. . . fully after the LORD                  I Kings 11:6                      by Steve Flinchum

Chapter 5


    In trying to prop up a "universal church" theory it has often been taught that "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God" are synonymous with "church." There is no need for such confusion because not only are the words different, the Bible also says some very different things about each.

    When one false doctrine is invented, another one must eventually be invented to support it. This is a demonstration of what I have often heard, that, "if you tell a lie, you'll have to tell another to prop it up."

    In III John 9 we have record of "Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence." It was probably people like Diotrephes who later on developed a hierarchical system within some of the apostate congregations. As is always the case with such a system, those at the top, like "the angels which kept not their first estate" (Jude 6), expanded their territory by developing a hierarchy among many apostate congregations. The invention of a "universal church" concept was needed in order to justify the hierarchical system.

    Most of the leaders of professing Christianity today find it necessary to defend a "universal church" concept in order to justify the existence of their congregations, associations, and/or hierarchies because they are so different to the New Testament definition of Jesus' kind of congregation.

    It is also noticed that not only do many try to make "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God" synonomous with each other, and with Christ's ekklesia or congregation, but try to equate what we may call "the family of God" or all who are saved with them as well. That being the case let us first consider some of the differences in "the family of God" and Jesus' kind of congregation.

    In Psalm 3:8, David said, "Salvation belongeth unto the LORD." In Jonah 2:9, Jonah said, "Salvation is of the LORD." Paul, teaching of the sovereignty of God, said in Romans 9:16:

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."

It is by faith in Christ that we are saved, and not only did God have to provide the Saviour, if we were to be saved, we are not even able to believe by faith unless God also gives us that faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 explains:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Romans 11:6 says:

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Anything that man can provide is to be considered works. Baptism, for example, being a work, does not obtain or help obtain salvation. As I Peter 3:21 explains, baptism is:

not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God."

How could anyone have a good conscience toward God, knowing that he had not yet completed an act thought to be necessary to the obtaining of his salvation?

    If the above scriptures mean anything, we must conclude that entrance into the family of God is not dependent upon baptism. The New Testament does, however, clearly teach the requirement of profession of salvation by grace and a baptism declaring the same in a figure, for entrance into the Lord's kind of congregation.

    In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus gave instruction concerning what to do "if thy brother shall trespass against thee."

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church:

If "the church" includes all who are saved, or, as some would insist, all who are saved and baptized, how could we tell anything to "the church?" Most of us could not afford the postage or the phone bill incurred in telling anything to such a "church," even if we could locate and identify all its members. The instructions continue in verse 17:

but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.

Those instructions, as well as many others in the New Testament, teach that the Lord's congregations are to exclude members who cannot be reconciled or who walk disorderly. In I Corinthians 5, Paul wrote concerning a member who was guilty of fornication. In verse 7, Paul instructed the congregation to "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened." In verse 9 he wrote:

I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators.

In verse 11 he said:

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

In verse 13 he plainly said:

Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

II Thessalonians 3 teaches the same thing. It is very clear that the Lord's congregations have not only the authority, but also the responsibility, to exclude members from His congregations. It is a part of the command of "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Neither the Lord's congregations nor anyone else has ever been given the power or the instruction to exclude anyone from the family of God. Romans 8:33 says:

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

In John 14:2 Jesus gave a promise to His first congregation, as representative of all His congregations. He said:

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.

Notice that He said that there are (already) many mansions, but added:

I go to prepare a place for you.

There were already many mansions in His Father's house for all who are saved, but Jesus has gone to prepare a special place for His bride, the faithful and obedient from among His congregations.

    These differences should be enough to show that the "family of God" is not the same thing as the Lord's ekklesia. Similar differences are also readily apparent of the "kingdom of heaven" and the "kingdom of God," when compared to the Lord's ekklesia.


  Home Up Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Works Cited Calendar