builded a city and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” The face of the earth is scarred by great mounds that hide the ruins of great cities and splendid buildings of the past. The spade of the Archaeologist has penetrated into the depths, and you can judge each civilization by the height of the buildings. There are those who say that the cave men of the Stone Age (if they ever existed) were barbarians and uncivilized. They were not builders but sought refuge in caves. The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans are all counted as civilized, and it is evidenced in their architecture. Modern man claims a high degree of culture because he has built subdivisions and shopping centers, apartment buildings, and tall office buildings. Today man is building his own cave in which to live and work—like a gopher. The rest of the time he crawls on the freeway like a worm. As long as he can push a button and turn a switch, he says he is living. That is modern man.

“The first buildings of impressive design were the temples. All pagan peoples had temples. Some temples were crude; others, such as the Parthenon in Greece, were the highest expression of beauty. All of this building stems from the Tower of Babel, which was a monument to man’s gargantuan resistance to God. Pagan temples have always been the highest architectural expression, but the pagans who have attended, both civilized and uncivilized, have been on the lowest spiritual level. These temples have been elaborate, large, ornate, rich, and impressive. The temples of the kings on the River Nile, Asshur of Ninevah, Marduk of Babylon, the ziggurats in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, Baal of the Phoenicians, Athena of the Greeks, and in Athens the Parthenon, Jupiter of the Romans, the Aztec temples of Mexico—all of them are manifestations of rebellion against God.

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). What did they do? They built temples, changing “the glory of uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1.23). Each made a house for his god to live in. They put their gods in a box like a jack-in-the box.

“The temple Solomon built was never considered in Scripture as a house in which God would live….

“The temple was complicated. The simplicity of the tabernacle was lost…. There is an application for us. We are living in a day when the emphasis in put on methods rather than on the word of God. The church is filled with new programs and new methods.

“When I first began my ministry I pastored a little white church on a red clay hill in Georgia, surrounded by a cotton patch….

“The second thing to notice about the Temple was that Solomon made little windows of narrow lights. There had been no windows in the tabernacle. … The people no longer depended upon divine light as they had in the tabernacle….

“ … The temple was more ornate and gaudy than the tabernacle, and there was more ceremony and ritual connected to it.

“Notice how complicated the temple is in comparison to the tabernacle. …”

For the full study go to the Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s teaching on 1 Kings 5 by clicking here.

For more on the misconception of the meaning of church, see “Sustaining Property Tax,” an article by Winnie Varghese which shows her complete misunderstanding of the meaning of “church.” Her type of church is a place of pagan worship.

For a more thorough study, see The Biblical Doctrine of the Church.

END

 

Expose And Reject The Teachings and Methods of Church Organization Con-Artists and Charlatans

Jerald Finney
May, 2016

This article concerns those who falsely claim legal expertise in the area of church/state relations and ends with Bible justification for standing against forces of darkness which invade the arena of church organization in America.

A remnant of believers in America seek to do all things the Bible way, God’s way. One perplexing and somewhat complex matter for those believers concerns the organization of a New Testament church. Believers who study and believe the New Testament quickly come across passages which make clear that Christ wants his churches to be under Him only. Some of those believers, including some of God’s good pastors, seek help in organizing churches. Tragically, many come in contact with and rely on charismatic pseudo-Biblical/legal experts.

Truly, a believer must be well-studied in both the relevant Bible and legal principles in order to intelligently and correctly organize a church such that she remains under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ (Scripture) only. Knowing the Bible without true legal competence is a recipe for disaster. For example, the Ecclesiastical Law Center alleges Bible as opposed to legal solutions to church organization, but due to legal incompetence organizes churches legally, not Scripturally.

Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies often stated that he wanted to be a brain surgeon. Some pastors are wannabe “lawyers,” some even going so far as to claim lawyer status even though they never produce any reliable proof of such and even though a diligent examination of their attempts to keep churches under the authority of God and the Scriptures only belie their claim. Of course, few if any believers have the time to check out what they are told about such matters and many follow people who are skilled “Christian” con-artists and charlatans. Most get to liking and even loving their misguided mentors and many lash out at anyone who would try to discredit them. It is hard to confront uncomfortable or damnable truths about those one loves.

Complicating the matter is the fact that many “Christian” lawyers either prove to be incompetent or are trained in the law but not studied in the Bible. Their standard for all matters in faith and practice is not the Bible. Their authority for all matters is the law. As they amass their earthly fortunes, they teach and apply legal, not Bible, principles. For example, David Gibbs relies on the Internal Revenue Service, not the Bible, definition of “church,” and instructs churches to become legal, not spiritual or New Testament entities. These spiritual/legal con-artists, while deceiving and being followed by multitudes, also cause some to distrust all lawyers without further examination.

For years, this lawyer shied away from confronting false teachers. For example, he knew for many years that the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”) was not qualified to deal with church and state matters even though they falsely claim to have “Bible” as opposed to “legal” solutions to church organization. His attitude was that it is up to believers seeking help to sort out and apply good versus bad advice; and, additionally, he did not wish to attack the ELC because he knew and liked one of their leaders who spoke at his church on the subject of church organization several years before he delved into an extended study of Bible (first), and historical (second), principles and methods of church organization. After completing that study, he studied law to assure that he correctly navigated around the legal landscape in a manner which did not inadvertently result in organization of a church as a legal, as opposed to spiritual only, entity.

However, after coming in contact with many of good men of God who were deceived and who parroted the ridiculous rhetoric, the false teachings, and the foolish and unlearned questions of the ELC and after witnessing relentless and untrue ELC attacks against others over a period of years, this author finally took the time to do an examination of the ELC and their teachings. The result was an online booklet, Ecclesiastical Law Center Exposed.

The corporation sole and Internal Revenue Code § 508 method of church organization is another scam used by skilled but unethical charlatans to deceive the unwary. Critique of “Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole” Website exposes that fraudulent deception.

So far the message of this article to believers and churches seeking help in organizing New Testament churches is, “Beware of false teachers and unskilled pseudo-lawyers.” Do your homework. Look at qualifications and testimonies. Seek truth and apply it, even if you must confront false methods and teachings of others you love. Base all conclusions on Bible precepts and verifiable facts.

Now to the question, “Why is this article justified, under God?” What is the Bible basis for exposing deceivers? As soldiers of the Lord, one is to contend against the forces of darkness, to fight the good spiritual fight of faith. Only a few of many verses which support this conclusion are quoted:

Speaking of deceptions within the churches, Jude wrote: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities…. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” Jude 3-4, 8.

Ep.6.10-12As to Christ’s relationship with his churches, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27. Speaking to the church at Corinth, he said: “For I am jealous over you  with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2-3.

Fight the good fight. Keep the faith. Expose false methods and teaching in all matters, including the preeminent  area of church organization. Make sure you get it right. Is not the Lamb of God worthy of your diligence efforts to keep his body pure and undefiled?

The Coming Universal Church Will Reign with the Lord


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 19, 2012


Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: The Coming Universal Church Will Reign with the Lord

Click here to listen to and/or download Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on “The church will reign with the Lord. Note that this audio teaching was significantly revised by this revised article on January 29,2013.


The Biblical Doctrine of the Church has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on this and other subjects related to the doctrine of the church.


Note. This is a significantly revised version of Section II, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. 


The Coming Universal Church Will Reign with the Lord

6Several so-called universal “churches” were instituted and built by those who did not honor the word of God. Those “churches” killed untold millions of what they deem to be heretics (many of whom were born-again believers who refused to bow down to the false religion-state) while leading multitudes to hell since the initiation of the first such “church” in the early fourth century. Nonetheless, true believers in Christ, even in martyrdom, have always rejoiced in exceeding gladness. They will become members of the universal visible church which will be established at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

1As explained in the last article, no universal church exists on earth. Rather, unbiblical “ universal” religious organizations were organized by the god of this world: first the Catholic “church,” then the Protestant “churches,” and many religious offshoots from biblical heresies and apostasies. Due to a lack of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, some believers join or continue alongside the lost members of those organizations. Those believers are out of order. God’s desire is for them to seek out a local, autonomous, New Testament Church—i.e., a church which orders herself according to the principles of the New Testament. Only in such churches is the service of God in biblical order; and properly ordered New Testament churches have continuously existed since Jesus Christ ordained the institution of the church. Jesus said to Peter, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18).

In spite of the steady movement toward the foretold end time political and religious Babylon, true Christians have the ultimate hope: they will reign with the Lord. This should be a cause for great rejoicing as well as incentive to be responsible members of the body of Christ, to make sure that every effort is made to glorify God, and  to assure that the individual, his family and the church he is a member of remains totally under Christ in every way.

The Holy Spirit is now calling out, not the subjects, but the co-heirs and co-rulers of the kingdom:

  • Mt5.10-122 Ti. 2.11-12: “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us;”
  • Re. 1.6: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen;”
  • Re. 3.21: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne;”
  • Re. 5.10: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth;”
  • Ro. 8.15-18: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us;”
  • 1 Co. 6.2-3: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?”

3“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5.10-12).

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (He. 12:22-24).

Apostasy at the End of the Church Age

Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 19, 2012

Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Apostasy at the End of the Church Age”

Click here to download and listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the “Apostasy at the end of the church age.”

