ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Religion and Philosophy»
  • Christianity, the Bible & Jesus

The Followers of Christ and those who are of the Church System are Two Different Entities

Updated on August 14, 2017
PlanksandNails profile image

PlanksandNails' goal is to be a catalyst in encouraging the followers of Christ to pursue Biblical truth for themselves.

When the modern church system is contrasted in light of the teaching of Christ and the ekklesia he is building, we find the manifestation of two entirely different entities. Christ was involved in calling people to himself that would form associations where mutual encouragement and fellowship could be found. These called out people were to be a witness of the genuine Gospel.

In contrast, the entity called 'church' has more concern in naming their groups inside religious buildings where people gather under the umbrellas of many different sects and denominations. Christ was not concerned with naming his human entity under the structure of a charitable business, but rather called those out of the structures and traditions of the worldly system to follow him.

What we find in Scripture is that Christ designated his followers in their assemblage as the ekklesia.

Christ's use of Ekklesia

It is interesting that Christ uttered ekklesia only two times.

I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly (ekklesia), and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18

Christ would build his ‘assembly’ (ekklesia) as a growing body who are united in one spirit with both the Father and the Son where their confession of faith would be based on him being the Messiah, the Son of God. His assembly of followers would be built upon the rock who is Christ himself. This spiritual structure does not have a distinctive name, but rather Christ chose 'ekklesia' that was a common word to define his people as being assembled, congregated, or called out.

Christ gave no attention in giving a distinctive name to his followers that would sound impressive to stand out to the world. Christ was not motivated out of pride and exaltation to reach out to the lost. He knew that the world would hate him and his followers because if they were true to their faith and calling, the name by which they were called would be of no concern.

The second use of Christ’s utterance of ekklesia has a different focus.

"If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. But if he doesn't listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly (ekklesia). If he refuses to hear the assembly (ekklesia) also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. - Matthew 18:15-17

Here the word ekklesia refers to a group of people in the context of a brother sinning. If the brother does not respond appropriately, then two or three other witnesses should confront him a second time. If the second action fails, then the issue must be taken to the ekklesia that would consist of more people. If the brother still refuses to hear, he is to be deemed as a Gentile or tax collector.

The ekklesia in this context refers to a ‘synagogue,’ which means a gathering or assembly of people.

And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. – Acts 13:43

In the Greek, 'synagōgḗ' does not necessarily apply to a physical place or house of meeting, but rather an assembly of people, animals or things.

In Christ’s time the synagogue consisted of Jews where Gentiles and tax collectors were not among them because they were deemed as having no knowledge of God. That is why these types of people were to be avoided and excluded from the synagogue.

When Christ gave these instructions in confronting a brother caught in sin, he was not indicating that the matter be taken before the ‘church,’ meaning a group of people who are partake of a named institutional denominational entity, but rather a greater sum of people.

The distinction can be made between what is called ‘church’ and the ekklesia. The term ekklesia does not resemble a unique assembly of Christians who are members of a religious building under a denominational umbrella as a charitable business.

The meaning of synagogue is synonymous with the ekklesia. They are a group of people who were distinguished from the other Jews based on their confession that Christ was the Messiah, the Son of God.

What we can conclude from Christ's use of ekklesia is that his primary meaning is in the context of Matthew 16:18. It follows that his following usage of ekklesia is the same by bringing of a brother's sin before a group of people based on their confession of faith.

The ekklesia can also be define as an assembly of his sheep who have heeded the call to come out from the ways of the world and will stand with Christ on the last day.

In the New Testament, Christ never made reference to the church institution as it has manifested today. He used completely different terminology to express his ideas. In fact, there are no laid plans in Scripture that justifies the founding of the religious institution called, ‘church’ as Christ never uttered the word. However, the name used throughout the New Testament is ekklesia. They are an assemblage of Christ’s followers who are given a non-specific name because it can also apply in a more general sense to different entities of people including secular ones.

What men qualify as ‘church’ today is most definitely not the designation of the body of Christ and his disciples. This can be examined on the basis of the following four determining factors that will be examined.

  • A new synagogue
  • Christ’s words will not pass away
  • Unity of Christ’s disciples
  • Governance

A New Synagogue

In the New Testament, the word 'synagogue' can be referenced sixty-eight times. Most people think of the word as a building where the Jewish people would formally gather inside for public worship and hear the teaching of their Rabbi.

What you may find interesting is that the word actually means a gathering or assembly of people, but later evolved to mean a man-made building where people gathered inside for religious activities. In the progression away from the ways of God, the 'assembly' became a physical 'synagogue,' which in similar manner today 'ekklesia' has been replaced with a religious institutional building called, 'church.'

