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Thread: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

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    Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    While surfing on the thread "Women in ministry", at post #13 Robert has raised up the issue of the title of this thread: "Is the New Testament assembly extinct?". So maybe we should start our discussion there (please see "Women in ministry" posts #13-27), then come here. Is the New Testament assembly extinct?.............KK

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Well it is quite obvious that God has ordained this conversation about the assembly, or we would not be having it. Thanks kk for starting this new thread. I believe Bob has a valid point in what he is espousing , and that because of the Great apostacy. Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation= false doctrine has overtaken the assemblies , The man of sin has been revealed, true christians are to flee from the Mother of whores, we are exhorted to come out of babylon. Though I have not given scripture I`m sure all you know what verses I`m referring to... Jesus said let the tares and the wheat grow together ( this does not refer to a setting of a religous assembly) but in the world in general.. If folks are honest , the churches you attend have marks of apostacy written all around it. Some don`t preach the true Gospel of sovereign grace and those who do, still consent to arminian , universal atonement, and all that junk as being acceptable to God as well as the true doctrines of grace. the issues of women in ministry, paid pastors, and the list can go on and on. Pastors children living scandolous lives, pastors being divorced and remarried a thousand times, all which is contrary to the apostolic requirements for a Bishop...I have been involved in organized churches before and I`m speaking from experience it`s a horrble mess. Every fowl bird has made it`s nest there. A good reading of revelation 2,3 describes the declension of the assembly read jesus admonishment to ladociea...

    Also dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

    I believe the phrase he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease ( the local assembly ) and make it desolate , forsaken of God. This very well refers to the extinction of the n.t church assembly....
    There is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what...is called Calvinism...It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else."

    charles spurgeon

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Also dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

    I believe the phrase he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease ( the local assembly ) and make it desolate , forsaken of God. This very well refers to the extinction of the n.t church assembly....
    Darryl,
    I think you are trying to make appliction to a prophecy of Dan. that historicaly has been fulfilled in AD70. I don't think (my opinion) you can apply this in the way you are.

    John Gill
    Ver. 27. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week,.... Sixty nine of the seventy weeks being accounted for, and the several events observed to be fulfilled in them; the angel proceeds to take notice of the remaining "one" week, or seven years, and what should be done within that space of time: a covenant should be confirmed with many; which is not to be understood of the Messiah's confirming the covenant of grace with many, or on account of all his people, by fulfilling the conditions of it, and by his blood and sacrifice, through which all the blessings of it come to them; for this is not for one week only, but for ever; but this is to be interpreted of the Roman people, spoken of in the latter part of the preceding verse; who, in order to accomplish their design to destroy the city and temple of Jerusalem, made peace with many nations, entered into covenant and alliance with them, particularly the Medes, Parthians, and Armenians, for the space of one week, or seven years; as it appears they did at the beginning of this week {l}:

    and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease
    ; the daily sacrifice of the Jews, and all their other offerings; and which was literally fulfilled "in the half part" {m} of this week, as it may be rendered; towards the close of the latter half of it, when the city of Jerusalem, being closely besieged by Titus, what through the closeness of the siege, the divisions of the people, and the want both of time and men, and beasts to offer, the daily sacrifice ceased, as Josephus {n} says, to the great grief of the people; nor have the Jews, ever since the destruction of their city and temple, offered any sacrifice, esteeming it unlawful so to do in a strange land:


    John
    The grace which saves us is eternal to us, as is also our election in Christ. Those who are in Christ have everlasting life by that virtue alone and it is also plain Scriptural teaching that when God loves, He loves with an everlasting love and therefore draws His own to Him. (Jeremiah 31:3). Now there can be no eternal saving grace, no eternal election in Christ, no experience of God's eternal love where a soul is not justified. These aspects belong together as integral parts." …John Gill

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    HI ppl, the new testament assembly issue though appears to tangent off from the question of Women's role, but its answer can lay the foundation for all other smaller practice issues. the corporate church's existence and the veracity of the Word of God has to be understood. PPl who want to make innovations inthe Church doctrine and practice somehow undermine the Authority of the Scriptures and the set order made my Christ in His church. this is clear in Every matter, be it Feminism, or Word Faith or Roman catholicism or every other deviation from the truth.

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Brethren, this is NOT primarily a discussion about EXPERIENCES with churches/assemblies/whatever. The fact that a person may have seen or been to 1,000 apostate "churches" does not mean that there are no "NT assemblies" out there. This should be a discussion of what God has directed in His Word first and foremost, so let's put the "personal stories" on the level that they deserve.


    Brother Bob, I respect your opinion greatly on many topics, but I feel that you are way off on this one.

    Requirement: The authority of direct apostolic teaching or elder stewardship of such teaching (in our presence).

    You seem to be saying that there must be some attachment from an elder to an apostle other than Scripture and the indwelling Holy Spirit?! If this is an inaccurate summary of your position, please provide further detail with cited Scripture. I see that the requirements for an elder have no such stipulations (1 Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9). What is Paul's purpose for giving these requirements if the "NT assembly" will go away with the death of the apostles (or their direct PHYSICAL contacts?). Do we throw out all Scripture talking about "elders" or "overseers/bishops" because there can be none today? Are the pastoral epistles just nice to have, or do they convey exactly what Paul/God would have conveyed to elders in the 1st century?


    If you are inclined otherwise, choose from the legion of assemblies with infinite differences in doctrine and decide which one is according to the NT!

    It seems that you are again calling for a perfect assembly which only subscribes to perfect doctrine. What percentage of doctrine must agree with your own to earn the label "NT assembly"? If gospel agreement is enough for you to fellowship with brethren, is it not also enough that the gospel is preached by the pastor in an assembly?

    My personal experience (read: INADMISSIBLE to this discussion except as anecdotal evidence) is one of having found a wonderful "NT assembly" which practices discipline and rejoices in the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. What you're doing here is telling me that I am wrong to rejoice in this assembling together corporately as a "NT assembly" because there is no such thing. Would you feel comfortable writing a letter addressed to "Kingwood Assembly of Christ" telling us why we are not?

    Bob, you have provided very little support for your position, namely Scriptural cites. This may turn into a divisive topic and so I hope that you may spend some time exegeting Scripture that favors your understanding that there are NO (zero, zip, none) "NT assemblies" operating today. I would appreciate this.

    In love,
    Kyle
    Gal 6:14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    A good reading of revelation 2,3 describes the declension of the assembly read jesus admonishment to ladociea...
    Let us also read his commendations to the churches, in that they have not denied His name, have labored for His names sake, have suffered tribulation, persevered in patience, been faithful, abhored evil and on the list goes.

    It would seem obvious to me that our Sovereign God has the 'church' exactly where He desires it and why would we think that it should be the way that it was? That is where I find confusion in this type of thinking. Why do we search for something here that will only be ours in the new heaven and earth?

    There is only one perfect church, one perfect fellowship and that is what we yearn for and desire and it will NEVER be found here on earth as we sojourn. It will only be ours when we are with Christ Jesus, the One who bought the true body with His blood.

    The forum is a nice place to visit and to learn new things, but it can't and doesn't replace the body of believers the Lord has given me in the church. That is how we fulfill the NT commands of Paul on how we are to be a body. Why is that in there if we are not to gather, assemble and strive with one another? That takes place as likeminded believers assemble amidst the messy work, amidst the doctrinal differences, we live the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    For me, I don't want to despise what God has provided.

    Even so, come Lord Jesus!

    Eileen~
    "To those who have no works-phobia, I will state that you are not trembling before the gospel" Robert R. Higby

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    I personally think that most assemblies are way off - WAY WAY OFF. Even the ones where I have enjoyed sweet fellowship in the Gospel. In effect, they are not assemblies modeled after the new testament pattern. That's not to say they aren't provided by God for the brethren. It's just that a manifestation of a truly biblical ekklesia (research that word and tell me what you think it means) exists.

    In Bob's article on a new ecclesiolgy, he mentios a few things that almost all institutions I've observed are to be found guilty. http://www.5solas.org/media.php?id=556
    The most fundamental error in the history of Christian ecclesiology is limiting the fellowship of saints (koinonia--Acts 2:42) to an organized institution. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox 'divines' have proudly stated that there is no salvation outside of their respective communions. This position has never changed in essence. In spite of acknowledging the existence of salvation without actual 'church' membership in this life, the redemption of 'outside' persons is nonetheless stated to be accomplished within the authority, teaching, and operation of the worldwide institution. It is also assumed that these persons will someday recognize the true 'faith'--whether now or hereafter. Until such a time, no 'koinonia' in the one true apostolic Congress is believed to be possible. Interestingly, these saved persons outside of the institution may be Protestants, Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists. No distinction is made between Christian and non-Christian professors. Therefore, we should not be surprised when the Pope states that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same God. The Protestant who confesses Jesus and the Buddhist who condemns hatred are equally seen as moving toward the 'light' of salvation, administered through the sacraments of Romanism.

    All of the Reformation movements, of course, denied the Papal or Eastern doctrine of the Congress. The reality of personal salvation outside of any organized institution was freely acknowledged. In addition, this salvation was confessed to be in and through Jesus Christ only. Judaism, Islam, and the karma religions were absolutely excluded. But what about the communion or fellowship of saints? It is clear that this was limited to the sphere of 'orthodoxy.' For Lutherans, this was belief in the doctrines of Augsburg and Concord. Those who failed to confess these were not only excluded from the 'church' but also from the states controlled by the 'church.' This was an exclusion from the communion of saints at the very least. The Calvinists, who simply continued Augustinianism, were just as arrogant and heartless. For instance, Baptist Roger Williams was exiled from the colony of Massachusetts and left to die in the middle of winter! Was this not exclusion from the 'church' or fellowship of saints? But we need not look at instances where Reformed movements had the power of the state. All of the mainline Protestant denominations have defined the 'visible church' as an institution with appointed 'officers'--at the local and higher organizational levels. Failure to submit to the authority and doctrine of the institution excludes one from the communion of saints.

    The Anabaptist, Congregational, Baptistic, and Brethren movements have desperately tried to shun the devilish spirit of dominion and control in the mainline and state 'churches.' However, little progress has been made toward recovering a New Testament ecclesiology. Congregations truly exercising the love of Christ and sincerely open to more scriptural truth have rarely existed. Beliefs and practices of one or a few local leaders become 'canonized' within a short time. After that, it is the same spirit of dominion and control as in the large organizations. Groups proudly claiming the title of 'independent' are no different in essence than the most arrogant and mighty of the hierarchies. According to congregational polity, the visible 'church' consists strictly of organized local assemblies with stated policy, doctrine, and ordained leaders. Two examples of study guides promoting the typical concept are 'The Anatomy of a Church' by John MacArthur (Moody Press, Chicago, 1984) and 'Christ Loved the Church' by William Macdonald (Walterick Publishers, Kansas City, 1956). The first is Baptistic and the second is Brethren. What should we conclude regarding the independent assembly movements? We must recognize that local organized tyranny is often more dangerous and destructive than a large authority structure--since there are no checks on the controlling will of one or a few individuals. It matters not whether the actual structure is bishop/elders/deacons, elders/deacons with one salaried pastor, pastor/deacons, or multiple pastors/deacons. Many Baptist and Pentecostal assemblies consist of one pastor enforcing his own misguided dogma. To avoid this extreme, multiple leadership has often been espoused by other movements (notably the Brethren). But an assembly where two or more leaders agree and enforce their misguided dogma is the same thing. In the end, it all is one form of autocratic dominion or another. The Jehovah's Witnesses are locally organized along the Brethren model, to avoid giving too much power to one individual. Yet this certainly has not moved them closer to the Spirit of Christ!

