Naming The Church
Commentary On Man's titles for God's called out Assembly
By Robert DeWitt, 4/06; add: 03/17
Often the first thing many professing Christians ask those of us who speak of Christ, is "What church do you belong to?" I can appreciate their intention, and know they wish to understand what Christian group one is with; and I realize also they are probably from a Christian sect that believes everyone is sectarian (or they may not be a real Christian). Some of us in this world who belong to Christ hold to Bible-only with a somewhat unified and universal fellowship ---and not a typical organization; and we seek to avoid sectarianism and names, for the Word of God does not teach sectarianism, teaching rather that God only has one church. It does not have a name or carnal practices, but teaches "unity of the Faith" with all everywhere who are on the same scriptural ground. Do we all know what that is?
The following statement has been given to show some proper understandings of the church for readers: "The word translated church in the KJV New Testament comes forth from the Greek word 'ecclesia' ---meaning: assembly, but was rendered church by the translators from 'kuriakos' ("pertaining to God"); commonly called kirk in English, and later church). The change may have been to avoid confusion with civil assemblies. In practice we generally understand Church now to describe the 'called out assembly pertaining to God', which seems what the translators had in mind." - Christian Counsel Collection.
Believers need to know that the church or general assembly is viewed in the Word of God in both a universal way (e.g. Jn. 17:11, 21-23; I Cor.1:2; & 16:19-20; etc.) and in a local way (e.g. Rom. 1:7; etc.). Worldwide it is every true "child of God", and locally it is every true believer in a locality" ---all to be in one fellowship everywhere (note 1 Cor. 12:25).
Some time ago I had occasion to speak with a Christian that I met, about the worldwide fellowship of believers gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone ---not taking a name, and not sectarian, and just endeavoring to be in accord with the Word of God. This can be a difficult concept for one who has never heard of such a thing; nevertheless, I need to be faithful to tell seekers about it.
I tried to emphasize the importance of endeavoring to always be fully in accord with the Word of God, rather than build a doctrine on a few verses. I tried to help him appreciate that the recovery of church truth in the early 1800's, known as the "brethren movement", was a real work of God, following after the Protestant Reformation of circa 1500 AD (which was to re-establish the Gospel message), by recovering also Church truth in that assembly fellowship of 1827 AD; and sought to encourage him to embrace that good work which had been lost after the apostolic period. I have not yet received a response showing interest after many months, likely due to the popularity and comforts of various sects.
It is of much concern to me that many believers feel compelled to accommodate the sectarian brethren in the world, by giving all saints a name so they can feel satisfied, and then designate us all as such a sect. I was saved while in the sects, but God mercifully led me out to His pathway, since that was my earnest desire. This fellowship I am with today has sought to continue that original revival of 1827 AD. I can see clearly how this present fellowship survived a number of major divisions through the years, and I am not ashamed to say I truly believe we are continuing that good revival of God, which recovered the truth of the church from the beginning. If I thought otherwise, I would have to leave and be found elsewhere, for I am compelled to be obedient and faithful to my Lord and keep His Word. One can learn much about this ministry at Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL.
Whenever believers take a name or support a sect, they give approval and credibility to the sectarian spirit of separations in the testimony of the "one body in Christ" (Rom. 12: 5). I must stand against that for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ who made us one in Him. The best I can say is: I am gathered and in fellowship with saints of God unto the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone according to the Word. It is that simple testimony given us in Acts 2:41-42 and shown in the Epistles ---a universal and nameless fellowship called the Church (called out assembly pertaining to God); and gathering to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone (Matt. 18:20), receiving "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (II Tim. 2:15); and expressing the "one body" (I Cor. 12), acknowledging the priesthood of all "born again" believers, trusting the Lord and His Word fully; worshipping as pleases God, appreciating God's assembly, order, and government, and yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We meet locally at such and such an address. I can take no name except what God has given in His Word, and I do not want to follow men.
Some of us appreciate that recovery of church truth in the early 1800's and seek to embrace that good ministry to honor God as given. Certainly there have been a number of divisions in that testimony ---some wanted more liberal ideas and others want rigid rules and bondage; and we have sought to withstand them and keep that which God set forth from 1827 AD. We know the history, and do not support the heresy of so-called "plymouth brethren" (PB) groups, "exclusive brethren" (EB) groups, "open brethren" (OB), etc. I personally don't think the saints should follow men and that sectarian spirit of setting up new tables whenever they choose to change things.
We have sought to withstand the various separation groups and the denominated sects, and keep that which God established in unity. If it is not of God, what is it ---of men? What motive? Is a return to the scriptural order a wrong motive? The history is quite clear that the order and way of the early Church under the leadership of the Apostles, was of God, and is set forth for our learning. God has called the Church universal back to that truth of the Word in these end times. Where else should one be? To whom should I go (John 6: 67-68)? - RLD