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A clear verse teaching a universal understanding of the word "church".


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DaveW

Thanks for the clarification.

I agree with you that the word church is a "Called out Assembly" and in most cases it refers to a specific local church. Maybe what I am saying is symantics, so let me rephrase and see what you think. I would say that "All Believers" belong to God's Church as he proclaimed that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. (All Singular). However, I can agree with you that there is no "Universal Church" as taught by the Roman Catholics. If we said that "All Believers belong to the Bride or Body of Christ and that the Lord works through the local church, what would your thoughts be?

 

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Indeed. Absolutely, the Roman Catholic sense of "universal church" is utterly unbiblical; for that concept attempts to MANufacture on the earth, what the Lord our God has already ordained and d

Above is the opening post of this thread. 1. Brother Dave said, "I would be interested if someone could quote a verse that clearly teaches a universal understanding of the word 'church'." An

There is such a thing as the church in concept. The common illustration used is: The car has changed the way we live." Which individual car are we talking about? No individual car, of course

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4 hours ago, Pastorj said:

DaveW

Thanks for the clarification.

I agree with you that the word church is a "Called out Assembly" and in most cases it refers to a specific local church. Maybe what I am saying is symantics, so let me rephrase and see what you think. I would say that "All Believers" belong to God's Church as he proclaimed that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. (All Singular). However, I can agree with you that there is no "Universal Church" as taught by the Roman Catholics. If we said that "All Believers belong to the Bride or Body of Christ and that the Lord works through the local church, what would your thoughts be?

 

Now you see, the problem i have with that reference (the gates of hell...), is that if it is universal, then Jesus was wrong.

Let me explain this:

In WW2, it could have been said at various times that the German army prevailed over the Allies.  They did not ultimately do so, but for instance, in France the Germans prevailed.

There are plenty of churches that have failed over the years, and if we are talking universally then we could rightly say that Satan has prevailed over the church in certain areas.

If however, that verse is referring to the church in concept (car reference from earlier in this thread), then the gates of Hell have not prevailed. 

By the way, when Jesus calls it "my church" He is specifying His church as distinct from any other assembly.

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1 hour ago, DaveW said:

By the way, when Jesus calls it "my church" He is specifying His church as distinct from any other assembly.

Dave,

Thank you for your whole post; especially the last sentence quoted above. The Lord Jesus clearly said, "my church," or the called out assembly of the saints (not unregenerate sinners in some church roll).

1. This excludes all of the false churches throughout the ages.

2. The writer in Hebrews is very clear when he states, ""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." Hebrews 12:23 The writer in Hebrews is clearly speaking of all of the firstborn, the redeemed saints, whose names are written in heaven (not on some Roman Catholic church roll, or other church roll), of the spirits of just men made perfect. There is no universal church here on this earth that the writer of Hebrews is speaking of. It is an assembly of believers in heaven.

Alan

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I feel like this argument is really based on semantics at times. It seems we all agree that in the future there is going to be an assembly of ALL believers in the future according to the passage in Hebrews that has been referenced. We also all seem to agree that right now on earth there are different assemblies of believers on earth now, all of which will belong to the assembled group in the future as referenced in Hebrews. 

I have some questions, Can you be part of the future gathering of all believers without being a part of the a local assembly?

Here's a scenario, Lets say you get saved, join a church, and the church you are attending closes it's doors. So now you are saved, but are no longer the member of any local assembly. Can we rightly say that person is still not part of Jesus "My Church" and that they are not part of the Church mentioned in Hebrews? I think if you honestly answer these questions we can come to the conclusion that there is more to being part of Christ's Church than just being a part of a local assembly. What is clear is God works today in this world through local churches. 

In my opinion what I see is a knee jerk reaction to the Protestant and Catholic understanding of a "Universal Church" with a hierarchal structure. I think many have gone too far in the opposite direction in response to this. 

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20 minutes ago, Jordan Kurecki said:

I feel like this argument is really based on semantics at times. It seems we all agree that in the future there is going to be an assembly of ALL believers in the future according to the passage in Hebrews that has been referenced. We also all seem to agree that right now on earth there are different assemblies of believers on earth now, all of which will belong to the assembled group in the future as referenced in Hebrews. 

I have some questions, Can you be part of the future gathering of all believers without being a part of the a local assembly?

Here's a scenario, Lets say you get saved, join a church, and the church you are attending closes it's doors. So now you are saved, but are no longer the member of any local assembly. Can we rightly say that person is still not part of Jesus "My Church" and that they are not part of the Church mentioned in Hebrews? I think if you honestly answer these questions we can come to the conclusion that there is more to being part of Christ's Church than just being a part of a local assembly. What is clear is God works today in this world through local churches. 

In my opinion what I see is a knee jerk reaction to the Protestant and Catholic understanding of a "Universal Church" with a hierarchal structure. I think many have gone too far in the opposite direction in response to this. 

Words are important.

The proper use of words is important.

Many people use the words "Church " in a lazy, thoughtless way.

We ought to use words in a Biblical way.

The word "Church" is used wrongly, poorly, and unbiblically by many, which leads to an unbiblical understanding of Biblical passages and concepts, and it makes room for false doctrines.