    In summary, all denominational and independent movements have defined the Congress as an organized institution or assembly. There is no unquestioned communion of saints outside of the institution/assembly. This is evident from the largest hierarchy to the smallest independent congregation.
    Of course - we're trying to buck this trend here at this website!


    We have restricted leadership to operate only within the narrow, institutional definition of the communion of saints. No other authority or 'message' from God is recognized. A person who refuses to submit to misguided authority is 'cut off.' Acceptance of stupid dogma and practice is considered a test of submission to God-ordained authority. Rejecting stupid dogma which has nothing to do with the gospel is made an equal offense to denying the Trinity and Deity of Christ. Both result in dis-fellowship from the communion of saints.
    Again - this is another trend we are trying to buck.

    We have denied the sign of the New Covenant (the Lord's supper--Mt. 26:26-29) as belonging to all believers within the communion of saints. Administration of the supper is restricted to duly appointed officers. Only those submitting to the ecclesiastical authority of the assembly or institution are included. In essence, we have said that others are cut off from Christ. This is a serious offense to God. If one is tempted to doubt this fact, look at the sanctions in scripture against abusing the signs of former covenants (circumcision, the Sabbath). Can we ever again doubt why the organized 'church' lacks true spiritual blessing? If the supper represents the gospel itself (1 Cor. 11:23-32), any foolish corruption of it will bring God's retribution--not only the type of abuse practiced by the Corinthians.
    There are many fine brethren scattered across many institutions. Some institutions may be built of almost entirely of believers. But I have yet to find one that functions as an ekklessia.
    This is my signature.

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by beloved57
    Well it is quite obvious that God has ordained this conversation about the assembly, or we would not be having it. Thanks kk for starting this new thread. I believe Bob has a valid point in what he is espousing , and that because of the Great apostacy. Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation= false doctrine has overtaken the assemblies , The man of sin has been revealed, true christians are to flee from the Mother of whores, we are exhorted to come out of babylon.
    Well if the Protestant Reformed Churches are assemblies that teach false doctrine, is the "mother of whores" and "babylon" ...where would you have my family and I flee too??

    Though I have not given scripture I`m sure all you know what verses I`m referring to... Jesus said let the tares and the wheat grow together ( this does not refer to a setting of a religous assembly) but in the world in general..
    No...it also includes congregations
    John Gill Exposition:

    Matthew 13:24

    Ver. 24. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying,.... Somewhat like the former, but with a different view: for whereas the design of the former was to show the different sorts of hearers that attend upon the ministry of the word, three parts in four being bad; this is to show the difference of members in churches, some being comparable to good seed, and others to tares.

    The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: by "the kingdom of heaven", is not meant the ultimate glory of the saints in heaven, or the state of happiness in the other world; for there will be no tares there; nor the Gospel, and the ministration of it, but the Gospel dispensation, and times, and kingdom of the Messiah; or rather the Gospel visible church state, on earth, called a "kingdom", of which Christ is king, and in which the saints are subject to him; where proper laws are made for the orderly government of it, and proper officers appointed to explain, and put those laws in execution; and which consists of various persons, united under one head, and independent of any other government: and it is styled the kingdom of heaven, in distinction from the kingdoms of this world; the subjects of it are, or should be, heaven born souls; the word, laws, and ordinances of it are from heaven; and there is some resemblance between a Gospel church state and heaven, and it is very near unto it, and is even the suburbs of it: or else the king Messiah himself is intended, who is compared to a man, a sower; and so it is explained, Mt 13:37 "he that soweth the good seed is the son of man": which is a name and title of the Messiah, by which he is called both in the Old and New Testament; who, though the seed of the woman, yet was the son of man, as of Abraham, and David; and which denotes the truth, and yet the infirmity of his human nature: he is the sower that went about preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, in the Jewish world, or throughout Judea and Galilee, in his own person: and who also, by the ministry of his apostles, sowed the seed of the word in the several parts of the world, which was made effectual for the beginning of a good work of grace on the souls of many; for by "his field" is meant "the world", as appears from Mt 13:38 and means either the whole world, in which both good and bad men live and dwell; and is the field Christ is the proprietor of, both by creation, as God, and by gift, as mediator: or the church, the visible Gospel church state throughout the world; which is as a field well tilled and manured; and is Christ's by gift, purchase, and grace: and by the good seed sown in it, are meant "the children of the kingdom"; as is said, Mt 13:38 such as have a good work begun in them, and bring forth good fruit in their lives and conversations.


    Matthew 13:25

    Ver. 25. But while men slept,.... Good men, ministers, and churches; whose case this sometimes is to be asleep in a spiritual sense: and which sleepiness lies in a non-exercise of grace; in a sluggishness to and in duty; in a contentment in external exercises of religion; in lukewarmness about the cause of Christ; in an unconcernedness about sins of omission and commission; and in a willingness to continue in such a state; and which arises from a body of sin and death; from worldly cares; weariness in spiritual duties; a cessation from spiritual exercises; an absenting from spiritual company; oftentimes from outward ease, peace, and plenty, sometimes from a long expectation of the bridegroom's coming, and the delay of it; and from its being a night season, a time of darkness and security: such a case with the church, and good men, is very dangerous, as it exposes to every sin and snare; renders them liable to lose the presence of Christ, their liveliness and comfort; and tends to poverty and leanness of soul: such are in danger of being surprised with the midnight cry; and the churches are likely to be filled with hypocrites and heretics:

    his enemy came; by whom is meant the devil, Mt 13:39 who is an enemy to Christ personally, and showed himself to be so in his infancy, by stirring up Herod to seek his life: and, when grown up, by instigating the Jews to contrive his death; which they attempted by various methods, and which, at last, he compassed by Judas, and the Scribes and Pharisees; and also to Christ mystical, to the church, and all true believers; whose adversary he is, going about, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour: the same came into the field, the world, and church in it;

    and sowed tares among the wheat; by "the wheat", is meant the same with the "good seed", the children of God, true believers in Christ; who are comparable to wheat, for the choiceness of it, that being the choicest grain, so they are the chosen of God, and precious, and the excellent in the earth: and because it dies before it rises and springs up; so the saints do, and will do, both in a spiritual and corporal sense; and because of the purity and whiteness of it, so they are pure and white, being sanctioned by the Spirit, washed in the blood of Christ, and justified by his righteousness; and because of its substance, fulness, weight, and permanence, so they are filled from Christ's fulness, and with the fulness of God, and fruits of righteousness, and remain, and cannot be driven as the chaff is, but continue to live, because Christ their head lives; and because of its gradual increase, so they increase in spiritual light, grace, and experience; and because of the chaff that adheres to it, so sin and corruption cleave to the saints in this life; and lastly, because it needs both the flail and the fan, so believers need chastisements, afflictions, and corrections: by "the tares" sown among them, are meant "the children of the wicked one"; Satan, the enemy and adversary, as in Mt 13:38 who are to be understood, not of profane sinners; though these are the children of the devil; but of professors of religion, men either of bad principles, or of bad lives and conversations; whom Satan, by some means or another, gets into churches, and they become members thereof: at first they look like wheat, like true believers, have a show of religion, a form of godliness, an appearance of grace, but are destitute of it; and prove tares, unfruitful, unprofitable, and of no account, yea hurtful, and whose end is to be burned.

    And went his way; somewhere else, to do more mischief; and having done all he could at present here, undiscovered, not taken notice of by ministers and churches; they being all asleep, and having lost, in a great measure, the spirit of discerning. The word zizania, we render "tares", and the Ethiopic version "thistles", probably means the same the Jewish doctors call Nynwz, Zunin {s}; and which, they say, is a sort of wheat, and not of a different kind from it; that when it is sown it looks like wheat, and is sown for it, but is changed in the earth, both as to its nature and form, and brings forth this kind. In the generation in which the flood was, they say {t}, they sowed wheat, and the earth brought forth Nynwz, zizania, what we render "tares", and bids fair to be what is here meant; and fitly expresses false professors, nominal Christians, men of degenerate principles and practices: for not what we call tares, or vetches, can be meant, which may be removed from the wheat without danger, but rather this degenerate wheat; or that wheat which is blasted, and which may be observed sometimes to grow upon the same root, and therefore cannot be taken away, without rooting up the wheat also.

    {s} Misn. Kilaim, c. 1. sect. 1. & Trumot, c. 2. sect, 6. & Maimon. in ib. T. Hieros. Kilaim, fol. 26. 4. Maimon. Hilch. Kilaim, c. 3. sect. 3. {t} Bereshit Rabba, sect. 28. fol. 23. 4.


    Matthew 13:26

    Ver. 26. But when the blade was sprung up,.... That is, the blade of the wheat; which designs the taking up, a profession of religion on principles of grace, called a profession of faith; and when right, it springs up from, and proceeds upon a work begun in the heart: and such a profession ought to be made by all that are partakers of the grace of God; and ought to be made both verbally, by a confession of the mouth, and a declaration of the work of God upon the heart, and by deeds, by submitting to the ordinances of the Gospel; and should be sincere, and from the heart, and be visible to men, and be held fast unto the end without wavering.

    And brought forth fruit; which intends not the conversion of sinners, nor the performance of duties, nor the perfection of grace, but the first appearances of grace under a profession, such as sorrow for sin, after a godly sort, fear and reverence of God, great humility, much self-denial, ardent love to Christ, pantings and breathings after him, and communion with him, strong affection for the people of God, some exercise of faith on Christ, zeal for his cause and interest, and a concern to honour and glorify God.

    Then appeared the tares also. They were not discernible for some time when they were first sown; they looked like good seed when they first appeared among the people of God; they seemed to have the truth of grace, as others had; their blade of profession, when it sprung up, looked like that of true wheat; but were now discernible both by their unfruitfulness in their lives and conversations, and by their bad principles, which they now endeavoured to spread, to the hurt of the churches where they were: they always appeared to be what they were to God the searcher of hearts; but now, through the zeal of true converts, to which these opposed themselves, and the fruitfulness of their lives, from which they were so very different, they became manifest to ministers and churches.


