NM02 The Church of God
The Church of God
What is the Church?
Church Separate from the World?
Church is in Christ's Spiritual Body
How is the Church One?
How can Christians be of Christ's Flesh?
What is the Church Founded Upon?
Can the Church make any Law?
Behavior of those in the Church
Physical Organization for the Spiritual Church?
Is the Physical Church the Spiritual Church?
False-Shepherds over the Church?
In this paper we give Biblical definitions as to what the Church is, who or what it is founded upon, whether or not Churches can make just any church law or ruling, what should be the behavior of Church members, and consider the problem of doctrinal errors or false-shepherds over the Church.
What Is the Church?
The word "church" comes from a Greek word that means, "called out." Those of the Church are called out from the world, or the way of the world: "Come out from among them, and be you separate" (2Cor 6:17). "Come out of her [Babylon] my people" (Rev 18:4).
The word "virgin," which the Church is Spiritually called (Rev 14:4), is translated from the Greek word parthenos, which literally means, "one put aside." That is, the Church, the Spiritual wife of God (Rev 19:7), is put aside from the way of the world. Also the word "saint," which is used to describe those in the Church of the New Testament, is translated from the Greek word hagios, which means, "set apart." Those in the Church are set apart from the world. They are set-apart by God (see "Predestination Paper"[NM 8]). It is God who puts people in the Church (see Acts 2:47).
Christ when he was praying to his Spiritual Father spoke about those of the Church: "Holy Father, keep them in your own Name, which you have given me, that they may be one, as we are ... I have given them your word, and the world hates them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from evil. They are not of the world even as I am not of the world" (John 17:11,14-16). Therefore those of the Church are Spiritually called out of the world, and are separate from it even though they are physically still in it. How are they apart from the world?
Church Separate From The World?
They are apart from the world because they have the set-apart Spirit, or as some translations have it, the Holy Spirit. This set-apart Spirit, or Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, or of Christ because Christ is God (John 20:28). The Spirit of God is the New Mind (cf Rom 6:4, 7:6, 12:2; Eph 4:23). And those of the Church have the Spirit of God in them (Rom 8:9-11,14-16).
nm19» The one main thing that makes you a member of the body or Church of Christ is that you must have the Spirit of God (1Cor 12:12-13). "There is one body, and one Spirit ... One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all" (Eph 4:4,6). "For through him [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Eph 2:18). This one kind of Spirit is the Spirit in the body of Christ, which is the Church (1Cor 12:4,13).
Church is in Christ's Spiritual Body
nm20» Those in the Church are in the collective body of Christ, and are the collective body of Christians. "For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in 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 ... Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (1Cor 12:12-13,27).
nm21» Therefore, you are in the Church, or in the body of Christ, when you are in the Spirit of God (you have the New Mind), or when you have the Spirit of God in you (Rom 8:14-16).
nm22» Those in the Church are the members of Christ's body, and Christ is "the head over all things to the church, which is his body" (Eph 1:22-23).
- Christ is the head of the body, and we are the members of his body (1Cor 12:27).
- "Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body," as "the husband is the head of the wife" (Eph 5:23).
- We are the wife of Christ, and the bride of the lamb (Rev 19:7). Christ is the lamb of God (John 1:29).
- Those in the Church are the sheep, and Christ is the shepherd (John chap 10).
- Those in the Church are the branches, Christ is the root of the vine (John 15).
- Those in the Church are the stones of the building, Christ is the chief cornerstone (Eph 2:19-22; 1Pet 2:5).
- Those in the Church are of the kingdom of priests, and Christ is the High Priest (Heb 3:1, 5:1-10; 1Pet 2:5-9; Rev 1:6).
How Is The Church One?
nm23» There is only one body of Christ, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism (Eph 4:4-5). There is only one Church, with one baptism, one faith, one Lord. The Church is not many different groups. The Church is ONE group, ONE body with ONE Spirit. Those with the Spirit of God, that New Mind, are the people of the ONE true Church with the one baptism, one faith, and one Lord.
nm24» The Church is made up of people who have the Spirit of God inside them leading them into the way of harmony. It is the Spirit that sets people apart from the world. It is the Spirit that makes people one. "For in one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1Cor 12:13). With this same Spirit we receive the gifts of the Spirit (1Cor 12:4). These gifts of the Spirit are "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith" (Gal 5:22). When we have this one Spirit, we have the same gifts or fruits from this Spirit, "according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph 4:7). These gifts are given "for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come into the unity of the faith" (Eph 4:11-13).