Changing back to the original context of synagogue to assembly or congregation, the presumptions of physical institutional buildings are no longer there.

Christ came to establish a 'new synagogue' called the ekklesia as he would often frequent the Jewish synagogues with the message of the Kingdom.

He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. – Luke 4:15-16

Just as Christ first preached in the synagogues, the apostles went first to preach there too. It was seldom that they were well received, but Christ already knew that this would happen beforehand.

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and in their synagogues they will scourge you. – Matthew 10:17

Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city – Matthew 23:34

When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, don't be anxious how or what you will answer, or what you will say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what you must say." – Luke 12:11-12

But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name's sake. – Luke 21:12

They will put you out of the synagogues. – John 16:2

It should be clear that the manifestation of the synagogue in Christ’s time and the apostles was a corrupted version of synagogue. They were expelled because of the message they were preaching was against their religious institution.

Christ’s Words will not Pass Away

When Christ prophesied the fall of Jerusalem, he ended his words by saying,

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. – Mark 13:31

To this day, his prophecy remains secure to those who would believe and follow him. Christ commanded his followers to go into all the nations and preach his Gospel to the world. What is interesting is that he did not give his disciples specific instructions on how to organize to proclaim his words. However, later in John’s Gospel we see how God’s plan through His Son would play out with the ministry of the Holy Spirit being sent after Christ ascended to his Father.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you. – John 14:26

"When the Counselor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me. You will also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. – John 15:26-27

When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment – John 16:8

However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming. He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. – John 16:13-14

The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to magnify the teachings of Christ and bring remembrance to them. The word expressed in God’s plans and purpose through Christ will manifest where the Holy Spirit is operating in his followers. They will maintain the word and will continue to till the end of the age. This is how the word has been preserved from the day of Pentecost, through the early days of the ekklesia and onwards.

Christ does not depend on the institutional organization of what is called ‘church’ today to carry on the spreading of his work to the the world. Rather, it is assigned to the Holy Spirit who uses the ekklesia as instruments of the genuine Gospel.

Unity of Christ’s Disciples

Christ was the mortar that bound the disciples together giving them unity in purpose and motive. The basis for this unity is defined by Christ himself.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I'm known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. – John 10:14-16

The Jews were of one fold and the other were the Gentiles who where the assembly of his sheep that would come from out of all the nations. The unifying factor in Christ’s words are, ‘they will hear my voice.’ The unity of one flock with the Shepherd are what defines his ‘sheep’ because Christ is their one and only Shepherd.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. – John 10:27

By heeding the voice of the one true Shepherd, it is only then that true unity is obtained.

We can see that within the modern church system that there is no unity whatsoever with their many divisions and doctrines. There are so many different denominations and beliefs because many have not listened to or heeded the voice of Christ. They all love to profess his name, but do not hear his voice. The only conclusion is that they do not know the genuine Christ or God the Father. The Father was the one who manifested his word through His Son.

Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. - John 14:10

Governance

Many have totally ignored the instructions of Christ.

But don't you be called 'Rabbi,' for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. – Matthew 23:8-12

An examination of the church system today is that there are many titles of distinction such as ‘Father,’ ‘Rabbi,’ ‘Teacher’ as well as a whole plethora of others. However, those who take heed to the words of Christ know that there is no such titles or esteemed offices with the exception of what is applied to only Christ himself.

It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." – Matthew 20:26-28

The church system has many called Teachers, but Christ forbade it. Many are also called Doctors too. However, Doctor from Latin means Teacher also. Many churches love to have someone who is learned with the title of Doctor. Again, this is appalling and in direct disobedience to the teaching of Christ.

The same applies to those who want a leader among them. Christ forbade it because he is the sole Leader and Teacher. Even the Holy Spirit purpose is to declare what is of Christ.

He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. – John 16:14

When we turn to the church system today, there are many who call themselves ‘fathers’ in blatant disobedience to Christ. The Pastor-Priest is called ‘Father’ along with the Pope giving themselves self-exaltation willfully ignoring Christ’s words in Matthew 23:11-12.

Christ contrasted his followers with the scribes and Pharisees who liked to assume titles of distinction over others. In Matthew 20, he says the same thing contrasting with the Gentiles and their governors.

Why is it that most do not understand Christ's words when he stated, ‘It shall not be so among you!’

We must understand that Christ did not speak his own words, but the words of his Father. To ignore Christ’s words, ignores also the words of the Father, thus denying both the Father and the Son.

The fact is that Christ gave a very limited number of offices that carried no administrative authority such as servants (daikanos) and slaves (doulos). In his teachings, Christ expressed great concern about greatness and authority. There is only one authority who is the Good Shepherd. However, it was possible to achieve greatness for those who would aspire to be mere servants among one another. Also, the one who becomes slave to all is the greatest of all.