    Matthew 13:27

    Ver. 27. So the servants of the householder came,.... Christ is the "householder"; the house of which he is master is the church, called the household of God, the household of faith, the family in heaven, and in earth; in which house he bears and sustains many relations, as those of a son, a priest, a master, or governor. By "the servants" that came to him, are meant, not civil magistrates, who have nothing to do in the affairs of churches; nor the angels, though these are ministering servants to Christ, and will be employed by him, in the close of time, to gather up the tares, bind them in bundles, and cast them into the fire; but the ministers of the Gospel, the servants of Christ, and of the most high God, who are made use of in planting, and sowing, and weeding his field, the church: these observing the tares, and fearing the danger the wheat was in by them, as well as troubled and surprised at the appearance and growth of them, came to him, and spread the case before him in prayer; and

    said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? Their manner of address, calling him Sir, or Lord, is expressive of their reverence of him, and obedience to him; and which is said, not in word only, but in the sincerity of their hearts, and under the influence of the Spirit of God. They ascribe the field, the church, the good seed, converts that sprung up in it, and the sowing, or making of them such, all to Christ, and not any of this kind, or any part of it to themselves; though they were employed by him in tilling this field, in sowing spiritual things to the saints, and were useful to them in their profession of religion. Moreover, they intimate, that nothing but good could come from Christ; no bad seed, no tares could be of his sowing: and declare their ignorance of the rise of them; which ignorance was owing to their being asleep, when the enemy sowed them.


    Matthew 13:28

    Ver. 28. He said unto them, an enemy has done this,.... This is the answer of the householder to the question of his servants. In the Greek text it is, "an enemy man"; and is so rendered in the several versions; meaning, not that the enemy was a man; for he was the devil, as in Mt 13:39 but it is an Hebraism; such as in Es 7:6, bywaw ru vya, "the man adversary and enemy" is this wicked Haman; and signifies a certain enemy, and one indeed that is an implacable enemy to man.

    The servants said unto him, wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? which words express the concern of the ministers of Christ for the true members of the church, comparable to wheat, lest they should receive any damage by the ill examples, and pernicious principles of evil men among them; also their detestation and abhorrence of men of wicked lives and erroneous principles; they cannot bear them which are evil; likewise, they show great regard to the glory of God, and interest of religion, and their readiness to execute any orders Christ should give them; but not willing to proceed of themselves, ask counsel and advice of him.


    Matthew 13:29

    Ver. 29. But he said, nay,.... The answer is in the negative; and which, if spoken to angels, is to be understood, that they should not inflict punishments, or pour out, their vials, as yet, on formal professors, lest the righteous should share in them; and if to magistrates, the sense of it is, that they should not persecute with the sword, or put men to death for heretical opinions; but if to ministers of the word, which sense I choose, the meaning is, that not everyone suspected to be a tare, or a nominal professor, is to be removed from the communion of the church, because there is often danger in so doing:

    lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them: not that men of openly scandalous lives are to be tolerated in churches; they are to be withdrawn from, and put away; nor men of known, avowed, heretical principles; such, after the first and second admonition, are to be rejected: yet there may be such in churches, not altogether agreeable in principle and practice, whose character and situation may be such, that there is no removing them without offending some truly gracious, useful persons, in whose affections they stand, who may be tempted, by such a step, to leave their communion; and so cannot be done without a considerable prejudice to the church. The scope of the parable, and the design of our Lord in it, are chiefly to be attended to; which are to show, that a pure and perfect church cannot be expected in the present state of things; and that saints should not be immoderately uneasy, but patiently bear such exercises, until Christ's time is come to relieve them, when the tares and chaff shall be separated from the wheat; when sinners shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous, and there shall be no more a pricking briar, nor a grieving thorn in the house of Israel.


    Matthew 13:30

    Ver. 30. Let both grow together until the harvest,.... By "the harvest", is meant "the end of the world", Mt 13:39 either of the Jewish world, the dissolution of their church and state, which was near; or of a man's life, which is the end of the world to him; or rather of this present world, the system of the universe, of the material world, as to its present form and use, and of the inhabitants of it, and of time in it. Now the end of the world is compared to harvest, because the time of it is fixed and settled; though it is not known when it will be, yet it is as certain as the time of harvest; and because as that is in the summer season, in hot weather, so this will be a time of wrath, when the day of the Lord will burn like an oven; and as the harvest time is a time of hurry and labour, so will it be in the end of the world, especially with the angels, who will be gathering the elect from the four winds, and all men, to appear before the judgment seat of Christ; and as at harvest the corn is cut down, the fields cleared, and all brought home, so it will be at the end of the world; the sickle will be thrust in, and the earth reaped, the tares bound in bundles, and cast into the fire, and the wheat gathered into the garner; and as the harvest, as it falls out to be good or bad, is matter of joy or sorrow, so will the end of the world be joy to saints, who will then enter into the joy of their Lord, and be for ever with him, and sorrow to the wicked, who will then go into everlasting punishment. Until this time, wheat and tares are to "grow" together. The "wheat", or true believers, "grow" in the exercise of grace, as of faith, hope, love, humility, &c. and in spiritual knowledge of the will of God, of the doctrines of grace, and of Christ; which growth is owing to the dews of divine grace, to the sun of righteousness shining upon them, to the gracious influences of the blessed Spirit, and to the word and ordinances as means. The "tares", or nominal professors, may "grow" in riches, in credit, and reputation among men, and in speculative knowledge; and oftentimes so it is, that they grow worse and worse, both in doctrinal and practical wickedness: when they are ordered to "grow together", the meaning is, not that their growth is equal, or of the same kind, nor in the same way, nor in the same things; but this only notes the time and duration of their growth: nor is this suffered and permitted, because of any love God has unto them, or any delight in, or approbation of them; but either because they are not fully ripe for ruin; or for the exercise of the saints, and for their temporal and spiritual good; for it is entirely a tender regard to the wheat, and not to the tares, that they are ordered to grow together.

    And in the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, the angels,
    Mt 13:39

    gather ye together first the tares; that is, formal professors, hypocrites, and heretics; whom he will have removed out of his kingdom, his church, his field, in the world: and this order shows, that the angels will have a perfect and exact knowledge of these persons; and that their work will be to separate them from the righteous; when the churches will be pure, and without spot, or wrinkle: and this will be done first; that is, these wicked men will be first removed out of the church, before their more severe punishment takes place:

    and bind them in bundles to burn them: which denotes the power of angels over these persons, the certainty and inevitableness of their ruin, their association together, and their destruction in company with one another; which will be an aggravation of their misery, which is expressed by "burning" with fire; not material, but metaphorical; the wrath of God, which will be a consuming fire, and be everlasting and unquenchable.

    But gather the wheat into my barn; meaning the kingdom of heaven, which is as a garner or repository, in which none but wheat is put, and where it is safe, and lies together: so none but righteous, pure, and undefiled persons, are admitted into heaven; and being there, they are safe, and out of the reach of all enemies; and what adds to their happiness is, that they are together, enjoying all satiety and fulness; and are in Christ's barn, or garner, which he has made, and prepared for their reception. The gathering of them into it designs the introduction of the saints into heaven by angels, as their souls at death, and both souls and bodies, at the last day, when their happiness will be perfect and complete.

    If folks are honest , the churches you attend have marks of apostacy written all around it. Some don`t preach the true Gospel of sovereign grace and those who do, still consent to arminian , universal atonement, and all that junk as being acceptable to God as well as the true doctrines of grace. the issues of women in ministry, paid pastors, and the list can go on and on. Pastors children living scandolous lives, pastors being divorced and remarried a thousand times, all which is contrary to the apostolic requirements for a Bishop...I have been involved in organized churches before and I`m speaking from experience it`s a horrble mess. Every fowl bird has made it`s nest there. A good reading of revelation 2,3 describes the declension of the assembly read jesus admonishment to ladociea...
    ......well I do not remember you ever being present within the local congregation here in Wingham, Ontario?? ....and also depending on what things you have against the Protestant Reformed Churches?? Of the 7 churches you mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3... I do not read where Christ has told those within the congregations to "flee" these assemblies.
    ....again from Gill's exposition:

    INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION 3

    This chapter contains the epistles to the churches at Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, and begins with that to Sardis; in which the sender describes himself by some things taken out of a former description of him; and gives an account of the state of this church; that her works were known by him, which were imperfect; and that she had the name of a living church, but was dead; wherefore she is exhorted to watchfulness and diligence, to remember how she had heard and received the Gospel, and to hold it fast, and repent of her sins: if not, he threatens to come as a thief unawares upon her, Re 3:1, but excepts some few persons from this general account, who were not defiled with the corruptions of the majority, and who therefore should be favoured with communion with him, Re 3:4, and then some gracious promises are made to persevering saints, and the epistle is concluded in the usual form, Re 3:5. Next follows the epistle to the church at Philadelphia; in which the sender assumes some peculiar titles not before mentioned, taken from his holiness, truth, and power, Re 3:7, signifies his approbation of her works; declares he had set before her an open door, which could not be shut; affirms she had a little strength, and commends her for keeping his word, Re 3:8, and, for her encouragement, promises that some persons, formerly of bad characters, should come and worship before her, and should know what an interest she had in his love; and that since she had kept his word, he would keep her from an hour of temptation, which will be a trying time to all the world, Re 3:9, and in consideration of his speedy coming, he exhorts her to hold fast what she had, that she might not lose her honour and glory; and promises the overcomer a fixed place and name in the house of God; and closes the epistle as the rest, Re 3:11, and then follows the last epistle of all, which is that to the church at Laodicea; in which the sender describes himself by some characters taken from his truth and faithfulness, and from his eternity, power, and dominion, Re 3:14, represents the members of this church as lukewarm, and very disagreeable to him, Re 3:15, and as having a vain opinion of themselves, being ignorant of their real state and case, Re 3:17, wherefore he gives them some wholesome counsel and advice, suitable to their condition, Re 3:18, and whereas there were some among them he loved, he lets them know that his rebukes and chastenings were from love, and with a view to stimulate them to zeal, and bring them to repentance, which became them, Re 3:19, and then he informs them where he was, what he expected from them, and what they might upon a suitable behaviour enjoy with him, Re 3:20, and next promises to the overcomer great honour and glory, such as he had with his Father; and concludes the epistle in his usual manner, Re 3:21.



    Also dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

    I believe the phrase he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease ( the local assembly ) and make it desolate , forsaken of God. This very well refers to the extinction of the n.t church assembly....
    ....it is true that Daniels account spoke of the anti christian forces in the world that would wreck havoc ...but this can not be used to show the extinction of the NT assembly. The destruction of Jerusalem took place just as the Lord had shown Daniel in 70AD. You would then have to advocate the the NT assemblies ceased to exist in 70 AD. Is this what you are advocating??
    Greetings and salutations, el rana

    21There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

    Proverbs chapter 19

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by beloved57
    Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation= false doctrine has overtaken the assemblies , The man of sin has been revealed, true christians are to flee from the Mother of whores, we are exhorted to come out of babylon.
    The abomination of desolation is understood by many to be the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Where do you find the understanding that this has anything to do with the failings of the local assembly?!

