The Harlot Church Being Built by Evangelism By E. L. Bynum
The Harlot Church
Being Built by Evangelism
By E. L. Bynum
Last month we published „The Harlot Church, Her Daughters Are Coming Home.” This month we are going to show how the Harlot Church is being built by modern day Evangelism. The wall between truth and error is rapidly being broken down by many different organizations and movements. Ecumenical Evangelism is one of the greatest tools of the devil to accomplish this unholy task. Not only are the walls between Catholics and Protestants being broken down, but many so-called Baptists are joining the task with great enthusiasm. The truth of the matter is that these Baptists are a lot more Protestant than they are Baptist. Even the word protestant is incorrect when you speak of the Methodist, Lutherans, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, and a host of others. They no longer are protesting anything. They once protested against many of the errors of Roman Catholics, but they are now lovey dovey with this Harlot Church. Any Baptist Church that joins in these ecumenical ventures, no longer deserves the name Baptist.
Billy Graham, is Helping Build the Harlot Church
It was not always so, for Billy Graham once preached against Roman Catholicism and modernism. In 1948 he said, „The three gravest menaces faced by orthodox Christianity are Communism, Roman Catholicism, and Mohammedanism.” Now the Roman Catholics have given Billy Graham their endorsement, and they furnish counselors for his crusades.
In 1952, Graham wrote to John R. Rice and said, „Contrary to any rumors that are constantly gloating about, we have never had a modernist on our Executive Committee and we have never been sponsored by the Council of Churches in any city except Shreveport and Greensboro both small towns where the majority of ministers are evangelical . . . ” Now, and for many years the leading modernists in the World Council of Churches support the Graham Crusades.
In 1951, Jerry Beaven, a Graham organization man, wrote Dr. R. T. Ketcham and assured him that no decision cards were sent to Roman Catholic Churches and that Graham did not work with modernists. Now, and for many years, those who come forward in a Graham Crusade that has any connection with the Roman Catholic Church, have their decision cards sent to the Catholic Churches. This gains the support of Roman Catholics, because this enables them to reclaim those supposed converts, who then return to their idolatry. (The above quotes taken from Tract # G-603, „Why We Cannot Support the Billy Graham Crusade,” by E. L. Bynum. Send $2.50 for 8 copies postpaid to Tabernacle Baptist Church, P.O. Box 3100, Lubbock, TX 79452)
David Cloud gives us the following information about Franklin Graham.
Franklin Graham Follows in Father’s Footsteps
June 26, 1999 (David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277) Billy Graham’s son Franklin is preparing to take over the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. That was made official four years ago.
Franklin Graham told the Indianapolis Star that his father’s longstanding ecumenical alliance with the Catholic Church and all other denominations „was one of the smartest things his father ever did.”
„In the early years, up in Boston, the Catholic church got behind my father’s crusade. That was a first. It took back many Protestants. They didn’t know how to handle it,” Franklin said.
„But it set the example. `If Billy Graham is willing to work with everybody, then maybe we should too'” („Keeping it simple, safe keeps Graham on high,” The Indianapolis Star, Thurs., June 3, 1999).
A Catholic archbishop was present at the June 1997 media launch for Franklin Graham’s January 1998, ecumenical crusade in Australia. Denominations involved in that crusade included Anglican, Catholic, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Lutheran and Uniting.
Though following the same ecumenical scheme, Franklin Graham has adopted changes in approach.
„Franklin calls his events `festivals,’ a less churchy name chosen to appeal to generations who grew up in the secular 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Whereas his father preaches a half-hour or longer, Franklin’s message is shorterjust 10 to 15 minutes. And pop music dominates every night of the event. Choirs and song leaders, the classic music of crusades, are history. Alternative bands such as Jars of Clay, and singers like Paul Overstreet, are par for the course” („Son follows Graham’s lead,” The Indianapolis Star, Thurs., June 3, 1999).
You may be sure that the worldly crowd will love the 10 to 15 minute sermons. You may be sure that the pop music with its contemporary style will last longer than 10 to 15 minutes. The world loves this kind of entertainment, for it makes them comfortable in their sins. The short sermons, which will be nonthreatening to the sinner, will cause no offense.
The above quotes reveal the long time compromise of Billy Graham in regard to the Catholic Church. They also reveal the intention of Franklin Graham to follow in his Father’s footsteps.
Franklin Graham Festival Coming to Lubbock
In the year 2000, the Franklin Graham Festival is coming to Lubbock. It is being sponsored by Roman Catholics, Protestants and compromising Baptists. There are dozens of Southern Baptist Churches (SBC) in Lubbock with many more in the area. Every one of these can be expected to fully cooperate in this event. There will no doubt be a number of other Baptist Churches involved, who are not in the SBC. This is compromise of the worst type, and God only knows how much damage will be done to the cause of Christ. There was once a time when Baptists loved Catholics enough to try to win them to Christ and His salvation. Now they just recognize them as Christians, with no need of conversion.