The Biblical Doctrine of the Church has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on this and other subjects related to the doctrine of the church.

Note. This is a modified version of Section II, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. 

Re.3.16

The Lord says to the church of the Laodiceans, at the end of the church age and at the final stage of the apostasy:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Re. 3.15-19).

Many pastors believe that the saved will go to heaven but be without rewards should they not follow after Christ after salvation. Pastor Joey Faust states the following concerning the church at Laodicea:

“To fall from, one has to be in something first. I believe Laodicea is a church made up of TRUE (thus real) Christians, who nevertheless have fallen away from truth and fellowship with Jesus in their materialism, pride, etc. This church and its pastor (and all true churches in the last days who are Laodicean) will lose the right to reign and fellowship with Jesus when He appears—thus the Lord’s command to be zealous and repent” (See J.D. Faust, The Rod: Will God Spare It? (Hanesville, N.C.: Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc. 2002))!

Whether one agrees with Pastor Faust or not concerning this issue, the Bible shows that at the end of the church age, the Lord will be outside the Laodicean church (Re. 3.20). Nonetheless, He will still be there for the individual, just as He, while on earth as the second Adam, still appealed to the individual after the nation Israel rejected His rule over the nation: “If any man will hear my voice, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Ibid.).

UnionOfChurchAndStateThe final result of the apostasy will be the great ecclesiastical harlot spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18. In Revelation 17 is mystery Babylon, the apostate church (J. Vernon McGee, Revelation, Volume 1, p. 89). Dr. McGee states:

“… The church of Thyatira, described in Revelation 2.18-29, which permitted Jezebel to teach, will become the apostate church of the great tribulation. It will attain the goal of the present-day apostates of all the great systems of the world: Romanism, Protestantism, pagan religions, cults and isms. Even in our so-called independent Bible churches there will be those who are not believers, and during the tribulation they will join this great organization that may call itself a church but is not. The Bible calls it a harlot….  This is ecumenical ecclesiasticism of the one-world church….”

True believers will not go through the God’s wrath; they will be raptured out before the wrath of God begins. Keep in mind that tribulation is not the wrath of God. Professing believers who are not saved will be left here on this earth when authentic Christians are raptured. As Dr. George Gill used to say, some churches will meet the Sunday after the rapture and will not miss a member…. They are churches in earthly name only.  They are harlots. The last so-called church is a pseudo-religious system, which is hated by the political beast. The Beast will destroy the harlot in order to set up his own religion.”

1

True believers will be glorified (Mt. 13.36-43; Ro. 8.18-23). The Lord will rapture the dead in Christ: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4.16-17).

Universal Church Heresy
Universal Church Heresy

I believe Dr. McGee, C.I. Scofield, and many others—including many fundamental “Baptists” who should know better and would know better if they studied the Bible and their history on the issue–are wrong in their understanding of a “true or universal church.” See “C.I. Scofield’s ‘True Church’ Doctrine”. True believers, according to many Bible students and scholars, will not go through the great tribulation, but will not experience the wrath of God which follows. Some believers make a good argument for a mid-tribulation rapture and many for a post-tribulation rapture. Regardless, the Bible never mentions a “true church” or a “universal church.” “A church” or “the church” is mentioned. However, to go from there to a “true church” or a “universal church” prior to the marriage supper of the Lamb is a leap unsupported by Scripture. Only in the heavenly Jerusalem will a general assembly (what could be called a universal church) come into existence. The “true church” or “universal church” doctrine is responsible for totally disordered churches (which includes most fundamental and fundamental Baptist churches), many of whose doctrines are totally off-base according to biblical church doctrine.

rapturesThe author challenges anyone to take the Bible and prove him wrong; he believes that it cannot be done; but if he can be shown that Bible truth proves him wrong, he will repent publically and adjust his teachings accordingly. The author has been proven to be open minded. He has come to his conclusions based upon many years of study of the Bible, the only source which can give the correct answer. He had to abandon much of what he had been taught over twenty-five years of faithful church membership and attendance. Of course, over that period he had not been taught much, because most pastors do not get into the deeper things of God (such as the doctrine of the church, the doctrine of government, the doctrine of separation of church and state, etc.) with the church bodies they are entrusted with. As one pastor who will go unnamed said,” I don’t do that because many of the members of ____ Church would not bear it.” Most pastors learn their doctrine of the church from Bible College of from other Fundamentalists who have bought the traditional anti-scriptural teachings on this matter.

This alleged “true church” doctrine was used to justify the Protestant and Catholic doctrines of universal visible and universal invisible church. This in turn was a basis for the doctrine of union of church and state, the doctrine of sacraments, and will be used by the great spiritual harlot to establish spiritual Babylon in the end times. Of course, this was never an historical Baptist doctrine because it is contrary to the teaching of the Bible. Many or most so-called Baptists in America today have betrayed their roots and many biblical doctrines to one degree or another. Most are nothing more than Protestants and many fall so far that they are nothing more than “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Ecclesiastical Babylon (apostate Christendom, the harlot whom many biblical scholars logically conclude will be headed up under the Papacy and which will at that time condone every iniquity of the rich and will be corrupted to the core by commercialism, wealth, and luxury; the “universal church on earth”) will be destroyed by political Babylon, that is by the nations; and political Babylon, the nations, will be crushed by Christ when they come against Israel at the end of the tribulation (See Re. 17.15-18). All this will happen because men choose to succumb to Satan’s principles in order to satisfy their lusts.

13

Jesus proclaimed, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He was speaking of the institution of the church which was to be made up of local, autonomous, spiritual bodies. Paul, in his epistles laid out the doctrine of the church. The only “churches” one sees in the Bible on earth until the marriage supper of the lamb, are local, autonomous spiritual bodies. One can refer to the other chapters in this section on the biblical doctrine of the church for much more information on this matter.

There will one day be a “universal church.” “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (He. 12:22-23). That church will come into existence at the marriage of the Lamb: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Re. 19:7-8). “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Re. 21:9-10).

bridewaitingUntil the universal church is established by Jesus Christ, we should listen to Jesus and Paul on this matter. Jesus said, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish…. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Ep. 5:25-27, 30). Paul wrote, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Co. 11:2).

 

Heresy and Apostasy


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 19, 2012


Click here to go to “Self-Exam Questions: Heresy and Apostasy”


 Note. This is a modified version of Section II, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application.


Heresy and Apostasy

2Th2.3Prior to the return of the Lord, the visible churches, except for a remnant, will go into apostasy. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Th. 2.3-4).

1“Apostasy, ‘falling away,’ is the act of professed Christians who deliberately reject revealed truth (1) as to the deity of Jesus Christ, and (2) redemption through His atoning and redeeming sacrifice (1 John 4.1-3 [‘Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.’]; Phil. 3.18 [‘For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:”]; 2 Pet. 2.1 [“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.’]). Apostasy truthdiffers therefore from error concerning truth, which may be the result of ignorance (Acts 19.1-6 [‘And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake 7with tongues, and prophesied.’]), or heresy, which may be due to the snare of Satan (2 Tim. 2.25, 26 [‘In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.’]), both of which may consist with true faith. The apostate is perfectly described in 2 Tim. 4.3, 4 [‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away theirears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables.’]. Apostates depart from the faith, but not from the outward profession of Christianity (2 Tim. 3.5 [‘Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away.’]). Apostate teachers are described in 2 Tim. 4.3 [“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.]; 2 Pet. 2.1-19 [quoted here in part: ‘But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: … But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; …  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; ….These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live Balaamin error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.’]; Jude 4, 8, 11-13, 16 [‘For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…. Likewise also thesefilthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities…. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the Judgment3error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.’].  Apostasy in the church, as in Israel (Isa. 1.5, 6; 5.5-7), is irremediable, and awaits judgment (2 Thes. 2.10-12 [‘And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’]; 2 Pet. 2.17, 21 [‘These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever…. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.’]; Jude 11-15; Rev. 3.14-16)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to 2 Ti. 3.1, p. 1280). [Bold emphasis mine].

Inevitably, there is no remedy for apostasy but judgment. (Is. 1.2-7, 24, 25; He. 6.4-8; 10.26-31. For example, Noah preached for 120 years, won no converts, and the judgment predicted by his great-grandfather fell (Jude 14, 15; Ge. 7.11)).

Lk.18.8b“Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth” (Lu. 18.8b)?  The reference is not to personal faith, but to belief in the whole body of revealed truth (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Lu. 18.8, p. 1101; see, e.g., Ro. 1.5; 1 Co. 16.13; 2 Co. 13.5; Col. 1.23, 2.7; Tit. 1.13; Jude 3). “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Ti. 4.1).

Ga.1.8-9In the New Testament, the apostasy was treated as having already set in. In fact, the Asian churches had not disbanded, nor ceased to call themselves Christian; but they had turned away from the doctrines of grace distinctively revealed through the Apostle Paul. Thus, even in the beginning of the church, the apostle Paul and Jude were concerned with the tendency to depart from the faith due to the influence of false teachers:

  • “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you; and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.6-8).
  • “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

Many of our churches today, even many of our independent Bible believing churches, have perverted the gospel of Christ and turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness (“Looseness; irregular indulgence of animal desires; wantonness; lustfulness; Tendency to excite lust, and promote irregular indulgences” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “LASCIVIOUSNESS.”). even though perhaps they have not verbally denied our Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

19Gentile world apostasy comes in seven stages:

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Ro. 1.21-23).

