The true nature of the true church of Christ

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Biblicist, Aug 23, 2016.

  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    I start with the Greek word ekklesia and not with the English term "church" for several reasons. First, the English term "church" according to some English Dictionaries has as many as nine different conflicting meanings while ekklesia had but one meaning prior to, and including the time of the New Testament.

    Second, the English term "church" comes from the Greek term "kuriakos" while "church" is used to represent ekklesia. The Greek term 'kuriakos" is used in the New Testament twice (1 Cor. 11:20; Rev. 1:10) and is a possessive noun with the meaning of "the Lord's". It was used in the first century as a technical term for those things that belonged to ceasar who was to be recognized as "Lord" by his subjects. The apostles refused to acknowledge Caesar as Lord, and so took the term "kuriakos" and applied it to those things that belonged to their Lord Jesus Christ (1) The "Lord's" Supper - 1Cor. 11:20; and (2) The "Lord's day" - Rev. 1:10.

    On the other hand, ekklesia in Classical Greek had one established meaning and that is "congregation" or "assembly." In Koine Greek it had one and the same established meaning. When the translators of the Septuigent used ekklesia to translate the Hebrew term Qahal they never used it in any context where it went beyond the meaning of congregation or assembly. In the Apocrapha it never is used anywhere other than for a congregation or assembly. It has no other meaning during the first century among secular Greek writers as demonstrated in Acts 19.

    Dr. Earl D.Radmacher, a thorough going universal church advocate in his book entitled "The Nature of the Church" is forced to admit after examining all the evidence from Classical and Koine Greek:

    "One thing must be stressed and that is that it always describes a corporeal, physical unity of people. In other words, one must be physically present in the assembly itself to constitute a member of the ekklesia." - Earl D. Radmacher, The Nature of the Church, [Western Baptist Press, Portland, OR, 1972], p. 122

    However, Radmacher in his thorough scouring of pre-New Testament Greek literature failed to admit that the Greek term ekklesia with the definite article is found numerous times in Classical Greek literature in the abstract institutional sense. Therefore, when concluding the kind of uses found in Classical and Koine Greek, this term is found in the concrete and in the abstract and yet not once does it ever exceed a "corporeal, physical unity of people".

    Now when coming to the New Testament usage, no Greek scholar is given the privilege to invent a new meaning, UNLESS the established meaning cannot possibly fit the context. In other words, sound scholarship demands that every time the term ekklesia is found in the New Testament, if the established meaning fits, any other meaning must be rejected whether it makes sense or not. If this rule is not followed then one can change the established meanings of all words and thus words mean nothing.

    Therefore, when we come to the first passage where ekklesia is found in the New Testament the common ordinary meaning must be applied first and if it fits no other meaning must be sought. That means, that first the concrete use must be first applied. If that will not make sense, then, the abstract use must be applied, and only if that does not make sense are we justified in seeking a new meaning for an old word.

    However, the abstract institutional meaning makes perfect sense not only in Matthew 16:18 but in every place in the New Testament where the definite singular is found. The abstract use includes not merely the generic use but the institutional use.

    Indeed, the abstract institutional use of ekklesia not only makes sense in Matthew 16:18 but it is the only meaning that will harmonize with the next 22 times Jesus uses this term to describe what he claimed to build. In Matthew 16:18 we have the institutional use of ekklesia where he claims to build "my ekklesia' in the sense of an institution. In Matthew 18:17 we have the next two times he uses the same term in the same way (definite singular) without any geographical restrictions and the only meaning that makes sense is the historic meaning which agrees with the institutional use in Matthew 16:18. The next 20 times Jesus uses it in Revelatioon 1, 2-3, 22:16 the only possible meaning that makes sense is the common historic meaning which again harmonizes with the institutional use in Matthew 16:18.

    When the vast amount of instances are examined in Acts and in the epistles the vast majority only make sense according to the common historic meaning. The 18 or so cases where it is found in the singular with the definite article without any geographical restriction, the institutional or generic uses make perfect sense.

    Every single metaphor used for the ekklesia conveys only a visible local representation in perfect keeping with the historical use of ekklesia.

    The idea of a universal ekklesia finds its origin with Augustine in his debate with the Donatists where he introduced the term "feild" in Matthew 13 as the ekklesia - making it synonymous with "world" thus a universal ekklesia. Between Augustine and Luther there is no "invisible" ekklesia found in Roman Catholic controlled written history. The only belief other than the historic common use of ekklesia (concrete, abstract) is the future or glory ekklesia concept, which had no present existence in the mind of those who embraced this concept but was the yet future assembly after the resurrection of all the elect.