How Can Christians Be of Christ's Flesh?
nm25» When we have the Spirit we are in the Church, and "we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Eph 5:30).
nm26» When we are Spiritually baptized into the body of Christ, we are baptized into it by the one Spirit of God (1Cor 12:13). Those who have been baptized into the body of Christ, "have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal 3:27). When one is Spiritually baptized into Christ, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28). These are one in Christ because they "have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1Cor 12:13). They are one in the sense that they have the one Spirit. Males are still males in the physical sense. Females are still females in the physical sense. But they are one in the Spiritual sense because they have the one true Spirit of God. "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29). Christ was a descendant of Abraham (Luke 3:23,34), he was of the seed of Abraham. Therefore when we are in Christ's body (his Church) we too are the descendant of Abraham, we are of the promised seed of Abraham because we have "that holy Spirit of promise, which is the evidence of our inheritance" (Eph 1:13-14). Because we are of the seed of Abraham, we are also of the Flesh of Christ (Eph 5:30), we are of Israel, we are of the Spiritual "Israel of God" (Gal 6:16).
Who Or What Is The Church Founded Upon?
nm27» Christ said, "and I say also unto thee, that you are Peter, and upon this the rock I will build my church" (Mat 16:18). Now the Roman Catholic Church has used this verse incorrectly to say that Christ built his Church on the foundation of Peter. The word "Peter" comes here from a Greek word that means, "stone" or "rock." But the sentence reads, "you are Peter and upon this the rock I will build my Church." Who is the rock Christ was speaking about here? Was it Peter, or was it THE ROCK? Which rock is the Church founded upon?
nm28» "For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens 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" (Eph 2:18-20).
nm29» It is Christ who is the chief foundational stone, or rock. Christ is "the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense" (1Pet 2:7-8). Christ is God (John 20:28, see God Papers). And God is the ROCK (Deut 32:4; Pss 18:2,31). It is God, or Christ who is the head Rock of the Church, He is the foundation, the chief foundation, not Peter. Peter is just one of the "living stones" of the Church (Eph 2:20; 1Pet 2:5), he is not the main foundation. Therefore the "rock" spoken about in Mat 16:18 is God, not Peter.
Can Churches Make Any Law They Wish?
nm30» Note Mat 16:19. Many churches tell their flock that this verse gives them the right to make laws on their own, and that such laws are binding. This is wrong! Notice, "and I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" (Mat 16:19). And from the Twentieth Century New Testament translation: "whatever you forbid on earth will be held in Heaven to be forbidden." Now IF this translation is correct, it is saying the earthly can tell the heavenly what is right or what is wrong. But this is contrary to all the Bible. It is the heavenly that shows the earthly what is right, not vice versa. This has been mistranslated. It should be translated: "and whatever you forbid on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven" (The New Testament, by C.B. Williams). Why is this the correct translation? In the prayer which Jesus asked us to pray in like manner, Jesus said to ask our Father: "your wish be done in the earth, as it is in heaven" (Mat 6:10). The Church is only to bind on earth things that have already been bound in the heavenly sense. The Church can only make laws that reflect the heavenly or spiritual sense or spiritual dimension.
What Was The Bible In Christ's Day?
nm31» The only Bible they had during the time of Christ and shortly thereafter was the Old Testament scripture. Paul's letters to the Church of God were merely letters explaining the Old Testament promises in light of the things of Jesus Christ. When the Bereans searched the scriptures, they searched the Old Testament (Acts 17:10-11). But today the Christian Bible is the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The Christian Bible includes the inspired material of the apostles.
How Many Are To Become Members of The Church?
Few Saved Now; All Later
nm32» Everyone will become members of the Church before the plan of God is completed, but up to the Messiah's return only the few will be saved (see "All Saved Paper" [NM 13]). "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it" (Mat 7:13-14). Many will go into aeonian destruction, for it is the many who are misled. "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man mislead you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall mislead many." It is the confusion of Satan that has misled the whole world (Rev 12:9). Most will be misled. In fact all have been, for those who learn of the Way were themselves at one time deceived. It is only the few who will be given the Spirit which leads them into all the truth (Mat 7:14 & John 16:13). But as we will see in these papers all will receive the Spirit in the Great Last Spiritual Day of Creation, thus all will be saved eventually.
