What follows is a section of a booklet I’ve written. Please request a copy or two for your personal study and distribution. The booklet is divided into five major chapters: The Church, The Bride, Old Testament Shadows, New Testament Parables, and Common Objections Answered. Each section will be posted separately.
Who owns the church?
One of the wickedest organizations on the face of the earth is a state church, or any organization that claims to be a “church” but without Christ as the head. These organizations and their offspring are apostate monstrosities. Christ, not man, must be the owner of “the church” and for only one reason—Christ died for the church. A couple of verses will make this clear enough:
Act 20:28 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.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
When a man and a woman get married, they exchange vows, and one of the vows is “To have and to hold,” and to be only unto the other person till death do them part. So, the man “has” the wife—she is his alone—and the woman has the man—he is hers alone. So it is with Christ and the church. Jesus loves his Bride and is jealous for her. Jesus owns the church and is the head of the church even as the man is head of his wife (Eph 5:24). Therefore, for a man or group of men to preside over a church or conglomerate of churches is to establish a different head or “owner” than Christ. This is tantamount to fornication and adultery! Notice, there is nothing “figurative” in the comparison Paul is making. Local, visible churches are literally the Bride of Christ, and more specifically faithful churches.
Who builds the church?
Do bus ministries, soul winning programs, Sunday schools, “Christian Academies” and seminaries build churches, or does Jesus? The answer is easy to find. The Bible says in Matthew 16:18, “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.” Jesus builds and establishes churches upon himself and his doctrines. There is no other way to build a church except Christ builds it. But, the question still remains: what is the church? Is it “universal and invisible,” “local and visible,” or “both”?
Universal, Invisible or Local, Visible?
I can assure you that “the church” is neither universal (catholic) nor invisible but is exclusively local and visible, and Baptistic. “Churches”—plural—is used 36 times in the New Testament and the word “Church” has 80 matches. But the two are similar. There is not “one” church, as in a universal, invisible “thing.” Instead, sometimes when “church”—singular—is used, it is used in a generic sense to represent the “institution.” This is called a synecdoche, which is a figure of speech in which a part is used to represent the whole or vise versa. If I held up my King James Bible and said, “There is only one Bible” people would know that I mean, “There is only one type of Bible” because there are literally millions of copies of the King James Version in print—the part represents the whole. Or, if I said to a congregation, “If you have a King James Bible in your hand, you have the true Bible,” people would know that I mean they have the one type of Bible. So it is with “the church.” The church is the type of church. The doctrines of Christ are the doctrines of the Apostles, and these doctrines were before any Catholic or Protestant “church” existed. People existed well beyond the formation of those empirical entities, and they went by many names. A few are presented here: Christians, Paterins, Paulicians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Albigenses, Waldenses, Anabaptstis, and eventually Baptists. But, not every “Baptist” is a TRUE Baptist. “Baptists” without a strictly closed Lord’s Table, who accept everyone’s baptism with little regard to it’s Scripturality, and who misidentify the Bride of Christ have betrayed the doctrines of Christ and are apostate—they lost the candlestick.
Ecclesia—the visible, called out assembly!
Now that we understand who owns and builds the church, we can summarize by looking at just what the church is. The word “church” is “ekklēsia” (ἐκκλησία) in Greek, and it is, “From a compound of G1537 and a derivative of G2564; a calling out, that is, (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): – assembly, church” (Strong’s). When it says, “a compound” that is referring to the combining of “ek” or “ex,” which denotes origin: “(the point whence motion or action proceeds,)…from, out…) and “kal-eh’-o, Akin to the base of G2753; to “call” (properly aloud, but used in a variety of applications, directly or otherwise): – bid, call (forth), (whose, whose sur-) name (was [called]).” Therefore, it is a “called out assembly.” It is amazing that the translated word “Church” is the very same as ekklesia in Greek. “Church,” therefore, by definition, means a called out assembly of saved, baptized believers. For the record, the translators of the King James Version were correct to use the word “church” from the Greek “ekklesia”! For those who believe the Bible, there is never confusion. And, just as the meaning of the word “Baptism” (“baptizō”, derived from “baptō,” which means “to whelm…dip”) has been perverted by the Catholics and Protestants, despite the clear Greek definition that underlies the King’s English, so has the word “Church.”
To reiterate, “church” is nothing more than a called out assembly of saved, baptized believers. True churches are who the Bride is and will be—none else would Christ have. Christ established a Baptistic church, from which many more Baptistic churches have been planted. This is “succession,” “perpetuity,” and “continuity.”
Succession, Perpetuity, Continuity
The topic of succession, perpetuity, and continuity will hopefully solidify the truth of what “the church” is further. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “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.” Jesus built a Baptist church, which consisted of his 12 disciples and himself—these all had John’s baptism. Because Jesus and the 12 had a Baptist baptism, they were Baptists. The doctrines Christ taught the 12 were not his own but his father’s which sent him (Joh 14:24). The ordinance of Baptism (immersion) and Communion (closed) and every other doctrine was given to the 11 (because Judas had gone out from among them). That is succession.
Perpetuity is the fact that from the time of Christ and the 11, later the church at Jerusalem, the doctrines was perpetuated from one local church to the next by the abiding presence and power of the Holy Ghost and via the laying on of hands—the transfer of authority from one body to the next (not from one man to the next).
Continuity simply means that the doctrine did not change and they do not change from one body to the next—if the doctrine in one local church changes, that church is said to be apostate. Now, if there is not a succession from John, to Jesus, to the 12, etc., then Matthew 16:18 is a lie; if there is no perpetuity, then Matthew 16:18 is a lie; and if there is no continuity, then Matthew 16:18 is a lie. Is Christ a liar? I trow not! But, in the course of reading this book, you will hopefully discover just who the liars are—the “Baptists” who open membership, open the table, and misidentify the Bride.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what the church is, we can begin to look at a few basic examples from the Bible that help us understand the church and bride as synonyms.