<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Church, who and what, Journey to Brideship, Jesus, Truth, Christian born again




1.) How can you be a Christian
if you are not born-again?

       Pilgrims on the Earth
       Church in the Home
       The House of God

       THE WORD


     1) Repent from dead works
     2) Faith towards God
     3) Laying on of hands
     4) Doctrine of baptisms
     5) Eternal judgment
     6) Resurrection of the dead

     1) True nature of salvation
     2) Jews: God's chosen seed
     3) Fruits and fellowship
     4) Gifts of the Spirit
     5) Our part of the cross
     6) Eternal Judgment
     7) The Rapture

       1) Believing
       2) Living
       3) Obeying
       4) Trusting
       5) Resting
       6) Standing
       7) Walking
       1) Virtue
       2) Knowledge
       3) Patience
       4) Temperance
       5) Godliness
       6) Brotherly Kindness
       7) Love


A Christian’s Duty

Always seek

by Terry Smith

    On July 4th when we Americans celebrate independence from European domination and the iron grip of British oppression, politicians and educators always seize the opportunity to speak of the things which have made our country a powerhouse among nations. Not least of the “virtues” that are touted is the need for the people to have a sense of duty and the necessity of protecting our hard won privileges.
      Amid the colorful displays, the band concerts, and the lighting of the sky with majestic fireworks, the contemporary fathers will make speeches about duty and the protecting of these precious privileges that were won on various battlefields, both domestic and foreign, by the courage and blood of our forefathers. It was their sense of duty that often gave them the wherewithal to risk their lives for neighbor and community. It is a sense of duty and the full allegiance to this obligation that makes any culture or civilization great. History teaches us that a people void of a sense of duty and respect for the general people are also unacquainted with communal and civil discipline. As a natural result they are dominated by some outside force, nation or people that is duty bound, committed, focused, and disciplined. When sense of duty begins to erode, and people only look to their own welfare, then that body which was made strong by commitment to its principles will surely begin a rapid decline into disaster, even oblivion.     History is our witness to this “natural law” of societies. It has been the pattern followed by the rise and fall of the world’s empires and her great social, ideological and political movements. This principle also holds true in spiritual matters, and particularly is reflected in both the condition of the individual Christian believer and the Church at large. When there is an erosion of a sense of duty to others and a discarding of the privileges that were won by the shed blood of its courageous “forefather” (Jesus) then her strength is sapped and she will surely become dominated by some other outside force. Those forces that wait to dominate Christians lurk at the gate just as sure as the Vandals and the Goths lurked outside the city limits of Rome waiting to bring her to her knees. Just as certain as the Nazis skirted the heavy French defenses and easily overran Paris in 1940. It is a work of ravishment, once inside it carries weakness and cowardice and brother betraying brother, and inglorious death. They chip away at a people’s heart, these monsters of neglect, they feed upon the soul until it is made to fall away from the backbone of their original purpose and principle. Their faith becomes confused, their faith atrophies then disappears, any spiritual mettle they had is gone. So God brings judgment on them, just as it happened with Israel.