I know that there will be those who will accuse us of spreading hate, but that is not the case. We love Roman Catholics enough to tell them they are lost, and need to be saved. Recently a couple came to our home, wanting to know the truth. The woman was a life long Catholic. When I explained God’s way of salvation, she gladly received Christ as her Saviour. She made a public profession of faith at Tabernacle Baptist and was baptized. She never misses a service and is a joyful, vibrant Christian. It is high treason to the cause of Christ, to count these Catholics as saved people. They are dying and going to hell because of the compromise of those who should know the truth.
The following article has been taken from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, May 21, 1999. This reveals to us how that Evangelism is helping to build the one world Harlot Church.
Clergy pray for Graham crusade
Evangelical event would come to United Spirit Arena in April 2000
Clergy hope to unite area Christians
By BETH PRATT
A-J Religion Editor
About 150 area clergy and lay leaders from across the denominational spectrum pledged Thursday to pray and work together on a Lubbock Festival 2000 with Franklin Graham.
The evangelistic crusade is scheduled for, April 28-30 in Texas Tech’s United Spirit Arena. Organizers hope to fill the 15,000-seat arena each day.
Together they prayed for revival – Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God – representatives of most Christian denominations in Lubbock, in a meeting Thursday morning at the Holiday Inn Civic Center.
The Rev. D.L. Lowrie, pastor of Lubbock’s First Baptist Church, said the idea to bring a Franklin Graham Festival to Lubbock began with a group of pastors in the Lubbock Baptist Association who were in prayer about the year 2000 in Lubbock.
„Why not seek to do something within the entire Christian community,” they decided, Lowrie said. „They sent me to the mayor (former Mayor David Langston),” who called together leaders in other denominations. They agreed, and an ad hoc steering group was appointed to explore an invitation to the Graham organization.]
„We discovered that the pastor of Trinity Church (former pastor Randall Ross) had been in conversation with Graham about coming to Lubbock.”
As the plans developed, Lowrie said, „we felt a real surge of enthusiasm for wanting to say to this whole region that although there are things we do a little differently, we’re all interested in seeing men, women, boys and girls come to know Jesus Christ.”
That comment brought a fervent response of „amen” from the clergy and lay leaders.
Langston, who presided at the meeting, quoted Jesus from John 15:5, „I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much Fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Not KJV ELB)
„We wanted to get all the branches together and involved,” Langston said.
In a prayer of dedication for the crusade, Joan Ervin, a member of New Hope Baptist Church, ended with, „Please, please send a revival, and let it begin in me,” inviting the group to stand and repeat with her „Lord, please send a revival and let it begin in me.”
Larry Turner, Graham’s director of crusades, read a letter of acceptance from Graham. Rimer recalled that the younger Graham had accompanied his father to Lubbock in August 1975 for the Billy Graham Crusade held at Jones Stadium.
The late Bob Nash, was chairman of that crusade committee, Turner noted, also mentioning others in leadership including business leaders Buck Cliff Cunningham, C. Cummings, Bill McMillan and the Rev. Jaroy Webber, who was pastor of Lubbock’s First Baptist Church 24 years ago.
„That crusade left its mark in our lives,” Turner said.
Turner told the group that he wanted them to remember two things. „This is God’s work,” and once they had done the work of organization the results were in the „sovereign hands of God.” Second, he said, is „the important of an on-going network of prayer. I understand a great prayer effort is already going, and I want to encourage that,” he added.
Other speakers also emphasized that a successful crusade depends on Christians uniting in prayer throughout West Texas and Eastern New Mexico from now until the event.
The Rev. Steve Rogers, a United Methodist, conference evangelist, introduced the executive committee for the crusade. Chairman is Rick Canup, an elder at Trinity Church. He is assisted by three vice chairmen: the Rev. Solomon Fields, pastor of St. John Baptist Church; Paul Key, evangelism director for the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock; and Jackie White, pastor of Church on the Rock. (Emphasis ours)
Other officers are Iresema Velasquez, secretary, and Mike Cunningham treasurer. At large members of the executive committee are Ervin, Woman’s Missionary Union president at New Hope Baptist Church; Lowrie, pastor of First Baptist Church; Bishop William H. Watson, Agape Church of God in Christ; the Rev. Bill Couch, pastor of LakeRidge United Methodist Church; the Rev. Ed Sena, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Templo; the Rev. Gary Kirksey, pastor of Trinity Church; and Bishop Wallis Ohl, Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas.
Ministers were invited to join the 20 to 30 Lubbock pastors who have met monthly for about two years across denominational lines to pray for their churches, for each other and for the city.
How Can Heresy Promote Revival
Please notice who is praying for this event, they include, „Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God – representatives of most Christian denominations in Lubbock….” For arguments sake, let us grant that the Baptists preach God’s way of salvation, at least they once did so. The Roman Catholic Church does not preach salvation by grace, and they never did. They teach many damnable doctrines. We will make no attempt to list them all here. Their dependence upon Mary being a mediatrix is enough to condemn their doctrine. Their prayers to Mary, their confession to a Priest, their unholy Mass, their wafer god, and many other false doctrines mark them as heretics. Is this the gospel that Franklin Graham going to preach? While he will not preach all their doctrines, he most certainly will not say anything that offends them.
