Kingdom Confusion: Part II

This is a continuation of our series on “Kingdom Confusion” as promised. You can read Part I here.

In this post, I wish to address a somewhat popular cliché that I think misses the mark on what the New Testament (NT) teaches concerning the kingdom of God.

Here’s the cliché:

“Jesus mentioned the church only twice; but he mentioned the kingdom over 100 times. So He really doesn’t care about the church as much as He does the kingdom.”

Have you heard it before? Maybe even passed it on?

Allow me take dead aim at this line of thought. It’s specious reasoning at best.

Separating What God Has Joined

First, let me say at the outset that it saddens me greatly when Christian authors and speakers pit the church against the kingdom and the kingdom against the church. To my mind, this tendency reflects a profound misunderstanding of what the church really is. (I’ve discussed this elsewhere.)

Behold I show you a mystery: Without the church, there is no kingdom. And without the kingdom, there is no church.

As I’ve argued in Part I, the kingdom of God is the manifestation of God’s ruling presence. As such, the kingdom is embodied in Jesus Christ.

Christ incarnates the kingdom.

But note that Jesus Christ is inseparable from His body also (see From Eternity to Here which argues this point from the NT texts).

When the church is functioning properly in a given place, she IS the manifestation of God’s ruling presence. She reveals Christ, that is, she expresses the kingdom . . . the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

She shows forth the rule of God, makes visible the reign of God, and the justice, freedom, and peace that goes with it. (See Part I for my thoughts on what the kingdom is and isn’t.)

To separate the kingdom from the church is like separating light from visibility.

It’s a serious mistake to do so.

Note that I’m talking about the church as the NT envisions it, not what goes by the name “church” in many corners of the planet today.

Having said that, I believe the “Jesus-only-mentioned-the-church-twice-and-the-kingdom-over-100-times” argument is based on a superficial analysis of the Gospels that is grossly misleading.

This line of reasoning is not dissimilar to those who say “The Trinity is NEVER mentioned in the Bible, therefore, to say that Father, Son and Spirit are three yet one is false.”

The term “Godhead” is only used 3x in the NT. Does that then mean that the Godhead is not mentioned or referred to in the NT? Or that it’s not important?

Hardly.

Everywhere you see Father, Son, and Spirit mentioned in the NT, the Godhead is in view, though not by that specific title.

Let me repeat that.

Everywhere you see Father, Son, and Spirit mentioned in the NT, the Godhead is in view, though not by that specific title.

In like manner, John 14, 15, 16, and 17 are dripping full of the Godhead. So is most of the Gospel of John. Though “Godhead” isn’t mentioned once in that passage. And neither is the word “Trinity.” Yet the Godhead is present . . .  all over the place and in living color.

The Church in Fresh Perspective

With that thought in mind, let me make a radical statement:

The Lord Jesus Christ mentioned and referred to the church MORE than He did the kingdom of God.

But He didn’t do it by using the word “ekklesia.”

Let me ‘splain.

Remember that small band of disciples that Jesus called unto Himself and lived with for 3 1/2 years?

They were “the Twelve” added to what Luke calls “the Women.”

Probably around 20 individuals in all.

Those 20 people were a community that lived a shared life under the headship of Jesus Christ. Christ was the center of their life and fellowship.

In other words: they were the embryonic expression of the ekklesia.

What is ekklesia (church) in the NT? It’s a community of believers who share a common life in Christ, assembly together regularly, and make Jesus central, supreme, and head over their lives together.

Those 20 were the community of the King (to quote Howard Snyder). And that’s precisely what the ekklesia is.

Consequently, every time you see the Twelve with Jesus (and the Women) in the Gospels, you’re seeing the church.

And virtually every time Jesus spoke to His disciples and used the word “you” . . .

“YOU are the light of the world.”

“YOU are the salt of the earth.”

“And when the Spirit comes, He will teach YOU all things.”

“I am the Vine, YOU are the branches” . . .

He was referring to the church.

In addition, when John uses the word “we,” he is most often speaking of the church . . .

“And of His fullness WE have all received, grace upon grace.”

Do you remember when Jesus said, “Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and dies, it abides alone. But if it dies, it bears many grains”?

The “many grains” are the church.

How about when Jesus referred to His brethren?

“But go to my BRETHREN and tell them I ascend to my Father.”

