Church; Visible, Invisible, Literal, Spiritual

Church; Visible, Invisible, Literal, Spiritual.

Article cC

With regards to the purpose and operation of the Christian church, Christians can think of the Church as being too organized, such as thinking it to involve one particular world wide government having control over all Christian congregations around the world, which government all Christians and Christian congregations can always trust and look to for direction. Or Christians might think of the Church as being too unorganized and too loosely knit such as Christian congregations not even having a distinct door into their assembly, such as the congregation not even in a united and official manner receiving others into their assembly while rather all can freely come or freely go as they wish resulting in that the congregation and leaders thereof do not even really know what their Christian congregation consists of and contains. Congregations might be so loosely knit and unorganized that most in the congregation might be disagreed on who is worthy to be a part of their congregation and thus no one even really knows who is a valid part of the congregation. cC-1

To believe in a one true church principle with respect to believing that God's Church on earth is ordained to be both united and true is quite proper. Yet to believe that the principle of the one true church means that God's church, around the world and through out all times, will exist as one particular united organization (such as all Christian congregations being knowledgeable of each other, or connected to one another by human means) which organization is guaranteed to always be true is quite another thing and quite erroneous. cC-2

For a group of Christian congregations to stand apart from false and lukewarm Christian congregations and teach that their congregations are a one united true church, apart from false Christendom is one thing, yet for such congregations then to advocate that God cannot or will not ever raise up another valid and true Christian congregation (church) in the world without them first receiving particular tangible or physical rituals, such as baptism or laying on of hands from their particular authorized church organization is quite another thing and likely quite erroneous. cC-3

Although the one who gets saved and becomes a child of God, immediately becomes a part of the bride of Christ, yet such an one naturally does not immediately become a part of a true Christian congregation. Such is true firstly because a Christian congregation might not even immediately know when the new Christian got saved and secondly because true Christian congregations must be careful to not accept false Christians as valid part their congregation or assembly, because false Christians can very much damage other Christians in the congregation. Although false or lukewarm Christian congregations may be glad to accept anyone into their congregation who confesses Christ, puts money into their offerings and honors their congregation, the true Christian congregation will not do so. The true congregation cares for the welfare of the Christian sheep in the flock, and carefully tries to keep out the wolves that might come in sheep clothing. It appears Apostle Paul was speaking of the dangerous influence of false Christians in a Christian congregation when he said "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?" Note Paul spoke of leaven as such after he spoke of setting apart a fallen Christian from the congregation (1 Cor 5:4-7). Apostle Paul was very concerned about the purity and safety of the Christian congregation and did his best to keep erroneous Christians apart from it. cC-4

When one gets saved and becomes a child of God he does immediately become eligible to be received into a true Christian congregation, with the exception that in some cases it likely would be best for the new convert to prove the validity of His relation with God for some time (or receive some basic Christian teachings) before he is received as a valid part of the congregation. Christian congregations are to receive those that are weak in the faith, into their assembly and are to give liberty for various differences (Rom 14). The Christian congregation should never reject those whom God has accepted. The Christian congregation is to work together with God in their dealings with men. cC-5

It appears some Christians believe that individuals upon being saved are automatically baptized and fully within the church or Godly society that God has planned for His children. To emphasize that one is immediately, automatically, and fully within God's Church plan when saved and to emphasize that the Church of God simply and only consists of all the saved around the world, largely makes the Church of God a society having no human organization or collective operation. To emphasize the church is strictly the saved around the world and without any other dimension, makes the church something totally outside of human responsibility and organization. Such emphasis too much annuls the church as a literal or visible organization on earth which God ordained and intends to be home for His children wherein Godly shepherds are to nourish the new lambs in Christ and to care for the sheepfold that God has entrusted to them. cC-6

If one upon being saved is immediately, automatically, and fully within God's Church plan, then after being saved, it is totally unnecessary to be approved or received by any literal and visible Christian church (congregation), since one is already fully in the church. If the church is strictly all the saved around the world, what then is that literal and visible organization to be called which Apostle Paul was so zealous for and commanded that false ones be put without her walls to provide purity and protection for those within? If the church is strictly all the saved around the world and involves no other dimension, then the Church is something totally outside of human responsibility and operation and Paul should not have given any instructions concerning receiving converts into the Church or concerning setting false one's apart from it. cC-7