Will Franklin preach the doctrine of Lutherans? They are just an easy step away from Roman Catholicism. I have before me the bulletin of the Redeemer Lutheran Church, Lubbock, TX, for January 10, 1999. We read the following words from their Pastor.
Remembrance of Baptism
In Baptism God liberates us from sin and death by joining us to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are born children of a fallen humanity. In the waters of Baptism we are reborn children of God and inheritors of eternal life. By water and the Holy Spirit we are made members of the Church which is the body of Christ.
Is this what Franklin Graham is going to preach? No Baptist that is half way sound would agree that, „In the waters of Baptism we are reborn children of God and inheritors of eternal life.” That is outright heresy. Graham may not preach this, but he certainly will say nothing that offends them, or contradicts their beliefs. The bulletin of October 18, 1998 contains the following false doctrine.
Invocation/Confession and Absolution,
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Let us confess our sin to God, our merciful Father.
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all people, we admit and confess our sinfulness. We have not followed Your law in our thinking, speaking, and doing. We have followed our own ways and have done that which is wrong in Your sight. We have not always been merciful, meek, or peacemakers. We repent and are truly sorry for our sins. Have mercy on us, O Lord.
Our gracious God has heard your cry for mercy. By the command of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I, a called and ordained servant of the Word, forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Emphasis ours)
This is a Missouri Synod Church and they are supposed to be one of the conservative branches of the Lutheran Church. If the pastor has authority to forgive sin, how much different is this than the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholics confess their sins in a phone booth (confessional box), and the Lutherans confess theirs in a bigger box and do it altogether. This way it is more convenient but it amounts to the same thing. Is this what Franklin is going to preach? Probably not, but he is not going to say anything that would offend them.
The Methodist churches are going to be involved in this. It is common knowledge that they are almost totally given over to modernism or liberalism. You may be sure that Graham will say nothing that offends them.
There are many Churches of Christ congregations in Lubbock. At least some of them will be supporters of this crusade, for they are listed in the LAJ article printed above. These are the old time square bailed Campbellite churches. They believe that you are saved in the waters of baptism, and without baptism you are lost. They reject eternal security and believe that you can lose your salvation. They certainly do not believe Eph. 2:8-9. „For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Will Franklin Graham preach their doctrine? Will he preach their gospel? No, but he will not preach anything that offends them.
The Pentecostal and the Churches of the Assemblies of God are in full cooperation on the Graham Festival 2000. We all know that they believe in the unknown tongues heresy. They believe you must do works in order to be saved. Even after you have worked for it, you can lose it, if you don’t keep working. They planted the seed for the wild and radical charismatic movement of today. Will Graham preach their doctrine of salvation? We think not, but he will not say anything that will offend them.
According to the newspaper, Trinity Church was deeply involved in bringing Graham to Lubbock. This Church fits right in with the Pentecostal and Assemblies of God. As a matter of fact, they were once known as Highland Assembly of God, and they simply went underground by changing their name. Recently I received an invitation to a religious event from them. On one date the program would be at Trinity Church, and at a later date it would be held an the Assembly of God Church. Graham will certainly not offend these people, because he will not preach separation nor the pure gospel of the Bible.
Roman Catholic Involvement
The Roman Catholic Church will be deeply involved in the Franklin Graham Festival. Please note the following quotation from the May 21, 1999 story in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
The Rev. Steve Rogers, a United Methodist, conference evangelist, introduced the executive committee for the crusade. Chairman is Rick Canup, an elder at Trinity Church. He is assisted by three vice chairmen: the Rev. Solomon Fields, pastor of St. John Baptist Church; Paul Key, evangelism director for the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock; and Jackie ou White, pastor of Church on the Rock. (Emphasis ours)
Please note that Paul Key the evangelism director for the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock is a vice chairman for the Franklin Graham Festival for Lubbock. He is not a Catholic Priest, because he has a wife. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal of February 20, 1999, devoted one whole page to Paul Key and his ministry. The headline was „Bridging theology’s gap, Conversion lands `Bible-thumping Catholic’ in Lubbock.” A large picture shows him seated with a copy of The New American Bible in his hand. The caption beside the picture says, „The Rev. Paul Key serves as executive director of the Christian Renewal Center and director of evangelism for the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock. Key was a Presbyterian minister for 18 years before converting to Catholicism six years ago.” This article states that Key is „going to be the vice chairman of outreach for the Festival of Faith featuring Franklin Graham, scheduled in Lubbock for the spring of 2000.”
The LAJ article also states that he is the author of a book titled „95 Reasons for Becoming and Remaining Catholic.” I went to the Catholic Book Store and bought a copy of this book. I do not have the time nor space to deal with this book in this article. Perhaps we will deal with it in a future issue. It should be titled, „An apologetic for the Heresies of Roman Catholicism.”
