Sunday, August 23, 2009

Herbert Armstrong on the Purpose of the Church

What Is The Purpose of the New Testament Church?


The first kingdom and government was set up by Nimrod -- the first ancient Babylon (Genesis 10). The Devil is the god of this world, and since Nimrod the kingdoms have built civilizations based upon the Devil's ways of SELF and GET, contrary to God's ways of LOVE, and OBEDIENCE, and of GIVE, as defined in GOD'S LAW.

So God formed Abraham's children into a NATION, giving them HIS LAWS, to show how a nation would be blessed that would build its civilization according to his Commandments. At Mt. Sinai, Israel was united to the Lord in MARRIAGE, as HIS GOVERNMENT, both state and church.

When His nation went after the ways of other nations, breaking the Commandments, God DIVORCED Israel, and gave over the GOVERNMENT (which included CHURCH GOVERNMENT as well as state) to the Gentile kingdoms symbolized by Daniel's image and the four "beasts." He gave the GOVERNMENT into Gentile hands UNTIL THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST, when the government, church and state shall be RESTORED to Israel!

When Jesus comes with POWER and great glory -- power to RULE, and the SAINTS possess the kingdoms of this world -- he will make a NEW Covenant with Israel and Judah, which NEW Covenant will be the MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB!

As the Old Covenant MARRIAGE ceremony set up Israel as a NATION, so will the new.
Now TO WHOM will Christ be married, at the marriage of the Lamb? Notice it, IN YOUR OWN BIBLE -- Revelation 19:7 -- he shall marry HIS WIFE! Note it!!!

Yes, his WIFE whom he divorced. A wife who is divorced is not free to remarry until the death of her husband! And so Christ, Israel's husband, DIED to REDEEM ISRAEL! And now Israel is FREE to MARRY AGAIN!

And who will the New Covenant be made with? Notice Hebrews 8:8 -- with the same wife he made the first covenant with but later divorced -- ISRAEL!

Then he shall RESTORE the Kingdom to Israel -- both Church government and state, Christ will rule not only as King of kings, but also LORD OF LORDS -- Church government, as well as state!

Christ's FIRST coming was to REDEEM -- not to restore.

Jesus never set up an organization, nor did he establish any church GOVERNMENT. He did not RE-ORGANIZE the Church!

Instead, he came calling INDIVIDUAL disciples out from among the church organizations, sects, and denominations -- out from among the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes -- out from among worldly Gentile organizations and contacts -- he called his saints to be SEPARATE - - to COME OUT!

The very word "ekklesia" from which "church" is translated, means "called-out ones" as well as "assembly".

The New Testament Church is not a kingdom -- not a church government --but an assembly of individuals CALLED OUT -- Spirit-filled individuals, and therefore a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM, not an organization.

The OBJECT of the Church is not to build up an organization, or a movement. Let us see this great purpose clearly.

The CHURCH is Israelitish. Not a Gentile Church just called "Israel." It IS Israel. But those who do not come by faith, and who are disobedient, are CUT OFF, the Israelitish-born, while Gentile converts, thru Christ, are ADOPTED into Israel. Thus, spiritually speaking, Israel IS the CHURCH.

And it is the CHURCH who shall be married to Christ -- Israel REDEEMED by the blood of the Lamb of God!

The CHURCH is God's instrumentality thru which, and in which, he is selecting a people for his name -- gathering OUT of "Babylon" -- OUT of worldly ways, worldly organizations,, various individuals, -- one here, one there -- to repentance, faith in Christ, receiving of and being led by the Holy Spirit, thus having HIS LAWS written in their minds and hearts -living, individually, a life of trial and test, of OVERCOMING, that they may be thus fitted and trained for positions as kings or priests in the KINGDOM OF GOD, after Christ's second coming!

The CHURCH of God shall then become the KINGDOM of God. It is the CHURCH which shall be married to the Lamb, establishing God's GOVERNMENT on earth -- restoring the KINGDOM to Israel!

So THE CHURCH is God's instrumentality for overcoming the FAULT of the Old Covenant. That FAULT was disobedience. The NEW will be made with those in whose minds and hearts GOD'S LAW has been written, by his Holy Spirit! (Heb 8:10).

And this MARRIAGE will not be made with some organization! It is THE INDIVIDUAL SAINTS -- not some organization -- which shall possess the government, and rule (Dan 7:18; Rev 2:26-27, 3:21, etc.).

His WIFE shall have made herself READY! But how? By a "reorganization", or some "new movement"? What folly! Read Ephesians 5:25-27. The CHURCH is the collective body of individual saints who are sanctified and CLEANSED by Christ! Let us stop speaking of some organization as "the Church", or "our Church".

Jesus said,
"Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be ROOTED UP."
Our heavenly Father never planted any super-organization, or established any church GOVERNMENT, or set men IN AUTHORITY over either spiritual or financial affairs, in the New Testament Church.

Any such "plan" was never planted of God -- and therefore IT SHALL BE ROOTED UP!
Our fellowship is first with God, and with Christ -- then with each other, in LOVE! The saints, as far as they know one another are not to forsake assembling together for their mutual edification. For this purpose, - and that all things may be done decently and in order -- the Scriptures give us instructions for ordaining local elders and deacons, in every city --every local congregation, or Church. But there is no super-organization over and above local congregations IN THE NEW TESTAMENT! Any such "plant" is certain to be ROOTED UP!

All such organizations and governments came out of BABYLON -- and are today a part of BABYLON!

Brethren, let us have the kind of co-operative FELLOWSHIP, based on LOVE, that was practised by the early saints, as recorded in the book of Acts. Let us work together, in unselfish effort to GIVE of the Gospel truth to the world -- to GIVE of the "waters of life" to as many precious souls as we can reach -- to GIVE out the last warning message with great POWER!

But let us drop all effort to BUILD UP A MOVEMENT or AN ORGANIZATION. Let us quit working FOR organizations, and work FOR THE LORD -- and the salvation of souls!
What has split and divided up the saints in the Church of God? Nothing but ORGANIZATION -- which has led to politics, ministers lusting for rule and for power -- striving against each other, lining up the brethren on THEIR side, against the other! It is SUCH PREACHERS who have split up and divided our brethren!

God's Word commands us to COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, and be separate. God's last warning is, "COME OUT OF BABYLON!!"

Organization and church GOVERNMENT has brought us only strife, jealousies, divisions, bitterness! It is not of God, and it can bear no other fruit.

The CHURCH OF GOD needs more of the POWER OF GOD -- more of HIS LOVE -- of HIS HOLY SPIRIT, that the work may now begin to go forth IN MIGHTY POWER! We ought to be ASHAMED of the pitiful, puny, weak, feeble work that has split up and divided brethren, reached but so very FEW with the message, with almost no real conversions! All this, while leaders desiring power to RULE send out misleading, exaggerated, deceiving statements designed to convince tithe- payers that "the Work is progressing". What a mockery! What a tragedy! What a pity!

We praise God that many of the more spiritual HAVE COME OUT! Let us obey GOD!

Excerpts HWA 1939