Although God has ordained the Christian congregation and desires a faithful functioning church, yet such does not mean we are guaranteed a faithful visible church which we can always look to, but rather we should try to do our best to maintain or rekindle such a church (Christian congregation) for ourselves and others. cC-8

God has ordained the family arrangement (family government) to provide a safe and good environment for children as well as for the parents. Although too often the father and parents are in error and thus the family government does not provide the safe environment for the children that God intended, yet such does not disannul God's plan of family government. Christians should not annul God's plan of family government simply because too often parents are ungodly. So also Christians should not annul God's plan of church government simply because too often churches and church leaders are in error. May the individual and scattered Christians in our world today in seeing the many errors in church governments, not cast away God's plan for church order, but earnestly pray that God will provide a revived and pure church that can bless their lives and that they can be a blessing to! cC-9

In our day too many Christian congregations operate like a mere store or business. They advertise certain doctrines and teachings as their religious standards and those who like their personality and religious standard become at least part time customers. In church environments as this Christians simply go to the congregation that provides the environment and doctrines they like, and if any problem arises they simply are free to leave and find another congregation. In this type of church environment the minister as well as the congregation hardly knows who is part of the congregation as the attendants are quite unpredictable. Although in such congregations the leader can teach many good things, yet the flock largely has no boundaries or walls and wolves in sheep's clothing can quite freely mingle with the sheep. In such a unorganized and loosely knit congregation, Jesus and the Apostles distinct teachings concerning separating false ones from the sheep cannot be properly followed and are incompatible with the environment (1 Tim 6:5, 2 Tim 3:52, Cor 6:14&17, 2 John 1:9-10, Rom 16:17, Mat 18:17, 1 Cor 5:9-11, 1 Cor 5:13, 2 Th 3:6&14, Titus 3:10). Although it is very possible to over emphasis trusting in the church and church organization, it also is very possible to under emphasis church order. cC-10

Although it is necessary for Christian congregations to have a distinct door and wall separating those from within and without, one must consider that this wall to some extent can consist of a natural feeling in the congregation as to who is a part of them, and who cannot be accepted by them. Such is very simple and effectual distinction and does not require a lot of paper and ink and any legalism. Although it is proper for Christian congregations to have distinct doors and walls to protect their congregation, yet it is possible for Christians to put too much emphasis on the flock and on the door and walls which protect it and not enough on Christ the master of the flock and His truths. May God help us find the right balance in these things. cC-11

Although Christian congregations should never reject what God has accepted, yet it is possible that some Christians might consider themselves a special and superior Christian church and erroneously reject other Christians from their fellowship because of particular insignificant and manmade differences, while they yet consider them as Christians, although possibly second class Christians. Such division in God's church is not proper. cC-12

The Bible often uses the word "church" in speaking of a particular visible group of people such as in the term "the church that is in thy house" (Rom 16:5, 1 Cor 16:19, Col 4:15, Phil 1:2). The Bible also uses the word church in speaking of all the saved, (less visible group), such as in the phrase the "church of the first born" (Heb 12:23). Note the group of all the firstborn or saved is less visible because God alone knows exactly who that group is. cC-13

The Bible uses the word kingdom in speaking of all the saved in stating that the good seed are the children of the Kingdom (Matt 13:38). This would pertain more to the less visible aspect of the Kingdom as God only knows who truly make up the good seed. The Bible also uses the word kingdom in speaking of a particular visible organization in stating that the children of the kingdom (Jewish kingdom) would be cast into outer darkness while many from the east and west would be saved (Matt 8:11-12). cC-14

May we not confine the word Church to being only a visible organization connected by human means, or confine the word church to only being the saved around the world. In considering the usage of words may we remember how words are used so variously or diversely in our Bibles. Farewell. cC-15

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