    The evidence is so strong for the historic meaning of ekklesia that Dr. Radmacher did not dare start his investigation where it should be started, and that is with the origin of the term ekklesia in pre-New Testament history, but he started with post-new tesament uses, in order to influence his readers according to his own theology before introducing them to the facts of its actual history and origin. But even so, Dr. Radmacher was honest to admit that the term ekklesia was NEVER EVER used to mean "called out of the world" at any point in Classical or Koine Greek and to claim so is dishonest:

    "Hort, along with other competant scholars confirms this when he writes: 'There is no foundation forthe widely spread notion that ekklesia means a people or a number of individual men called out of the world or mankind.' In other words, it does not mean a body of people who have been 'picked out' from the world." - Radmacher, Ibid., p. 111

    The whole universal concept was invented to escape church disciple and disfellowship by other apostolic churches in the third century in order to avoid being considered as non-new Testament churches. The whole invisible concept was invented to escape church discipline and disfellowship by the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century as the Reformers had no intent on leaving what they believed to be the only true church - Roman Catholicism, but when Papal bulls removed them from the membership of the Catholic Church they found themselves unchurched and it is this doctrine that was used to avoid that stigma and justify other church denominations in addition to Roman Catholicism. It is the doctrine that justifies the existence of the Great Harlot and her daughters as valid "churches" or institutions of God.
     
  2. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    Would you please explain what you mean by 'the abstract institutional use'? Thank you.
    Also, just to clarify, the Lord Jesus speaks of an ekklesia only in Matthew (16:18 & twice in18:17) and in Revelation.
    John Wyclif certainly believed in and taught an "invisible" ekklesia.
     
  3. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    As the name implies it describes an institution in an abstract way. An institution would be something that has a structure like officers, discipline, ordinances, membership requirements, type of government (the Greek ekklesia was democratic form of government). Abstract would be non-specific with regard to name, location or time. For example, the American Public School is a fine institution. I am not speaking of any specific school by name or location or time frame. However, any specific school in any specific location at any specific time is such an institution. Thus, in Matthew 16:18 he claims to build my church (institution) and then describes that institution in concrete terms the next 23 times he uses it.




    One may find here and there an individual that thought of the church in the same manner as Luther but there is no mainstream teaching on this in history prior to Luther as there is after Luther.
     
  4. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    One of the biggest problems today in defining the true nature of the New Testament ekklesia is the proper understanding and use of metaphors. Universal church advocates violate the laws governing the proper understanding and use of metaphors.

    The metaphor is more direct than other figures of speech. It is always expressed by linking verbs (are, is, am, etc.) as in "I am the door" or "Ye are the sheep of his pasture" or "ye are the body of Christ and members in particular." The idea behind a metaphor is representation. If you replace the linking verb with the word "represent" you would have the correct idea being conveyed by a metaphor. For example, "ye are the body of Christ" when read as "ye represent the body of Christ" conveys the proper meaning behind the metaphor. The same is true with such phrases as "I am the door" when read "I represent the door" etc.


    Moreover, the proper understanding of a metaphor demands that both nouns, the noun which is the source from which some represented likeness is being directly transferred to another noun, be both understood in their most literal sense or else the metaphor fails altogether. For example, take the phrase "ye are the body of Christ and members in particular." The two nouns are "ye" and "the body of Christ." The source noun from which the metaphor originates is "the body of Christ" whereas the noun that certain likenesses found in the first noun is being transferred unto is "ye" contextually defined as the ekklesia at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:1). In order to understand the idea of representation, both nouns must be understood in their most literal sense. For example, "ye" are not LITERALLY the physical body of Christ, but are the literal ekklesia at Corinth. The "body of Christ" is the literal physical body of Jesus Christ. The literal ekklesia at Corinth in some manner or ways is representative of literal characteristics found in the physical body of Christ. The metaphor transfers contextually defined likenesses found in the literal physical body of Christ to the ekklesia at Corinth. The immediate context demonstrates that the idea of members working in unity is the idea being transferred from the literal physical body of Christ to the "ye" or ekklesia at Corinth.The literal ekklesia at Corinth represents the unity found in the physical body of Christ as composed of literal members working in unison together.