The problem becomes clearer when we consider Acts 2 (and other passages). If we lazily use the word "Church" in an unbiblical universal way, then we allow those who teach baptismal regeneration space to play around with such passages, for example. Sometimes seemingly simple things can have heavier doctrinal consequences. 

The word "Church" has been used by many in just such a lazy, unbiblical way on this site.

Semantics? Maybe I guess, but accuracy of terms is not unimportant. 

If I have made people consider their use of this word, and caused people to at least be more careful with it, then I am satisfied.

Remember also that this is a discussion forum, and this has in general been a good discussion.

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Brother Dave,

I have been thinking lately about this thread discussion.  You indicated that the thread was started in order to challenge people to think and study more thoroughly concerning the matter of the "universal church" idea.  As one who considers you to be a dear brother, a forum friend, and one worthy of my respect, may I attempt to challenge your thinking somewhat concerning Hebrews 12:22-23.

1.  Would you agree that Hebrews 12:22-23 definitely DOES speak concerning some form of "church," and that being some form of truly Biblical church in relation to our Lord Jesus Christ?

2.  What basic definition would you give for the word "universal" in relation to the idea of "universal church" (while not narrowing that definition of the word "universal" by any given doctrinal system)?

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3 hours ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

Brother Dave,

I have been thinking lately about this thread discussion.  You indicated that the thread was started in order to challenge people to think and study more thoroughly concerning the matter of the "universal church" idea.  As one who considers you to be a dear brother, a forum friend, and one worthy of my respect, may I attempt to challenge your thinking somewhat concerning Hebrews 12:22-23.

1.  Would you agree that Hebrews 12:22-23 definitely DOES speak concerning some form of "church," and that being some form of truly Biblical church in relation to our Lord Jesus Christ?

2.  What basic definition would you give for the word "universal" in relation to the idea of "universal church" (while not narrowing that definition of the word "universal" by any given doctrinal system)?

Brother, this is the one passage which speaks of all saints and clearly uses the word "Church" in relation to them. In that sense it is "universal".

However, it is still the proper use of the word "church" because those saints are all gathered together in one place - the Bible even specifically names and designates the "place".

In that respect it does no violence to the meaning of the word "ekklesia" upon which our word "church" is based.

Spiritual or otherwise is irrelevant in the sense that the Bible puts it in terms of an actual gathering together in an actual place.

Are there any places in the Bible that CLEARLY go against the basic meaning of the word church (when that meaning is based on the proper meaning of ekklesia")? Not that I have found.

When the Bible wants to clearly speak about all saved people without restriction, it uses other words, but not "church".

In that respect, the Bible does speak universally of all saved people, but it uses terms like household, family, fellowcitizens, etc- words that are not location dependent.

I can be a citizen of my country no matter where I am in the world. It is not location dependent.

I am a member of my family even when I am at work, my wife is shopping, the kids are at different places of study/work. We are still a family independent of location.

But the basic meaning of ekklesia, and therefore the biblical meaning of church are dependent upon being gathered together. This is reinforced by virtually every verse and passage that uses the word church, and the very few that are not 100% clearly local, are vague about the concept at worst, due to those passages not being concerned with the concept of "church".

None are clearly "universal only" in their meaning.

As a result, the actual concept of a universal church is not something that I would consider a possibility.

However, the Bible does indeed speak of all saved people collectively - it just doesn't use the word church when it does so.

"Universal church" is an oxymoron.

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3 hours ago, DaveW said:

Brother, this is the one passage which speaks of all saints and clearly uses the word "Church" in relation to them. In that sense it is "universal".

Brother Dave,

Such is the very admission of Biblical truth with which I am seeking to challenge you.  As you acknowledge:

1.  Hebrews 12:22-23 DOES speak of ALL New Testament saints.
2.  Hebrews 12:22-23 DOES use the word "church" in relation to ALL New Testament saints.
3.  Thus Hebrews 12:22-23 DOES use the word "church" in a "universal" sense.
 

3 hours ago, DaveW said:

However, it is still the proper use of the word "church" because those saints are all gathered together in one place - the Bible even specifically names and designates the "place".

In that respect it does no violence to the meaning of the word "ekklesia" upon which our word "church" is based.

Spiritual or otherwise is irrelevant in the sense that the Bible puts it in terms of an actual gathering together in an actual place.

Although I believe that it would be worthy for us to consider the doctrinal details of the matter, I do not stand in dispute with the primary point of your comments herein.
 

3 hours ago, DaveW said:

When the Bible wants to clearly speak about all saved people without restriction, it uses other words, but not "church".

In that respect, the Bible does speak universally of all saved people, but it uses terms like household, family, fellowcitizens, etc- words that are not location dependent.

Brother Dave, with all due respect (and I do hold a great deal of respect for you as a brother and as a friend), these comments appear to be in contradiction with your opening admission.

Herein you say that (1) "when the Bible wants to clearly speak about ALL saved people without restriction," (2) "it uses OTHER words, but NOT 'church'."

However, with your opening admission you acknowledge that Hebrews 12:22-23 (1) "is the one passage which speaks of ALL saints" (2) "and CLEARLY uses the word 'CHURCH' in relation to them."