As a result of this worldwide Gentile apostasy, mankind sinks to the depths of depravity:

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents. Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them”  (Ro. 1.24-32).

Pope20The apostasy is usually introduced by ungodly men who will “wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Ti. 3.13).  Our Lord warned against false teachers:

  • “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mt. 7.15).
  • “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mt. 7.21-23).
  • “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Mt. 24.4-5).
  • “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Mt. 24.11).
  • “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mk. 13.22).
  • “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5.19).
  • “But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15.9).

The Lord is obviously warning that many of His children will be deceived by the many false prophets which shall arise. With heresy and apostasy, the God-given doctrines and goal for churches and for Christians are left in the dust. The goal or purpose of most churches and “Christians” is the happiness of man and not the glory of God. They ask “What can God do for me,” not “What can I do for God?” Their purpose for giving, for doing, and for going to church is to get something back from God. Many believers today, many in allegedly independent Bible believing churches, are being deceived about many biblical doctrines, including the doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state. As a result, they are, among other things, incorporating, operating as unincorporated associations, and becoming 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations. Section VI of God Betrayed (PDFonline version) and Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches—Spiritual or Legal Entities (PDFonline version) discuss incorporation and tax exempt status of churches in some detail, and will explain ways that a church can hold property and also please God.

As a result, God is not glorified at all. Everything in the ultimate modern American church is for self—the headship, the “Bibles,” the doctrines taught, the preaching, the music, the dress, the goal, everything.

5Peter, Paul, and Jude traced the origin of apostasy to false teachers, explained their methods of operation, and warned the churches to beware of the apostasy:

  • “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing he flock: Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Ac. 20.28-31).
  • “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.8-9).
  • “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you” (Ga. 3.1)?
  • “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Co. 11.19).
  • “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Co. 11.4).
  • “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Tit. 1.10-11).
  • “Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Ti. 4.1-2).
  • “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Ti. 4.3-5).
  • “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not….  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage” (2 Pe. 2.1-3, 15-19. All of 2 Pe. 2 deals with false teachers.).
  • “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11).
  • “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pe. 3.3-4).
  • “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4. Jude predicts the apostasy of the professing churches and describes the cause and course of the apostasy. As in II Timothy and II Peter, the apostasy is treated as having already set in.).
  • “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:6-8).

LeavenOnly a little leaven can completely change and pervert the truth of the Gospel: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Ga. 5.7-9).

False teachers deny redemption truth: “[False teachers] shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pe. 2.1).  Others deny the truth concerning Christ’s person as Son of God, God himself.

“BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them” (1 Jn. 4.1-5; See also, 1 Jn. 2.18-28).

In Jude all phases of apostasy are seen. Jude mentions those who “ran after the error of Balaam for reward.” Many pastors and other Christians today, like Balaam, revert to human reasoning, philosophy, and tradition as they sell out God’s churches for reward—that is, for money, popularity, pleasure and power. They may not have gone completely into apostasy, but heresy is the first step toward apostasy.

The tone of the New Testament writers when dealing with heresy and apostasy is never one of dejection or pessimism. God & His promises are still the resource of the believer. Although Paul as recorded in II Timothy and Peter as recorded in II Peter are aware that martyrdom is near (See 2 Ti. 4.6-8, 2 Pe. 1.14, and Jn. 21.18-19), both are apparently sustained and joyful: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finishedmy course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Ti. 4.7-8). The whole book of II Timothy reflects Paul’s joyful attitude as II Peter shows Peter to be likewise joyful and sustained.

1II Timothy, II Peter, Jude, and II & III John deal the personal walk and testimony of a true servant of Christ in a day of apostasy and declension. For example, Paul instructs the “good soldier” in the face of apostasy:

“[B]e strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier….  Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: …  It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: If we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself….  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And 2Ti.4.1-2their word will eat as doth a canker: …  Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.1-4, 8, 11-13, 15-17a, 22-25).

Paul instructed Timothy, a preacher whom Paul called his “dearly beloved son (2 Ti. 1.2)” and his “own son in the faith:”

“Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of the evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Ti. 4.2-5).

“The believer’s resources in a day of general declension and apostasy  are faith (2 Ti. 1.5), the spirit (2 Ti. 1.6-7), the Word of God (2 Ti. 1.13; 3.1-17; 4.3-4), the grace of Christ (2 Ti. 2.1), separation from vessels unto dishonor (2 Ti. 2.4, 20-21), the Lord’s sure reward (2 Ti. 4.7-8), and the Lord’s faithfulness and power (2 Ti. 2.13, 19).”

 

Book Review: Outcome-Based Religion: Purpose, Apostasy, & the New Paradigm Church

Book Review:
Outcome-Based Religion: Purpose, Apostasy, & the New Paradigm Church
by Mac Dominick,
Cutting Edge Ministries, 2005

Jerald Finney
Copyright © March 28, 2011

Outcome Based Religion

Sometimes being honest with oneself is so difficult that even a believer will not face fact and admit that he has been wrong and sinned. Even if his sin was out of ignorance and even if he was following the leadership of others within the “Christian community,” his response in the event that he discovers his sin, according to our Lord, should be one of contrite repentance. That was and is my situation as to, among other things, my religious-political actions for over a twenty year period. In the late 1990s I began to see that the political work of me and millions of other “moral conservatives” had been counterproductive. Since we had neither proceeded according to knowledge nor followed God’s guidelines as laid out in His Word, our efforts have resulted in negative consequences for people, families, churches, and the nation. In fact, many families and individuals along with churches and the nation, have slid down the drain pipe into a moral cesspool. Far fewer people are being saved, and those who are usually end up in compromising churches who are either afraid to preach the whole counsel of God or have completely abandoned Bible preaching. Many men and women conduct their lives in accordance with Satan’s principles of sexual lust, ambition, greed, and/or selfishness. Biblical principles for family are honored by only a small remnant. Apostasy is running rampant. Dr. Bob Jones accurately observed: “the culture was not saved, the converts of the Super-aggressive churches disappeared, promises were not kept, and the majority became very disillusioned.’ As a result, many newly disenfranchised former Fundamentalists were ripe for the picking.” (All quotations are from the book, Outcome-Based Religion). Well-meaning believing activists have contributed to the religious, moral, and political decline of America. En1 (Statement of repentance).

Outcome-Based Religion, studied in conjunction with God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, En1 (Information on previewing and/or ordering God Betrayed and Outcome-Based Religion) explains in detail why and how this happened. Studying these books will afford a born-again believer the facts, history, and biblical analysis he needs to understand why, in general, churches in America are apostate and America is now morally awful and politically tyrannical. My studies, experiences, and observations confirm much of what is written in Outcome-Based Religion. Additionally, the book includes insights and information that I never discovered and/or considered.

Outcome-Based Religion answers many questions including the following: “Why have none of the goals of the Moral Majority or the Christian Coalition been met? What is the real impact of these conservative Christians upon American politics? Better yet, how has the Religious Right political machine impacted modern culture? Exactly what has been accomplished from 22 years of effort to ‘change America?’ Why have the well-funded Dominionists not transformed our Constitutional Republic into their ‘heaven-on-earth’ theocracy? Would the reaction to the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States result in a national religious revival, transform the culture, and result in the establishment of Robertson’s theocracy?”

Interwoven throughout the book is the theme of separation. Mr. Dominick correctly points out the two strategies for countering Satan’s attack on the true church: (1) Remain in the body and attempt to reform the body by exposing the error (as in the Protestant Reformation). (2) Separate. “Charles Spurgeon said:

‘Complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it. It is our solemn conviction that where there can be no real spiritual communion there should be no pretense of fellowship. Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin. As soon as I saw, or thought I saw, that error had become firmly established, I did not deliberate, but quitted the body at once.  Since then my counsel has been, ‘Come out from among them.’ I felt that no protest could be equal to that of distinct separation from known evil. That I might not stultify my testimony I have cut myself clear from those who err from the faith, and even from those who associate with them.  Cost what it may to separate ourselves from those who separate themselves from the truth of God is not alone our liberty, but our duty.’”

Men, even saved men, have a hard time digesting the fact that “When engaging in God’s work, the end never justifies the means. Put simply, God’s work is to be performed God’s way.” “Furthermore, the ‘end justifies the means’ mindset is the certain path to a deepening apostasy. Once Scripture is ignored in one area, another departure will soon follow. The ‘snowball effect’ evidenced by history then leads one religious body after another from small compromises into a complete departure from the truth. This creeping departure is very subtle, and one must look at history and understand the battle for a pure, true church in order to combat apostasy’s deceptive nature.”