    This means that a metaphor cannot be used to convey or represent characteristics which cannot be found in the source noun. For example, the literal physical body of Christ cannot convey universality or invisibleness as such characteristics are not found and therefore cannot be conveyed metaphorically. Indeed, the scriptures never provides any metaphor of the ekklesia of Christ that conveys universality or invisibility.

    Moreover, the literal physical body of Christ can convey plurality of "members" but it cannot convey plurality of "heads" or "bodies" as these are not characteristics found in the physical body of Christ. Therefore, in order to convey that each New Testament church has Christ for its metaphorical "head" and each New Testament church is the metaphorical "body" of Christ the Biblical writers must use the abstract generic use of terms and/or distributive terms as in 1 Cor. 11:3 where Paul says that the metaphorical "head" of every man is Christ. He cannot use the plural "heads" with plural "men" as that violates the laws governing the proper use of a metaphor. So instead, he uses the distributive sense or abstract sense in order to say the each man has for his metaphorical head Christ. He can tell an individual ekklesia "YE are the body of Christ" but he cannot say plural "churches" are the plural "bodies" of Christ. He can use the abstract institutional sense to say "the church is the body of Christ" which is a proper grammatical way to say that "the church institution is the metaphorical body of Christ" and means the same thing as if he said each church is the metaphorical body of Christ.

    Universal church advocates violate the rules that govern the proper understanding and use of metaphors. For example, take Ephesians 1:22 where Paul says that Christ is "the head of the church which is his body." The Universal church advocate claims the use of the metaphor "head" in this text is describing a spiritual union between Christ and the church as his metaphorical body. However, the metaphor of "head" is never used in scripture for the idea of "union" but only for "authority." In this context, the continuous theme is Christ's authority. Second, the very same verse claims that he is head "over all things" as much as he is "head" over the church. If the idea of spiritual union is being conveyed here, then the text is made to teach that Christ is in spiritual union with creation and pantheism is being taught. The immediate context demonstrates that the metaphor "head" represents "authority.' Christ is final authority "over all things" including the church. Notice the context of authority:

    20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
    21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
    22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
    23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all
    .

    All the underlined and bold print above convey that he is in a position of final authority. Finally, the metaphor of "head" is descriptive of members in the church that function as leaders over the church body (1 Cor. 12:20 "the head") proving that the metaphor of the body in 1 Corinthians 12 is not a headless corpse but a complete metaphorical body with metaphorical head that Christ is the final authoritity over. The same is true in Ephesians 5:22-25. The woman is not a headless body over which the man is "the head." The woman is a complete body with a head and the man is but the final authority over this complete body. Likewise, with Christ and the church. Finally, this metaphor could never convey "spiritual union" between Christ and the church simply because in the literal union between the physical head and physical body both are mutually dependent upon each other for life. If you sever the physical head from the physical body both equally die. If you don't sever them, both are still physically dependent upon each other for life. Hence, this metaphor is never used to convey "spiritual union" but only final authority.
     
  5. HankD

    HankD
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    Hi biblicist,

    In my estimation "abstract institutionalized" is just another way to say "universal" for those who don't like the concept of the "universal" church and to make a way to say "the church"(with qualification)" when it becomes necessary in a given context.

    e.g. Neo-Orthodoxy infiltrated the church with the teaching of Karl Barth.

    "Institutionalized" is found nowhere in the scripture either literally, conceptually or metaphorically IMO.

    Also, IMO it is a term of convenience.

    The basic problem: The identity and location of a "local church".

    I do however agree that the vast majority use of ekklesia is applied to the local church except for:

    Hebrews 12:23 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,

    There is a membership role in heaven of these church members which only God can see.

    There is no guarantee at all that any given local church on earth has ANY saved members at all and like the congregation of Israel some/many/most local churches are a mixed multitude of lost and saved.

    If all the members of a given assembly are lost is it an given ekklesia and how would we ever know to assign that label to that assembly?
    Is Christ the "head" of that church (with unsaved)?

    Is Christ the head of Mormon local churches and/or JW local assemblies?
    What if they have saved "kidnapped" saints on their role?

    How many saved members does it take for a Baptist "church" or any church to become a NT "church" with Christ as it's head?

    I am sure that there are some local churches of either extreme, all saved or all lost.

    Therefore I personally prefer "the invisible church" to the "the universal church" as it is seen only by God.

    "invisible" is a scriptural word - unseen.