So then, while continuing my challenge to your thinking, I am compelled to ask -- Which is correct?  Does the New Testament ONLY ever use other words when speaking of ALL New Testament saints, but NEVER the word "church," no, NOT EVER?  Or, does the New Testament actually and CLEARLY use the word "church" in relation to ALL New Testament saints in at least the one passage of Hebrews 12:22-23?  In fact, the NEVER, no NOT EVER declaration, and the AT LEAST ONCE declaration are mutually exclusive.  It is impossible for both to be correct.
 

3 hours ago, DaveW said:

But the basic meaning of ekklesia, and therefore the biblical meaning of church are dependent upon being gathered together. This is reinforced by virtually every verse and passage that uses the word church, and the very few that are not 100% clearly local, are vague about the concept at worst, due to those passages not being concerned with the concept of "church".

None are clearly "universal only" in their meaning.

Again, I have no dispute with the primary point that you have made herein.  Indeed, I would not argue that Hebrews 12:22-23 teaches a "universal ONLY" idea for "the general assembly and church of the firstborn."  Rather, considering the precise terminology and grammar of Hebrews 12:22-23, I am compelled to contend that Hebrews 12:22-23 teaches:

(1) A universal membership and gathering (2) at a single, heavenly locality (3) at the present time (4) through a spiritual means.
 

3 hours ago, DaveW said:

However, the Bible does indeed speak of all saved people collectively - it just doesn't use the word church when it does so.

Again, with all DUE respect, I make the challenge that this statement stands in contradiction with your opening admission.
 

3 hours ago, DaveW said:

"Universal church" is an oxymoron.

So then, if the precise terminology and grammar of Hebrews 12:22-23 really does reveal that which I claim (and which you acknowledged in your opening admission), then the phrase "universal church" is NOT an oxymoron, but IS a BIBLICAL idea (not according the doctrinal details of any false doctrinal system, but according to the doctrinal details of God's Holy Word).

Even so, if such is correct, then we are compelled to study and understand the doctrinal details of that idea as revealed through God's Holy Word.

 

(By the way, Brother Alan, I have great respect for you as a brother and as a friend, even as I do for Brother Dave, and would also seek to challenge your thinking with these considerations.)

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On 1/2/2018 at 8:17 AM, Pastor Scott Markle said:

So then, if the precise terminology and grammar of Hebrews 12:22-23 really does reveal that which I claim (and which you acknowledged in your opening admission), then the phrase "universal church" is NOT an oxymoron, but IS a BIBLICAL idea (not according the doctrinal details of any false doctrinal system, but according to the doctrinal details of God's Holy Word).

Even so, if such is correct, they we are compelled to study and understand the doctrinal details of that idea as revealed through God's Holy Word.

Brethren,

With great hesitancy I entered this conversation, and, quite frankly, I want to depart from this conversation, as I dearly respect all of the brethren in this conversation and do not want to cause any disrespect to any body in this conversation. So, this may be the last of my comments.

The definition of "oxymoron" is: "A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined, as in a deafening silence."  I feel that when David used the term "oxymoron" in his post he used it correctly in the issue of the word "universal" as it is commonly accepted.

Starting from the Roman Catholic Church, to almost, not all, of the religious denominations, para-church organizations, "Bible Teacher", espouses Hebrews 12:22-23 to prove that the "church" is universal and not a local church. These groups use the word 'universal' to try and force it into their own definition.

I am of the persuasion that the notion, or idea, or thought, that the Roman Catholic Church, or the other religious denominations, or the para-church organization, will sincerely learn, or accept, or be compelled to study and understand, the concept of a local church, is not realistic. These groups of people that I named have already, I must re-emphasize the word 'already,' determined to reject the concept of the local church and are adamantly against the local church and will continue to be adamantly against the concept of the local church.

Hebrews 12:22-23 clearly teaches that the church of the redeemed is gathered in heaven and has nothing to do with the concept of a universal church on this earth as the Roman Catholic Church, the other religious denominations, and every para-church organization teaches.

Alan

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13 minutes ago, Alan said:

Brethren,

With great hesitancy I entered this conversation, and, quite frankly, I want to depart from this conversation, as I dearly respect all of the brethren in this conversation and do not want to cause any disrespect to any body in this conversation. So, this may be the last of my comments.

Brother Alan,

As I have previously mentioned, I greatly respect you as a fellow brother and forum friend; therefore, I accept your departure from the conversation.  Please understand that I have and have had NO level of animosity toward you or Brother Dave.  I love the two of you with Christian love far too much for that.

15 minutes ago, Alan said:

Hebrews 12:22-23 clearly teaches that the church of the redeemed is gathered in heaven and has nothing to do with the concept of a universal church on this earth . . .

This part of your statement I can AMEN, with a hearty AMEN!!!

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We do indeed stand in agreement, but the critical point is that it is legitimate use of the term "church" precisely because they are all gathered together, thereby not doing violence to the underlying meaning of the word Church.

It is not relating to the "universal scope" of who is gathered, but the fact that they are gathered as a Church.

 

The underlying truth of this matter is that many, many people, including godly men, use the term "Church" carelessly, thereby opening up abuse of the term by false teachers to go unchallenged.

There needs to be a clear understanding of where you (generically) stand, so that you can defend against those who will use Acts 2:41, 47 and other passages against you, applying a universal meaning to such verses thereby opening a way to defend baptismal regeneration, for instance. 