Any Catholic that goes forward during the invitation will be dealt with by a Roman Catholic counselor, who will confirm them in their Catholic faith. Their card will be filled out and sent to a Roman Catholic Church. If by a miracle some Catholic is really saved, they will be sent right back to the Catholic Church. Catholics cooperate in these ecumenical ventures, so they can gain converts, and so they can retain the Catholic Church members.
You can be assured that Franklin Graham will say nothing that will upset or hurt the Catholic Church. What will he preach? Will it be the gospel of the Methodists, the gospel of the Charismatics, the gospel of the Church of Christ, the gospel of the Lutherans, or the gospel of the Roman Catholics? One thing for certain, it will not be the gospel of Christ. Paul dealt with another gospel in Galatians. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-9)
Why Do Baptist Cooperate?
It is amazing that the First Baptist Church, her pastor, and the dozens of other Baptist churches would cooperate with such an unscriptural meeting of false religionists. Please excuse me while I hold my nose and look for a bucket.
The Harlot Church of Revelation 17, is being built with this so-called evangelism, promoted by Billy Graham, his son, Luis Palau and a host of other promoters of ecumenical truth-less evangelism. The devil is not frightened by this kind of religion, in fact he promotes it.
ECCLESIA — THE CHURCH
By B. H. Carroll
(This is Chapter VIII, from the book „The New Testament Church,” By T. T. Martin. We are going to reprint all 10 Chapters in book form. We will post a notice in the Plains Baptist Challenger when it is ready to ship.)
Matt. 16:18, 19, has been for many centuries a battle ground of theological controversies. Though millions of the disputants have passed away, the questions which arrayed them against each other still survive to align their successors in hostile array.
The most important of these divisive questions is:
What Is the Church?
From the given list of passages, taken from the Englishman’s Greek Concordance, it appears that the word Ecclesia, usually rendered „church” in our version, occurs 118 times in the Greek New Testament.
Our Lord and the New Testament writers neither coined this word nor employed it in any unusual sense. Before their time it was in common use, of well understood signification, and subject, like any other word, to varied employment, according to the established laws of language. That is, it might be used abstractly, or generically, or particularly, or prospectively, without losing its essential meaning.
To simplify and shorten the work before us, we need not leave the New Testament to find examples of its classic or Septuagint use. Fair examples of both are in the list of New Testament passages.
What, then, etymologically, is the meaning of this word?
Its primary meaning is: An organized assembly, whose members have been properly called out from private homes or business to attend to public affairs. This definition necessarily implies prescribed conditions of membership.
This meaning, substantially, applies alike to the ecelesia of a self-governing Greek state (Acts 19:39), the Old Testament ecclesia, or convocation of National Israel (Acts 7:38), and to the New Testament ecclesia.
When our Lord says: „On this rock I will build my ecclesia,” while the „my” distinguished his ecclesia from the Greek state ecclesia and the Old Testament ecclesia, the word itself naturally retains its ordinary meaning.
Indeed, even when by accommodation, it is applied to an irregular gathering (Acts 19:32, 41) the essential idea of assembly remains.
Of the 118 instances of use in the New Testament certainly all but five (Acts 7:38; 19: 32,39, 41; Heb. 2:12) refer to Christ’s ecclesia. And since Hebrews 2:12, through a quotation from the Old Testament, is prophetic, finding fulfilment in New Testament times, we need not regard it as an exception. These one hundred and thirteen uses of the word, including Heb. 2:12, refer either to the particular assembly of Jesus Christ on earth, or to his general assembly in glory.
Commonly, that is, in nearly all the uses, it means: The particular assembly of Christ’s baptized disciples on earth, as „The church of God which is at Corinth.”
To this class necessarily belong all abstract or generic uses of the word, for whenever the abstract or generic finds concrete expression, or takes operative shape, it is always a particular assembly.
This follows from the laws of language governing the use of words.
For example, if an English statesman, referring to the right of each individual citizen to be tried by his peers, should say: „On this rock England will build her jury and all power of tyrants shall not prevail against it,” he uses the term jury in an abstract sense, i. e., in the sense of an institution. But when this institution finds concrete expression, or becomes operative, it is always a particular jury of twelve men, and never an aggregation of all juries into one big jury.
Or if a law writer should say: „In trials of fact, by oral testimony, the court shall be the judge of the law, and the jury shall be the judge of the facts,” and if he should add: „In giving evidence, the witness shall tell what he knows to the jury, and not to the court,” he evidently uses the term „court,” „jury” and „witness” in a generic sense. But in the application the generic always becomes particular; i. e., a particular judge, a particular jury, or a particular witness, and never an aggregate of all judges into one big judge, nor of all juries into one big jury, nor of all witnesses into one big witness. Hence we say that the laws of language require that all abstract and generic uses of the word ecclesia should be classified with the particular assembly and not with the general assembly.1
As examples of the abstract use of ecclesia that is in the sense of an institution, we cite Matt. 16:18; Eph. 3:10, 21.