The enemies that wait at our doorstep are not only sin but those creeping serpents of humanism, ecumenism and false religion that turn lies into the truth and suggest that God’s truth is a relative thing subject to our discretion and our cultural manners. Like enemies waiting at the gate, the World and the Devil seek to dominate every true believer they can get their hands on. If they can badger or deceive the believer into forgoing their duty to respectfully and obsessively seek the truth then they will be able to dominate them. The World says, “You aren’t loving if you insist on and speak the truth.” But it is the duty, as well as the blessed privilege, that was won by the blood of Jesus at Calvary, of every Christian to pursue and seek the truth. Why else would Proverbs 23:23 say, “Buy the Truth and sell it not.” Every Christian is duty bound to relentlessly and aggressively pursue the truth and to just as aggressively hold on to that truth.
       The Truth, however, is not what the World believes it to be. The Truth is not a set of principles, an ideology, or adherence to some system. It is not what a brilliant man may say or something which the eyes can attest. The Truth to a Christian is known and it is not debatable. The Truth is Christ. When we say we seek the truth and reverence the Truth, we are actually saying we seek Jesus. We seek His opinion, His assessment, His direction, His call to action, His advice to passively withdraw, His counsel, His desire, His hope and not ours, and His welfare. When he said, “Ye must be born-again”, we know that is a fact that is irrefutable. Because Jesus is the Truth and He cannot lie. When he said, “All others that came before me were robbers and thieves” we know that is an absolute fact, inarguable, immutable. He declared “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” We know that He is the only way by which a person can be saved.
Once a church, a Christian movement, a denomination, a leading Evangelist, or an individual born-again believer abandons their duty to seek and follow the truth in favor of making this a more palatable place for Christians to live, or because they will be rejected or shutoff by the world, or they might look bad, they are being deceived and well on the road to being dominated by a “foreign power”, that road that is broad and well traveled and leads directly to Hell.
       This is one of the major reasons why we have objected to any leader in the Church who suggests that duty to truth is less important than living peaceably with everyone and mollifying their fears. We have nothing personal against these men or their ministries, but we do take it seriously because of the harm it does to true believers. Without a sense of duty to follow after the truth we will be dominated by some other force than the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We are duty bound to refute and resist the selling of the truth for any kind of gain. Does God do this? Has he ever dishonored the Truth or ignored it just to placate man’s indignation about the truth?
      The truth is highly offensive to the unsaved soul. We are told we are a sweet smell to God but to the godless we have the stench of death. The truth is in opposition to the World, Humanism, False Religion or unrepentant Man. The Lord warned His disciples, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” At the Last Supper he told them, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
The religions of Mohammed, Buddha and Hindi are rightly called world religions. They do not confirm nor regard the Divinity of Jesus Christ as the ONLY begotten Son of God. They do not acknowledge that His shed blood on the cross, and only His shed blood on the cross, can save man. They spread the deception of the serpent that says there are many ways to come to God. They believe in reincarnation and salvation through good works and not by faith through the mercy of God. Any back peddling from the truth of Jesus as the only Savior of Man is a denial of the entire gospel and a shirking of the duty to truth that makes a believer strong in Christ. Fudging on the truth simply will not do, even if we are doing it to have “fellowship” with all religions and leaders that might add to our power and importance.
Did Christ ever do that? Would He have said, “Yeah Caesar and the gods of Rome can help to save you too”, just to get people to listen to Him? No. Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. Then how can a Christian do it?
      We see the morals and ethics of our youth in decay. Students are capable of gunning down classmates and teachers without the slightest remorse. Satanic worship is on the rise among the younger generation of narcissistic self-worshippers. Our nation falters because the generations that are ascending to power and position are all to committed to self gratification rather than honest civil service. If you can get away with it then it must be OK. Our national sense of duty has been exchanged by an expectation that we should be served rather than serve others. Christians of every stripe, across this land, believe that God is their errand-boy or Satan Claus who came down and died on the cross just to supply their worldly needs and level out the roller-coaster ride of life to make it safe and amusing. During the holiday of the fourth of July there will be plenty of flag waiving, at Christmas plenty of gift-giving, on Memorial Day plenty of remembering of heroes. Our Politicians make political hay and will insist on looking at the bright side of things. Rather than taking a hard look at the truth they will be looking hard for votes. Pastors and evangelists will tickle the ears of their congregants in search of votes and larger revenues. They will be seeking the safe ground, being careful to be politically correct, looking anxiously for nodding heads, smiling faces, approving amens and hallelujahs. While they lament the condition of our country and the direction in which she is heading, they will try to assure us that everything is going to be all right and that men ought to love one another and not stir up a fuss about their religion.
          The world will do what it will do. It will continue to fight against Christ and everything that the cross of Calvary has done for men. Christ taught us to let the World do its thing. The World will not be converted. This is why Jesus, just before going to the cross, said, “Father… I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” This is why we are taught, “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” And, “what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” We are chided to “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
It is our Christian duty to defend, honor and preserve the Truth that Christ purchased for us with His very own blood. It is this blood and only this blood that can wash us clean and make our sins, though they be as scarlet, white as snow. Mohammed, Buddha, and others cannot wash my sins away by anything they ever did or claimed. Only the Son of God, Jesus Christ, did this for me. How can we fudge on this? How can we give away such a gift of love? Though there are evangelists who sadly take this gift and sell it we shall be wise students of Proverbs. Every day is Independence Day for the Christian if they take serious vigil and maintain their freedom. For we are told we can know the truth and that it will set us free indeed. A wise Christians will be a fanatic about the Truth, take hold of the Truth, which was purchased for us by Jesus, and the wise Christian will sell it not, not at any price!