 

 

 

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This has been an interesting discussion. I believe we are all very similar in our positions.

1. We all seem to believe that the word Church is a "Called Out Assembly"
2. We all seem to believe that the Church spoken of in the New Testament is a local body of believers
3. We all seem to believe that one day the Lord will return and we will be a "Called Out Assembly" in Heaven.

Where the conversation breaks down is with the introduction of the word "Universal", which I believe we all reject the definition used by the cults and catholic church.

I have always enjoyed these discussions on this site. Don't take it personally, just hold on to your beliefs.

 

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11 hours ago, DaveW said:

We do indeed stand in agreement, but the critical point is that it is legitimate use of the term "church" precisely because they are all gathered together, thereby not doing violence to the underlying meaning of the word Church.

It is not relating to the "universal scope" of who is gathered, but the fact that they are gathered as a Church.

Brother Dave, 

I can wholeheartedly agree with that.
 

11 hours ago, DaveW said:

The underlying truth of this matter is that many, many people, including godly men, use the term "Church" carelessly, thereby opening up abuse of the term by false teachers to go unchallenged.

There needs to be a clear understanding of where you (generically) stand, so that you can defend against those who will use Acts 2:41, 47 and other passages against you, applying a universal meaning to such verses thereby opening a way to defend baptismal regeneration, for instance. 

Agreed.  And as far as defending my doctrinal position against false teachers, I believe that I am able to do that fairly well with depth and precision (not that I cannot encounter a new detail, but that I can examine the case with understanding even when that happens).

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2 hours ago, Pastorj said:

This has been an interesting discussion. I believe we are all very similar in our positions.

1. We all seem to believe that the word Church is a "Called Out Assembly"
2. We all seem to believe that the Church spoken of in the New Testament is a local body of believers
3. We all seem to believe that one day the Lord will return and we will be a "Called Out Assembly" in Heaven.

Where the conversation breaks down is with the introduction of the word "Universal", which I believe we all reject the definition used by the cults and catholic church.

I have always enjoyed these discussions on this site. Don't take it personally, just hold on to your beliefs.

Brother "PastorJ,

My position on the matter is not precisely that which you present in your point #3.  Therein you appear to speak concerning the "the church in prospect," that is -- complete in the FUTURE with all New Testament saints throughout the entire New Testament church age after the event of the rapture.  Having been raised on the doctrine of "local church only-ism," and having stood for it and defended it for some time throughout my past, I am familiar with the position that Hebrews 12:22-23 teaches the "universal" church "in prospect."  In fact, such was JUST what I was taught and believed concerning that passage for some time.  However, I no longer hold to that "future" viewpoint concerning Hebrews 12:22-23.  The challenge to and change in my thinking happened as follows:  

A few years ago, I engaged on this very forum against various positions of preterism and replacement theology.  Indeed, some of the present members will likely remember my engagements from the time.  During those engagements, I was challenge by one of my "opponents" to produce a New Testament passage which revealed that Old Testament believers and New Testament church age believers were to be viewed as two separate groups Biblically.  My answer to that challenge was presented from Hebrews 12:22-24, from which I sought to demonstrate the distinction between the two groups listed by the two phrases (1) "to the general assembly and church of the firstborn" (as speaking concerning New Testament church age believers) and (2) "to the spirits of just men made perfect" (as speaking concerning Old Testament believers).  My "opponents" responded with the argument that these two phrases were speaking concerning the SAME grouping of individuals and that the entire passage was speaking concerning a FUTURE event.  In response to their "future event" argument, I demonstrated that precise grammatical detail the verb for the single sentence of Hebrews 12:22-24, as found in verse 22, is the PRESENT TENSE verb "are come" (NOT "shall come," or "will come," or "are to come").  Yet it was also in the moment wherein I realized that Hebrews 12:22-23 did NOT grammatical speak about a "universal" church "IN PROSPECT" (in the future), but that it spoke about some form of church IN THE PRESENT that included and encompassed ALL New Testament believers both in heaven and on earth.  At that moment, my thinking on the matter was challenged; and I was compelled to adjust my doctrinal positioning on the matter.  Furthermore, I was compelled to begin studying the details of the matter as precisely revealed in God's Holy Word.

You see, I believe as a Baptist that the truth and teaching of God's Holy Word is the ONLY and FINAL authority for ALL of what we should believe and practice.  Yet I myself would expand that idea in at least one manner -- that the truth and teaching of God's Holy Word is the only and final and PRECISE authority for all of what we should believe and practice.  As many on this very forum will attest, I continually push for the matter of grammatical, contextual, and doctrinal PRECISION in our Bible study.  Even so, when I encounter a precise grammatical challenge, as I did in my study of Hebrews 12:22-24, I am compelled to adjust my doctrinal thinking accordingly.

I pray that this testimony (of sorts) will be good to the use of edifying unto some fellow believer and fellow student of God's Word.

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That helps, but you are still agreeing with the 3 points listed. You are just adding a 4th point that the "Church" in a universal standpoint is present on earth today. I would agree with that, but that is where there are others who disagree. I was focusing on the areas of agreement.

Thanks

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31 minutes ago, Pastorj said:

That helps, but you are still agreeing with the 3 points listed. You are just adding a 4th point that the "Church" in a universal standpoint is present on earth today. I would agree with that, but that is where there are others who disagree. I was focusing on the areas of agreement.