“The first six chapters of Outcome-Based Religion detail the movement of conservative Christianity in a steady slide to the left. No sooner had the quest for the truth gained momentum than another attack sought to strike at the heart of biblical truth. These attacks manifest themselves when the church loses the focus of its true mission, and digresses into areas outside of the commands and precepts of Scripture. The true mission of the church is the edification of the saints, reaching the lost for Christ, and to subsequently nurture those converts to spiritual maturity. As to the strategy of many fundamental churches starting in the 1950s, ‘the tragic results [was the production of] an entire generation of born-again individuals whose impact for the cause of Christ was virtually nullified due to the lack of Christian growth and maturity that comes only from sound biblical teaching, true Christian fellowship, and the expository preaching of the Word of God.’” “Yes, the motive was indeed, from a human perspective, noble. The stated outcome—mass evangelization—was praiseworthy. However, the methodology that contradicted the Word of God was seriously flawed. In the final analysis, evangelism in the absence of sound doctrine fails to perpetuate itself.” History proves this to be true. “The great tragedy of the second half of the Twentieth Century and the early Twenty-first Century is the fact that many of the Bible-believing churches organized in opposition to and as a direct result of Modernism in the 1960s and 1970s are now succumbing to New Evangelicalism and Outcome-Based Religion.” How this happened is the subject of the book.

“In order to fully grasp the sequence of events that birthed the New Paradigm Church, the subject of Outcome-Based Religion cannot merely be approached as a phenomenon of the last decade. It must instead be investigated from a complete historical perspective. Therefore, the study of this subject [is] approached from a historical perspective so as to lay the necessary foundation to enable a complete understanding of all aspects of that which is commonly termed the Church Growth Movement.” The book is in two parts. Part I delves into the historical events that contributed to the makeup and basis of the rise of Outcome-Based Religion and Part II discusses the details and components of the resulting organism of Outcome-Based Religion—the New Paradigm Church.

Part I addresses: church history from the first century on, the wedding of paganism and Christianity in the Catholic Church; the Protestant Reformation; the origins of modernism; the infiltration of modernism into American theological institutions and churches; the flaws in the methods of fundamentalist churches 1950-1975 and on which led to their decline; the ecumenical movement; Vatican II which brought a change in Catholic tactics and rescued the ecumenical movement and took a large step toward the establishment of the one world church and the one world political system; modernism and its effects within the Southern Baptist Convention; the Charismatic movement (basic concepts, origins, the three waves, and the results of); Calvary Chapel (a transitional hybrid between Fundamentalism and right wing Charismatic teachings); dominion theology; the rise and fall of the religious right; the attempt to establish the United States as a bona fide religious theocracy; Christian Reconstructionism versus Dispensational Fundamentalism; the Religious Right; the Moral Majority; the Christian Coalition; the death of the Religious Right; the absence of convictions along with the advance of the philosophy and the new definition of tolerance which now guides almost all Americans including those in church; George Bush as the new leader of the religious right; the relationship between the religious right and Outcome-Based Religion; and much more. In short, Part I covers most historical and factual matters which a discerning believer should at least have a working knowledge of in order to be an effective soldier in the spiritual warfare for the souls of men.

Part II explains and analyzes: the goals, motivation and methods of New Paradigm churches. Subjects addressed include a new way of playing church—by the numbers; the battle against Outcome-Based Religion; defining the terms: Purpose-Driven Church, New Paradigm Church; expository preaching; pragmatism; worship; seeker sensitive; doctrine; sin; evangelism; market strategy, change agent; felt needs, cultural relevance; Christian psychology, contemporary Christian music, the Gospel; the object of the game: (The complete transition of the Church from the traditional, Biblical, separatist position to become more aligned to and in tune with the dictates of the Postmodern Culture—thus initiating exponential church growth.); the rules of the New Paradigm Church (Change “Our Thinking of what God is Trying To Do,” Develop a Market Strategy, Build Relationships of Integrity with the Unchurched, Never Criticize What God is Blessing, Never Communicate God’s Word in an Outdated Style (which requires that the church should relate to the popular culture—no KJV—focusing on felt needs, utilizing psychology and counseling, forgetting theology and just loving Jesus, etc.), The music in the Church should be the Style the Target Market listens to on the Radio (the origins of rock and roll, the assertion the music is amoral, etc.), Those Who Oppose the Vision for Change Must be Marginalized or Eliminated); the forerunners of the New Paradigm church movement; the fathers of the church growth movement; the facilitators of the church growth movement; the facilities of the Church Growth Movement (Fuller Theological Seminary being the most influential); living in the time of the paradigm shift, defining the paradigm shift; Outcome-Based Education and Outcome-Based Religion; the Drucker/Demming connection; Drucker and Company in the New Paradigm Church, oaths, covenants, and faith promise; trickle-down church-o-nomics; paradigm shifting sands produce unstable foundations; the purpose-driven life; transformation and acceptance of postmodern, tolerance-based’ global ethics; an appeal  to pastors and an appeal to church members; a call to personal holiness; and more.

“Sadly, the ‘Christian population of western culture has forsaken the ‘old paths’ of the Word of God and  is blindly accepting any lie that sounds religious while not tampering with their lifestyle.” This book will prove very enlightening for those few who still have the ability and desire to seek truth:

1. Christians who still attend a remnant church (a church who still preaches biblical doctrine, loves the Lord and man, and attempts to honor the Great Commission) will gain great insights.
2. Those in mega churches (New Paradigm churches) who actually want to know what they have gotten themselves into and whether they should be there. They will not learn this from their church leaders.
3. Anyone in America who is seeking truth. Sadly, this will exclude a large percentage of Americans, including most who attend a “church.” Most Americans including almost all “Christians,” as pointed out in the book, are the products of Outcome-Based Education and have bought the concepts of the “New Tolerance” and Postmodernism. Such people cannot, as a general rule, seek truth. Truth is antithetical to their very mindset.

“The members of the Church of Jesus Christ must honestly ask the question, ‘How did we allow this to happen to us, and where did we all go so wrong?’ … In the final analysis, Fuller Theological Seminary, Christianity Today, the New and Young Evangelicals, Modernists, Charismatics, Reconstructionists, and Dominionists are to be sarcastically congratulated. They have successfully managed to blindly align themselves with the dark forces of Lucifer at a level sufficiently subtle to enamor the entire evangelical community from the Fundamentalists to the Charismatic Catholics into falling into the snare that has come to characterize Outcome-Based Religion.” “This alignment with Luciferic forces did not transpire overnight. The transition was so subtle and gradual that it can be compared to the proverbial frog in water brought to a slow but deadly boil.” “[T]he call for this new political paradigm known as the New World Order is based primarily on the ancient values of those early generations after the Flood of Noah and their demonically instigated desire for a return to the ungodly civilization that existed prior to the Flood.”

Endnotes

En 1 Writing this book review gives me an opportunity for public repentance. I first repent and ask forgiveness for my sins of ignorance from God; second, from my Christian brothers; and finally, from America and its citizens. I followed unbiblical, uninformed courses of action as to the above mentioned matters for many years after my salvation in 1982. My motive was honorable from a human point of view, but my goal and my methods were not according to the Word of God. That everything is falling into place as foretold in God’s Word and that the One-World government and religion will become a reality even had my actions been according to the Word of God does not nullify the reality that I sinned.

En2 Outcome-Based Religion can be ordered on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com; Jerald Finney has a limited number of copies for sale (click this link for contact information: contact page of churchandstatelaw.com). God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed): may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from amazon.com at the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Conclusion to Bible Studies on the Biblical Doctrine of Church


Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 9, 2011


Click here to go to Self-exam Questions on the Biblical Doctrine of the Church

Click here to listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the “Conclusion to articles on the biblical doctrine of ‘Church’”.


Conclusion to Articles on the Biblical Doctrine of “Church”

41The Supreme Ruler ordained the church, as He ordained civil government. He gave churches—as He has given individual, family and civil governments—His Word wherein they can learn God’s guidelines which He wishes His churches, as well as all other governments, to follow. Satan has successfully misled most churches and other governments, and most have followed his principles. He has used false teachers from the beginning. As a result, apostasy crept into the church shortly after its inception. That apostasy has accelerated in America as the  tribulation approaches.

Many or most people in American churches today are materially rich, but spiritually blind. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Re. 3.17).

1Ti.2.14Ep.5.23-27Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (1 Ti. 2.14, Ro. 5.14, Ge. 3.1-6).  Christ was not deceived, but His bride was. “As the first Adam had to give up a perfect existence in order to be with his wife, so the last Adam, Christ (1 Co. 15.22, 45), stepped down from heaven to save his bride. While the first Adam ‘blew it,’ the last Adam would make everything right! (Ro. 5:12-21) Charles Wesley set this doctrine to music with the words, ‘Second Adam from above, reinstate us with thy love.’ … “The all-important verse that connects this typology to the present Laodicean apostasy is Ec. 1:9a: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done….’ Thus, the history of mankind will undoubtedly end the same way it began—with a bride being deceived!” (William P. Grady, How Satan Turned America Against God (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 2005), p. vii.).

Jn.3.16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3.16-19).

Ro.5.12-21“[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph. 2.6-8).

3Regardless of this inevitable apostasy and the events that are to follow, things are looking good for you and me—that is, if you are a Christian! Christians have the ultimate hope: they will reign with the Lord. This should be a cause for great rejoicing as well as incentive to be responsible members of a local autonomous New Testament church and to make sure that every effort is made to glorify God and assure that a church remains totally under Christ in every way. The Holy Spirit is now calling out, not the subjects, but the co-heirs and co-rulers of the kingdom.

2Ti.2.12“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Ti. 2.11-12).