The Church?
Who and What and
How She Came To Be

The term "church" is the English translation of the Greek word ekklesia, and literally means the called out ones, or separated ones. The use of the Greek term prior to the emergence of the Christian Church is helpful in understanding the nature of the Church because two streams of meaning flow from the history of its usage that have bearing on the New Testament understanding of church.
     First, the Greek term which basically means "called out" was commonly used to indicate an assembly of citizens of a Greek city and is so used in Acts 19:32 & 39. Greek citizens were the elite, they held the political power and enjoyed great privileges, but they also had the duties of state and military service in protecting the people. (FOR Christians to put all emphasis on Church without maintaining focus on the purpose for which they gather, and the duties of their service to God, which is, to share and preserve the living gospel within the confines of their assemblies, is as absurd as the event in Acts when the citizens of Ephesus had gathered at a city assembly but did not even know why they had come together. It resulted in a tumult and chaos with no constructive business or result, except in an attempt to kill Paul.) The citizens who were quite conscious of their privileged status over/against slaves and noncitizens were normally called to the assembly by a herald and dealt in their meetings democratically with matters of common concern. When the early Christians understood themselves as constituting a church, no doubt exists that they perceived themselves as called out by God in Jesus Christ for a special purpose and that their status was a privileged one in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:19). Second, the Greek term was used more than one hundred times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was in common use in the time of Jesus. The Hebrew term (qahal) meant simply "assembly" and could be used in a variety of ways, referring for example to an assembling of prophets (1 Sam. 19:20), soldiers (Num. 22:4), or the people of God (Deut. 9:10). The use of the term in the Old Testament in referring to the people of God is important for understanding the term "church" in the New Testament.
     Thus all these groups were exclusive and “privileged” or allowed to be there because they conformed to all the requirements necessary for membership or admittance, and ability to perform the function or be useful to the purpose for which the called gathering was assembled. The defining requisites for membership among the church can be and must be summed up in the Gospel. Therefore the Gospel is all important.
  The first Christians were Jews who used the Greek translation of the Old Testament. For them to use a self-designation that was common in the Old Testament for the people of God reveals their understanding of the continuity that links the Old and New Testaments. The early Christians understood themselves as the people of the God who had revealed Himself in the Old Testament (Heb. 1:1-2), as the true children of Israel (Rom. 2:28-29) with Abraham as their father (Rom. 4:1-25), and as the people of the New Covenant prophesied in the Old Testament (Heb. 8:1-13). As a consequence of this broad background of meaning in the Greek and Old Testament worlds, the term "church" is used in the New Testament of a local congregation of called-out Christians, such as the "church of God which is at Corinth"(1 Cor. 1:2), and also of the entire people of God, such as in the affirmation that Christ is "the head over all things to the church, Which is his body" (Eph. 1:22-23).
     Therefore the only real way to study the Church is to determine where and in what condition the Gospel was at all times. Where the Gospel thrives the Church lives, where the Gospel was perverted or lost, the Church suffered by degrees.

What the word Church means in the New Testament is further defined by a host of over one hundred other descriptive expressions occurring in relationship to passages where the church is being addressed. Three basic perspectives embrace most of these other descriptions. 1. the church is seen as the body of Christ; and a cluster of images exists in this context as emphasis falls on the head (Eph. 4:15-16), the members (1 Cor. 6:12-20), the body (1 Cor. 12:12-27), or the bride (Eph. 5:22-31). 2. The church is also seen as God's new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), the new persons (Eph. 2:14-15), fighters against Satan (Eph. 6:10-20), or bearers of light (Eph. 5:7-9). 3. The church is quite often described as a fellowship of faith with its members described as the saints (1 Cor. 1:2), the faithful (Col. 1:2), the witnesses (John 15:26-27), or the household of God (1 Pet. 4:17).

Major characteristics of the life of the church
      The preeminent characteristic of the church in the New Testament is devotion to Jesus Christ as Lord. He established the church under His authority (Matt. 16:13-20) and created the foundation for its existence in His redeeming death and demonstration of God's power in His resurrection. Christ's position as the Lord evoked, sustained, and governed the major characteristics of the life of the church in the way members were admitted, treated one another, witnessed to His power, worshiped, and lived in hope of His return.
Persons were admitted to the local congregation only upon their placing their trust in Christ as Savior (Acts 2:37-42), openly confessing this (Rom. 10:9-13), and being baptized (Acts 10:44-48). Baptism or immersion in water was performed because Christ had commanded it (Matt. 28:18-20) and was itself a dramatic symbolic picturing of the burial and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). Joining the church made one a fully participating member in it, unlike many of the religious groups in the first century in which there was a substantial period of probation before full acceptance. Being born-again was the one and only prerequisite and their was no sacrament demanded for its reality in the believer's life. When Christ accepted the person, the congregation did also, even though the members might be aware of weaknesses (Rom. 14:1-4).