Thanks

No. NO. NO!

Yes, I may be accepting your point #3 and then adding my own point #4.  However, my point #4 would not be "that the 'church' in a universal standpoint is present ON EARTH today."  Rather, my point #4 would be that the 'church' in a universal standpoint is present IN THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM today.  Precisely, that is what Hebrews 12:22-23 states.  I would strongly contend that THERE IS NO SUCH THING as a 'church' in a universal standpoint ON THE EARTH today, and that ANY attempt to create one is MAN-MADE and FALSE.

And yes, it is with this point #4 wherein the disagreement exists.

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I would agree that there is a "Heavenly Church", but I would also hold that God's "Church" isn't just people who belong to IFB churches. Those that are saved, but do not belong to a local church are still part of the Church.

Thanks for your clarification. It would still be point 4 where the disagreement comes :)

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10 minutes ago, Pastorj said:

I would agree that there is a "Heavenly Church", but I would also hold that God's "Church" isn't just people who belong to IFB churches. Those that are saved, but do not belong to a local church are still part of the Church.

Indeed, Hebrews 12:23 defines the membership of "the general assembly and church of the firstborn" as follows: "Which are written in heaven" (not, which are on the membership role of an independent Baptist church).  Thus the membership role of "the general assembly and church of the firstborn" are ALL New Testament believers who are in Christ (the Firstborn) through faith.

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4 minutes ago, Pastorj said:

I would agree. So then why wouldn't Christians who are on earth be part of this same "Heavenly Church"?

To clarify - I did NOT say that New Testament believers who are upon the earth are not A PART of "the general assembly and church of the firstborn."  Rather, I said that "the general assembly and church of the firstborn" itself is NOT on the earth, but is in the heavenly Jerusalem.  Although it encompasses ALL New Testament believers, including those who are yet on the earth, it is still a "gathering" (assembly and church); and that "gathering" (assembly and church) does NOT exist on the earth.  Rather, that "gathering" (assembly and church) exists very precisely in "the heavenly Jerusalem."  Now, it might be asked how it is possible for New Testament believers who are yet on the earth to be viewed as being in a "gathering" (assembly and church) that exists in heaven.  The answer is -- through a spiritual means, as per Ephesians 2:6, wherein God's Word teaches us that All New Testament believers (including those still on the earth) have been raised up together with Christ, such that God the Father has "made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  From this viewpoint of God the Father, through a spiritual means in Christ Jesus, we are ALREADY GATHERED IN HEAVEN (thus "the general assembly and church of the firstborn).

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Ok, then you and I are in agreement and I just misunderstood you.

To the next part of this then, which I believe is critical to the Local Church folks. Does God work through this heavenly church today or do you believe that God specifically works through local assemblies?

 

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31 minutes ago, Pastorj said:

Ok, then you and I are in agreement and I just misunderstood you.

To the next part of this then, which I believe is critical to the Local Church folks. Does God work through this heavenly church today or do you believe that God specifically works through local assemblies?

Overall, the New Testament places a GREAT amount of emphasis that the Lord our God works through local assemblies upon this earth.  For that reason, I hold VERY, VERY strongly to a local church ministry practice (which is why I have strong convictions against denominationalism and official conventions, associations, etc.).  Overall, I see that the "universal" aspect of the church is presented in the New Testament in order to emphasize our INCLUSION as New Testament believers in Christ and our CONNECTION as New Testament believers with one another.  At this point, I am not certain of any passage that really reveals that our Lord specifically works on the earth through the "structure" of "the general assembly and church of the firstborn."  

On the other hand, if you might be able to provide such a passage, I would certainly be willing to examine and consider the precise teaching thereof.

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I am in agreement with your position. I misunderstood your earlier posts. I am very much a local church guy, but I too believe that all believers belong to a "Universal" church, but that the New Testament is clear that God is using the local called out assemblies.
Thanks for the clarifications

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Bro. Markle, I have to question your defining of Hebrews 12:23, in light of Hebrews 12:22-24 (and the whole chapter as its context). I question it not because I necessarily disagree with you, but rather because I feel that some things may have been taken by assumption. Is there anything in the aforementioned passage that affirms that the church of the firstborn is indeed in the heavenly Jerusalem? It seems rather to only indicate that they are written in Heaven, that is, recorded, but not necessarily present. In the passage, it mentions eight things that the church that he was writing to (Hebrews 13:22-25 indicates that he was writing to a local church) have come unto. 1 - mount Sion. 2 - the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.3 - an innumerable company of angels. 4 - The general assembly and church of the firstborn (these appear to be one because of the absence of a comma) which are written in heaven. 5 - God the Judge of all. 6 - the spirits of just men made perfect. 7 - Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. 8 - the blood of sprinkling. Now I can see where one might say that these are all in the same place, but does the passage actually say that they indeed are? If they were, why would the church of the firstborn need to be written in Heaven if they already are in Heaven. A lot of this question would be clearly satisfied if we knew for sure to whom the book of Hebrews was written. If it was indeed written to the church in Jerusalem, would that not be the church of the firstborn (i.e. the first church that was started by Christ?). It seems that there is a lot more to this passage then what meets the eye.....