“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Re. 1.6).

Ro.8.18_2“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Re. 3.21).

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Re. 5.10).

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Ro. 8.15-18).

“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life” (1 Co. 6.2-3)?

Christ, the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His Churches


Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 8, 2011


Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Christ, the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His Churches


Preface

This series of articles develops the biblical doctrine of the church. This article is the third in this series. The first is “Introduction to articles on the doctrine of ‘church.” The second is “Definition, organization, and purposes of a church” (Note. Simply left click blue underlined links to go directly to link). In order to understand why incorporated 501(c)(3) churches have violated biblical principle and grieve our Lord Jesus Christ, one must first be saved. Second, he must understand the biblical principles of government, church, and separation of church and state. He must then understand the facts about and legalities of incorporation and 501(c)(3). Finally, he must apply principles to facts and law. May we believers continue to grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom as we seek to please our God and Savior.


Christ, the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His churches

11_head-bodyThe Bible teaches that Christ desires to be the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His churches. As to the issue of separation of church and state, this is particularly important. This article will look at biblical teaching on this issue. To understand how churches violate the biblical principle of the headship of Christ over His churches, one must apply the biblical principles to the facts and law—e.g., what is incorporation, what is Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (See, for thorough studies, Sections III, IV, and VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is reproduced on this website in both PDF and online form. See Review of Books by Jerald Finney and Order infomration for books by Jerald Finney for information on this and other books by Jerald Finney.). This blog publishes articles that will systematically examine the biblical principles as well as historical and legal facts necessary to understand the mind of God on the issue of separation of church and state in general and specifically applied to the American landscape.

Churches are called the bride of the Lamb. Christ is the bridegroom of the church: “Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (Jn. 3.28, 29).

The New Testament speaks of a church as a virgin espoused to one Husband; Eve is a type of the church as bride and wife of Christ:

  • “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (The Holy Spirit writing to the church at Corinth in 2 Co. 11.1-4).
  • “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Ro. 7.4).

Paul likens the marriage relationship of husband and wife to the relationship of Christ and His churches:

Ep.5.25“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ep. 5.23, 25-27, 29-33).

The Lamb will marry His wife:

Rapture (1)“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Re. 19.6-8).

All believers will be married to Christ at the marriage of the Lamb:

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (He. 12:22-24).

Various people in the Old Testament are types of Christ, the Bridegroom, and the church, the bride. For example, Rebecca was a type of the church, the “called out” virgin bride of Christ. Isaac was a type of the Bridegroom, who loves through the testimony of the unnamed Servant: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pe. 1.8). Isaac was a type of the Bridegroom who goes out to meet and receive his bride:

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Th. 4.14-16).

“Typically, the book of Ruth may be taken as a foreview of the church—Ruth, as the Gentile bride of Christ, the Bethlehemite who is able to redeem” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, Headnote to Ruth, p. 315. The author quotes Scofield only when he agrees with the quote. Scofield was not right about everything, but he was right about some matters. A open-minded Holy Spirit led study of the word of God will lead one to truth, including the truth of the biblical teachings of any man.).

3The coming of the Bridegroom is cause for great rejoicing by the believer, the friend of the Bridegroom: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (Jn. 1.29).  The marriage of the Lamb to His bride will be a glorious event which will occur in heaven, unlike the restoration of Israel which will take place on the earth:

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, “These are the true sayings of God” (Re. 19.7-9; see also Re. 21.9-22.17).

The husband is to be the only head of the wife, and Christ is to be the only Head of His churches. See Ephesians 5.23, 25-27, 29-33 quoted above. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ep. 1.22).  After Jesus was born, “there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Mt. 2.1-2).  “‘The King’ is one of the divine titles (Psa. 10.6), and so used in the worship of the Church (I Tim. 1.17), but Christ is never called ‘King of the Church.’ He is ‘King of the Jews’ (Mt. 2.2) and Lord and ‘Head of the Church’ (Eph. 1.22, 23)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Matthew 2.2, p. 995). “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1.15-18).

Christ, likened unto a husband, because of His love for the church, gave Himself to redeem the church. He is, in love, sanctifying the church, and will present the church to Himself as a reward for His sacrifice and labor of love, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, a perfect church without spot or blemish, “one pearl of great price” (Mt. 13.45-46).

Jesus is the Father’s love-gift to the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3.16).

The believer, the church member, is His reward, given Him as a love-gift by the Father. 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to John 17.2, p. 1139. “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (Jn. 17.2). “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word” (Jn. 17.6). “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (Jn. 17.9). “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled” (Jn. 17.11-12). “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17.24).

Just as a bridegroom gives gifts to his earthly bride, so Christ gives gifts to His bride, to those whom the Father gave Him (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to John 17.2, p. 1139). (1) He gives His bride eternal life: “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (Jn. 17.2). (2) The Father’s name: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word…. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them…. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (Jn. 17.6, 26; 20.17). (3) The Father’s words: “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me…. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn. 17.8, 14). (4) His own joy: “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn 1.7.13). (5) His own glory: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn. 17.22).

bridewaitingLoving God is preeminent for a believer and for a church. One does not love God by just asserting that he loves God. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14.15) The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mt. 22.37; Mark 12.30; Lu. 10.27).

Love is action. This love between Christ and His church is seen in the Song of Solomon. The Song of Solomon, “[p]rimarily, is the expression of pure marital love as ordained of God in creation, and the vindication of that love as against both asceticism and lust—the two profanations of the holiness of marriage. The secondary and larger interpretation is of Christ, the Son and His heavenly bride, the Church (2 Cor. 11.1-4, refs.)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, Headnote to Song of Solomon, p. 705). “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned” (Song of Solomon 8.7). “Contemned” means “despised, scorned, slighted, neglected, or rejected with disdain” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “CONTEMNED”). God despises, scorns, slights, neglects, or rejects with disdain all that a church does, whatever professions of love she makes, if those acts and/or professions are without love. A church who does not honor Christ as a wife is to honor her bridegroom and her husband, by remaining pure and chaste, does not display love for the Lord. Thus, loving ones neighbor by witnessing to him, sending missionaries to him, helping him materially or any other way in obedience to the second commandment—“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”—is vanity in God’s eyes if one ignores the greatest commandment. The love of the temporal—e. g., worldly organization, ownership of property, worldly power and prestige, etc.) by a church infringe the total love (charity) which Christ desires of his churches.

This fact is also articulated in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus is jealous over His church.  If we do not love the Lord Jesus, He despises all the “Christian” work we do and the money we put in the offering plate. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Co. 13.1-3). “Charity” speaks of God’s kind of love. “In a theological sense, [‘charity’] “includes supreme love to God and a universal good will to men. 1 Cor. xiii. Col. iii. 1 Tim. i” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “CHARITY”). Love is an act of the will. A church refutes its proclamations of love for the Lord when it wholly or partially takes the church from under the headship of her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ or operates in any manner which is contrary to the principles for a church given in God’s word.

Love “[r]ejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Co. 13.6). Iniquity means “Injustice, unrighteousness, … [w]ant of rectitude [rightness in principle or practice], … a sin or crime; wickedness…” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definitions of “INIQUITY” and “RECTITUDE”). Bible truth makes clear that the love of Christ for His church is immense, that He wants to be the only Head and companion of the church who is likened to His bride and wife, and that for a church to even partially put herself under or associate with another entity is a great wickedness and repudiates all professions of love for the Lord. As is shown in Section VI of God Betrayed (online version or link to PDF) and Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (online version or link to PDF), the church who incorporates and secures a 501(c)(3) tax exemption commits wicked sinful acts in violation of biblical principle, and rejoices in iniquity by putting herself partially under two other heads (the state of incorporation and the federal government),.

Re.2.4The Lord Jesus gave a warning to the church at Ephesus:

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Re. 2.2-5).

As Dr. J. Vernon McGee teaches us, this warning was for every church who has lost her love for the Lord Jesus:

“It was a warning of danger of getting away from a personal and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. The real test of any believer, especially those who are attempting to serve Him, is not your little method or mode or system, or your dedication, or any of the things that are so often emphasized today. The one question is: Do you love Him? Do you love the Lord Jesus? When you love Him, you will be in a right relationship with Him, but when you begin to depart from the person of Christ, it will finally lead to lukewarmness. The apostate church was guilty of lukewarmness. It may not seem to be too bad, but it is the worst condition that anyone can be in. A great preacher in upper New York state said: ‘Twenty lukewarm Christians hurt the cause of Christ more than one blatant atheist.’ A lukewarm church is a disgrace to Christ” (J. Vernon McGee, RevelationVolume I (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1982), pp. 121-122).

Ep.5.31-32As the Lord Jesus Christ is jealous over His churches, so should pastors and church members be jealous, with a godly jealousy, over the church they belong to, just as Paul was: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Co. 11.2-4; Lu. 18.8; 2 Ti. 3.1-8).

The church who really loves her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, will seek to maintain her purity, to be subject to her Husband in all things. All the professions of love, all the good deeds, the hymns sung, and the messages preached by a church who does not totally submit herself in all things to her Husband, are contemned by the Lord. A church who takes a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, an incorporation, a license, or any type permit from the state, or puts herself under the state in any way, becomes an earthly legal entity subject to the jurisdiction of earthly powers, the state and federal government. Such a “church” is in fact a two headed monster. Such a “church,” in spite of any professions of love for the Lord, according to her acts shows that she does not love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December, 2010


Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church”

Click here to listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the “Definition, organization, and purposes of a church”


Note. This written teaching revises what Jerald Finney originally wrote and taught in his audio teaching on the “Definition, organization, and purposes of a church.”


Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church8

The church, as such, is never mentioned in the Old Testament. The Old Testament includes, among other things:

  1. a history of man from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, the fall, the success of man when ruled by conscience, the ordination of human government, the establishment of nations and the rules for Gentile nations and the nation of Israel, the success of man under civil government and the fate of civil government and nations;
  2. God’s past, present, and future dealings with nations, especially Israel and Gentile nations as they relate to Israel, God’s chosen people until the Jewish nation/religion rejected Christ as recorded in the New Testament Gospels;
  3. various covenants established by God;
  4. God’s plan of salvation through grace;
  5. prophecies that go all the way to the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.

As recorded in the New Testament, born-again believers are the people now chosen by God for His purposes and glory and have been since the nation Israel rejected Him. In the Old Testament, God’s light shined through an earthly organization, the nation Israel, including the trail that led to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, God’s light shines through a spiritual organism, the institution of the church which is comprised of local, autonomous, spiritual bodies. No organism which resembled the New Testament church was described in the Old Testament. Old Testament believers were told at times to assemble to worship God (See, e.g., De. 4.10), but nowhere were they described as the church is described in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit did not indwell all believers in Old Testament times. Since the conversion of Cornelius as recorded in Acts 10, He now indwells every believer at the moment of salvation.

Christ ordained the nations and civil government, and He ordained the church. “And I [Jesus Christ] say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16.18). Christ, through the epistles of Paul, develops the doctrine of the church. Through those epistles we know that the institution of the church is made up of local, autonomous, spiritual organisms, who are heavenly in calling, promise, and destiny. Through those epistles we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches and the right conduct of such bodies.

SeparationOfChurchAndStateThe author set out to understand what the Bible teaches about the issue of separation of church and state in America. When investigating the biblical principles of church, state, separation of church and state and the American application of those principles, one meets the issue of Covenant versus Dispensational Theology head on; one must examine the biblical doctrines of government and church.

To understand the issues of government, church, and separation of church and state, one necessarily has to study both Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology. Bible exposition, history, and law mandate this examination. Dispensational Theology literally interprets Scripture (with an understanding of figures of speech and context) whereas Covenant Theology incorrectly allegorizes or spiritualizes much of Scripture. When one believes what the Bible says, he cannot accept the interpretations of various issues made by those religions that have imposed fallacious interpretations upon the Word of God. These matters will be examined in more detail in the teachings which follow.

3The author disagrees with Covenant Theologians in their interpretation of Scripture. The author does not accept the unbiblical definition of “church” given by Covenant Theologians: “The community of all true believers for all time” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan; Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), pp. 859-863 (differences between dispensationalism and Covenant Theology), p. 853 (the Covenant Theology definition of “Church”). See also the lessons which follow in this Section and in Section III.).

The terms “dispensationalism” and “dispensational theology” identify a particular way by which one divides the word of truth. This simplifies discussion just as does the use of the word “trinity.” However, to determine whether any biblical teaching is correct, one must study the Bible. One can, for example, explain the fate of Israel, Gentile nations, and the church without being called a “dispensationalist;” but he is in fact a dispensationalist by definition if he literally interprets Scripture which, without reasonable argument, tells of various dispensations in God’s dealings with mankind. Unfortunately, there are some “dispensationalists” who partially or totally falsely divide biblical teaching. A believer must be careful to “study to shew [himself] approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Instead, for many reasons, some of which are discussed in Part One (Sections I, II, and III) of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is reproduced in edited form on this website), the author believes that the correct dispensational view of Scripture will, among other matters, make clear that:

  1. Hyper-dispensationalists divide the Word of God into too many small slices, thereby incorrectly expositing Scripture as to many issues and points. One example is offered here. Contrary to the teachings of some “dispensationalists,” all true believers in Christ after the fall, whether before or after His death and resurrection, are saved by repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    However, the New Testament church is never mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, as in the New, God dealt with individuals on the basis of their faith or absence of faith in the coming Messiah. In Old Testament times, believers looked forward to the resurrection; but God had not yet instituted any organism which in any way resembled the church ordained by Christ as recorded in the New Testament. After the resurrection, believers look backward to the resurrection. See, e.g., the Messianic Psalms; research the entire Old Testament on the subject starting with Genesis; Genesis 3-4; Psalm 51; John 5:43-47; Acts 10:40;  Romans 4, 9:30-33; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Galatians 3:10-18; 2 Timothy 3:15 (at the time Timothy was written, there was no New Testament, only Old Testament Scriptures; Hebrews 4:1-2; James 2:23-24.

    In the Old Testament God also deals with nations, and much of the Old Testament tells of God’s past, present, and future dealings with nations, especially the nation Israel and Gentile nations as they relate to Israel. However, no organism which resembled the New Testament church was described in the Old Testament. Old Testament believers were told at times to assemble to worship God (See, e.g., De. 4.10), but nowhere were they described as the church is described in the New Testament. Therefore, one must not use Old Testament Scripture to teach, for example, on the position and role of the New Testament church pastor.
  2. 9Yes, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13.8); He has always loved mankind, His creation, so much that He has done everything possible to show man that the only way to Him, after the fall, was by grace through faith. Every person since the fall has is a lost sinner unless he repents toward God and places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone, to the point of salvation, is a sinner whose righteousness is as filthy rags. After salvation, a man still commits sin, but he does not practice sin without consequences as before. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Co. 5.17; see, for more on this, Repentance, the new creature, the new life, and changed behavior).

    Because of the nature and history of man and because God loves man and wishes every person to choose to come to Him, as the Bible explains, He has worked with mankind in various ways since the creation in order to test man and show him that man cannot earn his eternal life; that salvation is a free gift. Every man fails God’s tests and rejects God’s ways or rules which would only benefit man, thus demonstrating that one is saved by grace through faith. The main purpose of God’s tests are to bring men to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every man fails; God succeeds for the remnant who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. God worked with Adam and Eve before the fall in a special way: they were not saved by faith in Jesus Christ since they had not yet failed God in any way. However, after failing the one test God presented to them, God-instead of killing them instantly as they justly deserved—graciously spared mankind before his inevitable physical death and gave them a way to Him—faith in the coming seed. Thereafter, every time man has failed God’s tests. God—instead of destroying all human beings (except for the faithful remnant)—has lovingly demonstrated His great love for mankind in spite of man’s rejection of and rebellion against God and His Word.
  3. 2Every teaching on the Word of God—whether it be termed Dispensational Theology, Covenant Theology, or something else—should be carefully examined against Scripture as to its truth. For example, C. I. Scofield was a dispensationalist and his Commentaries on the Bible are very helpful in a serious study of the Word of God. However, he was wrong about many things in his footnotes, margin notes, and headnotes. Every believer is responsible to God to seek out the truth of the Bible. All resources one relies on in his study of God’s Word are to be tested by a careful study of the Word of God. Quotes from Scofield in these teachings indicates agreement unless otherwise indicated.

This author agrees, for the most part, with the writings of those dispensationalists which he has read. Fortunately, the Lord did not lead the author to the teachings of the fundamentally errouneous dispensationalists in his studies for the writings of his books and other writings. Yes, some so-called dispensationalists are wrong, according the Bible, in some of their teachings.  Pastor Mike Hoggard points out critical flaws of the false dispensationalists on Facebook at: “Dispensationalism, True Or False?” Does this mean that the correct dispensational approach to understanding Scripture is wrong? Absolutely, not. Sadly, some good men of God point at erroneous dispensationist teachers or teachings and use that error to totally discount dispensationalism. More on the author’s understanding of dispensatonism is to be found in the article, “Dispensational Theology Versus Covenant Theology.”

dispensations-7_02Simply put, the term dispensation as it relates to Dispensational Theology could be defined as a particular way of God’s administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose of world history. See “Dispensational versus Covenant Theology” for a more thorough definition and understanding of Dispensational Theology. Seven such dispensations are distinguished in Scripture:

  1. Innocency (Genesis 1.28).
  2. Conscience (Genesis 3.23).
  3. Human government (Genesis 8.20).
  4. Promise (Genesis 12.1).
  5. Law (Exodus 19.8).
  6. Grace (John 1.17).
  7. Kingdom (Ephesians 1.10).

1The author does not agree with Covenant Theologians in their allegorical teaching that the church has replaced Israel. Covenant Theologians believe that the church has replaced Israel, that God is finished with Israel and the Jews, and that God’s promises to and covenants with the nation Israel and selected rules for organization for the Jewish religion should be applied to the church (See Grudem, pp. 859-863). Covenant Theologians reach this false conclusion by allegorizing certain Scriptures. The author addresses this in Section I (reproduced with modifications and editions on this website. Click here to go to the webpage with links to Section I articles.) and Section III of God Betrayed (reproduced with modifications and editions on this website)Click here to go to the webpage with links to Section III articles.). Section IV of God Betrayed shows the anti-biblical consequences of the brand of Covenant Theology practiced in Europe and brought to America by established Protestant churches. (Click here to go to the webpage  with links to Section IV articles.).