Has it hit home yet?

To follow the way of Christ requires a reverse pecking order.

What does this make of the modern church system today?

The Pastor is the leader of the church and has authority over the people directing them in the way they should go. Christ has already forbidden that his disciples to be called leaders because he is the sole leader of the ekklesia and identified himself as their ‘Good Shepherd.’

Any other shepherd is not allowed because they are usurping the role of Christ that belongs exclusively to him.

To heed the words of Christ will require abandoning the church system.

This leads to the great question.

How does Christ provide governance over his ekklesia?

Remember when Christ stated that his words shall not pass away?

Well, that is what he has provided and we are to take heed to them. Christ is the manifestation of God’s logos that was planted by Christ on earth. It is protected by the Holy Spirit and is accessible the moment we start to obey and take heed to the teachings, instructions and commands of Christ. That is why it is so important to listen to the Good Shepherd. When we take heart and believe what we hear, we become members of his flock who will all respond to the same voice.

How many do you know of who respond to the same voice?

This is what is called unity under one spirit in the unifying power of the logos (word).

Most do not respond to the same voice and that is why their unity is fractured. They they are divisive and believe in all different sorts of doctrine that is in opposition to the words of Christ. To be one people with Christ means that we are to only have one Teacher, Leader and Shepherd. He is the Son of God, the logos of the Father.

We will not become one with Christ unless we listen to his voice.

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and don't do the things which I say? – Luke 6:46

When people leave the corrupt institutional church system, they still vainly look for someone to call their ‘Pastor.’ They say, ‘whom shall we select for our Pastor?’

Nobody!

They fail to understand that they already have a Pastor and have always had one who is the one Shepherd of all the sheep. The Good Shepherd alone is the only one authorized to tend the flock of the Father.

There is no need to employ a hireling to run a business called church building along with their seminaries.

We already have a Teacher and have always had one who is Christ, the Son of God through the word of God. You see, Christ’s words are very simple, if only you would take the time to listen to him.

Christ is our authority over us. Seeking other leaders will only create division. When we strive to become servants and slaves, that is when unity starts to happen.

Unity can happen any place, anywhere and at any time. There is no need to build lavish religious buildings, cathedrals and great houses of worship to make a name for yourselves. The men of the world need to erect structures for their own self-righteous glorification. The early ekklesia were cast out of these same institutional structures because they desired to heed the call of Christ rather than men.

Sheepfold

"Most certainly, I tell you, one who doesn't enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. – John 10:1

Most certainly, the door into the sheep fold is not through the doors of the church building because those inside are in rebellion against Christ’s words. Christ chose the word ‘fold’ for a good reason because there is only one fold. The figurative expression is an open enclosure. It is not a closed one that is well-roofed and protected.

Who is your sole authority?

Who leads you to pasture?

Who protects you?

Is the 'who' you follow of the worldly institution of Christendom?

The sheepfold, the ekklesia are called out from the world and are assembled into one fold at all places anywhere, any place and anytime in unity with Christ. He has provided for the administration of his flock with a clear line who is in authority with his standard for greatness.

The 'Christ' that has made provisions for religious institution buildings with clergy in offices with esteemed positions of authority is one of man’s own making. To find the genuine Christ, you will have to look elsewhere.

Christ will always be present through his words. It is not in structural grounds with a visible edifice and a patriarch because the ‘little flock’ is a spiritual entity scattered throughout the world.

Where can we find this little flock?

You have to first start heeding the words of the Good Shepherd. It is not only about hearing, but also doing. The living body of truth is maintained by the Holy Spirit and those who preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and live by its values and principles.

Take heed to these words because many ignore them.

Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. He who doesn't love me doesn't keep my words. The word which you hear isn't mine, but the Father's who sent me. – John 14:23-24

It’s really that simple, but unfortunately if you don’t know Christ’s words, you don’t know him or the Father. The way of the world is to give him lip service and try to attain God by their own ways and means.

We must take heed before our time is up.

Are you heeding the words of Christ?

See results

© 2017 PlanksandNails

Comments Appreciated

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 2 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      Now this is a good article.

      "They were expelled because of the message they were preaching was against their religious institution."

      It should be clear that what Jesus taught was very different from what the rabbis taught. It was so different the Rabbis plotted to kill Jesus. Thus, if we follow Jesus we must renounce what the Rabbis teach.

      It is too bad Jesus did not write a book, "The Gospel of Jesus." That would settle things, but He did not. Have you read the Gospel of Thomas or Barnabas?