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15 hours ago, Musician4God1611 said:

Bro. Markle, I have to question your defining of Hebrews 12:23, in light of Hebrews 12:22-24 (and the whole chapter as its context). I question it not because I necessarily disagree with you, but rather because I feel that some things may have been taken by assumption. Is there anything in the aforementioned passage that affirms that the church of the firstborn is indeed in the heavenly Jerusalem? It seems rather to only indicate that they are written in Heaven, that is, recorded, but not necessarily present. In the passage, it mentions eight things that the church that he was writing to (Hebrews 13:22-25 indicates that he was writing to a local church) have come unto. 1 - mount Sion. 2 - the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.3 - an innumerable company of angels. 4 - The general assembly and church of the firstborn (these appear to be one because of the absence of a comma) which are written in heaven. 5 - God the Judge of all. 6 - the spirits of just men made perfect. 7 - Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. 8 - the blood of sprinkling. Now I can see where one might say that these are all in the same place, but does the passage actually say that they indeed are? If they were, why would the church of the firstborn need to be written in Heaven if they already are in Heaven. A lot of this question would be clearly satisfied if we knew for sure to whom the book of Hebrews was written. If it was indeed written to the church in Jerusalem, would that not be the church of the firstborn (i.e. the first church that was started by Christ?). It seems that there is a lot more to this passage then what meets the eye.....

Brother Middlebrooks,

An answer is forthcoming as soon as I am granted adequate time to prepare and present it.  Is that acceptable?

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On 3/22/2018 at 5:33 PM, Musician4God1611 said:

Bro. Markle, I have to question your defining of Hebrews 12:23, in light of Hebrews 12:22-24 (and the whole chapter as its context). I question it not because I necessarily disagree with you, but rather because I feel that some things may have been taken by assumption. Is there anything in the aforementioned passage that affirms that the church of the firstborn is indeed in the heavenly Jerusalem? It seems rather to only indicate that they are written in Heaven, that is, recorded, but not necessarily present. In the passage, it mentions eight things that the church that he was writing to (Hebrews 13:22-25 indicates that he was writing to a local church) have come unto. 1 - mount Sion. 2 - the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.3 - an innumerable company of angels. 4 - The general assembly and church of the firstborn (these appear to be one because of the absence of a comma) which are written in heaven. 5 - God the Judge of all. 6 - the spirits of just men made perfect. 7 - Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. 8 - the blood of sprinkling. Now I can see where one might say that these are all in the same place, but does the passage actually say that they indeed are? If they were, why would the church of the firstborn need to be written in Heaven if they already are in Heaven. A lot of this question would be clearly satisfied if we knew for sure to whom the book of Hebrews was written. If it was indeed written to the church in Jerusalem, would that not be the church of the firstborn (i.e. the first church that was started by Christ?). It seems that there is a lot more to this passage then what meets the eye.....

Brother Middlebrooks, it has been a while; but now I have some time.

First, the primary point of Hebrews 12 is for believers (the original audience being Hebrew believers of the first century church-age) not to quit in the face of adversity, but to remain faithfully serving the Lord their God.  Such may be observed in the following verses and phrases:

Hebrews 12:1-6 -- "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.  Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

Hebrews 12:10-16 -- "For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised therebyWherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.  Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."

Hebrews 12:25-29 -- "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.  For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. and this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remainWherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire."

An outline of the chapter might be as follows:

I.  An Exhortation to Run the Race of Righteousness (Hebrews 12:1-4)

     A.  Because we are compassed about with a great cloud of faithful witnesses (as per Hebrews 11)
     B.  Laying aside every worldly weight and any besetting sin
     C.  Running with patience the race that the Lord our God has set before us
     D.  Looking unto Jesus, who authored and finished the race before us
           1)  Who for the resulting joy endured the cross and despised the shame
           2)  Who was exalted to the right of God's throne
           3)  Whose patient endurance we should consider

                 a)  That we not become wearied and faint in our minds
                 b)  Recognizing that we have not resisted unto blood as we strive against sin

II.  An Exhortation Not to Despise the Chastening of the Lord (Hebrews 12:5-11)

     A.  Remembering the exhortation as unto children of God
     B.  Remembering the exhortation not to despise or become faint
     C.  Recognizing that chastening is from the loving heart of our Heavenly Father
     D.  Realizing the importance to subject ourselves under the chastening hand of our Heavenly Father
     E.  Recognizing that God's chastening is for our spiritual profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness
     F.  Recognizing that God's chastening will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness in our lives if we submit to it

III.  An Exhortation to Pursue Again the Path of Righteousness (Hebrews 12:12-17)

     A.  To life up the discouraged hands and feeble knees
     B.  To make straight paths for our feet
     C.  To follow peace with all men
     D.  To follow holiness before the Lord our God
     E.  To ever rely upon our Lord God's enabling grace
     F.  To beware of bitterness in our attitudes (thereby failing of God's daily enabling grace)
     G.  To beware of fornication or worldliness in our pursuits (thereby failing of God's daily enabling grace)
     H.  To recognize that pursuing the path of unrighteousness may result in permanent consequences

IV.  An Exhortation to Serve the Lord our God with Faithfulness (Hebrews 12:18-29)

     A.  Recognizing that we now have part in the New Covenant (not the old covenant of Sinai)
     B.  Listening faithfully unto the voice of Lord God from heaven
     C.  Recognizing God's judgment against us if we turn away from His voice
     D.  Recognizing that God's voice now under the New Covenant provides to us eternally unshakable things, a kingdom that cannot be moved
     E.  Relying upon our Lord God's abundant grace to serve Him faithfully
     F.  Striving to serve the Lord our God acceptably with reverence and godly fear
     

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Second, the passage under question, Hebrews 12:22-24, serves as the second half of a contrasting declaration that encompasses Hebrews 12:18-24, as follows:

"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 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 to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."