    My definition:
    The "church" in the sense of "universal" or "unseen" is the collection of all born again saints in heaven and on earth which of course only God can see/know.

    In reality it is not only seen by God alone but it's temporal location is eternity (debatable point).

    HankD
     
    #5 HankD, Aug 24, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  6. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    No, it is not another way to say "universal" and has no relationship with even the idea of universal. Let me explain it a different way. You understood my explanation of Institution right? That which has structural organization, officers, discipline, ordinances, membership qualifications, etc. Universal has nothing to do with institutional. Now let me explain "abstract" to you in another way. Suppose you wanted to teach on "the office of Pastor." Now, you don't mean a universal or invisible Pastor do you? Neither do you mean about Pastor Tim or Pastor Hank, but you are speaking and teaching on that office abstractly as an office regardless who might specifically fill it or what church where it might be filled. The same is true of "the church" in the abstract sense.

    Finally, in Classical Greek literature, writers like Plato, would be writing about the Athenian ekklesia, but would speak of it abstractly as an institution, without addressing any particular ekklesia presently assemblying or had assembled or would assemble. He simply taught abstractly about the characteristic or institutional features of the Athenian assembly. You do the same about your church whenever you speak to someone about "the church" position on this or that or "the church" policy or "the church' form of government or officers or ordinances. You have in view your own particular church but you are speaking about it abstractly. So no, neither institutional or abstract has any reality apart from the concrete form. If the concrete form does not exist neither does instititutional abstract concepts of it exist.

    e.g. Neo-Orthodoxy infiltrated the church with the teaching of Karl Barth.





    God is not the one writing this epistle but it is Paul (my view). He is using the langauge of accomodation just as he does in Act 20:28 when describing the New Testament church at Ephesus, that is, he is describing it according to its profession and qualifications for membership. Second, this church is still on earth as only their enrollment is in heaven. In verse 17 he said they had not come before God in the ekklesia at Mount Sinai when the Old Covenant had been established which would only gender wrath and fear. However, the ekklesia at Sinai was still on earth while all of heaven assembled with it (God, angels). In contrast, every time they assemble together they come before God and all of heaven when assembled as the ekklesia of firstborn ones and a better covenant. This is true of every ekklesia "of God" as it is the "house of God" and therefore God is present. Angels are in attendance (1 Cor. 10:11; Eph. 3:15) and the saints of heaven are present (Heb. 12:1). The New Testament ekklesia is more glorious than it is given credit. It is not merely an assembly of humans but is the assembly "of God".

    You are confusing the kingdom of God, which is invisible and universal with the ekklesia of God which is the visible administration of God's kingdom on earth. If you want to see the visible rule of God on earth then it is visibly manifested in the ekklesia "of Christ." Both Augustine and Luther confused the two and that is how the universal invisible concept originated.
     
  7. HankD

    HankD
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    First I didn't deny the use of "institutionalized" except to object that it is a modern term of the post industrial revolution era.
    In fact I have used that terminology myself.

    I will cede and accept the terminology of "accommodation" rather than "convenience".

    Again, we have the problem (location, identity) of the mixed multitude of all sorts of "local churches" and the question remains - Is Christ the head of a church of no saved members;some saved church members;a cult church with one or more saved members?

    Does an unsaved pastor or deacon actually hold the office of "pastor" or "deacon"even if he is unsaved?

    Should folks be re-baptized if it is discovered that the officiating pastor was actually unsaved?
    What about people baptized by an unsaved pastor if it's never found out (only God knows)?

    HankD
     
  8. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    The ekklesia is formed on the basis of profession of salvation. Judas did not invalidate the ekklesia of Christ simply because his was a false profession (Jn. 6:64,70) in the high office of apostle. God added Judas to the ekklesia on purpose to accomplish a function. Paul tell's the church at Corinth the very same thing with regard to schismatic members (1 Cor. 11:18). The function of the ekklesia is public worship, right administration of the ordinances, instruction and growth of membership in keeping with obedience to His commission. The constitution of Christ's ekklesia necessitates properly baptized professing believers by a previous ekklesia through its ordained representatives who are like faith and order with churches found in the New Testament. This reproductive model of like faith and order is built into the Great Commission and its pronouns "ye...you" versus "them" (Mt. 28:19-20).
     
  9. HankD

    HankD
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    OK, just wanted to air my objections for folks to see.
    I'm not convinced about the Hebrews 12:23 passage although I accept the word "accommodation" rather than "convenience" for my own personal use - I just can't accept it as God's purpose via Paul.