Or how about when He prayed for His disciples in John 17 and said,

“I’m not praying for these alone, but for THOSE WHO WILL BELIEVE ON ME through their word.”

Who are the “those who will believe on me”?

The church.

Who are the Lord’s “brethren”?

The church.

And on and on and on.

Is She Important?

Yes, the church of the living God is on just about every page of the Gospels. Far more than the kingdom, in fact.

To be accurate, there are 85 unique references to the kingdom in the Synoptic Gospels. And 5 in the Gospel of John. So the Gospels total 90 unique references to the kingdom.

Put that over against the many references to the church given above, and the count is less for the kingdom.

When we come to the NT writings (Acts to Revelation), the kingdom is mentioned 31 times and the church is found 77 times.

The word “brethren” – which refers to the brothers and sisters in the churches – is used 249 times in Acts through Revelation.

The word “saints” (holy ones) which is a reference to the individual believers in the churches is used 60 times.

Now in light of all of the above, can we please stop pitting the church against the kingdom?

To do such is to violate the gospel.

As I’ve argued in From Eternity to Here, the church (rightly conceived) is at the center of God’s eternal purpose. And she’s the very reason that provoked creation.

Here’s my response to those who would say that the church isn’t important. Or those who argue that the kingdom is more important than the ekklesia. This is part of a transcript of a message I delivered called Who Is This Woman? many years ago. I trust it helps make the point.

“Don’t tell me that the church isn’t important when she appears in the opening pages of holy Scripture, and she reappears at the very end. She’s at the beginning. And she’s at the end. (Eve in Genesis 2 and the Bride in Revelation 22).

Don’t tell me the church isn’t important when your Lord and my Lord is consumed with a zeal that eats Him up for her.

Don’t tell me that the church isn’t important when Jesus Christ gave His life for her and forsook everything to have her. (Ephesians 5:25 says that Christ gave Himself for the church. She’s the pearl of great price, hid in God from before the ages.)

Don’t tell me that the church isn’t important when Jesus Christ sees Himself as indistinguishable from her. She is bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, His very body on earth. (See Acts 9:1-5; Matt. 25:40, 45). How can you say the church isn’t important?

Don’t tell me that she isn’t important when she’s the fiancé of the Son of God, and He’s waiting to marry her. To take her in oneness. How can she not be important?

Don’t tell me the church isn’t important when Paul says, “You, the body of Christ in Corinth, are the corporate Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12; see also 1:12-13; 6:15; 8:12, etc.).

Don’t tell me the church isn’t important when the very last words of Scripture are uttered by her. She has the last word. The last words of holy write come out of her throat. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’”

Don’t tell me that the church isn’t important when she’s the wife of the Lamb. His partner for eternity.

Don’t tell me that the church isn’t important when she is at the very center of the mystery of the ages that Paul unveils in Colossians and Ephesians.

Brothers and sisters, the ekklesia is God’s eternal purpose. From before creation, He has wanted a bride, a house, a family, and a body (a visible expression). That was His original intention. From the beginning, He has wanted a corporate expression of Himself to reveal the beauty of His Son. He has desired to have a counterpart for Him. Why was Eve made? For Adam. To be his counterpart.

The church is not only important, it is the most important thing to God that exists. That’s His girl.

Look in the natural. Don’t tell me that we as the creatures of God Almighty aren’t built this way. When a man falls in love with a woman, there is nothing more important to him than that girl. That’s a picture of the passion of your Lord. He put that in you. He put it in you because that’s how He is. He is in love with you.

And you want to make Him visible. That’s His purpose. To come together. To live together. To share your lives together. You are that pearl. That great and costly pearl that the merchant gave everything for. His servants shall do the same, although we can’t give what he gave.”

A Plea for Change

In summary, you cannot separate the Lord Jesus Christ from the kingdom of God, and you cannot separate the church of Jesus Christ from the kingdom.

Let us, therefore, stop making these categorical separations that don’t exist in the mind and heart of God.

Jesus Christ is the embodiment of both the kingdom and the church. The church is just as predominant in the Gospels as it is in the Epistles.

And what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Selah.