Matt. 18:17 is an example of generic use. That is it designates the kind (genus) of tribunal to which difficulties must be referred without restriction of application to any one particular church by name. I mean that while its application must always be to a particular church, yet it is not restricted to just one, as the church of Jerusalem, but is equally applicable to every other particular church.
As when Paul says: „The husband is the head of the wife,” the terms „husband and wife” are not to be restricted in application to John Jones and his wife, but apply equally to every other specific husband and wife.
But while nearly all of the one hundred and thirteen instances of the use of ecclesia belong to the particular class, there are some instances, as Heb. 12:23, and Eph. 5:25-27, where the reference seems to be to the general assembly of Christ. But in every such case the ecclesia is
prospective, not actual. That is to say, there is not now but there will be a general assembly of Christ’s people. That general assembly will be composed of all the redeemed of all time.
Here are three indisputable and very significant facts concerning Christ’s general assembly:
First, many of its members properly called out, and now in heaven.
Second, many others of them, also called out, are here on earth.
Third, indefinite millions of them probably the great majority, yet to be called, are neither on earth nor in heaven, because they are yet unborn, and therefore non-existent.
It follows that if one part of the membership is now in heaven, another part not yet born, there is as yet no assembly, except in prospect.
We may, however, properly speak of the general assembly now, because, though part of it is yet non-existent, and though there has not yet been a gathering together of the other two parts, yet, the mind may conceive of that gathering as an accomplished fact.
In God’s purposes and plans, the general assembly exists now, and also in our conceptions or anticipations, but certainly not as a fact. The details of God’s purpose are now being worked out, and the process will continue until all the elect have been called, justified, glorified and assembled.
Commenting on our lesson, Dr. Broadus says: „In the New Testament the spiritual Israel, never actually assembled, is sometimes conceived of as an ideal congregation or assembly, and this is denoted by the word ecclesia.” Here Dr. B. does not contrast „spiritual Israel” with a particular church of Christ, but with national or carnal Israel.
The object of the Gospel, committed to the particular assembly in time, is to call out or summon those who shall compose the general assembly in eternity.
When the calling out is ended, and all the called are glorified, then the present concept of a general assembly will be a fact. Then and only then actually, will all the redeemed be an ecclesia. Moreover, this ecclesia in glory will be the real body, temple, flock or bride of our Lord.
But the only existing representation or type of the ecclesia in glory (i. e., the general assembly) is the particular assembly on earth.
And because each and every particular assembly is the representation, or type, of the general assembly, to each and every one of them are applied all the broad figures which pertain to the general assembly. That is, such figures as „the house of God,” „the temple of the Lord,” „the body,” or „flock” or „bride of Christ.” The New Testament applies these figures, just as freely and frequently, to the particular assembly as to the general assembly. That is, to any particular assembly, by itself alone, but never to all the particular assemblies collectively.
There is no unity, no organization, nor gathering together and, hence, no ecclesia or assembly of particular congregations collectively. So also the term ecclesia cannot be rationally applied to all denominations collectively, nor to all living professors of religion, nor to all living believers collectively. In no sense are any such unassembled aggregates an ecclesia. None of them constitute a flock, bride, temple, body or house of God, either as a type of time or a reality of eternity. These terms belong exclusively either to the particular assembly now or to the general assembly hereafter.
A man once said to me, How dare you apply such broad terms as „the house of God,” „the body of Christ,” „the temple of the Lord,” to your little fragment of a denomination? My reply was, I do not apply them to any denomination, nor to any aggregate of the particular congregations of any or of all denominations, but the Scriptures do apply every one of them to a particular New Testament congregation of Christ’s disciples.
Hear the Word of God:
In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul says: „In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22).
Here are two distinct affirmations:
First, each several building or particular assembly groweth into a holy temple of the Lord. That is, by itself it is a temple of the Lord.
Second, what is true of each is true of the church at Ephesus, „In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
Just before this he had written of the church as an institution, or abstractly, in which Jew and Gentile are made into one. But the abstract becomes concrete in each several building.
To the elders of this same particular church at Ephesus he said: Ac 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” (Acts 20:28).
This flock, this church of the Lord, purchased by his own blood, is a particular assembly.
Again to the particular church at Corinth Paul wrote: „Ye are God’s building.ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1 Cor. 3:9, 16; 12:27).
When concerning the body of Christ he says: „And whether one member suffer all the members suffer with it,” he is certainly not speaking of the Ecclesia in glory, all of whose members will be past sufferings when constituting an ecclesia.
Again concerning the particular church at Ephesus, he writes to Timothy whom he had left in that city: „These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” ( I Tim. 3:14-15). He is certainly not writing of behavior in the general assembly in glory. The things he had written touching behavior were, when and how the men should pray, how the women should dress and work, and the qualifications of bishops and deacons. Even that remarkable passage, so often and so confidently quoted as referring exclusively to some supposed now-existing „universal, invisible, spiritual church,” namely: Eph. 1:22, 23, „And gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all”even this very body, „filled unto all the fulness of God,” is presently applied, in his prayer, to the particular congregation (Eph. 3:19). Each particular assembly is an habitation of God, through the Spirit. The Spirit occupies each several building. Into each he enters not with partial power, but in all the fullness of Omnipotent power.