    Ray has already addressed asking who you are telling us to flee from... but I also ask this? Should I flee from my local assembly on these words?

    Jesus said let the tares and the wheat grow together ( this does not refer to a setting of a religous assembly) but in the world in general.
    How did you come to this understanding? The "kingdom of heaven" is referenced in this passage by Christ (Mat 13:24-30). Is the "kingdom of heaven" in fact the "world in general" or is it more closely associated with the visible assembly? What makes more sense to you?

    If folks are honest , the churches you attend have marks of apostacy written all around it.
    Whoa! I stood in the pulpit of our local assembly and offered a sermon on Sunday. Are you telling me that if I am honest I must admit that there were "marks of apostacy" written all around that sermon and our assembling together?! How about the gracious acceptance of that sermon by my fellow brothers and sisters in the assembly?!

    Paid pastors
    What is wrong with that? Are you to muzzle the ox while it is threshing?

    I believe the phrase he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease ( the local assembly ) and make it desolate , forsaken of God. This very well refers to the extinction of the n.t church assembly.
    Sacrifice ceasing is exactly what it says - the sacrifice of the Mosaic Law ceased with the more perfect sacrifice. It has nothing at all to do with the local assembly. Please show how you came to this wild conclusion.

    Let's not turn this into a "local assembly" witch hunt to air all the dirty laundry we've collected over the years pertaining to our experiences with "churches".
    Gal 6:14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by beloved57
    Well it is quite obvious that God has ordained this conversation about the assembly, or we would not be having it. Thanks kk for starting this new thread. I believe Bob has a valid point in what he is espousing , and that because of the Great apostacy. Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation= false doctrine has overtaken the assemblies , The man of sin has been revealed, true christians are to flee from the Mother of whores, we are exhorted to come out of babylon. Though I have not given scripture I`m sure all you know what verses I`m referring to... Jesus said let the tares and the wheat grow together ( this does not refer to a setting of a religous assembly) but in the world in general.. If folks are honest , the churches you attend have marks of apostacy written all around it. Some don`t preach the true Gospel of sovereign grace and those who do, still consent to arminian , universal atonement, and all that junk as being acceptable to God as well as the true doctrines of grace. the issues of women in ministry, paid pastors, and the list can go on and on. Pastors children living scandolous lives, pastors being divorced and remarried a thousand times, all which is contrary to the apostolic requirements for a Bishop...I have been involved in organized churches before and I`m speaking from experience it`s a horrble mess. Every fowl bird has made it`s nest there. A good reading of revelation 2,3 describes the declension of the assembly read jesus admonishment to ladociea...

    Also dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make [it] desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

    I believe the phrase he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease ( the local assembly ) and make it desolate , forsaken of God. This very well refers to the extinction of the n.t church assembly....
    Darryl,
    I show you this about Harold Camping not to say you are a follower but to show you how close your statement is to what he preaches.

    Harold Camping’s call to flee the church
    by James R. White


    SYNOPSIS
    Harold Camping is the president of Family Radio. He teaches that God has done away with the church, and thus there should be no more local congregations, elders, deacons, and ordinances such as baptism or the Lord’s Supper. He maintains that the Holy Spirit has left the church as an empty shell with no power to proclaim the gospel. Because Camping calls his followers to flee the churches and form fellowships around his teachings, Christians must understand what the Bible teaches about the church and what the proper means of biblical interpretation are in order to counter Camping’s false teachings.



    He has the ears of millions across the world through his far-flung radio empire. His listeners tend to develop a strong attachment to him, finding in his esoteric, allegorical interpretations a view of Scripture they do not hear anywhere else (and for good reason). His name is Harold Camping, famous for his failed prophecy concerning the return of Christ in 1994, and now becoming more famous for his teaching against the very church of Jesus Christ.

    Harold Camping is the president of Family Station, Inc., a California-based ministry with worldwide broadcast facilities, including more than 150 outlets in the United States.1 His deep, sonorous voice can be heard any hour of the day — by radio, satellite, or Internet broadcast. Camping helped begin Family Stations in 1958, and he later devoted himself full time to the ministry. He is especially known for his daily call-in program, “Open Forum.” His style is unmistakably unique: he speaks slowly with a distinctive voice and cadence.

    Over the years, Family Radio has provided a valuable service to many churches and pastors. Many very solid, godly men have proclaimed the gospel of grace through the facilities of Family Radio, including the late Dr. James Boice of the Tenth Presbyterian Church. Many local ministries have been greatly blessed by having their services aired in their area on the network.

    Today, however, churches and ministries are fleeing Family Radio as people would flee a burning building. Why? Harold Camping has chosen to pit himself against the entire church, proclaiming that God has destroyed the church, that the era of the church is finished, and that the only means God now uses to evangelize the world is Family Radio “and ministries like it.” Camping spends much of his on-air time explaining to listeners why they should leave their churches, abandon the oversight of elders, stop using the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and gather around their radios for “fellowship” in the “post-church age.” He has declared that churches that once aired their worship services on the network must follow new rules. They can no longer call themselves churches on the program. They cannot announce meeting times, and pastors cannot refer to themselves by that title on the air. As a result, most have removed their services, leaving Family Radio a relative ghost town.

    People are nevertheless still listening to Camping. Pastors who had no idea that Camping had a hold on members of their churches are reporting losing individual families, up to as many as 10 families from a single congregation. They are “fleeing” the church.
    Camping’s teachings are unbiblical and dangerous. He has misrepresented the church and challenged the wisdom of God in ordering it as He has. For all who love Christ’s church and His truth, an answer must be given.

    CAMPING’S TEACHINGS DEFINED
    According to Harold Camping, the church age of 1,900 years is over. The church as an organized entity has come to an end. The invisible or eternal church still exists in heaven, but the visible church, made up of congregations and denominations, has been done away with. God has destroyed the church. Why has God done this?
    Camping says Israel is a “picture” of the church. Throughout Israel’s history, God brought judgment upon it for the presence of the “high places,” which were centers of idolatrous worship often associated with the Canaanite gods. Camping points out that while God blessed Israel despite the presence of the high places, eventually His patience wore out, and He brought judgment against it. In the same way, says Camping, “high places” have been in the Christian church from the very beginning. What are these high places? They are false teachings Camping believes come from human minds rather than from God. Some are commonly debated topics, such as baptismal regeneration and women as pastors in churches. Some are unique to Camping himself, such as his insistence that faith has no role in salvation (seemingly over responding to an emphasis on man’s role in salvation). It is a small list, and it is relevant only to conservative, and especially Reformed, churches. Camping does not really include liberal Protestant denominations in his thinking. His teachings are specifically directed against conservative, evangelical, Reformed churches.

    At some point in time, God brought judgment upon the church and destroyed it.2 Since that day, the church has been an “empty shell.” What does it mean that God has destroyed the church? Camping lists a number of results.

    First, the gospel is no longer applied within the church, and the Holy Spirit is no longer active in the church. You can preach the gospel in the church all you want, but the Holy Spirit is not there; hence, there is no salvation taking place in the church. Anyone who is saved is saved “outside” the church (a phrase Camping repeats over and over again). When pressed, Camping has admitted that those who have been “converted” since the end of the church age within formal churches only look like they are saved — they are actually still unsaved. God is working entirely separate from the church today.

    Second, there are no more elders or deacons. The church no longer has divine authority. Those who act as if they have this authority do so without divine warrant. There is no more church discipline nor any reason to fear such discipline should one of Camping’s followers encounter it for promoting his teachings.
    Third, the ordinances have been done away with. Camping believes baptism and the Lord’s Supper were “ceremonial laws” that were given to the church alone. Since the church is gone, so are the ordinances. There is to be no more baptism and celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Camping says, amazingly, the “postchurch believer” can read about the ordinances and receive a spiritual benefit by doing so.
    So what is the “postchurch believer” to do? Camping teaches that such precepts as a “Sunday Sabbath” and the command not to forsake the gathering of believers (Heb. 10:25) are still binding. Believers therefore are first to flee the local churches because they no longer have divine authority and then seek fellowship with other “like-minded” believers. If there are only a few such people, they can gather on Sundays, sing hymns, and listen to Family Radio together. If there is a group, they can form a fellowship. These fellowships, however, are to have no elders, deacons, or ordinances. They are unorganized groups that simply meet for edification. If an entire church embraces Camping’s views, they are to reorganize as a fellowship by removing their elders and deacons and removing the name “church” from their door.

    CAMPING ON THE CHURCH
    Harold Camping is first and foremost a radio personality. While he has written some books in the past (including the infamous 1994? which asserted his false prediction of the return of Christ in 1994), his teachings are promulgated primarily through radio, tapes, and audio files on the Internet. He has produced, at the time of this writing, a single pamphlet titled “Has the Era of the Church Age Come to an End?”3 Most of his teaching, therefore, must be presented by citation of his radio programs. He presented a 13-part series on his new doctrine during the summer of 2001.4 He has also inserted commentary on this particular teaching into every other aspect of his radio ministry, so that we are able to draw primarily from comments he made in his study of the Book of Hebrews.5 Here he provided a concise summary of the fundamental tenets of his new teaching:

    At the beginning of the final tribulation, God has a quick change in His action. The beginning of the tribulation signified that the churches have ceased to be the means by which God plans to evangelize the world, and this is why it is great tribulation. Remember in our last study we talked about, it’s a time of weeping. It’s a time when we ought to be sorrowing in our hearts because we see the churches that should have known better, they have not turned away from their wrong doctrines, and so finally God has removed the candlestick so they have a form of godliness, but they really deny the power of it.

    Camping focuses his attention on the churches from which he has drawn his most devoted followers. He says they should have “known better” than to believe the doctrines that make up the “high places.” Camping draws heavily from Revelation 11:7, asserting that the two witnesses are a picture of the church. Since these “candlesticks” were killed when their testimony was finished, so, too, the church will be destroyed when God ceases to use it as the means of evangelization.6 He “removes the candlestick” of the church, leaving it a “hollow shell.”

    God brings the church to an end, signaling the beginning of what the Bible describes as the great tribulation. It is a great tribulation because God has set aside the church as the means by which He evangelizes the world. Although the Bible is still present in the church, where people still preach from the Bible to some degree, the power of salvation is absent. God has another plan. For a few years, therefore, it is doom and gloom.