Related:

Epic Jesus: The Christ You Never Knew

Kingdom Confusion: Part I

Why I Love the Church: In Praise of God’s Eternal Purpose

Reframing Discipleship

Discipleship, Mission, and Church: A Plea to Learn Our History

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Comments

  1. Matt says

    Myles Munroe makes the “kingdom” vs “church” statement in his teachings about the kingdom of God, from the perspective that Jesus brought a kingdom with him, not a religion. The idea being that religion is a manmade entity. His point about church focuses mainly on the institution, or denominations, that many christians think about when they hear the word “church” His teachings about the “ekklesia” are along the lines of what your teachings are, in my opinion.
    I think the 100 times kingdom is mentioned over 2 times church statement only works when the ekklesia meaning is explained. Without the “ekklesia”, the kingdom is not manifested on the earth….etc.

  2. says

    Frank, I understand where you are coming from. It is my desire and I have had the privilege to participate in such “church” at various times in my life. At present, such an opportunity does not exist, but we are building into the lives of people (not yet or soon to become followers of Jesus), that we are hoping will participate in the church as Jesus wants it.

    For me personally though I do try to refrain from the word church. I like to explain it however possible using terms such as the Body of Christ and God’s people gathering in a certain place. I personally find it a challenge, but one that is an important journey for me to go through.

    Words are tools and sign posts in a linguistic sense. So long as people understand our meaning then that is the purpose of using a word.

    I commend you in your work of educating God’s people.

    May the Lord see his Bride come to completion and purity.

  3. says

    I think one of the basic obstacles we have to overcome is one of language. Far too often, we use the word “church” to refer to the organization, rather than the people, the body of Christ. Even when we use big-C “Church,” most people still think of it only as the organization.

    Of course, such a delineation merely highlights the fact that the “church” we are familiar with is different from that which Jesus spoke of. The shame is that if I say, “Church,” 90% of people will think first of the organization, rather than the body of Christ. The church was always meant to be an earthly incarnation of the Kingdom, a living example of Christ in the world. Unfortunately, such is not the case often enough, hence the confusion between the terms.

    • says

      Daniel: What’s even more difficult is that the idea that “church” refers to all Christians (a very popular concept) is also wrong. In the NT, “ekklesia” always refers to an assembly of people. That’s what the word meant in Century One. It has in view a community of people who assemble regularly. So it’s not just “God’s people,” but God’s people who assemble together in a given place. This meaning is revolutionary to most believers as it’s so often mistaught. More here using a metaphor: http://frankviola.org/2009/08/18/why-i-love-the-church-in-praise-of-gods-eternal-purpose

      • says

        That’s a good post. It highlights the fact that we don’t currently seem to possess adequate vocabulary to accurately convey the concept. “Church” just means too many different things to different people. And, “ekklesia,” while appropriate, isn’t immediately known to most people, especially those would consider themselves “unchurched.”

        Having to explain the nuanced differences in the word “church” so that we can even have a meaningful discussion about it seems self-defeating, in a way. It seems like it would be better to come up with a unique term, and then define it from the beginning, thereby eliminating confusion and the needless animosity that comes from people getting defensive about their own personal definitions.

        Seems to me like there is an opportunity here.

        • says

          Daniel: See my comment to Paul about “a noble goal.” Sounds good on paper. But I’ve never seen anyone successfully do it who is writing and speaking to God’s people at large. What typically happens when this has been tried is people will say “oh, they aren’t talking about “real church,” but something else and that’s cool” … and then go on supporting and participating in the status quo. So at least for me, I’m redeeming the meaning and intent of God when it comes what church (ekklesia) really is. And showing how far the mainstream understanding has strayed from it. So far that course has been extremely effective. See http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org – your mileage may vary of course.

  4. says

    In fact, the word “church” is unhelpful. It is probably more clear to use the word “ekklesia” so as to distinguish from the semantic shift that has occurred with the word church. We may like to “steal the word church back again”, but perhaps it needs a generation or two rest before it can be used properly.

    Let’s allow the word “church” to lie as a fallow field for a couple generations. Let’s strive to find new ways to explain the concepts that truly explain what Christ intends for his bride, body, kingdom, ekklesia, etc, etc.

    “Church” just confuses everyone.

    • says

      Paul: A nobel goal. If you can have conversations with the general Christian populace without ever uttering the word “church” and have them understand you, I tip my hat to you. I’ve never been able to pull that off successfully.

  5. Mark says

    Hi Frank,

    “Reimagining Church” was a very well written book. I enjoyed it a lot.