    The way in which members of the church were called on to treat one another was modeled by what God had done in Christ for the Church. They were to forgive one another (Col. 3:12-14) and to love one another (Eph. 5:1-2; 1 John 3:16) because God had done this for all of them in Christ. This foundation for Christian fellowship gave an ultimacy to its requirements that reflected on each church member's relationship with God (1 John 2:7-11).
Members of the church were called on to demonstrate the power of Christ's redemption in their own lives by exemplary conduct, embracing every area of life (Rom. 12:1-13:7; Col. 3:12-4:1). The overcoming of sins in the lives of Christians was a witness to the redeeming power of Christ in action in the community (Gal. 5:22-26), and the sins to which the communities were prone were clearly identified and challenged (Gal. 5:19-21). The Christians were expected to adopt a new life style wherever it was appropriate to their commitment to Christ (Eph. 4:17-24).

     The worship of the early church demonstrated the lordship of Christ, not only in the fact that He was extolled and praised but also in the fact that worship demonstrated the obligation of Christians to love and to nurture one another (1 Cor. 11:17-22; 14:1-5). In distinction from worship as it was practiced in the pagan cults of Greece and Rome, Christian worship not only stressed the relation of a person to the Diety but went beyond this to stress that worship should edify and strengthen the Christians present (1 Cor. 14:26) and should challenge pagans to accept Christ (1 Cor. 14:20-25). Christian worship was often enthusiastic and usually involved all Christians present as participants (1 Cor. 14:26). This openness both inspired creativity and opened the way for excesses which were curbed by specific suggestions (1 Cor. 14:26-33a; 1 Tim. 2:1-10) and by the rule that what was done should be appropriate to those committed to a God of peace (1 Cor. 14:33a).
All of these characteristics of the life of the church existed in the context of an urgency created by the awareness that Christ was going to return (1 Thess. 1:9-10). Christ's return would bring judgment to the unbelievers (1 Thess. 5:1-10) and thus made witnessing to them an urgent concern. How central this belief was to the early church is illustrated by the fact that the Lord's Supper, which they observed at His command was seen as proclaiming "the Lord's death till he come" (1 Cor. 11:26). The return of Christ was to result in glorious joy and the transformation of the Christians, a hope that sustained them in difficult times (2 Thess. 1:5-12).