UnionOfChurchAndState2The application to modern nations, and the attempt to make the application in America, of certain principles—including the principle of union of religion (or church) and state— regarding the Jewish religion and the relationship of religion to state in Old Testament Israel has had devastating consequences in the United States. Those theologians who would combine religion and state as in the pagan nations of antiquity, as with Israel in the theocracy, as with the established Catholic and Protestant churches who used the arm of the state to kill millions whom they designated as heretics, as with the religion of Islam, etc. have not mastered God’s lessons recorded in His Word and in the historical writings of man. Sadly, America is now overrun with false Catholic and Protestant religions who hate the biblical principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and state) as enacted in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

To properly explain the issue of the relationship, if any, between church and state (separation of church and state), one must correctly understand what the Bible teaches about the government (covered in Section I of these studies) and church (this section, Section II). Section III will culminate this study as it examines the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Dispensational Theology correctly explains the biblical doctrine of separation of church and state. As is explained in Section III, Chapter or Lesson 4, the principles for church and state are so distinct that the two are mutually exclusive.

A New Testament church is made up of visible people who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ,are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and who assemble as members of a local spiritual body. On the other hand, since one cannot see the spiritual condition of people’s hearts, in one sense a church is invisible. “We can see those who outwardly attend the church, and we can see outward evidences of inward spiritual change, but we cannot actually see into people’s hearts and view their spiritual state. Only God can do that…. [An] invisible church is the church as God sees it” (Grudem, p. 855; Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms (Greenville, S.C.: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002), p. 90)[Bracketed material indicates modifications]. Therefore, one can be in a visible church, yet unregenerate, lost, and destined for hell; such a person is not really a part of the true church to which he belongs. He is a tare; he will not be at the marriage of the Lamb (see Re. 19.7-10), and he will not be a part of the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (see He. 12.22-24). According to the Word of God, the future of the visible Church, except for a remnant, is apostasy.

Church members are not to be “fruit inspectors.” A church is authorized to remove a professed believer from fellowship only, and that for gross immorality in order to “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (See 1 Co. 5).

Click the above image to go to some heretical Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.
Click the above image to go to some heretical Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.

Obviously, the Bible rejects the Roman Catholic position that the Roman Catholic “church” is the only true church or even a church as described in the New Testament. The Roman Catholic “church” was responsible for the persecution of untold millions of believers when that “church” had earthly authority. Catholicism justified the persecution by a false theology. Study of God’s Word, without brainwashing, a practice which the vast majority of Roman Catholic churches have traditionally condemned, reveals the fallacies of Roman Catholic theology. The author believes that, is spite of the apostate theology or the Catholic church, many Catholics today are probably saved, but ignorant. Otherwise, they would leave the harlot religious organization and join a Bible believing New Testament church. The Bible also rejects Protestant church theology which has also been responsible for the persecution and murder of those deemed to be heretics. Note. See http://joanandtherese.net/page/16/?title for a Catholic perspective of church and state.

9In the New Testament, the church is spoken of in two senses. In one sense, the Bible speaks of the institution of the Church, just as it speaks of the institution of marriage. As to the institution of the church, Jesus Christ promised, in speaking to Peter, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” (Mt. 16.18). “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ep. 5.25; of course, Ephesians was written to the church at Ephesus, the teachings to be applied by all local churches, Scofield’s misguided headnote notwithstanding. The Bible does not agree with Scofield’s doctrine of what he terms the “true” church. True believers who know and follow the Lord will be part of the marriage of the Lamb (See Re. 19.7-10), at which point there will be only MarriageSupperOfTheLambone church or assembly of the saints. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (He. 12:22-24). However, until the marriage of the lamb, the church, as spoken of in the Bible, is an heavenly institution made up of local spiritual bodies or organisms.

In a second sense, the church is a local body of believers. In this sense, a church has a visible aspect—it is a church as church members see it. Only local autonomous assemblies of actual believers give place for the application of spiritual gifts as a body, worship of the Lord, perfection of the saints, work of the ministry, and edification of the church. All biblical references to a church here on the earth refer to an autonomous local body of Jewish and/or Gentile believers and not to a universal or catholic church. Nowhere in the New Testament is a church here on the earth ever referred to as anything other than a local spiritual body and nowhere does Scripture teach that a church is to have any type authority above it other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Some examples of references to churches as they existed in the New Testament follow:

  1. “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Ac. 9.31).
  2. Paul said, “Likewise greet the church that is in their house” (Ro. 16.5).  Notice that the church refers to the local body of baptized believers. The house was just the place where they met; it was not a church.
  3. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Paul … Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s” (1 Co. 1.1-2).
  4. “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place…” (1 Co. 14.23).
  5. “The churches [Not “the church”] of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1 Co; 16.19).
  6. “Paul … unto Philemon … and to the church in thy house” (Phil; 1-2).
  7. “… [T]hat thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti; 3.15).  The Bible defines “house of God”: “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house; as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken of after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (He. 3.4-6).
  8. 7 churches of Re.In Revelation, in speaking to “the things that are” at that time, the Lord stands in the midst of the seven candlesticks (churches)(Re. 1.12-13) and speaks to each church individually. He speaks to and has a message for “the church of Ephesus” (Re. 2.1), “the church in Smyrna” (Re. 2.8), “the church in Pergamos” (Re. 2.12), “the church in Thyatira” (Re. 2.18), “the church in Sardis” (Re. 3.1), “the church in Philadelphia” (Re. 3.7), and “the church of the Laodiceans” (Re. 3.14).

Baptists have always recognized the biblical teaching as to this aspect of a church—that is, that a church on earth is only a local spiritual body of believers whose Head is Jesus Christ. As Isaac Backus wisely noted:

ChristIsTheHead “[A] power in councils above particular churches has no foundation in Scripture, and is an endless source of confusion among Christians…. In all earthly governments, the laws are executed in the name of the supreme authority of it, which can see but a little of what is done in its name. But the Son of God is present in every church, as well as through the world, by his universal knowledge and power; and if any of his churches leave their first love, and will not repent, he removes the candlestick out of his place. Rev. ii. 1-5” (Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), pp. 339-340).

J. M. Carroll said this:

“[N]either Christ nor His apostles, ever gave to His followers, what is known today as a denominational name, such as ‘Catholic,’ ‘Lutheran,’ ‘Presbyterian,’ Episcopal,’ and so forth—unless the name given by Christ to John was intended for such, ‘The Baptist,’ ‘John the Baptist.’ (Matt.11:11 and 10 or 12 other times.) Christ called the individual follower ‘disciple.’ Two or more were called ‘disciples.’ The organization of disciples, whether at Jerusalem or Antioch or elsewhere, was called Church. If more than one of these separate organizations were referred to, they were called Churches. The word church in the singular was never used when referring to more than one of these organizations. Nor even when referring to them all.” (J. M. Carroll, The Trail of Blood, (Distributed by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, 163 N. Ashland Avenue, Lexington KY 40502, 606-266-4341), p. 9.

J. M. Carroll was a leader among Baptists who studied history and the Bible in an attempt to “find the church which was the oldest and most like churches described in the New Testament.” In the course of his studies, he gathered “one of the greatest libraries on church history. This library was given at his death to the Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas.” Carroll, Introduction at pp. 1-2.).

For our understanding her nature, Scripture describes a church in many ways. A church is a family. “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Ti. 5.1-2). “And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Co. 6.18). “And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12.49-50).

A church is called the body of Christ, and therefore a living organism, not a congregation. The Holy Spirit forms the church:

“(2)(g) When Peter opened the door of the kingdom to the Gentiles (Acts 10), the Holy Spirit, without delay, or other condition than faith, was given to those who believed (Acts 10.44; 11.15-18). This is the permanent fact for the entire church-age. Every believer is born of the Spirit (John 3.3, 6; 1 John 5.1), indwelt by the Spirit, whose presence makes the believer’s body a temple (1 Cor. 6.19; Rom. 8.9-15; 1 John 2.27; Gal. 4.6), and baptized by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12.12, 13; 1 John 2.20, 27), thus sealing him for God (Eph. 1.13; 4.30)…. (5) The Holy Spirit forms [a] church (Mt. 16.18; Heb. 12.23, note) by baptizing all believers [] (1 Cor. 12.12, 13)[and the member is then added to a local New Testament church when he is baptized in water], imparts gifts for service to every member of that body (1 Cor. 12.7-11, 27, 30), guides the members in their service (Lk. 2.27; 4.1; Acts 16.6, 7), and is Himself the power of that service (Acts 1.8; 2.4; 1 Cor. 2.4).“(6) The Spirit abides in the company of believers who constitute a local church, making of them, corporately, a temple (1 Cor. 3.16, 17).” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 pp. 1149-1150 to Acts 2.4). ]Bracketed changes and additions made by the author to clarify or correct Scofield’s note.]