    I can see how you use the idea of a “triune Godhead” as a model for the church, and how it should function. I would think that using the apostolic model in the new testament would be enough though, as the idea of a triune God or “trinity” is a later development (fourth…fifth century?) and unknown to first century christians.

    Sure, the “trinity” can be vaguely inferrred from scripture, but only by taking a passage from here and another from there…you know, the “cut and paste” method =). There is nothing in scripture that unambiguously explains or teaches such a notion. The Apostles didn’t teach it, so why should we?

    I hope you will consider looking closer at this doctrine as see it for what it really is: an addition to scripture.

    I look forward to further discussion on this matter.

    Mark

    • says

      Mark: Glad you enjoyed “Reimagining Church.” The fact that God is triune, Father, Son and Spirit, is attested all over the NT. It’s not something I care to debate. I’ve had those debates long ago with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the United Pentecostals, and the Mormons and their explanations failed to satisfy me. If you are open to the subject, I’d suggest you read all the books I reference in “Reimagining Church” on the question. “Community 101″ is a great place to begin. http://www.ptmin.org/library – I’d also add “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. The other books I reference are much more sophisticated.

  6. Mark says

    Hi Frank,

    I will see if I can read “Reimagining Church” soon. I will be interested to see how you tie everything together.

    I don’t agree with you when you say, “That God is triune is without dispute biblically.” I don’t think that scripture supports such a notion, but I will read what you have to say on the matter in “Reimagining Church”.

    Mark

  7. Mark says

    Hi Frank,

    I enjoyed reading this, as well as “Pagan Christianity”. It is refreshing to see someone who has taken the time to research the early (1st century) church and how it functioned as opposed to what we call “church” today.

    I would challenge you to rethink your position on the “trinity”, as I do not believe that such a concept/doctrine was ever imagined, let alone taught, in the 1st century church.

    Mark

    • says

      Mark: Forget the doctrine called “the Trinity.” That God is triune is without dispute biblically. And the church doesn’t make sense without that understanding. Read “Reimagining Church” to understand that sentence. Pagan Christianity ISN’T a stand alone book. You’ve only heard one end of a conversation. The other half is in “Reimagining” and I discuss the Godhead there.

  8. says

    Adam: They are distinct, but not separate. You can’t separate them anymore than you can separate light from visibility. The kingdom is God’s society, the manifestation of God’s rule and God’s presence. That’s what the church is called to be — the kingdom community.

    Often what we call “church” isn’t. See my article on “Why I Love the Church” in the archives (at the top menu).

  9. says

    The following explanation may be a little long but I think it is important to think about the history of the language and that part of the problem is that the word “church” does originally refer to a “place”. The word ekklesia should have never been interpreted into the English word “church”. People did “go to church” – church was the place that followers of Jesus Christ met. Language matters – it can shape ideas and behaviors. I feel that continuing to use the word “church” is an obstacle to communities of followers of Jesus Christ. Read the following and let me know what you think.

    The English word “church” originated from a Greek word that is used twice (Cor 11:20 and Rev 1:10) in the NT – the Greek word is “kuriakos”, which means “belonging to the Lord” and at some point the “places” that christians met started being called “kuriakon” or “the Lord’s house,” which is the neuter version of “kuriakos”. This word made its way into German (Kirche), Anglo Saxon (circe), and Middle English (chirche). When Luther translated the New Testament into German, he did not use the word “Kirche” to translate “ekklesia”, instead he used the German word “gemeinde”, which means something similar to the English word community. And when Tyndale translated the New Testament into English in 1536, he also did not use the word “church” to translate the Greek word “ekklesia”. Instead, he used the word “congregacion”. But over the next century all English translations started translating “ekklesia” by using “church”.

  10. Angela says

    Great article, Frank. And let me say THANK YOU for getting rid of the horrible white on black posting on your old blog background!

  11. Jay Ferris says

    Thanks Frank,

    Much needed in light of some of the new labels that are being offered for the same old snake oil. Now how about addressing the timing of the new birth in light of a wedding that hasn’t yet taken place. :-)

    Love!

    • says

      Yep. And understanding what the kingdom really is, that can be translated “seek first the Lord Jesus Christ” … or as Paul put it in Colossians “that He might have the first place in all things.”