      Ordering of the New Testament churches A striking feature of the order, as opposed to organization, of the early churches is that every member of the church was seen as having a gift for service which was to be used cooperatively for the benefit of all (Rom. 12:1-8; 1 Pet. 4:10). Paul used the imagery of the human body to illustrate this unique feature of the church's life, stressing that every Christian has a necessary function and a responsibility to function with an awareness of his or her share in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-31). In the context of this strong belief that every member has a ministry, certain persons were designated to fulfill specific tasks in relation to the functioning of the church such as apostles, bishops, elders, and deacons. As these offices are examined, it is important to remember that the order of the early churches was not necessarily the same in every locality. A large church would need more functionaries and works and helps than a small one, and the presence of an apostle or his designated representative would cause the other leaders in a given church to be seen in a different light. In addition to these variables, the church was in a period of rapid growth; and as it responded to the needs of ministry, roles or offices, such as the appointment of the seven in Acts 6:1-7, were created to enable the church to fulfill its ministry in Christ.
      "Apostle" usually designated one appointed as the authorized representative of Jesus Christ, and the term in the New Testament is most frequently applied to one of the Twelve (Acts 1:15-26) or to Paul (Gal. 1:1-24). The term was occasionally used in a wider sense to indicate the validity and importance of one of the early church's leaders, such as James (Gal. 1:19) or Barnabas (Acts 14:4; compare Rom. 16:7); but there is no hint in the New Testament that an apostle could appoint a person to succeed himself and establish a continuing line. The office is, in fact, seen as foundational in the church's history and not as continuing (Eph. 2:20).
      Bishops and elders had quite similar responsibilities; and Paul, addressing the elders in Acts 20:17, stated that they were bishops or overseers (v. 28). Usually, however, the term "bishop" is in the singular (1 Tim. 3:1), and the term "elders" is plural (Jas. 5:14) as a specific church is addressed. The responsibilities of a bishop are described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:7-9. He is described as representing the church in a way which would suggest that each church had one designated leader who functioned much in the way a contemporary pastor does.
     Deacons were required to be exemplary Christians like bishops (1 Tim. 3:8-13). Since their duties are not specified and they are usually listed with the bishops, it is usually assumed that deacons devoted themselves to the larger work of the local church, assisting in whatever ways were most appropriate to the local congregation of Christians as the seven did in Acts (6:1-7). The order, rather than organization, of the early churches was not governed by a rigid plan that each church had to follow. The guiding principle was that the church was the body of Christ with a mission to accomplish, and the church felt free to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit in developing a routine or order, not so much a human structure, that would contribute to its fulfilling its responsibilities (Rom. 12:1-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-16).
      The main structure, if it could be called such, was assembling together in the name of Christ as full-fledged, equal citizens of the Kingdom of God, to worship God, for the Gospel's sake, and for the promotion of the salvation of every member of the body. By faith each member was expected to assemble, striving to love one another and knowing that wherever two or three gathered together in His name there he would be also. As eagles flocking to the body, they could spiritually and in all reality, feast on His body and drink His life-giving blood. This was in the spirit of the ekklesia, or 'the called out ones', just as the Greek world had acted out in their worldly culture which provided the name 'church' for Christ's believers. They had been exhumed from the world and risen into the life of Christ. They had been removed, 'called away from, and separated' to God.

The growth and expansion of the early church
      Jesus taught His disciples that by following Him they were to be involved in a movement that would continue (Matt. 16:13-20; John 14:12-14), but it was after the resurrection of Jesus that the mission of the church really began (Matt. 28:16-20; John 20:19-23; Acts 1:6-11). The earliest Christians were Palestinian Jewish followers of Jesus and found it difficult to witness to non-Jews (Acts 10:1-48). The bridge to the Gentiles was the Hellenistic Jewish Christianity, which sprang into existence with the conversion of Jews from the dispersion who were visiting in Jerusalem and converted at Pentecost (Acts 2:5-47). These Jews whose residence had been in the cities of the Roman Empire were called Hellenistic because they were generally more open to the Greco-Roman culture than their Palestinian colleagues. They spoke and wrote Greek as their primary language, gave their children Greek names (such as Stephen which means "crown" in Greek), and were more willing to relate to Gentiles. It was this group of the early Christians that was the major channel in spreading the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 19:11-26). It was also the phenomenon of persecution of the early Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Stephen, Peter, James) that sent them from their comfortable place in Jerusalem into the rest of the world to preach the Gospel in Antioch, Babylon, Africa and other far-flung places of the Roman Empire, including Rome and the Far East. Ironically, God used persecution to further the Gospel and spread it far and wide among the Gentiles. The thousands of converts who had sold their property to live communally had nowhere to live once they were rooted out by persecution and were forced to 'go into all the world'. The spread of the Gospel through the dispersal of the early church at Jerusalem was so great, in fact, that Paul could tell the Colossians twenty years hence, that the Gospel had gone into all the world. (Col. 1:6) Christ was to be a light to the Gentiles as Isaiah had seen, and so the move into the world had to be able to relate to the Greeks and the rest of the Gentile nations as well. Paul said he became all things to all men for this reason: that some could be saved (1 Cor. 9:18-22).
     Paul was a Hellenistic Jew (Acts 21:39); and when he became a Christian, he was called to and accepted a ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21; Eph. 3:1-13). Significantly, he inaugurated his ministry of founding new churches from the base of a church composed of both Gentiles and Hellenistic Jewish Christians (Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3). Paul's strategy was to visit synagogues in the cities of the Roman Empire and to proclaim Jesus as the Christ (Acts 18:5). The usual result was that some Jews and some Gentiles who were interested in Judaism (called God-fearers, Acts 18:7) believed in Christ, were expelled from the synagogue, and formed the nucleus for a growing church (Acts 18:5-11; 19:8-10). Be persecuted and expelled, once again was the idealistic catalyst of church expansion, and even, spiritual growth in the individual members of the body. The Acts of the Apostles gives only a glimpse of the early Christian heroes and heroines with a focus on Peter, Paul, and a few others (Acts 18:1-4, 24-28). There were, however, many heroic Christian witnesses unknown to us who first carried the gospel to Rome (Acts 28:14-15) and to the limits of the Empire in India, Egypt, and the outlying areas of Europe. Each of the twelve apostles has traditions and fables surrounding their evangelistic expeditions and ministries. Each one is supposed to have died a glorious martyr's death which only further the cause of Christ and the disseminating of the Gospel throughout the world during the first thirty years of the Church's existence.