    Camping explains what he means when he says the church has become a “hollow shell.” Since most in the church do not even know what God has done, they continue to try to do what is right, teaching and preaching the gospel as they had done when the church still existed and was being used by God. Something, however, has changed. Even though most do not sense it, the Holy Spirit is no longer in the church, guiding, directing, blessing the preaching, giving divine authority to the proclamation of the Word, and especially applying the gospel in order for souls to be saved. The result is that the church continues on — impotent and running solely on inertia. This is the state of the church today, according to Camping. In his written presentation, Camping says:

    It is no wonder that it is almost impossible to find a church today that will modify its Confessions to make them more faithful to the Bible. Remember the Bible says that it is God who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Therefore, if a church no longer has a candlestick it means God is no longer working in that church. The elders and deacons are being guided by their own minds rather than by the Holy Spirit.7

    Today’s pastors and elders are bereft of the Spirit’s guidance, according to Camping, and can see only with human eyes, not divinely enlightened eyes. Those outside the church in Family Radio, on the other hand, have the Spirit, continue to proclaim the true gospel, and are seeing multitudes saved as a result. When speaking of his understanding of John 21, which he says no one has ever understood until now, Camping utters words that, to the apologetically attuned ear, sound frighteningly similar to the words of Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, or Victor Paul Weirwille. Now that people are to flee their churches, to whom are they to look for guidance concerning the organization of these “fellowships” in which they are to gather? Who else but Harold Camping?

    No matter what Camping’s motives might be, this is how aberrant groups begin. His attitude is surely not that of humility when he writes:

    Obedience to the command of Luke 21:20–24 can be accomplished in various ways. If a person or family is a member of a church they can withdraw their membership and fellowship on Sundays with whomever there may be who are of like mind. Such withdrawal may initiate a move by the church to excommunicate. For that individual that is not a trauma because he has become convinced that the church era has come to an end and the church no longer has any divine authority.8

    Knowing the tremendous spiritual damage resulting from Camping’s teachings in churches all across America and beyond, such flippant references to church discipline and the denial of the divine authority of the church the Lord Jesus established are deeply troubling.

    ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION REFUTED
    How has Camping arrived at the conclusion that the church has been destroyed? There is one simple answer: unfettered, inconsistent, arbitrary, and, at times, incoherent allegorical interpretation of the text of Scripture. Camping has long taught the view, popularized by Origen in the early church, that first sees a basic, literal meaning anyone can understand. More important is the moral meaning, which requires more insight. Most important is the “real” meaning, or the “spiritual” meaning, which requires spiritual insight and knowledge. According to Camping, every passage of the Bible has some relevance to the gospel message.
    This becomes the basis, then, for his allegorical interpretations where anything in the Bible becomes “fair game” to be made into a picture of whatever Harold Camping desires. For example, to substantiate his current teachings against the church, Camping has used the two witnesses of Revelation 11, Jerusalem, Judea, all of Old Testament Israel, Hezekiah’s life, and the boat the disciples used in John 21 as “pictures” of the church. Within less than the span of five verses Peter can “represent” the church as a whole, a disciple, and Christ. There is no limitation to what can be “seen” with such “interpretation.”

    Allegorical interpretation contrasts with the grammatical-historical method, which first determines a passage’s meaning by reference to its language, context, and background. When we read the biblical text, we wish to know what the original author intended to convey to his original audience in his own context. Until we determine this, we truly have no basis for asking other questions, such as, “What does this mean to me today?”

    Allegorical interpretation ignores the grammar and original context of the Scriptures, which is why it must be rejected as a valid method of interpretation. It is simply unverifiable. In other words, no person using the allegorical method can honestly and logically affirm that his or her conclusions are actually based upon the text that is being interpreted. Because the actual meaning of the text is ignored, the allegorical meaning can have no more weight than one invests in the allegorical interpreter. Since each allegorical interpreter may “see” or “feel” something different in the text, allegorical interpretations can never be verified by others working with the same text (unlike real biblical exegesis, where the work of generations of scholars verifies and reverifies the conclusions already reached).
    The result of this fatal flaw in the system is that no allegorical interpretation can claim the authority of the original text. This is because the source of the interpretation is not the text itself but the mind of the interpreter who “sees” things in it. Allegorical interpretation cannot compel anyone else to belief since it is personally derived, and the people who accept it do so only because they accept the word of the interpreter, not because they invest any authority in the text itself. Allegorical interpretations have no more authority than the one announcing them.
    Allegorical interpretation destroys the authority of the text of Scripture. No one using this method can honestly say, “The Word of God says,” for their system replaces the meaning of the text (which is communicated through grammar, lexical meanings, context, and background) with the more-or-less relevant insights and imagination of the interpreter.

    Christians believe the Scriptures are “God breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16–17), and therefore are authoritative by nature. When the allegorical interpreter ignores the text, the source of Scripture’s authority is replaced by the thoughts of mere men and women. This leads to every kind of abuse of God’s Word. False teachers often utilize such unverifiable forms of “interpretation” as a cover in order to replace biblical truth with their own false doctrines. Untaught and unstable believers (2 Pet. 3:16) are often susceptible to the “smooth speech” of such teachers, and without solid knowledge of how to properly interpret the Bible, they accept false conclusions, which are presented with great confidence and power. So when we point out Camping’s erroneous use of allegorical interpretation, we are not merely arguing about obtuse, insignificant points of theology. We are defending the very authority of the Scripture, for a Bible that cannot communicate God’s truth consistently to each generation cannot be a solid foundation for the faith.9

    THE CHURCH DEFENDED
    Camping’s attack comes when many in evangelicalism are more than willing to listen to criticism of the church. This is due to the very poor “ecclesiology” rampant today. Rather than seeing the church as the divine institution that the Bible teaches it to be, many today see it more as a commodity, something to be “shopped” and “tried” until you find a “nice fit.” Paul’s description rings empty in many ears today: “But in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).10

    The context of the passage is that of the local church. Paul taught that the local body of believers is the household of the living God. This divine institution is the “pillar and support of the truth.” A pillar and support hold something else up, and in this case, the church provides the foundation of the proclamation of the truth about God and His purposes in this world. It is God’s will that the church, not any manmade substitute, function in this way. The Scriptures often speak of the church’s solidarity, divine purpose, and perpetuity.

    Paul explained to the Ephesians: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19–22).

    The church is built upon an unchanging and unshakable foundation. Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, is the cornerstone, and He has provided a solid foundation in the apostles and prophets through whom God’s Word has been given to His people. This whole building is being divinely built “into a dwelling of God in the Spirit,” a description plainly proclaiming the divine nature of the church as God has established it. To denigrate the true church, which listens obediently to her Lord in His Word, is to attack the very home of the Holy Spirit Himself. Indeed, as Paul said a little later in the same epistle, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20–21).

    God is to receive glory in the church and in Christ Jesus “to all generations forever and ever.” Not only does this speak to the purpose of the church (the glorification of her Lord) but also to the perpetuity of the church.11 Unlike Harold Camping (or Joseph Smith before him), the Bible teaches the ongoing nature of the divine institution that is the church. Nowhere do we ever read that God has placed a time limitation on the church, nor would He end its role in bringing Him glory.
    Christians are called to be a vital part of the local church. They are not mere “extras” outside the discipleship activity reserved only for “super Christians”; indeed, they are part and parcel of a life of obedience. Note the record of Luke in Acts 2:41–42, 47: “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer….[They were] praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

    God joins people to the church. It is as much a divine action as is His miraculous work of salvation. He does not bring Christians to spiritual life so they can experience it in solitude; rather, He brings Christians together in community, which is the church.

    Part of God’s concern for the church is expressed in the fact that He organizes it and places elders12 within it by the gifting of the Spirit. These elders are commanded to keep watch over the flock. Note Luke’s recounting of the work of the apostles: “When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).

    These elders were appointed in every church. No church was exempt from this apostolic activity, for every local body was in need of this divinely given leadership. God, moreover, speaks to those who have been put in this position of service and leadership concerning their duties and role: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

    The elders are divinely commanded and gifted to guard the flock. Theirs is a sacred trust, for the object of their service is precious to God. Those who are in the church are likewise commanded to obey those in positions of authority over them (a command Camping, based upon his allegorical errors, openly encourages others to transgress): “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).

    The person who cannot answer the question: “Who are those to whom you are to submit as noted in Hebrews 13:17?” is not only in grave spiritual danger from every kind of cult and –ism but is also in clear rebellion against the revealed will of God, who places elders in the church to provide guidance and places believers in the fellowship for their own benefit and growth. The properly organized and constituted church provides spiritual protection, resulting in mature, stable believers. This is all a part of the demonstration of God’s “manifold wisdom” in the church (see Eph. 3:10).

    FLEE FROM HAROLD CAMPING
    The airwaves are a dangerous place for the Christian who is vulnerable to spiritual error. Heresy and false teaching abound all across the television and radio dials. Hidden within the plethora of obviously false teachings, however, is an equally dangerous, if less flamboyant, stream of teaching that is just as spiritually dangerous.

    Harold Camping attracts listeners by eschewing the surface-level, entertainment-based glitz of so many radio and television preachers and teachers. He rightly identifies many problems in the modern church and uses his willingness to speak out on these issues to gain spiritual capital and trust with his listeners. He knows the Bible, quotes the Bible, and professes allegiance to it. His consistency is attractive in a day when many are blown about by every wind of doctrine and flash-in-the-pan evangelists who come and go with frightening regularity.
    Calm consistency, however, can mask deadly error, and this is the case with Harold Camping. He refused to repent of his 1994 prediction, which was based on the erroneous allegorical interpretation and numerological speculation that marks his teaching. Although many decried his prediction, once it was past, it was “old news,” and few cared whether he continued on, undaunted, teaching his false methods of interpretation.

    It is not at all surprising, therefore, that eight years after his first debacle Camping is again leading multitudes astray, this time by teaching men and women to remove themselves from God’s ordained means of spiritual growth and protection and to join in unorganized, aimless, and purposeless “fellowships” that lack divine guidance and approbation. His new error is considerably more serious and reprehensible than the first; sadly, it is not garnering nearly the kind of critical response from Christian leaders that his first error did, for many today lack a biblically based love for, and commitment to, the church Christ has established.
    We should learn from Camping’s errors. Camping has always functioned “outside” the church. His teachings force us to clarify our own commitment to the church and our ministry in it. Camping’s attacks may well be used by God to move His people to reaffirm their love for His church.

    We must also learn from Camping’s error to see that our methods of interpretation are not dry subjects best left to theologians to hash out. Each of us is responsible to learn where we received the Bible and how we are to properly understand its message. Only then can we help those who have been misled by Harold Camping and all who, like him, replace the divine message of Scripture with their own thoughts and fancies.