  12. says

    Since FB is not the best place to discuss and from your encouragement Frank I thought I’d bring my questions here. Sorry for the late engagement of the conversation here but work is now done and I can sit for spell and digest this some more.

    You said, “they were the embryonic expression of the ekklesia” yes I can see that, but wasn’t this expression only born with the coming of the Holy Spirit? Why didn’t the writers of the gospels look back when writing the Gospels and describe themselves as a church by using that word? It would be more accurate to say that they described themselves as a band of disciples awkwardly fumbling forward and seeking to enter into the kingdom which Christ was describing, no?

    Is it important that they in large part did not choose to use the word “church” in their writings until Acts and the epistles? I agree there is great need to look beyond this popular cliche but is it just to say that it doesn’t really exist? I always choose my words for a reason and the reality is that the Gospel writers were burdened by the Holy Spirit to describe Christ as one passionate about the concepts of being a disciple, entering into the kingdom and describing what that kingdom looked like.

    Obviously there’s more to what I’m saying and asking here but this is a start…

    • says

      JC, the ekklesia was certainly born in Jerusalem, but it was clearly embryonic and a proto-type in Galilee with Jesus and the 20. See “Finding Organic Church” for details on that point. And Jesus makes many references to the church where He doesn’t use the word “ekklesia” — I just listed a few in the article as examples.

      Note that the Gospel writers rarely inserted back into their documents verbiage that was used later on after Jesus ascended. For instance. they never called themselves “Christians” or “believers” in the Gospels, but those terms are profuse in the other NT writings. We also have to keep in mind the Aramaic in the Gospels and the Greek in the other NT writings. For this reason, “kingdom of heaven” is used in the Gospels, but not in the Greek writings of the NT. Equivalents are used instead in these kinds of cases. And so it is also with “Godhead”, “church,” “justification”, etc.

  13. George Dunn says

    Amen, some time ago I was challenged to adjust my vocabulary away from the word church (from the German Kirke or circe (circle) and find another phrase to use that is not such a culturally loaded word. It helps if I talk about the “redeemed community” or the “community of the King’ or the saints gathered etc. If we stop talking about “the church” and find some more acccurately descriptive phrase we will perhaps find that we are able to communicate mnore effectively. After all…communication is not what you say it’s what is heard. henI talk about the “church” to most people those walls immediatly go up or they have that picture in theor heads and I have to spend all my time trying to get them to understand that I am nottalking about an institution, a sacred place of worship, an organization or a “group gathered for the purpose of…”

    I must admit I was helped earky ion by Howard “The Problem of
    Wineskins” and ‘The community of the KIng”. Let’s first define our terms before we attempt to commuhnicate with those who may misunderstand what it is we are talking aobut.

  14. Bill Bremer says

    The church is in the kingdom. When we envision the church from God’s view, we are seated in Christ in heavenly places. I recommend reading the following scripture to bring balance to this discussion. Coloss 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
    Eph 2 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:
    Heb 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.
    Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

  15. says

    Dan Kimball asked me what I think the church is over on Facebook.

    Since it’s hard for me to follow discussions on Facebook … not to mention that they cut off any lengthy comments … I’m answering here.

    The long answer is in my book “Reimagining Church” which discusses not only what the church is, but its practices and its leadership from a NT perspective.

    Here’s my short answer:

    “Our English word church is translated from the Greek word ekklesia. When we hear the word church, one of the following images usually pops into our heads: a building with a steeple on it; a Sunday morning service; a denomination; a pastor; a pulpit; pews; a worship team (or choir); and a sermon. Or we think of all the Christians in the entire world. Like ‘nice’ and ‘pagan,’ the word ekklesia has morphed since the first century. Back then, it did not mean “called out ones” as is sometimes taught. Consistently, the word meant a local community of people who assemble together regularly. The word was used for the Greek assembly whereby those in the community were “called forth” from their private lives to meet (assemble) in the town forum to make decisions for their city. Consequently, the word also carries the flavor of every-member participation in decision-making. According to the New Testament, the church of Jesus Christ is not a place where one buries the dead and marries the living. It’s a community of people who gather together and who possess a shared life in Christ. As such, the ekklesia is visible, touchable, locatable, and tangible. You can visit it. You can observe it. And you can live in it.” (“From Eternity to Here”, pp. 280-281).