Following this is a series of further contrasts, all relating to this original contrast:

Hebrews 12:25 -- "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. 

For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth,

much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:" 

Hebrews 12:26 --

"Whose voice then shook the earth:

but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven." 

Hebrews 12:27 -- "And this word, Yet once more,

signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made,

that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." 

All of this is intended to lead us unto the motivational conclusion with which Hebrews 12:28 beings:

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved," 

Furthermore, this conclusion is intended to motive obedience unto the exhortation of Hebrews 12:28-29:

"Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire."

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Third, as we consider the series of contrasts throughout Hebrews 12:18-27 that I have referenced in my posting above, it appears that this contrast is between a circumstance at and on the earth with a circumstance in and from heaven.  There is a voice that spoke (past tense) on earth placed in contrast with a voice that speaketh (present tense) from heaven.  There is a voice that shook (paste tense) the earth placed in contrast with a voice that will shake both the earth and heaven.  Within this second shaking, there is a removing of created things that can be shaken placed in contrast with the remaining of eternal things that cannot be shaken.  Indeed, from the conclusion we learn that the eternal things that cannot be shaken are an unmovable kingdom that we New Testament believers have received.  

Yet all of this contrast between a circumstance at and on the earth with a circumstance in and from heaven began with the more detailed contrast of Hebrews 12:18-24 concerning two different mountains.  This contrast indicates that we New Testament believers have not come unto the first mountain as described in Hebrews 12:18-21, but that we New Testament believers have come rather unto the second mountain as described in Hebrews 12:22-24.  The descriptions of these two different mountains is as follows:

I.  For ye are not come

     A.  unto the mount that might be touched,
     B.  and that burned with fire,
     C.  nor unto
           1)  blackness,
           2)  and darkness,
           3)  and tempest,
           4)  and the sound of a trumpet,
           5)  and the voice of words;
                 a)  which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
                 b)  (For they could not endure that which was commanded,
                 c)  and if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
                 d)  and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)" 

II.  But ye are come

     A.  unto mount Sion,
     B.  and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
     C.  and to
           1)  an innumerable company of angels,
           2)  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,
           3)  and to God the Judge of all,
           4)  and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
           5)  and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,
           6)  and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Now, that which connects this contrast to the following contrasts of Hebrews 12:25-27 is the reference unto the speaking voice in each case.  However, the point of the contrast which is more key to the question under consideration concerns the contrast that if found between the opening description for each of these two mountains.  It seems clear that the first description refers unto Mount Sinai, wherein the first (old) covenant was established between the Lord God and the Israelites.  Even so, this description begins with the declaration that it was a mount "that might be touched."  This does not refer unto the matter of permission; for in fact they were commanded not to touch that mountain.  Indeed, they were commanded that if any did touch that mountain, such were to be killed for so doing.  Rather, this statement that this first mountain "might be touched" refers unto its nature.  It was a PHYSICAL mountain, able to be PHYSICALLY touched.  The opening description for the second mountain is then placed in contrast unto this.  It is described as "mount Sion" and as "the city of the living God, the HEAVENLY Jerusalem."  In direct contrast to the PHYSICAL mount Sinai, this is the HEAVENLY mount Sion.  This is the city for which Abraham looked, as per Hebrews 11:10 -- "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."  This is the city of Hebrews 11:16 -- "But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."  (Note: Both of these verse are within the flow of thought that contextually leads to Hebrews 12.)  This is the Jerusalem of Galatians 4:26 -- "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."  This is the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 -- "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." (v. 2)  Even so, the membership of this heavenly Jerusalem includes the following:

1.  an innumerable company of [righteous] angels,
2.  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, [including ALL New Testament believers, whether still on earth or already in heaven]
3.  and to God the Judge of all,
4.  and to the spirits of just men made perfect, [Old Testament saints, who are now dead and whose spirits are already perfected in heaven]
5.  and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,
6.  and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

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You're a member of a local church, I'm a member, all God's chillins is members of local churches, correct? That missionary or evangelist who visited your church and worshiped with you last week is a member of his local church,  but is he not still your brother in Christ? Then you and he are members of "THE Church", the body of Christ, even though it's congregation will only meet as one in the future.. So what's the hubbub all about? The organization which calls themselves the "Catholic"(universal) Church is a false religion of the Devil and we all know that. So why the worry and debate about the REAL Church?

Edited by heartstrings
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4 hours ago, heartstrings said:

 Then you and he are members of "THE Church", the body of Christ, even though it's congregation will only meet as one in the future.. So what's the hubbub all about?  So why the worry and debate about the REAL Church?