But though the fullness is there, the church is so dim-eyedso weak in faithso feeble in gracesit does not realize and lay hold of and appropriate this fullness of God. Hence the prayer that the eyes of their understanding might be open to see the fullness, their faith increased to grasp and appropriate it, their graces enlarged to corresponding strength to stand and work in that fullness. So fulfilled they realize in experience the fact that the Holy Spirit in all the fulness of God had already entered this particular body of Christ, and was only waiting to be recognized. It is like the expression, „being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5 1). That is, we are entitled to it, let us take it.
In a great revival of religion we see Paul’s prayer fulfilled in the particular body of Christ. Gradually the church warms up to a realization of the fulness of God dwelling in them through the Spirit. Their spiritual apprehension becomes eagle-eyed. The grasp of their faith becomes the grip of a giant. Presently they say, we „can do all things.” No barrier is now insurmountable. And as more and more they comprehend the height and depth and width and length of the love of God, they glow like a spiritual furnace. Thus it is proven that all these broad terms appertaining to the future general assembly, are equally applied to the present particular assembly, and that, too, because it is the only existing representation of the prospective general assembly.
This leads to another conclusion: All teaching in the direction that there now exists a general assembly which is invisible, without ordinances, and which is entered by faith alone, would likely tend to discredit the particular assembly, which does now really exist and which is the pillar and ground of the truth.
More than once when I have inquired of a man, are you a member of the church? the reply has been, I am a member of the invisible, universal, spiritual church.
To make faith the exclusive term of admission into the general assembly is more than questionable and naturally generates such replies.
The general assembly, by all accounts, includes all the saved. But infants, dying in infancy, are a part of the saved. Yet never having been subjects of Gospel address they are saved without faith. But it may be said that such use of the term faith is only a way of saying „a new heart,” and dying infants are not without regeneration. To which we may rejoin that regeneration alone is not sufficient to qualify for membership in the general assembly. All the regenerates we know have spots and wrinkles, while the Bride, the general assembly, is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
Nor does complete sanctification of soul go far enough. There must also be glorification of body. Enoch, Elijah and probably those who rose from the dead after Christ’s resurrection are the only ones as yet qualified for membership in the general assembly. And they must wait until all whom God has called, and will yet call, have arrived with like qualifications, before there can be a general assembly in fact.
As has been intimated, all organized assemblies have prescribed terms or conditions of membership. In the Greek state ecclesia membership was limited to a well-defined body of citizens. Not all residents of the territory could participate in the business of the ecclesia. So with the Old Testament ecclesia or national convocation of carnal Israel. One must have the required lineal descent and be circumcised. Correspondingly the conditions of membership in the church on earth are regeneration and baptism.
But for the church in glory the conditions of membership are justification, regeneration and sanctification of soul and glorification of body.
We submit another conclusion:
Some terms or descriptives commonly applied to the church by writers and speakers are not only extra-scriptural, that is, purely human and post-apostolic, but may be so used as to become either misleading or positively unscriptural. For example, to put visible, referring to the particular assembly alone, over against spiritual as referring to the general assembly alone, as if these terms were opposites or incompatible with each other.
The particular assembly or church that now is, is both visible and spiritual.
To confess Christ before men, to let our light shine before men, to be baptized, to show forth the Lord’s death in the supper, are both visible and spiritual acts of obedience. And when the general assembly becomes a reality instead of a prospect, it, too, will be both visible and spiritual.
In the Bible, the existing church is a particular congregation of Christ’s baptized disciples, and the prospective church is the general assembly. But mark you:
These are not co-existent.
One cannot be a member of both at the same time. When the general assembly comes the particular assembly will have passed away.
To impress more deeply the scripturalness of these reflections, let us consider the subject from another view-point:
A house is built for an inhabitant. Unless the tenant is hard pressed, he will not move in until the building is completed. God is never hard pressed.
A long time may be consumed in getting out and gathering together and preparing the material of a house. It is not a house, however, except in purpose, plan or prospect, until it is completed and ready for its occupant.
In this light let us take a look at some Bible houses:
(a) The house that Moses built.
This was the Tabernacle of the Wilderness, or tent for God. The fortieth chapter of Exodus tells of the completion of this house. When it was finished and all things ready for the occupant it became a house, and then the cloud, that symbol of divine glory, moved in and filled the tabernacle.
(b) The house that Solomon built.
The sixth, seventh and eighth chapters of 1 Kings tell us about this house. When it was finished and furnished and dedicated, it also being now a house, then the cloud symbol of divine presence and glory, that had inhabited the tabernacle, left the tent as no longer useful and moved into and filled the new house.
(c) The house that Jesus built.