    In “Why I Love the Church” (http://frankviola.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/why-i-love-the-church-in-praise-of-gods-eternal-purpose/) I discuss the MASSIVE confusion on the meaning of the word “church” today and why it’s so difficult to talk about it.

  16. Kellie says

    Well stated Frank !! and I agree with both Rick and you… The church has been so diluted that the true life and culture of the Kingdom have been lost .. I recenlty met a physician in California who is a muslim, and when a pastor friend of mine, who was his patient asked him about “his religion” the physician corrected him and said “its not my religion , it’s my culture.” I thought about that statement for sometime.. The physician went on to explain what he meant about his “culture” and the lifestyle
    that goes with that culture..

    The modern church, atleast in America, has sadly become a sub-culture of American culture. The Church is poluted and greatly diluted.

    I am looking for something authentic.. My heart is to live life with those of like prescious faith.. I am looking for kingdom relationships, a shared life, and to be the expression of God in the earth with other like minded brothers and sisters .

  17. Brian Harrison says

    Many subjects are hidden in the word. For instance, God is never mentioned in the book of Esther but His presence is everyone assumed and profoundly manifested in the end. In some respects it could be said that marriage is not mentioned much in the Bible except when Jesus says something about divorce and Ephesians 5. But in actuality it was one of the grand themes of the entire scriptures as it relates to God and His people. The superficial will always miss the point.

    You have shown well, Frank, that the church is part of the grand theme of the scriptures even if it isn’t explicit on the surface.

  18. Rick says

    I think the problem is the church looks more like a club than it does the church. People want to throw out the concept because we’ve warped it so much.
    I agree, you can’t separate the Kingdom and the Church. I also like what you are saying about the church’s importance.
    The problem I see is when will we stop looking at the Kingdom of God as something that’s going to come (it’s already here) and when will we stop seeing the church as something we “Go to” rather than something we “Are?”

    • says

      Rick, I agree that the part of the problem is what most people think of when they hear the word “church.” The concept has been lost.

      In the NT, it’s primarily a shared life community that assembles regularly under the headship of Jesus and makes Him visible.

      That concept and — its practice — is not known by most Christians.

      The church also shouldn’t be confused with “the work” which was the traveling, moving, going-out association of apostolic workers.

      I actually think that a “club” as in a college club is much closer to the NT concept. Because in a college club, the members are (often) living a shared life together. Many college clubs (in their home meetings at least not in the big huge events they have) are experiencing organic church life, though they don’t realize it.

      The modern concept and practice of church, I think, is much closer to a “show” that people attend and watch once or twice a week. This is foreign to the NT idea and reality.

      • cindy says

        I so agree with both Rick and Frank: the Kingdom IS here, and we ARE the Church! We in our local home church, and in my own family, follow a number of the apostolic ministers, and I’ve never heard a one of them “pit” the Church against the Kingdom. Never. So I’m a bit confused; maybe you all are clued in to some ministries that do that, of which I’m not aware. The ones I know, are teaching the Church as the Bride, the family, etc… and the Kingdom as God’s rule over all things. And they’re trying to get Jesus’ Bride out of the castle once in a while, to engage in Kingdom activity. -as opposed to the typical trying to be such an awesome church, that everyone in town wants to go there (yikes). One of them brilliantly explained how King James had his translators use a variation of the Scottish word for church “kirk” (meaning what we know of local church body), in place of ekklesia wherever they could (meaning a legislative, ruling body). He wanted to remain the head of the church of England. Thereby, inviting centuries of identity crisis for Christians, and relegating us to settle for ‘bomb shelter Christianity hiding in the four walls waiting for the Rapture’. It’s not ‘either or’, but ‘both and’. We ARE the Church, and we need to expand our view of ourselves as co-heirs w/ the Lord in our lives and spheres of influence. The Western Church has incrementally lost her voice,stopping at being the Bride and family of God, and falling short of our assignment to rule and reign with Him.

        • says

          It’s very common in the USA. The line “Jesus only mentioned the church 2x and the Kingdom over 100x” is repeated ad nauseam by many leaders, even though it’s a misguided statement.

  19. says

    This honestly shows how little of seminary I’ve gone through. I didn’t even know that this was an argument (that the Kingdom is more important or that the church simply isn’t important). I’m so glad you’ve tackled this issue head on and I look forward to any more writing you might do on the subject.

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