|Brother Paul Burbidge|
What the Church IS NOT!
To this point we have learned that the church started with Christ during His earthly ministry, that the church is a particular assembly after the New Testament pattern and that it is Christ’s institution of operation in these days. Now to help us focus on this subject more we need to look at what the church is not. God, in His word, frequently makes use of negative explanations to help us understand what something is. For instance, look at Psalm 1. Read the first verse. The blessed man is described to us by telling us what he is not. Let’s go on:
B The NT church is not a man made institution. It was started by Christ and by Him alone. (Matt. 16:18; 18:17) Therefore any church started by another is an imposter.
B The church is not a non-organized or temporary group like a Bible study or social but rather according to the New Testament pattern. (1 & 2 Tim. & Titus)
B The church is not an ecumenical body or even all Christendom. “[F]iathful brethren in Christ” make up the true churches (Col. 1:2) and all Christendom is better identified as the Harlot of Revelation 17 and her daughters.
B Christ’s churches are not some national or provincial organization but rather individual assemblies after the New Testament pattern. The Bible always uses “churches” to speak of the plurality of assemblies in an area. (Acts 15:41; Rom. 16:4, 16; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Cor. 8:1; Gal. 1:22; 1 Thess. 2:14; Rev. 1:4) This simple fact of the Scriptures using the plural of “church” is a definite proof that the individual assembly is the true and only church.
B The church of God is not the kingdom of God. (2 Tim. 4:1, 18) Christians are not building the kingdom of God on earth, but rather Christ will do this at His return. (Acts 1:6-8)
B The church is not a denomination. It is wrong Biblically to refer to the “Roman Catholic Church” or the “Anglican Church” or the “United Church of Canada” for these are religious hierarchies and not individual assemblies after the New Testament pattern.
Historically, the Baptist people have never organized in a hierarchical structure but have always maintained the individual assembly as an autonomous or self-governing body. It should be noted that many who carry the name "Baptist" have degraded into a convention/denomination structure. Conventions are not Biblical and WILL lead to un-Biblical doctrine and practices. The Baptist churches have, from the times of the apostles, been the individual assemblies of baptized believers organized after the pattern of the New Testament and are found in history under such name as Waldensians, Novatians, Paulicians, etc. AMEN!
By Paul Burbidge, B.Th.