The Gospel histories tell us about it. John the Baptist prepared much material for it. Receiving this material from John, and adding much of his own preparation, Jesus built a house. That is, he instituted his ecclesia on earth. At his death the veil of Solomon’s restored house was rent in twain from top to bottom. Henceforward it was tenantless, and, being useless, soon perished. But though the new house was built, it was empty until our Lord ascended into heaven, and fulfilled his promise to send the Holy Spirit as the indweller of this new habitation. Acts 2 tells us how this house was occupied. The useless temple of Solomon now passes away as the useless tabernacle of Moses passed away for its successor. The only house of God now existing on earth is the particular ecclesia of our Lord. But it in turn must have a successor in the general assembly, or,
(d ) The house Jesus will build.
The tabernacle, the temple and the church on earth are all forecasts of the coming church in glory. The work of gathering and preparing material for the general assembly has been in progress for six thousand years. But material, much of it yet in the quarry or forest and little of it fully prepared, does not constitute a house. God is not hard pressed. His patience is infinite. Millions and millions have already been called out to be members of this prospective assembly. God is calling yet and will continue to call throughout the Gospel dispensation. His mind is fixed on having a general assembly indeeda great number of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, to stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and with palms in their hands.
The time of the constitution of this assembly is at the second coming of Christ and after the resurrection of the dead and the glorification of the bodies of Christians then living. The processes of constitution are clearly set forth in Matt. 25:31-34; 1 Cor. 15:15-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Eph. 5:27; Rev. 21;2-9.
It has now indeed become a churcha glorious church, or church in gloryto be presented to Himself as a bride, without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing. When He comes He will be glorified in His saints and admired in all them that believe.
That ecclesia, like one on earth, will be both visible and spiritual. „I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” says the angel to John.
Recurring to the figure of a house, Rev. 21 and 22 exhibit it as at last completed and occupied. At last completed, God Himself inhabits it, for says the Scripture, „Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Mark that, brethren, „The former things are passed away.” Former and latter things are not co-existent. The tabernacle of the wilderness passes away for the more glorious temple of Solomon. The temple then passes away for the still more glorious church on earth. In like manner the church on earth must pass away for the infinitely glorious church in heaven. There is a Jerusalem on earth, but the heavenly Jerusalem is above. It is free, and the mother of all the saved. But, brother, the general assembly is not yet. The church on earth, the house that Jesus has already built, the house of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truththis house has the right of way just now. It is the only existing assembly. Honor the house that now is.
Quite naturally, if tabernacle and temple had been co-existent, one then living would have preferred the temple and discredited the tent.
Equally so if the particular assembly and general assembly are now co-existent, side by side on earth, could you seriously blame a man for resting content with membership in the greater and more honorable assembly ?
But as the Scriptures represent these two assemblies, one existing now on earth, the other prospective in heaven, if a man on earth and in time, not qualified by either sanctification of spirit, or glorification of body for the heavenly assembly, shall despise membership in the particular assembly because claiming membership in the general assembly, is not his claim both an absurdity and a pretext? Does he not hide behind it to evade the honoring of God’s existing institution, and the assuming of present responsibilities and the performing of present duties? Yet again, if one believes that there are co-existent on earth and in time, two churches, one only visible and formal, the other real, invisible and spiritual, is there not danger that such belief may tend to the conviction that the form, government, polity and ordinances of the inferior church are matters of little moment? Has not this belief oftentimes in history done this very thing? And is it not an historical fact that, since Protestant pedo-Baptists invented this idea of a new existing, invisible, universal, spiritual church, to offset the equally erroneous Romanist idea of a present visible, universal church, reverence and honor for God’s New Testament particular church have been ground to fine powder between them as between the upper and nether millstones? Today when one seeks to obtain due honor for the particular assembly, its ordinances, its duties, is he not in many cases thwarted in measure, or altogether in some cases, by objections arising from one or the other of these erroneous views?
And when some, endeavoring to hedge against the manifest errors of both these ideas, have invented middle theories to the effect that the church on earth is composed either of professing Christians living at one time, considered collectively, or of all real Christians so living and so considered, or of all existing denominations considered as branches of which the church is the tree, have they not multiplied both the absurdities and the difficulties by their assumed liberality of compromise?
1. When our Lord says, Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, does He refer to the church on earth or to the church in glory? My answer is, to the particular assembly on earth, considered as an institution. The church in glory will never be in the slightest danger of the gates of hell. Before it becomes an assembly, both death and hell, gates and all, are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14 and 21:4). It is the church on earth that is in danger, from the fear of which this glorious promise is a guaranty.
2. Does your idea of a „general assembly” depend exclusively upon that phrase of doubtful application in Hebrews 12:23, which many good scholars, including prominent Baptists, construe with „myriads of angels” instead of with „the church of the First Born ?” Certainly not. Though I myself strongly hold with our English versions in referring both the panegyros (general assembly) and the ecclesia (church) of that passage to saved men and not to angels. The idea of general assembly is clearly in other passages as Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 7:9 and 21:2-4.