    Thanks
    HankD
     
  10. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    If you think about it, Paul is writing those congregations which he constituted and knew very well. Why would he address them in any other manner except according to their profession as he knew their profession by first hand experience? We do this every day. We meet someone who has professed Christ as Savior and we call him/her "brother/sister" not because we can look into his heart but because that is the fitting language for their profession. Why not expect the same thing by Biblical writers? Why assume the Biblical writer is looking at them from God's perspective who can look into hearts?
     
  11. HankD

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    Well, I hadn't planned to prolong this but because the Holy Spirit is the author behind the scenes of personalities.

    Does the Holy Spirit in the act of inspiration have the ability to use "accommodating" words from the vocabulary of Paul to convey a meaning which you have described above?

    I would cede that - Yes, it is within the realm of possibility.


    HankD
     
  12. Van

    Van
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    A whole thread of nonsensical verbiage to say the local church is an assembly of born anew believers carrying out the ministry of Christ. Good Golly Miss Molly...
     
  13. HankD

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    I don't think we should characterize any issue within true Chrisianity as "nonsensical verbiage" Van.

    Remember there is a vast sector of the world which holds that opinion on Christianity in general. - "Nonsense".
    IMO, we shouldn't side with them on ANY issue within Christianity's scope of teachings.

    HankD
     
  14. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Hank, why would Paul speak of them in any other way but believers?
     
  15. HankD

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    ? I am addressing a phrase in Hebrews 12:23

    Hebrews 12:23 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 making the simple observation that there is a membership role written in heaven which presumably only God is able to see (and perhaps those in heaven with Him) a.k.a. The Lamb's book of life (perhaps).
    It is to these that Paul is addressing and not the lost "members" .

    The point is that NO man on earth can see THE body of believers who are born of the Spirit.
    It is possible to see A body of believers born of the Spirit if a given local church has only saved members - but then how could we know that?

    Again how many born again believers does it take to constitute a NT local church?
    100%, 50%, 1% - ?.

    e.g. There is a given local church - 100 members on the role. One of the deacons and 10 of the members are unsaved (do not have their names written in heaven) - is it a NT local church?

    My point - The true church is UNSEEN by mortal men.

    Also and some times referred to as the Universal Church which you went on to disprove according to your belief system.

    That was the theme of your O/P (or so it seemed).

    I give it (the Universal Church) MY name out of "accommodation" - the Invisible church (seen only by God), a collective of all the saved in heaven and on earth.

    It is my opinion and it is one I (at this point) am not sufficiently convinced to change.

    This does not impact my belief of and the importance of the "local church" of which only God Himself of any given local church knows the wheat from the tares.

    The local churches are dispersed into the world as the kingdom of God including ALL of Christendom, Catholic, Mormon, etc... all who CLAIM Christ as Lord.

    This is not the Church of which Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail, only God can see that collective.

    This is why Jesus called it "the kingdom of heaven", and not "the church" in Matthew 13 because IT is a mixed multitude - the local churches on earth (with some exceptions).

    That is why I draw a line and make an exception - no mortal man can determine if in any given local church has every earthly role member's name written in the heavenly role.

    But Jesus can and will at the appointed time:

    Matthew 13
    37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
    38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
    39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
    40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
    41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
    42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    HankD
     
  16. Van

    Van
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    HankD, you do not need a thread to say what a sentence can say. The rest is boilerplate, hog wash, the bathwater, not the baby.
     
  17. HankD

    HankD
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    For everything there is a season...

    HankD
     
  18. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Again, is that not true of believers? Is that any more true than Acts 20:28 and the language that verse 29 proves applies to the local church at Ephesus? Are you saying that Paul can use language for some aspects of salvation for his readers and can't for other aspects? You are making an assumption based upon an ecclesiastical theory when Paul speaks to the churches in all his epistles the very same way. Do you expect him to say, "This next aspect of salvation does not apply to you lost members, but only to you saved members" at Ephesus or Corinth??? What reason would he have of qualifying like that? He is not omnicient and he is not speaking from the standpoint of omnicience, he is speaking from his own personal experience with those at that church or this church and in keeping with their professing and in keeping with what the church requires to be a member.