Thanks to Harold S. Songer for the meat of this article.

In Search of the Church

 Just as we all must come to know Christ individually and cannot come to a saving, personal knowledge of Jesus by our association with a group or organization, so we must also seek out for ourselves the truth concerning the Church. Regarding the Church, every truly born-again believer will ultimately have to ask four fundamental questions in his own heart.

  1. Who is the Church?
  2. What is the Church?
  3. Where can the Church be found?
  4. And, how does God want me to fit into the Church once I find it?

       Finding the answer to these questions can be more difficult than what our initial expectations might hold, especially if we are coming out of a denomination that we grew up in or had some adult connection with. It even can be a great struggle to find the true answers to these questions which require supernatural movements of God in our life and spiritual biblical gifts such as words of knowledge, words of wisdom and prophecy, as well as the others enumerated in the epistle of 1 Corinthians chapter 12 .   We wonder why our biggest problem as Christians sometimes seems to be the Church, where to settle, and our relationship with it. In America we are free to roam, not confined to a tighter authority or a state-church with legal regulations as in Europe and Great Britain, or as in our former days of Puritan societies. In the modern ages we have been freed up to range away from our parent’s church, the one in which our family and fathers once had the clout to demand that we attend. The latest generation of American churchgoers, and born-again believers have no conception of the way their parents were situated in the Church. People today have the freedom to choose and wander about from church to church at their whim. As soon as they are criticized or challenged, as soon as they are offended or meet with an unfriendly fellow they are at their discretion to bolt. It can only be that people do not ask themselves the fundamental questions of Who, What, Where and Why, concerning the church the body of Christ. It is too convenient not to seek the Church. Plus modern believers, I think are just down-right lazy in this regard. They have been handed salvation on a silver plate, so to speak, and why should they do anything to expend energy or concern. But the complexities of this vast realm of God, with its good and bad, wicked and righteous, thorns and fruits, idolatry and true worship, is an entire world into which we are born when we come to Christ. Like it or not it swirls about us unseen, but nevertheless, powerfully real and important to our welfare. This is why we may have, as many Christians have since the second half of the 20th Century, numerous encounters with believers, fellowships and churches, all with mixed results, before we can settle in and fellowship with that portion of the body of Christ with which God wants us to cohabit.
      It can take time to find out about the vast expanses of God's Church and where we fit in to it. Along the way we are certain to have bad teachings about the Church. In fact, wrong ideas about the Church abound from Evangelical doctrine to mainstream Christian conventions. All too often the platitudes of accepted, popular born-again doctrine fill the believer with man's ideas about the Church and the way man thinks God ‘ought to be’ rather than the way God and the Church actually is. The Church can all too easily feed the sheep baloney rather than the sincere milk of God's Word, especially when it comes to the subject of itself, or teaching the straight and clear reality which God Himself, has declared about the Church. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonor If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”  We are here counseled by the Word of God that we should follow Christ with “those who call on the Lord out of pure heart”. The reason for the advice is in God’s house not all believers actually believe or act like they believe. Some are in it only for what they can get out of it. Some are very dishonorable. It is taken for granted all too often that every professing believer is ‘saved’ and being saved, that the four questions above have all been asked and settled by our pastors and the teachings of their denominational affiliation. Upon deep scrutiny (and sometimes not so deep) we are shocked to find out, however, that these questions have been answered with trite clichés or broad sweeping generalities or things no longer pertinent; they sound all fine and dandy but don't really conform to the Truth of the revealed Word of God. We find out that God is there in name only and that another spirit resides there in spite of the fang-dangles and pretty speeches. Sometimes we find out that the enemy, just as the parable depicts, has sown many weeds among the wheat and that we are among weeds and fools. This is all part of who the Church is, however. Don't get me wrong - not the pure and true Church, or even the purest church, but the unsavory side of the house of vessels which dishonor it. It is OK to purge ourselves from fellowship with such vessels of dishonor. Even more, it is suggested and counseled that we do so.
     Even more alarming we may discover that the fundamental questions about the Church have never even been asked by those assembled together in the name of Christ. In its simplest form the Church can be defined as those who are separated from out of the world and assembled under the banner of Jesus Christ. Christians say we should accept anyone who calls himself a brother, or trust the motives of everyone who has answered an altar call or come forth at a convention. They think that where church is mentioned in Scriptures (77 times) that it automatically means 'perfect' and saved. But that does not conform with 1 Corinthians 5 where we are told to separate ourselves from wanton sinners in the Church. It does not consider the great criticism leveled at believers in the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 & 3. It does not consider Paul's words to those churches throughout the Roman Province of Galatia when he stood up and told them "I stand in doubt of you." In turn we are scolded by misguided ones to ‘judge not lest we be judged’. But that does not hold fast with Jesus' statement that we judge not by appearance but judge righteous judgment, or that we shall know them by their fruits, or that the Church is duty bound to judge when a stumbling block has been cast by one brother in the way of another. We do not have to judge the sinner per se’ but we must make a judgment on the stumbling block and its effects. Read 1 Corinthians 5. The word Church is from the Greek, EKKLESIA, meaning a calling out, or the called out ones, or the separated ones. God's call in 2 Corinthians 6.17 to "come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you" is a call to become a member of the true Church of God without reservation.
     The Philadelphia Faith believes the Church is a spiritual body made up of individuals here, there and everywhere that cannot be contained in a building, place, denomination, or teaching. (Though there can be groups, ‘bodies’ here and there communing in the Lord in friendship and faith as the Philadelphian Church of old apparently had). The Church is contained in a person - Jesus Christ. By the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ these people have been given new birth through the conversion of repentance so that they have been made new creatures in Christ? Within this greater body provision has been made to give us increase and speed us along the way to a mature and healthy relationship with Christ and the Father by way of the Spirit and the Word of God. This is what the Church is. The body of faithful believers assembled in His name is who she is, including all her imperfections, weeds and acquired spirits of error, and such. We have to pick our way through briars and brambles to find a place, a body, genuinely seeking after the purer form of church. The apostle Peter described this body, this Church like this: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.... But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:...  Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." 1 Pet 2