    NOTES
    1.This number includes “repeaters” as well as free-standing stations, both AM and FM.
    2.Some are speculating that Camping is moving toward identifying the end of the church age with 1994 in order to “rescue” his past failed prophecy concerning that date. (Harold Camping, 1994? [New York: Vantage Press, 1992].)
    3.It is understood that Camping is preparing to write a full-length book on this topic.
    4.http://www.familyradio.com/original/realaudio/class.htm.
    5.Family Radio’s Family Bible Study, Based upon Heb. 11:34, A Study on Hezekiah, Part 59, Lesson no. 883, aired in August 2001.
    6.The fact that the two witnesses are then brought back to life on earth is missing in Camping’s allegorical explanation at this point.
    7.“Has the Era of the Church Age Come to an End?” (Oakland: Family Stations, 2002), 21.
    8.Ibid., 22.
    9.I deal with the defenses offered by practitioners of allegorical interpretation, particularly those based on Paul’s use of allegory in Galatians 4, in Dangerous Airwaves (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2002).
    10.Bible quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible.
    11.Many other evidences exist in reference to the church’s longevity. One that is striking is the fact that the church is to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a proclamation of the Lord’s death “until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).
    12.Elders and bishops or overseers are all one office, for the terms are used interchangeably in the New Testament.
    The grace which saves us is eternal to us, as is also our election in Christ. Those who are in Christ have everlasting life by that virtue alone and it is also plain Scriptural teaching that when God loves, He loves with an everlasting love and therefore draws His own to Him. (Jeremiah 31:3). Now there can be no eternal saving grace, no eternal election in Christ, no experience of God's eternal love where a soul is not justified. These aspects belong together as integral parts." …John Gill

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Gill
    I personally think that most assemblies are way off - WAY WAY OFF. Even the ones where I have enjoyed sweet fellowship in the Gospel. In effect, they are not assemblies modeled after the new testament pattern. That's not to say they aren't provided by God for the brethren. It's just that a manifestation of a truly biblical ekklesia (research that word and tell me what you think it means) exists.

    In Bob's article on a new ecclesiolgy, he mentios a few things that almost all institutions I've observed are to be found guilty. http://www.5solas.org/media.php?id=556


    Of course - we're trying to buck this trend here at this website!




    Again - this is another trend we are trying to buck.



    There are many fine brethren scattered across many institutions. Some institutions may be built of almost entirely of believers. But I have yet to find one that functions as an ekklessia.
    Well I know we have discussed before that the "ekklessia" is the body of Christ ......the elect...that I do not have a problem with....but we are here discussing the NT assemblies. It would have to be shown without disclaimer that these NT assemblies were made up of "only" the elect and thus the "ekklessia" . I do not beleive that. I would take for example the church at Ephesus. This was a NT assembly. The apostle exhorted this assembly in Ephesians. The Lord exhorted them in Revelations.

    There were reprobates among the elect within the NT assemblies. I cannot say that all head for head within the NT assemblies were elect. Slavation for the elect is not a miraculous event that only took place within the NT assemblies, but today as well....and God be praised that us gentiles the Lord determined to also bless with His unconditional salvation and fellowship.
    Greetings and salutations, el rana

    21There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

    Proverbs chapter 19

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    I want to be very clear in my above post, "I am not pointing to anyone in particular with the above column in this forum." I think that a few statements just looked familiar. I am trying to grasp exactly what the impact of some statements on this thread are.

    John
    The grace which saves us is eternal to us, as is also our election in Christ. Those who are in Christ have everlasting life by that virtue alone and it is also plain Scriptural teaching that when God loves, He loves with an everlasting love and therefore draws His own to Him. (Jeremiah 31:3). Now there can be no eternal saving grace, no eternal election in Christ, no experience of God's eternal love where a soul is not justified. These aspects belong together as integral parts." …John Gill

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Ekklesia literally means "called out ones" This is not nor has ever been synonomous with the assembly who gather together to worship. The true ekklesia are the Body of Christ. Singular, not plural. Christ knows who are His alone.

    The apostles themselves, were "called out ones", yet they still were not in 100% agreement with everything Christ spoke of. Scripture never speaks of an assembly, church, congress, whatever you would like to call it, as being the model of a NT assembly that would cease to exist after John died on Patmos.

    BTW, I never heard of the Camping fellow, I sure hope Bob will clarify his position because it does mirror what John posted.

    JPK
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
    GALATIANS 5:22

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Based on what? How does Camping's position mirror my own IN ANY WAY?

    Some don`t preach the true Gospel of sovereign grace and those who do, still consent to arminian , universal atonement, and all that junk as being acceptable to God as well as the true doctrines of grace. the issues of women in ministry, paid pastors, and the list can go on and on. Pastors children living scandolous lives, pastors being divorced and remarried a thousand times, all which is contrary to the apostolic requirements for a Bishop...

    Very true! But these deficiencies are not what we are discussing here. We are not talking about whether there is more sin in today's assemblies than in the days of the apostles--there may not be in many cases; we are rather talking about whether today's assemblies can be certain that they are following the PATTERN of the assemblies in the New Testament; i.e., whether today's assemblies can confidently quote commandments addressed to the assemblies then (related to 'government'), assume that those assemblies were patterned and functioned with the same doctrine as ours, and therefore act as if the commandments given to those assemblies are also addressed immediately and directly to ours!!

    This is not an issue of whether we have the Word today, are faithful to the Word, preach the true gospel, believe the true gospel, or any of that. Those things do not immediately resolve whether an assembly can confidently claim that it is patterned after the New Testament. An assembly may still maintain many doctrines that are 'excess baggage' (garbage) from the centuries of apostasy. All of the many positions on 'church government' claim to pattern their churches after the apostolic era. All of the positions on water baptism claim to do likewise. All of the positions on communion--ditto! The 'rest day', 'tithe', eschatology views, use of 'sacrament'--ditto--and so it goes on to infinity.

    It is possible today to be an assembly following Jesus Christ and his true gospel--seeking to imitate the apostles and the full body of teaching that they gave to us in the infallible Word! But it is not possible today to be confident that a particular assembly IS a NT church--in the absence of the apostles or the elders directly taught by them. The EKKLESIA was founded by Christ and continues in many forms until the end; the NT pattern of assembly, however, is forever gone. History reveals to us that God had no plans to continue that institution past the 1st century.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R. Higby
    Based on what? How does Camping's position mirror my own IN ANY WAY?

    Some don`t preach the true Gospel of sovereign grace and those who do, still consent to arminian , universal atonement, and all that junk as being acceptable to God as well as the true doctrines of grace. the issues of women in ministry, paid pastors, and the list can go on and on. Pastors children living scandolous lives, pastors being divorced and remarried a thousand times, all which is contrary to the apostolic requirements for a Bishop...

    Very true! But these deficiencies are not what we are discussing here. We are not talking about whether there is more sin in today's assemblies than in the days of the apostles--there may not be in many cases; we are rather talking about whether today's assemblies can be certain that they are following the PATTERN of the assemblies in the New Testament; i.e., whether today's assemblies can confidently quote commandments addressed to the assemblies then (related to 'government'), assume that those assemblies were patterned and functioned with the same doctrine as ours, and therefore act as if the commandments given to those assemblies are also addressed immediately and directly to ours!!

    This is not an issue of whether we have the Word today, are faithful to the Word, preach the true gospel, believe the true gospel, or any of that. Those things do not immediately resolve whether an assembly can confidently claim that it is patterned after the New Testament. An assembly may still maintain many doctrines that are 'excess baggage' (garbage) from the centuries of apostasy. All of the many positions on 'church government' claim to pattern their churches after the apostolic era. All of the positions on water baptism claim to do likewise. All of the positions on communion--ditto! The 'rest day', 'tithe', eschatology views, use of 'sacrament'--ditto--and so it goes on to infinity.

    It is possible today to be an assembly following Jesus Christ and his true gospel--seeking to imitate the apostles and the full body of teaching that they gave to us in the infallible Word! But it is not possible today to be confident that a particular assembly IS a NT church--in the absence of the apostles or the elders directly taught by them. The EKKLESIA was founded by Christ and continues in many forms until the end; the NT pattern of assembly, however, is forever gone. History reveals to us that God had no plans to continue that institution past the 1st century.
    Bob,
    If this question is to me, that is why I put my disclaimer there. I was only addressing the interpratation of Daniel by Darryl.

    John
    The grace which saves us is eternal to us, as is also our election in Christ. Those who are in Christ have everlasting life by that virtue alone and it is also plain Scriptural teaching that when God loves, He loves with an everlasting love and therefore draws His own to Him. (Jeremiah 31:3). Now there can be no eternal saving grace, no eternal election in Christ, no experience of God's eternal love where a soul is not justified. These aspects belong together as integral parts." …John Gill

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgipson
    Darryl,
    I show you this about Harold Camping not to say you are a follower but to show you how close your statement is to what he preaches.

    Harold Camping’s call to flee the church
    by James R. White


    SYNOPSIS
    Harold Camping is the president of Family Radio. He teaches that God has done away with the church, and thus there should be no more local congregations, elders, deacons, and ordinances such as baptism or the Lord’s Supper. He maintains that the Holy Spirit has left the church as an empty shell with no power to proclaim the gospel. Because Camping calls his followers to flee the churches and form fellowships around his teachings, Christians must understand what the Bible teaches about the church and what the proper means of biblical interpretation are in order to counter Camping’s false teachings.



    He has the ears of millions across the world through his far-flung radio empire. His listeners tend to develop a strong attachment to him, finding in his esoteric, allegorical interpretations a view of Scripture they do not hear anywhere else (and for good reason). His name is Harold Camping, famous for his failed prophecy concerning the return of Christ in 1994, and now becoming more famous for his teaching against the very church of Jesus Christ.

    Harold Camping is the president of Family Station, Inc., a California-based ministry with worldwide broadcast facilities, including more than 150 outlets in the United States.1 His deep, sonorous voice can be heard any hour of the day — by radio, satellite, or Internet broadcast. Camping helped begin Family Stations in 1958, and he later devoted himself full time to the ministry. He is especially known for his daily call-in program, “Open Forum.” His style is unmistakably unique: he speaks slowly with a distinctive voice and cadence.

    Over the years, Family Radio has provided a valuable service to many churches and pastors. Many very solid, godly men have proclaimed the gospel of grace through the facilities of Family Radio, including the late Dr. James Boice of the Tenth Presbyterian Church. Many local ministries have been greatly blessed by having their services aired in their area on the network.

    Today, however, churches and ministries are fleeing Family Radio as people would flee a burning building. Why? Harold Camping has chosen to pit himself against the entire church, proclaiming that God has destroyed the church, that the era of the church is finished, and that the only means God now uses to evangelize the world is Family Radio “and ministries like it.” Camping spends much of his on-air time explaining to listeners why they should leave their churches, abandon the oversight of elders, stop using the ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and gather around their radios for “fellowship” in the “post-church age.” He has declared that churches that once aired their worship services on the network must follow new rules. They can no longer call themselves churches on the program. They cannot announce meeting times, and pastors cannot refer to themselves by that title on the air. As a result, most have removed their services, leaving Family Radio a relative ghost town.

    People are nevertheless still listening to Camping. Pastors who had no idea that Camping had a hold on members of their churches are reporting losing individual families, up to as many as 10 families from a single congregation. They are “fleeing” the church.
    Camping’s teachings are unbiblical and dangerous. He has misrepresented the church and challenged the wisdom of God in ordering it as He has. For all who love Christ’s church and His truth, an answer must be given.