    The term "ekklesia" means "assembly" and one person is not an assembly. Therefore, it would at minimum require two or three PROFESSED believers ("them" - Mt. 28:19-20) who have been constituted by a church of like faith and order with Christ, or church authorized representative ("ye" Mt. 28:19-20).

    That is simply not true. The church at Jerusalem was a "true" church and called the "church of God" just as the church at Ephesus or at etc. You are confusing the kingdom of God with the church of God and the proof is your quotation of Matthew 13 below which says NOTHING about the ekklesia of Christ.

    It is not my "belief system" but the clear teaching of scripture. Proof? You find anywhere the terms "universal" or "invisible" attached to the church in the Scriptures! Can't be done.



    Where is the term "church" found in Matthew 13? It is found in Mt. 16 and in Matt. 18 but not in Matthew 13. In Matthew 16 and 18:17 it exercises the "keys OF THE KINGDOM" and so cannot be the kingdom. You have the keys to your car? If so, you can't be the car can you? The church has the administrative use of the keys of the kingdom (Mt. 18:17-18) and that makes it impossible for the church to be the kingdom. Instead, the church is the authorized administrator in the kingdom and thus the visible representative of the kingdom.

    For heavens sake Hank!!! In the New Testament there is but ONE KIND of local church and it is the SAME kind in faith and order. God has not authorized the existence of any other kind than like faith and order with the essentials of the Great Commission. Apostate churches are not true churches of Christ, but yet there are true believers in some of the worst (Rev. 18:4).

    Your view here is self-contradictory. You have Christ claiming to build one kind of church in Matthew 16 and then talking about another kind he never claimed to have build, but never again refers to the one he claimed to build. That is irrational and self-contradictory. If Matthew 16 is understood in the ordinanary abstract institutional sense, which is found abundantly in pre-New Testament Classical Greek then there is perfect harmony with his first use of ekklesia and all his following uses. The abstract institutional has no existence apart from the concrete and that is precisely how Christ uses it in Mt. 16 with the concrete in Matthew 18 and Rev. 1-3, 22:16. He is simply claiming to build the institution he continues to describe in concrete form and that institution has never been destroyed by hades and never will till he comes again.

    First, you cannot find it even mentioned in Matthew 13 much less "called it" the "kingdom of heaven." Second, that is impossible because the kingdom preceded the church as the "foundation" of the church has no Old Testament existence but is completely composed of New Testament materials (Eph. 2:20 with 1 Cor. 12:18). A "foundation" is a metaphor that conveys the beginning point of something or on which the whole structure stands.

    The text does not demand this, only your theory demands it, and your theory has no Biblical basis for existence.
     
  19. HankD

    HankD
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    B, I have strayed from my original objection.

    I am saying that Hebrews 12:23 states that there is a church role in heaven which has the names of all born again believers.

    Hebrews 12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

    This I call The Church - along with but not opposed to local churches which I also quite definitely affirm.

    This all inclusive label given to The Church is known in Scripture as The Church of the Firstborn.
    IMO this is a reference to The Church of Jesus Christ of Matthew 16:18.

    To use your own words :
    You can't find anywhere the term "institutional" attached to the church in the Scriptures! Can't be done.

    HankD
     
    #19 HankD, Aug 25, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  20. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Hank, notice that the readers have already come to all of this "But ye are come" (second perfect Active tense). What is being contrasted is the ekklesia at Mount Sinai versus the ekklesia they are members of on earth but were thinking about forsaking. When Israel assembled at Mount Sinai as an ekklesia they were still on earth but yet had come into the presence of God, angels and heaven. Paul is telling these who were thinking about forsaking their ekklesia on earth that they had not come like the Israelite ekklesia before God, heaven and angels where thunder and lightening and God's wrath were present, but when they assemble as an ekklesia on earth, they have come before God, angels and heaven in view of blessings not a curse.

    This ekklesia is still on earth but its members are enrolled in heaven - langauge of accomodation as he is not assuming they are lost - just as the members of the Israelite ekklesia was still on earth but yet before God, heaven and angels. In the next chapter he refers to this same ekklesia with its elders and ordinances and offerings.

    The text literally reads "the church of firstborn ONES"(plural).

    It is a greater privilege than you think to member of a true New Testament ekklesia. The N.T. ekklesia proclaims the "everlasting covenant" (Heb. 13:20) and administer ordinances that declare the grace of God. The very membership qualifications of a New Testament ekklesia declare the New Covenant salvation and the blood that speaketh better things than that of Abel's blood.
     

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