Although the word “congregation” is used several hundred times in the Old Testament, it appears only once in the New Testament, in Acts 13.43, referring to a meeting of the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch where Paul had preached to them on the Sabbath day. A “congregation” is “an assembly of persons, or a gathering; especially, an assembly of persons met for worship and religious instruction” (See AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “CONGREGATION” and MERRIAM WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 243 (10th ed. 1995), definition of “congregation.”). According to one Rabbi Hisda, the Hebrew word sbr meaning “assembly” or “congregation” is a contraction of three words: s from saddiqim (meaning “righteous”) plus b from benonim (“middle of the road persons”) and r from reshan (“wicked ones”) (Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Derdmans Publishing Co., 1976), fn W, p. 216.) On the other hand, a New Testament church is described as a spiritual body wherein each member has a specific purpose. For the church body to function correctly, all the members must perform their functions. The difference between the church, a spiritual body, and a congregation is significant: a church body is a spiritual organism whereas a congregation is an earthly gathering of people.

God, through the Apostle Paul, gives two metaphors of the body:

  1. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body: but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Co. 12.12-27). “Ye” in the last verse, is plural, and is addressed to the Church at Corinth.
  2. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, 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; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:4-16).

In other passages, Christ is depicted as the head of the church and the earthly members as the body. Remember that these passages are from Epistles written to local church bodies for their instruction.

  1. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ep. 1.22-23).
  2. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ep. 4.15-16).
  3. “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2.19).

The Bible compares a church to a pearl of great price which “a merchant man sold all that he had, and bought it (Mt. 13.45-46):

PearlOfGreatPrice“Of [a] true Church a pearl is a perfect symbol: (1) a pearl is one, a perfect symbol of unity (1 Cor. 10.17; 12.12, 13; Eph. 4.4-6). (2) A pearl is formed by accretion, and that not mechanically, but vitally, through a living one, as Christ adds to [a] Church (Acts 2.41, 47; 5.14; 11.24; Eph. 2.21; Col 2.19. (3) Christ, having given Himself for the pearl, is now preparing it for the presentation to Himself (Eph. 5.25-27).  The kingdom is not the Church, but the true children of the kingdom during the fulfillment of these mysteries, baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12. 12, 13), compose … the pearl.” 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to Matthew 13.45, p. 1017.).

A church is also compared to:

  1. the Father’s love gift to Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24);
  2. the bride and wife of Christ, who is the Head of the church as the husband is the head of the wife;
  3. a virgin espoused to one husband (2 Co. 11.1-2);
  4. “the household of God” and “an holy temple in the Lord” (Ep. 2.19-21; see also 1 Co. 3.16);
  5. branches on a vine (Jn. 15.5);
  6. an olive tree (Ro. 11.17-24);
  7. a field of crops (1 Co. 3.6-9);
  8. God’s husbandry and God’s building” (1 Co. 3.9);
  9. a harvest (Mt. 13.1-30; Jn. 4.35);
  10. lively stones, built up a spiritual house,
  11. an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pe. 2.5);
  12. Christ’s house (He. 3.6) built by Christ Himself (He. 3.3); and
  13. ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1 Ti. 3.15). God gave each metaphor for a reason.

Wayne Grudem explains:

“Each of the metaphors used for the church can help us to appreciate more of the richness of privilege that God has given us by incorporating us into [a local] church. The fact that [a] church is like a family should increase our love and fellowship with one another. The thought that the church is like the bride of Christ should stimulate us to strive for greater purity and holiness, and also greater love for Christ and submission to him. The image of [churches] as branches in a vine should cause us to rest in him more fully. The idea of an agricultural crop should encourage us to continue growing in the Christian life and obtaining for ourselves and others the proper spiritual nutrients to grow. The picture of [a] church as God’s new temple should increase our awareness of God’s very presence dwelling in our midst as we meet. The concept of [a] church as a priesthood should help us to see more clearly the delight God has in the sacrifices of praise and good deeds that we offer to him (See Heb. 13.15-16). The metaphor of [a] church as the body of Christ should increase our interdependence on one another and our appreciation of the diversity of gifts within the body. Many other applications could be drawn from these and other metaphors for the church listed in Scripture.” (Grudem, p. 859)[Brackets contain changes made by the author to reflect true Scriptural teaching].

How can one recognize a true church? J. M. Carroll, in describing the overall organization of the church, listed eleven “Marks of a New Testament Church:

  1. “Its Head and Founder—CHRIST. He is the lawgiver; the Church is only the executive. (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18.)
  2. “Its only rule of faith and practice—THE BIBLE. (II Tim. 3:15-17.)
  3. “Its name—‘CHURCH,’ ‘CHURCHES.’ (Matt. 16:18; Rev. 22:16.)
  4. “Its polity—CONGREGATIONAL—all members equal. (Matt. 20:24-28; Matt. 23:5- 12.)
  5. “Its members—only saved people. (Eph 2:21-22; I Peter 2:5.)
  6. “Its ordinances—BELIEVER’S BAPTISM, FOLLOWED BY THE LORD’S SUPPER. (Matt. 28:19-20.)
  7. “Its officers—PASTORS AND DEACONS. (I Tim. 3:1-16.)
  8. “Its work—getting folks saved, baptizing them (with a baptism that meets all the requirements of God’s Word), teaching them (‘to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’). (Matt. 28:16-20.)
  9. “Its financial plan—‘Even so (TITHES and OFFERINGS) hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.’ (I Cor. 9.14.)
  10. “Its weapons of warfare—spiritual, not carnal. (II Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-20.)
  11. “Its independence—separation of Church and State. (Matt. 22:21.)”

(Carroll, pp. 4-5).

Certainly, a preacher on the street corner with a crowd around him as he preaches is not a church. Nor is a group of people meeting in a house and preaching the Word. However, if that house group chooses a properly ordained and baptized pastor, organizes and operates according to biblical principles, initiates a proper baptism for new believers, and begins to partake of the Lord’s Supper, an ordered New Testament church comes into existence. The Lord desires that those who are saved be baptized into a properly ordered New Testament church.

Where only false doctrines are preached, no church can exist. For example, the Catholic Church, some Baptist churches, many Protestant churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Islam, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not churches. “When the preaching of a church conceals the gospel message of salvation by faith alone from its members, so that the gospel message is not clearly proclaimed, and has not been proclaimed for some time, the group meeting there is not a church” (Grudem, p. 865). A church can exist only where the Bible is believed to be the inerrant Word of God, where the Bible is the sole basis for faith and practice, and where that Bible is preached.

5A church has responsibilities. Strong, knowledgeable believers who are walking in the spirit will practice all their God-given responsibilities and apply their spiritual gifts. Included in those responsibilities, but not developed in this chapter or section, is the responsibility to “present [the church] as a chaste virgin to Christ” (See 2 Co. 11.1-4).

Worship is preeminent for the believer and for a church. “Worship” means “[t]o adore; to pay divine honor to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “WORSHIP.”).  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3.16).  “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ep. 1.12). “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ep. 5.19-20).

The principles of worship set out in Exodus 30, the great worship chapter, still apply. Exodus 30.38 condemns “making worship a mere pleasure to the natural man, whether sensuous, as in … music …, or eloquence, merely to give delight to the natural mind” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to Exodus 30.38, p. 112).  Christians are to worship God in spirit and in truth (See Jn. 4.23-24). The Word of God contains principles regarding appropriate music, dress, conduct, and attitude for worship. The Lord commanded, “Ye shall offer no strange incense [on the altar of incense], nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon” (Ex. 30.9). No ‘strange’ incense was to be offered (that is simulated or purely formal worship forbidden) and no “strange” fire was permitted (referring “to the excitation of ‘religious’ feelings by merely sensuous means, and to the substitution for devotion to Christ of any other devotion, as to religious causes, or sects” (See 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Exodus 30.9, p. 111; I Corinthians 1:11-13; Colossians 2.8,16-19).).

The local body assembles to worship God, for the perfection of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edification of the members of the body, not to preach to the lost. Believers go outside the assembly and seek the salvation of the lost. This does not mean that lost people may not attend the assembly, but the purpose of assembly is not to win the lost. God gifted members of a church “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ep. 4.12-13).  A church is to preach the whole counsel of God, “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1.28).

A church has the responsibility to evangelize. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15).  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28.19).

Along with the obligation to evangelize goes helping and doing good to fellow believers as well as to unbelievers:

  1. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful’” (Lu. 6.35-36).
  2. “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (1 Jn. 3.17)?
  3. “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea” (Ac. 11.29).
  4. “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Ro. 12.17). “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (1 Th. 5.15).
  5. “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2 Co. 8.4).
  6. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (Ja. 2.14-17).

a5A church is united together and to Christ by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (1 Co. 12.12-34). As such, it is a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21, 22); is “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30, 31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one husband (2 Co. 11.2-4). Other metaphors, as pointed out above, have also been used to describe a church. Local churches assemble in His name for the breaking of bread, worship, praise, prayer, testimony, the ministry of the word, discipline, and the furtherance of the Gospel (He. 10.25; Ac. 20.7; 1 Co. 14.26; 1 Co. 5.4, 5; Ph. 4.14-18; 1 Th. 1.8; Ac. 13.1-). Every such local church has Christ in the midst, is a temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Co. 3.16, 17), and is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti. 3.15). Only the assembly where the true doctrine is preached is a church: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.8). A church is the body of Christ of which He is the Head. Christ desires that a church remain solely under Him: “And [God] hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ep. 1.22-23). “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ep. 5.23).