    CAMPING’S TEACHINGS DEFINED
    According to Harold Camping, the church age of 1,900 years is over. The church as an organized entity has come to an end. The invisible or eternal church still exists in heaven, but the visible church, made up of congregations and denominations, has been done away with. God has destroyed the church. Why has God done this?
    Camping says Israel is a “picture” of the church. Throughout Israel’s history, God brought judgment upon it for the presence of the “high places,” which were centers of idolatrous worship often associated with the Canaanite gods. Camping points out that while God blessed Israel despite the presence of the high places, eventually His patience wore out, and He brought judgment against it. In the same way, says Camping, “high places” have been in the Christian church from the very beginning. What are these high places? They are false teachings Camping believes come from human minds rather than from God. Some are commonly debated topics, such as baptismal regeneration and women as pastors in churches. Some are unique to Camping himself, such as his insistence that faith has no role in salvation (seemingly over responding to an emphasis on man’s role in salvation). It is a small list, and it is relevant only to conservative, and especially Reformed, churches. Camping does not really include liberal Protestant denominations in his thinking. His teachings are specifically directed against conservative, evangelical, Reformed churches.

    At some point in time, God brought judgment upon the church and destroyed it.2 Since that day, the church has been an “empty shell.” What does it mean that God has destroyed the church? Camping lists a number of results.

    First, the gospel is no longer applied within the church, and the Holy Spirit is no longer active in the church. You can preach the gospel in the church all you want, but the Holy Spirit is not there; hence, there is no salvation taking place in the church. Anyone who is saved is saved “outside” the church (a phrase Camping repeats over and over again). When pressed, Camping has admitted that those who have been “converted” since the end of the church age within formal churches only look like they are saved — they are actually still unsaved. God is working entirely separate from the church today.

    Second, there are no more elders or deacons. The church no longer has divine authority. Those who act as if they have this authority do so without divine warrant. There is no more church discipline nor any reason to fear such discipline should one of Camping’s followers encounter it for promoting his teachings.
    Third, the ordinances have been done away with. Camping believes baptism and the Lord’s Supper were “ceremonial laws” that were given to the church alone. Since the church is gone, so are the ordinances. There is to be no more baptism and celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Camping says, amazingly, the “postchurch believer” can read about the ordinances and receive a spiritual benefit by doing so.
    So what is the “postchurch believer” to do? Camping teaches that such precepts as a “Sunday Sabbath” and the command not to forsake the gathering of believers (Heb. 10:25) are still binding. Believers therefore are first to flee the local churches because they no longer have divine authority and then seek fellowship with other “like-minded” believers. If there are only a few such people, they can gather on Sundays, sing hymns, and listen to Family Radio together. If there is a group, they can form a fellowship. These fellowships, however, are to have no elders, deacons, or ordinances. They are unorganized groups that simply meet for edification. If an entire church embraces Camping’s views, they are to reorganize as a fellowship by removing their elders and deacons and removing the name “church” from their door.

    CAMPING ON THE CHURCH
    Harold Camping is first and foremost a radio personality. While he has written some books in the past (including the infamous 1994? which asserted his false prediction of the return of Christ in 1994), his teachings are promulgated primarily through radio, tapes, and audio files on the Internet. He has produced, at the time of this writing, a single pamphlet titled “Has the Era of the Church Age Come to an End?”3 Most of his teaching, therefore, must be presented by citation of his radio programs. He presented a 13-part series on his new doctrine during the summer of 2001.4 He has also inserted commentary on this particular teaching into every other aspect of his radio ministry, so that we are able to draw primarily from comments he made in his study of the Book of Hebrews.5 Here he provided a concise summary of the fundamental tenets of his new teaching:

    At the beginning of the final tribulation, God has a quick change in His action. The beginning of the tribulation signified that the churches have ceased to be the means by which God plans to evangelize the world, and this is why it is great tribulation. Remember in our last study we talked about, it’s a time of weeping. It’s a time when we ought to be sorrowing in our hearts because we see the churches that should have known better, they have not turned away from their wrong doctrines, and so finally God has removed the candlestick so they have a form of godliness, but they really deny the power of it.

    Camping focuses his attention on the churches from which he has drawn his most devoted followers. He says they should have “known better” than to believe the doctrines that make up the “high places.” Camping draws heavily from Revelation 11:7, asserting that the two witnesses are a picture of the church. Since these “candlesticks” were killed when their testimony was finished, so, too, the church will be destroyed when God ceases to use it as the means of evangelization.6 He “removes the candlestick” of the church, leaving it a “hollow shell.”

    God brings the church to an end, signaling the beginning of what the Bible describes as the great tribulation. It is a great tribulation because God has set aside the church as the means by which He evangelizes the world. Although the Bible is still present in the church, where people still preach from the Bible to some degree, the power of salvation is absent. God has another plan. For a few years, therefore, it is doom and gloom.

    Camping explains what he means when he says the church has become a “hollow shell.” Since most in the church do not even know what God has done, they continue to try to do what is right, teaching and preaching the gospel as they had done when the church still existed and was being used by God. Something, however, has changed. Even though most do not sense it, the Holy Spirit is no longer in the church, guiding, directing, blessing the preaching, giving divine authority to the proclamation of the Word, and especially applying the gospel in order for souls to be saved. The result is that the church continues on — impotent and running solely on inertia. This is the state of the church today, according to Camping. In his written presentation, Camping says:

    It is no wonder that it is almost impossible to find a church today that will modify its Confessions to make them more faithful to the Bible. Remember the Bible says that it is God who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Therefore, if a church no longer has a candlestick it means God is no longer working in that church. The elders and deacons are being guided by their own minds rather than by the Holy Spirit.7

    Today’s pastors and elders are bereft of the Spirit’s guidance, according to Camping, and can see only with human eyes, not divinely enlightened eyes. Those outside the church in Family Radio, on the other hand, have the Spirit, continue to proclaim the true gospel, and are seeing multitudes saved as a result. When speaking of his understanding of John 21, which he says no one has ever understood until now, Camping utters words that, to the apologetically attuned ear, sound frighteningly similar to the words of Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, or Victor Paul Weirwille. Now that people are to flee their churches, to whom are they to look for guidance concerning the organization of these “fellowships” in which they are to gather? Who else but Harold Camping?

    No matter what Camping’s motives might be, this is how aberrant groups begin. His attitude is surely not that of humility when he writes:

    Obedience to the command of Luke 21:20–24 can be accomplished in various ways. If a person or family is a member of a church they can withdraw their membership and fellowship on Sundays with whomever there may be who are of like mind. Such withdrawal may initiate a move by the church to excommunicate. For that individual that is not a trauma because he has become convinced that the church era has come to an end and the church no longer has any divine authority.8

    Knowing the tremendous spiritual damage resulting from Camping’s teachings in churches all across America and beyond, such flippant references to church discipline and the denial of the divine authority of the church the Lord Jesus established are deeply troubling.

    ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION REFUTED
    How has Camping arrived at the conclusion that the church has been destroyed? There is one simple answer: unfettered, inconsistent, arbitrary, and, at times, incoherent allegorical interpretation of the text of Scripture. Camping has long taught the view, popularized by Origen in the early church, that first sees a basic, literal meaning anyone can understand. More important is the moral meaning, which requires more insight. Most important is the “real” meaning, or the “spiritual” meaning, which requires spiritual insight and knowledge. According to Camping, every passage of the Bible has some relevance to the gospel message.
    This becomes the basis, then, for his allegorical interpretations where anything in the Bible becomes “fair game” to be made into a picture of whatever Harold Camping desires. For example, to substantiate his current teachings against the church, Camping has used the two witnesses of Revelation 11, Jerusalem, Judea, all of Old Testament Israel, Hezekiah’s life, and the boat the disciples used in John 21 as “pictures” of the church. Within less than the span of five verses Peter can “represent” the church as a whole, a disciple, and Christ. There is no limitation to what can be “seen” with such “interpretation.”

    Allegorical interpretation contrasts with the grammatical-historical method, which first determines a passage’s meaning by reference to its language, context, and background. When we read the biblical text, we wish to know what the original author intended to convey to his original audience in his own context. Until we determine this, we truly have no basis for asking other questions, such as, “What does this mean to me today?”

    Allegorical interpretation ignores the grammar and original context of the Scriptures, which is why it must be rejected as a valid method of interpretation. It is simply unverifiable. In other words, no person using the allegorical method can honestly and logically affirm that his or her conclusions are actually based upon the text that is being interpreted. Because the actual meaning of the text is ignored, the allegorical meaning can have no more weight than one invests in the allegorical interpreter. Since each allegorical interpreter may “see” or “feel” something different in the text, allegorical interpretations can never be verified by others working with the same text (unlike real biblical exegesis, where the work of generations of scholars verifies and reverifies the conclusions already reached).
    The result of this fatal flaw in the system is that no allegorical interpretation can claim the authority of the original text. This is because the source of the interpretation is not the text itself but the mind of the interpreter who “sees” things in it. Allegorical interpretation cannot compel anyone else to belief since it is personally derived, and the people who accept it do so only because they accept the word of the interpreter, not because they invest any authority in the text itself. Allegorical interpretations have no more authority than the one announcing them.
    Allegorical interpretation destroys the authority of the text of Scripture. No one using this method can honestly say, “The Word of God says,” for their system replaces the meaning of the text (which is communicated through grammar, lexical meanings, context, and background) with the more-or-less relevant insights and imagination of the interpreter.

    Christians believe the Scriptures are “God breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16–17), and therefore are authoritative by nature. When the allegorical interpreter ignores the text, the source of Scripture’s authority is replaced by the thoughts of mere men and women. This leads to every kind of abuse of God’s Word. False teachers often utilize such unverifiable forms of “interpretation” as a cover in order to replace biblical truth with their own false doctrines. Untaught and unstable believers (2 Pet. 3:16) are often susceptible to the “smooth speech” of such teachers, and without solid knowledge of how to properly interpret the Bible, they accept false conclusions, which are presented with great confidence and power. So when we point out Camping’s erroneous use of allegorical interpretation, we are not merely arguing about obtuse, insignificant points of theology. We are defending the very authority of the Scripture, for a Bible that cannot communicate God’s truth consistently to each generation cannot be a solid foundation for the faith.9

    THE CHURCH DEFENDED
    Camping’s attack comes when many in evangelicalism are more than willing to listen to criticism of the church. This is due to the very poor “ecclesiology” rampant today. Rather than seeing the church as the divine institution that the Bible teaches it to be, many today see it more as a commodity, something to be “shopped” and “tried” until you find a “nice fit.” Paul’s description rings empty in many ears today: “But in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).10

    The context of the passage is that of the local church. Paul taught that the local body of believers is the household of the living God. This divine institution is the “pillar and support of the truth.” A pillar and support hold something else up, and in this case, the church provides the foundation of the proclamation of the truth about God and His purposes in this world. It is God’s will that the church, not any manmade substitute, function in this way. The Scriptures often speak of the church’s solidarity, divine purpose, and perpetuity.