What Is The Behavior of Those In The Church?
nm33» Since those in the Church are Christians in the truest sense, then they behave as Christians should behave, not like most so-called Christians behave in this age. The New Mind Papers manifest that true Christians follow the law or system of love. They follow it according to the degree of Spiritual power given them. All Christians produce much Spiritual fruit (see paper, "Prove Paper" [NM 10] and the "Freedom and Law" [NM 17]).
Physical Organization for the Spiritual Church?
nm34» As the Church was shown organized physically in the book of Acts, so too the Church may be at times physically organized since the days of the book of Acts. Christ said that the Church would be scattered: "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered" (Mark 14:27). Christ said since they persecuted him, they would persecute the Church (John 15:20). And in Acts 8:1 it reads, "and at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judah and Samaria, except the apostles." So the Church was scattered from Jerusalem and throughout the known world as Paul's letters indicated.
nm35» But even though Paul's epistles showed they were scattered, some came nevertheless together in certain cities throughout the world. The Church of Acts had a center at Jerusalem, and was physically organized and did send out teachers from Jerusalem throughout the world. But Jerusalem was destroyed by the invading Roman troops, and tradition has it that the apostles were killed about 40 years after Christ died. Thus, according to the records available today, at that time at least a center of the physically organized Church ceased, yet the Spiritual Church didn't cease since the Church is Spiritually organized through the medium of the Spirit. As long as there is one person on earth with God's Spirit, the New Mind, there is the Church of God.
nm36» After the center in Jerusalem of the Church was destroyed about 40 years after Christ was killed, more than likely the Church was physically organized in some way many times again over the years. But there doesn't need to be a physically organized Church on earth in order for there to be a Church of God on earth. The Church of God is made up of those who have the New Mind or the Spirit of God, irrespective of whether there is or isn't a physically organized Church. We can never say with any certainty that any physically organized church, after the Apostles died, was indeed the Church. Even in the physical churches organized by the Apostles, real Christians were put-out (3John 1:9-10). To repeat: the Church is Spiritual and various physical churches cannot in this age be identified with any certainty as being the Church.
Is a Physical Church the Spiritual Church?
nm37» To be in the Church is to have the Spirit. Yet Jude wrote of "certain men who crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this the judgement, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into loose conduct, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" ( ). "These are they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit" ( ). This shows there were some physically in the Church who didn't have the Spirit of God (see Gal 2:4).
nm38» Also 1John 2:18-19 shows that some left the Church because they weren't of the Church. But in some cases the true Christians were forced out of the physical churches in certain areas of the world (see 3John 1:9-10). This was prophesied by Christ (see Luke 6:22). There will even be false teachers among the physical church (2Pet 2:1). Therefore not all in a physically organized Christian Church are of the Spirit of God.
Find the True Physically Organized Church?
nm39» The best indication that you have found it is by the behavior of the people in the church. Are the people following Spiritually the law of love? Or is the Church merely serving a social function? Whatever, we must be careful of how we judge. We must remember that there may be more non-Christians in a physical church than true Christians with the New Mind. Therefore be careful how we judge.
What About Doctrinal Errors of Churches?
nm40» When errors of doctrine are brought forward, the Church will admit the error, as Peter admitted one of his (Gal 2:11-14), and as all those with the New Mind should admit their errors when reproved (Job 33:27; Prov 28:13; 1John 1:8-9).
nm41» Some reasons for error in doctrine may be mistranslations of the Bible, or non-Spiritual leaders, or lack of the Bible or parts of the Bible. There will be errors until Elijah comes (Mat 17:10-11).
nm42» In Ezek 34 it shows that the shepherds of Israel are false shepherds. This is dual: (1) it speaks of false shepherds over physical Israel; and (2) it speaks of false shepherds over Spiritual Israel. But God says, "I will deliver my flock from their mouth" (Ezek 34:10). Therefore it is possible for false shepherds to actually mislead some or many in the true Church, and this could be a reason for doctrinal error. In the truest sense it also indicates the other-mind that remains in the minds of Christians in the old age. This evil mind continues to attempt to mislead Christians and sometimes succeeds.