3. If the figures, „body” and „bride,” apply to each particular church, does not that teach that Christ has many bodies, many brides? My answer is, first, that your objection, or supposed difficulty, lies not against my view, but against the express teaching of many Scriptures. What the Scriptures teach is true, and difficulties and objections may take care of themselves. But, second, the objection is specious and the difficulty only apparent, since each particular assembly is a representation or type of the general assembly, and therefore the broadest figures of the antitype may be applied to all its types without being obnoxious to the criticism. There may well be many representations of the body or bride of Christ.
4. Do you dis-fellowship your Baptist brethren who teach the present existence of „an universal, invisible, spiritual church?”
Most certainly not, so long as they duly honor the particular assembly and its ordinances, as multitudes of them do, in spite of the natural tendency of their theory to discredit it. Many of them, known to me personally, are devoted to the particular church and its ordinances, responsibilities and duties. I delight to honor, fellowship and love these men. We agree that all the redeemed will constitute the general assembly, and that then it will be the real body, bride, temple, flock and house of God. We differ as to the co-existence of the two assemblies. They say both now. I say the particular now and the general hereafter
It will take a wider divergence than this to make me dis-fellowship a Baptist brother, though I honestly and strongly hold that even on this point his theory is erroneous and tends practically to great harm. Yes, I do most emphatically hold that this theory is responsible for incalculable dishonor put upon the church of God on earth. I repeat that the theory of the co-existence, side by side, on earth of two churches of Christ, one formal and visible, the other real, invisible and spiritual, with different terms of membership, is exceedingly mischievous and is so confusing that every believer of it becomes muddled in running the lines of separation. Do let it sink deep into your minds that the tabernacle of Moses had the exclusive right of way in its allotted time and the temple of Solomon had the exclusive right of way in its allotted time so the church of Christ on earth, the particular assembly, now has the exclusive right of way, and is without a rival on earth or in heavenand so the general assembly in glory, when its allotted time arrives, will have exclusive right of way.
Had I lived in the days of Moses, I would have given undivided honor to the tabernaclein the days of Solomon to the temple alone–and when the general assembly comes, that shall be my delight. But living now I must honor the house that Jesus built. It is the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. To it are committed the oracles and promises of God. To it is given the Great Commission. It is the instructor of angels and in it throughout all the ages of time is the glory of God. If I move out of this house, I must remain houseless until Jesus comes. It is the only church you can join in time.
5. What is the distinction, if any, between the Kingdom and the church?
My answer is that the Kingdom and church on earth are not co-terminous. Kingdom, besides expressing a different idea, is much broader in signification than a particular assembly or than all the particular assemblies. The particular church is that executive institution or business body, within the Kingdom, charged with official duties and responsibilities for the spread of the Kingdom.
In eternity and glory, church and Kingdom may be co-terminous. Like the church, the Kingdom in both time and eternity has both visible and spiritual aspects.
6. As a sufficient reply to several other questions:
Let it be noted that this discussion designedly avoids applying certain adjectives to the noun „church,” not merely because the New Testament never applies them to ecclesia, but because they are without distinguishing force when contrasting the particular assembly with the general assembly.
For-example: „Local,” „visible,” „spiritual.”
Locality inheres in ecclesia. There can be no assembly now or hereafter without a place to meet. When existing in fact, both the particular assembly in time, and the general assembly in eternity, are both visible and spiritual. Why attempt to distinguish by terms which do not distinguish ?
Katholikos (Catholic or Universal) is not a New Testament word at all and hence is never applied by inspiration to ecclesia. Nor is it a Septuagint word at all.
In post-apostolic times it crept without authority into the titles of certain New Testament letters, as „The First Epistle General (Katholikos) of Peter.” And even there it could not mean „universal,” since Peter, himself, four times, limits his address:
(a) First to Jews (not Gentiles).
(b) Then to „elect” Jews (not all Jews).
(c) Then to elect Jews of the Dispersion (not to Jewish Christians in Palestine).
(d) Then to elect Jews of the Dispersion in „Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,” i. e., the comparatively small district of Asia Minor (not in the rest of Asia, Europe and Africa). Neither in the sense of every place, „nor of every” person in the universe, can the English word „universal” be applied to ecclesia.
FOOTNOTE by E. L. Bynum:
1. I strongly disagree with B. H. Carroll’s interpretation of Heb. 12:22-23. He believed that the „general assembly” and the „church of the firstborn,” are one and the same thing, and that they will comprise a glory church which will include all the saved. He readily agrees that many Bible scholars make the „innumerable company of angels,” and „the general assembly” to be the same thing. While many Baptists of the present and the past would agree with Carroll, I do not. I think both of these interpretations are wrong. The „innumerable company of angels” compose one group. „The general assembly” compose another group, which will be composed of all saved of all ages. The „church of the firstborn” refers to the saved who were members of Scriptural churches here on this earth. It is my understanding that the church will be a separate entity from all others throughout all ages. This does not mean that only those who are members of Scriptural churches will be the only ones that get to heaven. All blood washed saints will be there. I believe that this article by B. H. Carroll presents a powerful case against the existence of any universal church today.
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Tabernacle Baptist Church
E. L. Bynum, Pastor
1911 34th Street
Lubbock, Texas 79411
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