This is the picture painted in God's Word of the part of the Church, which pleases Him. God is building up a place for His own habitation, one of "lively stones", "fitly framed together" Eph. 2:19-22 that has come ‘out from among the unclean thing and become separate’ from the world and all idolatry. But this is only corner of the vast expanses of the Church. The letters to the seven churches in Revelation, the parables told by Christ to His disciples in the Gospels and the teachings and doctrines of the Epistles shine forth the truth and reality of what God's over-all Church is really like. These words uncover great mysteries unknown since the world began about where the Church is to be found and what her condition truly is. They coax us, encourage us, and instruct us so that we can find out that good portion of the Church, where we should reside and where our spirits can best thrive in Christ.
It is our hope to delve into and provide answers ­ for our readers about who and ­what the church is, where it is and how we should live and move within her. It is our belief at the Philadelphia Faith that Philadelphia fellowships do exist, though they may be difficult to find since they are off “the beaten path” and that there is a high calling of God in Christ Jesus, a crown of righteousness that is attained by obedience that not all believers acquire. There are wheat and tares in the Church. There are vessels of gold and silver, which by purging themselves from vessels of dishonor become "sanctified and meet for the Master's use and prepared unto every good work." We believe there are faithful and slothful servants and wise and unwise virgins. All these are in God's house. The Church is a conglomerate body of both faithful and struggling souls. Hypocrites and people who have departed from the faith with seducing spirits, those whose God is their belly and walk as the enemies of the cross of Christ, walk imperiously in her halls and sit in her chairs of authority. Our question must be how should the believer who seeks to be called and chosen and faithful move in this vast and great household of God? Should one settle for the first seat they find, or ought they to seek their proper place in the body of Christ? Though it may be a hard quest it should be part of our Christian journey to find our place in the body of Christ and that includes seeking for a fellowship of faithful believers who seek the Lord out of a pure heart.
1“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
      To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
     To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
      All these work that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he the Spirit will.”1Cor. 12:8-11