I could possibly go along with calling all believers "The body of Christ", but when the word "Church" is substituted for "body of Christ", as Universal Church people do, I draw the line there.

Why worry or debate? Simply because a wrong term eventually becomes the accepted norm. If I do not hold true to my convictions that the word "Church" describes a local, called out, assembly, I am not abiding by this Scripture:  Jude 1:3  Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. If I do not hold true to this Scripture, I pass on error to those I teach.

The only exception I make is when Scripture speaks of The Church" in an institutional sense. One such example would be this:   Mt 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.  We know that Jesus did not build a single local church, but instead His reference is to the institution He built, which He called His Church.

This is very much like one post above that referenced "The car", as an example of this concept. The reference is not to any one, single car, but all cars in general.

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2 hours ago, heartstrings said:

You're a member of a local church, I'm a member, all God's chillins is members of local churches, correct? That missionary or evangelist who visited your church and worshiped with you last week is a member of his local church,  but is he not still your brother in Christ? Then you and he are members of "THE Church", the body of Christ, even though it's congregation will only meet as one in the future.. So what's the hubbub all about? The organization which calls themselves the "Catholic"(universal) Church is a false religion of the Devil and we all know that. So why the worry and debate about the REAL Church?

Coupla things.

"All God's children are NOT members of local churches. You don't have to join any church to be saved.

According to the Bible (see Acts 2 for instance) you have to be baptized before you are added to the church....... now make that fit with "THE church", as you have called it here. I believe the Bible is AGAINST baptismal regeneration...... (I don't think you are for it by the way).

Why do people want to use a Word the way the Bible doesn't? It only leads to confusion.

 

 

The Bible absolutely does talk about all believers, but it uses terms like family, household, citizens, saints, brothers....... not church unless it is a local gathering.

So the fuss is EXACTLY about the real CHURCH as distinct from the false church and false doctrines associated with the wrong understanding of "church".

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15 hours ago, Jim_Alaska said:

I could possibly go along with calling all believers "The body of Christ", but when the word "Church" is substituted for "body of Christ", as Universal Church people do, I draw the line there.

Why worry or debate? Simply because a wrong term eventually becomes the accepted norm. If I do not hold true to my convictions that the word "Church" describes a local, called out, assembly, I am not abiding by this Scripture:  Jude 1:3  Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. If I do not hold true to this Scripture, I pass on error to those I teach.

The only exception I make is when Scripture speaks of The Church" in an institutional sense. One such example would be this:   Mt 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.  We know that Jesus did not build a single local church, but instead His reference is to the institution He built, which He called His Church.

This is very much like one post above that referenced "The car", as an example of this concept. The reference is not to any one, single car, but all cars in general.

Ok, well that's what it is if you want to call it that, but it looks to me that the "institution" is both local churches and the entire spiritual body of ALL believers to me, but that's just how I see it; I see nothing wrong with believing that. Just know that I am NOT advocating for any type of earthly/concrete/physical organization of any kind. As I said, for example, the Catholic "Church" is neither of God nor a church. And I will say further; any other  earthly/physical "universal church" organization would a false religion as well.

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16 hours ago, DaveW said:

Coupla things.

"All God's children are NOT members of local churches. You don't have to join any church to be saved. Of course joining a church does not and cannot save anyone. But AFTER one gets saved, they are not right with God if they don't "assemble themselves" with a local church.

According to the Bible (see Acts 2 for instance) you have to be baptized before you are added to the church....... now make that fit with "THE church", as you have called it here. I believe the Bible is AGAINST baptismal regeneration...... (I don't think you are for it by the way).. The thief on the cross never joined a local church, and he was not physically baptized, yet he was as saved as anyone and the local church baptism is only a testimony before others, that you have been saved: It saves no one. But all believers, whether baptized at a local church or not baptized at all,  are spiritually "baptized" into Christ. Galatians 3:27

Why do people want to use a Word the way the Bible doesn't? It only leads to confusion

 

 

The Bible absolutely does talk about all believers, but it uses terms like family, household, citizens, saints, brothers....... not church unless it is a local gathering.

So the fuss is EXACTLY about the real CHURCH as distinct from the false church and false doctrines associated with the wrong understanding of "church". What are these false doctrines? Maybe that would help me understand this contention better.

 

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On ‎7‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 11:20 PM, heartstrings said:

 

I don't disagree with anything you have said in that last post.

The point is that this IS an important thing for people to consider.

The most obvious false teaching that is affected by the loose use of the word "church" is the matter of baptismal regeneration.

Act 2:41-47  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (42)  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (43)  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. (44)  And all that believed were together, and had all things common; (45)  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (46)  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (47)  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
 

Now you will notice for instance that this passage clearly designates that baptism comes before being "added to the church". 

The order is set out in vs 41 (received his word; baptised; added to them - "Them" defined in vs 47 as "the church".

Indeed, almost every "Christian" group points to this passage amongst others to prove that baptism comes before being added to the church - however, those who hold to baptismal regeneration point to this passage with the understanding of the "Universal church".

The order is believe, baptised, added to church. If "the church" is universal, and includes everyone who is saved, then...…. baptism becomes the gateway not to local church membership, but to salvation.

If the church has a "universal nature" , then you have to find a way to remove this passage from that understanding and force it to be only a "local" understanding.

 

 

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