False Shepherds Over The True Church?
nm43» We will now discuss the scripture about false shepherds over the True Church. Peter wrote about false teachers among Christians (2Pet 2:1). But in order to understand this further we must know that the scripture is dual, with a typical and antitypical fulfillment. Now, or near the end of the age all prophecy will be fulfilled that has seemed to fail previously:
- "Son of man, what is that proverb that you have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision fails? Tell them therefore, Thus says the Lord GOD; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision" (Ezek 12:22-23).
Now the time is close at hand (see, the "End of the Age"[PR7]). Therefore all prophecy will be fulfilled soon.
nm44» In the scriptures it indicates that over physical Israel false shepherds would rule at various times. And throughout the history of Israel there were evil leaders over Israel and its congregation. Since the New Testament Church is the antitypical Israel ("Israel of God," Gal 6:16), then Spiritual Israel will have false shepherds misleading it at different times.
nm45» In Ezek 34, it pictures "the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves" (v. 2). God continues to the false shepherds, "You eat the fat, and you clothe you with the wool, you kill them that are fed: but you feed not the flock. The diseased have you not strengthened, neither have you healed that which was sick, neither have you bound up that which was broken, neither have you brought again that which was driven away, neither have you sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have you ruled them" (Ezek 34:3-4).
nm46» Among these false shepherds is the idolatrous or worthless shepherd. Zech 11:16-17 tells of this worthless shepherd:
"For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off; neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that which is broken, nor feed that which stands still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe to the idolatrous shepherd that leaves the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened."
Spiritually speaking, this means the worthless shepherd will not have the right (good) side or good eye; he will not have the Spirit of God. In the truest sense this scripture and others like it point to Satan and his spirit of evil (the other-mind).
nm47» Ezek 44 projects to us some more details on these false shepherds:
- And you shall say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD; O you house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, In that you have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart [without God's Spirit], and uncircumcised in flesh [without the flesh of Christ, Eph 5:30], to be in my sanctuary [Church], to pollute it, even my house, when you offer my bread [Spiritual], the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. And you have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but you have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for themselves ... And the Levites that have gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. Yet they [the non-Spiritual Levites] shall be ministers in my sanctuary [Church], having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house ... Because they ministered unto them before their idols ["idols in their heart," Ezek 14:3], and caused the house of Israel [Church] to fall into iniquity, therefore have I lifted my hand against them, says the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity (Ezek 44:6-12).
nm48» In verse 13 it says these uncircumcised shall not come near to minister, but verse 14 says they do, yet verse 15 speaks of the "sons of righteous" ("Zakok") that keep charge in God's Church. Thus, both the Spiritual and non-Spiritual ministers have "ruled" over the Church. Yet Ezek 34 and Zechariah speak of the idolatrous shepherd misruling the sheep with other false shepherds. But God said in Ezek 34:10 that he will deliver his flock from the false shepherds' mouth. And Ezek 13:23 says the same thing: "for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and you shall know that I am the Lord." It is/was Jesus Christ that delivers his people, the Spiritual Israel, out of the hands of the false shepherds, by overcoming Satan and giving the New Mind to the New Israel. It is with the New Mind that the New or Spiritual Israel is defeating and will defeat the other-mind and its evil power.
nm49» In Ezek 13-14 it describes antitypically some things about these false ministers. They "prophesy out of their own hearts," but they call it the word of God: "hear you the word of the Lord" (Ezek 13:2). They see visions of peace for the Church, Spiritual Jerusalem (Ezek 13:16). But Christ prophesied of trouble within the Church (Mat 24:9-10; Mark 13:9,12; Luke 21:12,16). And Rev 2:10 says the Church will have tribulation.
nm50» In Ezek 9:6 it says God will begin to destroy the abomination of Israel at his sanctuary (see verses 4-11). He will begin with the elders of the Church (last part of Ezek 9:6). Three shepherds will be cut off in a month or new moon (Zech 11:8). Again this speaks of the destruction of the spiritual abomination that was in old Israel - the old mind or other-mind - through the power of the New Mind. The old evil spiritual shepherds who ruled over Israel were and are being destroyed by the New Mind that was given to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is now giving the New Mind or Spirit to the New Israel (see the "Seed Paper" [PR1] and the God Papers).