    Paul explained to the Ephesians: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19–22).

    The church is built upon an unchanging and unshakable foundation. Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, is the cornerstone, and He has provided a solid foundation in the apostles and prophets through whom God’s Word has been given to His people. This whole building is being divinely built “into a dwelling of God in the Spirit,” a description plainly proclaiming the divine nature of the church as God has established it. To denigrate the true church, which listens obediently to her Lord in His Word, is to attack the very home of the Holy Spirit Himself. Indeed, as Paul said a little later in the same epistle, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20–21).

    God is to receive glory in the church and in Christ Jesus “to all generations forever and ever.” Not only does this speak to the purpose of the church (the glorification of her Lord) but also to the perpetuity of the church.11 Unlike Harold Camping (or Joseph Smith before him), the Bible teaches the ongoing nature of the divine institution that is the church. Nowhere do we ever read that God has placed a time limitation on the church, nor would He end its role in bringing Him glory.
    Christians are called to be a vital part of the local church. They are not mere “extras” outside the discipleship activity reserved only for “super Christians”; indeed, they are part and parcel of a life of obedience. Note the record of Luke in Acts 2:41–42, 47: “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer….[They were] praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

    God joins people to the church. It is as much a divine action as is His miraculous work of salvation. He does not bring Christians to spiritual life so they can experience it in solitude; rather, He brings Christians together in community, which is the church.

    Part of God’s concern for the church is expressed in the fact that He organizes it and places elders12 within it by the gifting of the Spirit. These elders are commanded to keep watch over the flock. Note Luke’s recounting of the work of the apostles: “When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).

    These elders were appointed in every church. No church was exempt from this apostolic activity, for every local body was in need of this divinely given leadership. God, moreover, speaks to those who have been put in this position of service and leadership concerning their duties and role: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

    The elders are divinely commanded and gifted to guard the flock. Theirs is a sacred trust, for the object of their service is precious to God. Those who are in the church are likewise commanded to obey those in positions of authority over them (a command Camping, based upon his allegorical errors, openly encourages others to transgress): “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).

    The person who cannot answer the question: “Who are those to whom you are to submit as noted in Hebrews 13:17?” is not only in grave spiritual danger from every kind of cult and –ism but is also in clear rebellion against the revealed will of God, who places elders in the church to provide guidance and places believers in the fellowship for their own benefit and growth. The properly organized and constituted church provides spiritual protection, resulting in mature, stable believers. This is all a part of the demonstration of God’s “manifold wisdom” in the church (see Eph. 3:10).

    FLEE FROM HAROLD CAMPING
    The airwaves are a dangerous place for the Christian who is vulnerable to spiritual error. Heresy and false teaching abound all across the television and radio dials. Hidden within the plethora of obviously false teachings, however, is an equally dangerous, if less flamboyant, stream of teaching that is just as spiritually dangerous.

    Harold Camping attracts listeners by eschewing the surface-level, entertainment-based glitz of so many radio and television preachers and teachers. He rightly identifies many problems in the modern church and uses his willingness to speak out on these issues to gain spiritual capital and trust with his listeners. He knows the Bible, quotes the Bible, and professes allegiance to it. His consistency is attractive in a day when many are blown about by every wind of doctrine and flash-in-the-pan evangelists who come and go with frightening regularity.
    Calm consistency, however, can mask deadly error, and this is the case with Harold Camping. He refused to repent of his 1994 prediction, which was based on the erroneous allegorical interpretation and numerological speculation that marks his teaching. Although many decried his prediction, once it was past, it was “old news,” and few cared whether he continued on, undaunted, teaching his false methods of interpretation.

    It is not at all surprising, therefore, that eight years after his first debacle Camping is again leading multitudes astray, this time by teaching men and women to remove themselves from God’s ordained means of spiritual growth and protection and to join in unorganized, aimless, and purposeless “fellowships” that lack divine guidance and approbation. His new error is considerably more serious and reprehensible than the first; sadly, it is not garnering nearly the kind of critical response from Christian leaders that his first error did, for many today lack a biblically based love for, and commitment to, the church Christ has established.
    We should learn from Camping’s errors. Camping has always functioned “outside” the church. His teachings force us to clarify our own commitment to the church and our ministry in it. Camping’s attacks may well be used by God to move His people to reaffirm their love for His church.

    We must also learn from Camping’s error to see that our methods of interpretation are not dry subjects best left to theologians to hash out. Each of us is responsible to learn where we received the Bible and how we are to properly understand its message. Only then can we help those who have been misled by Harold Camping and all who, like him, replace the divine message of Scripture with their own thoughts and fancies.

    NOTES
    1.This number includes “repeaters” as well as free-standing stations, both AM and FM.
    2.Some are speculating that Camping is moving toward identifying the end of the church age with 1994 in order to “rescue” his past failed prophecy concerning that date. (Harold Camping, 1994? [New York: Vantage Press, 1992].)
    3.It is understood that Camping is preparing to write a full-length book on this topic.
    4.http://www.familyradio.com/original/realaudio/class.htm.
    5.Family Radio’s Family Bible Study, Based upon Heb. 11:34, A Study on Hezekiah, Part 59, Lesson no. 883, aired in August 2001.
    6.The fact that the two witnesses are then brought back to life on earth is missing in Camping’s allegorical explanation at this point.
    7.“Has the Era of the Church Age Come to an End?” (Oakland: Family Stations, 2002), 21.
    8.Ibid., 22.
    9.I deal with the defenses offered by practitioners of allegorical interpretation, particularly those based on Paul’s use of allegory in Galatians 4, in Dangerous Airwaves (Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2002).
    10.Bible quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible.
    11.Many other evidences exist in reference to the church’s longevity. One that is striking is the fact that the church is to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a proclamation of the Lord’s death “until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).
    12.Elders and bishops or overseers are all one office, for the terms are used interchangeably in the New Testament.
    Wow, he says some good things, This is my first time reading anything by him, I would not be a follower of him. A lot of folk can say good things and even biblical things and yet be way off on other issues. For instance, Ward fendley is great on supralapsarianism but I believe he`s off on preterism..
    There is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what...is called Calvinism...It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else."

    charles spurgeon

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    If a doctrine is "new" it is not Biblical just as the emerging church movement is not Biblical simply due to the fact that since the church already existed it cannot be emerging. If we are going to accept a new ecclesiology then we are rejecting Scripture. The only true Reformation that ever occurs in churches is done by men who fight hard for the doctrines within the church. Sometimes standing for the truth causes one to be thrown out of the church and then it may be necessary to start another group. Those who practice anabaptist church-flight find themselves as cult leaders not as Christian leaders. Yes, the churches have problems, but those who advocate church flight have far far bigger problems. The Scriptures are clear as to how churches should be governed and you can't just say it doesn't apply to you anymore because you don't like it. That is the way of the liberal who doesn't want to admit that he hates the Bible.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    And so it goes: the Reformed and the Baptists continue to fight forever and ever over who is the TRUE New Testament assembly! The Reformed think that the British Isles: Westminster or Continental: Three forms constitute the equivalent of all aspects of the doctrine of the apostles; the Baptists think that their sectarian submersionism constitute the same.

    John, I was responding to Joe (Lion of Judah) in my response. He stated, I sure hope Bob will clarify his position because it does mirror what John posted Hope this clears it up! It was Joe (and earlier, Charles (Wild Boar) who compared my views to Camping.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Yeah, all of the assemblies in the New Testament were being overseen by the same people, that is why the letters were all written, and were written mentioning many of the same people going back and forth to oversee their progress. Today, there are so many different opposing denominations who have no contact with each other, in fact are at odds with each other. The true church is Christs body, but the organization of all those assemblies mentioned in the letters doesn't seem to be happening today. I don't see these different churches and denominations writing letters to each other inspired by the Holy Spirit to grow in unity in the Christ. Instead they are all argueing over the interpretatinos of the letters written back then. Obviously there were problems with the assemblies back then, that's why all the letters were written, and to some assemblies more than one. But the apostles I guess were overseeing their progress with trained leadership and with the power of the Holy Spirit, I don't see any connectivity in churches today, maybe a denomination makes rules and guidelines for acceptance by that denomination, but it's based off of biased and ever-changing views of the Gospel, I don't think that everyone here is just talking about one particular assembly but all of the assemblies being built up with leadership ordained by God. Now if anyone were to write a letter of rebuke to a church it would prabably be discarded and not taken seriously, who is in charge is based off of schooling rather than direction by the Holy Spirit (maybe im assuming too much). Obviously, God has as reason for this since He is Sovereign over all things, maybe so we can see just how ignorant and how lost we all are as the times are a changin. Also probably because like before the reformation, the truth was so bastardized by the Catholic churches rule of authority and ridiculous ritual. Are most modern assembles more of a variation of the Catholic church in regards to leadership? But the truth has been found more in depth now hasn't it? Maybe another reason why churches are messed up, people are afraid that they are the little guy and too afraid to stand up for the truth. I guess to the few who it is given to.Feel free to correct me if I'm historically wrong, that's just how I see it with the little knowledge I have.

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    Re: Is the New Testament assembly extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dans la Musique
    Yeah, all of the assemblies in the New Testament were being overseen by the same people, that is why the letters were all written, and were written mentioning many of the same people going back and forth to oversee their progress. Today, there are so many different opposing denominations who have no contact with each other, in fact are at odds with each other. The true church is Christs body, but the organization of all those assemblies mentioned in the letters doesn't seem to be happening today. I don't see these different churches and denominations writing letters to each other inspired by the Holy Spirit to grow in unity in the Christ. Instead they are all argueing over the interpretatinos of the letters written back then. Obviously there were problems with the assemblies back then, that's why all the letters were written, and to some assemblies more than one. But the apostles I guess were overseeing their progress with trained leadership and with the power of the Holy Spirit, I don't see any connectivity in churches today, maybe a denomination makes rules and guidelines for acceptance by that denomination, but it's based off of biased and ever-changing views of the Gospel, I don't think that everyone here is just talking about one particular assembly but all of the assemblies being built up with leadership ordained by God. Now if anyone were to write a letter of rebuke to a church it would prabably be discarded and not taken seriously, who is in charge is based off of schooling rather than direction by the Holy Spirit (maybe im assuming too much). Obviously, God has as reason for this since He is Sovereign over all things, maybe so we can see just how ignorant and how lost we all are as the times are a changin. Also probably because like before the reformation, the truth was so bastardized by the Catholic churches rule of authority and ridiculous ritual. Are most modern assembles more of a variation of the Catholic church in regards to leadership? But the truth has been found more in depth now hasn't it? Maybe another reason why churches are messed up, people are afraid that they are the little guy and too afraid to stand up for the truth. I guess to the few who it is given to.Feel free to correct me if I'm historically wrong, that's just how I see it with the little knowledge I have.

    Good post young man...
    There is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what...is called Calvinism...It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else."

    charles spurgeon

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