In CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE, January 1989, there was an article under the above heading. Since the word "flock" above is in the singular, it sounds like God has only one flock, but apparently the writer does not believe this. Jesus Himself said: "...they shall become one flock with one Shepherd" (John 10:16). But our brother flies in the face of what Jesus said and tells his readers that:
"Today, each local congregation is a flock of God's sheep."
Dear brother or sister, do you believe that baseless assertion? I suspect that many of you might accept it without question because you have heard such taught before. Does the Lord have a Westside C of C flock, a South Bumby C of C flock, Garnett Road C of C flock, and such like? Is each local church a separate, independent, autonomous flock of sheep, each with its own name?
Let's compare these two statements:
1) Jesus said: "one flock".
2) Our brother asserts: "each local congregation is a flock of God's sheep."
Now which one of these statements do you believe is the truth? They can't both be true. Does Jesus really have thousands of flocks or does He have only one flock as He claimed? Will you believe the Lord or accept the false teaching of man? It is hard to believe that anyone, especially a Christian, could so blatantly contradict Jesus Christ. There is not a passage anywhere in the New Covenant scriptures that says or even implies that Jesus has a multiplicity of flocks. Our brother is teaching as truth a doctrine originated and perpetuated by men who seek to justify their own "local congregation" creation.
Is each "local church" a separate, distinct, independent "flock" of the Lord's sheep? How many "flocks" does Jesus really have? Did Jesus tell the truth when He plainly said "they shall be one flock..."? Does Jesus really have thousands of little flocks? Who is telling the truth, Jesus or the writer of that article?
Of course, the writer is by no means the only preacher today making this claim of the many flocks of Jesus. The denominations have been claiming such for more than a thousand years. The claim is that each denomination is a "flock" belonging to Jesus; and that within each denomination (the "universal flock") there are thousands of little flocks, each called "the local flock" or "the local church." Their claim is as true as the one our brother has made. It has gradually become a common assertion as preachers, Pulpit Ministers, have tried to justify all the local C of C church institutions; each one supposedly totally autonomous and independent, with its own name and identity.
Our dear brother even claims that:
"... The 'Chief Shepherd' has every fight to expect the shepherds of local churches (my emphasis, cah) to reflect his love and care for the sheep."
Here he speaks again about "shepherds of local churches," not shepherds of sheep, unless he means that each local church is a sheep! NT Scripture nowhere says anything whatever about "shepherds of local churches"! In fact, it does not even say anything about "shepherds of the Lord's sheep"! Jesus Himself is the one and only Shepherd of His sheep! It is still as true today as when David wrote it: "The Lord is MY shepherd..." I have no other Shepherd and neither should you. If you look to men or a man as your shepherd you may as well choose the Pope of Rome, for he has as much right to be your shepherd as any Eldership, any Elder. or any other man. Keep in mind that shepherds control the sheep.
Of course, in the NT scripture there is no such thing as a "local church" institution such as the local churches are today. It is as foreign to God's word as the position of the Pope of Rome! Why do preachers come up with such unscriptural ideas? Such teaching has gradually developed in a desperate effort of men to force the Scriptures to justify their teaching and practice. The concept and practice comes first, then comes the desperate effort to prove it is right by an appeal to the Scriptures. This is the same method used by all denominations in an attempt to justify their human institutions. All of them can justify, in their own eyes, the view that their own denomination is acceptable to the Lord. If the local C of C church is acceptable to the Lord, so are all other denominations, because they are all the creations of men!
Are local church organizations the "sheep" of which Jesus spoke? Does Jesus have one "universal" flock made up of all these local church institutions? Are these local corporate structures the "sheep" Jesus had in mind? You know better than that, so why do you accept and go along with such heresy?
Is the Baptist Church brand of local church organizations a part of the Lord's sheep? Or, the local Presbyterian Church churches? Or, the local Church of God churches? Does Jesus have ONE FLOCK made up of all these local church institutions? Are these local corporate structures the "sheep" Jesus had in mind?
Our brother also claims that "Shepherds of a local flock must account for each sheep" (My emphasis, cab). Where in Scripture is any such thing taught? Again I ask, where in God's word do we read about "shepherds of a local flock"? Did Jesus or any of His apostles ever speak of a "local flock"? Certainly not. Jesus plainly said there is "one flock," not thousands! He is the one Shepherd of the one flock, His sheep.
Our brother is but one of the many C of C church preachers who are desperately trying to justify or explain the denominational practice of what is now called "the local church" the organization or corporate institution denominated as the South Haven C of C, for example. Is such a corporate structure the "ekklesia" for which Christ died and gave His life? (More and more of these preachers are even proclaiming that salvation is obtained in this local church institution; therefore, one must get into one of these institutions in order to be saved and serve God.)
Let me show you the ludicrous extreme to which this kind of heresy leads our preachers. In our public discussion in Texas, J.T. Smith boldly asserted that there were not only seven local churches in Asia, but that the Lord had seven local bodies in Asia; and even seven kingdoms in Asia!! Did you realize that the local C of C church is also the same as a local kingdom of Christ? Can you find anything to beat that for pure folly and desperation in trying to justify this false doctrine of men? How many kingdoms does Christ have? Is Christ the king over thousands of little local kingdoms? This is folly gone to seed! It shows the desperation of preachers who are trying to justify the local church institution (local body? local kingdom? local flock?) which has hired them as an employee. Dear reader, do you belong to a "local body of Christ"? a "local kingdom of Christ"? and a "local flock of Christ"? How many kingdoms does Christ have? It would be interesting to hear one of these preachers deliver a sermon on "The local Kingdoms of Christ".
Now observe one of the consequences of this unholy teaching. Since the Eldership has all authority in and rules over the local church organization in pontifical fashion, it follows that the Eldership is likewise "the head" of the local body; and the Eldership is also the "king" of the local kingdom! With such teaching as this, it is no wonder that the Eldership is acting as if that ruling body is indeed Lord God the Pope of the local church.
Let's look further at the absurd consequences of this ridiculous claim. If Smith is correct is his wild claim, then in Asia at that time there were also seven flocks, seven holy nations, seven chosen races, seven royal priesthoods and seven families of Christ there!! And, remember that each one of these was an independent, autonomous operating unit, separate and distinct from every other church, body, kingdom, family, race, nation, priesthood, and flock! Have you ever heard of anything so at)surd, so totally contrary to God's word? How many families does the Lord have? How many bodies does He have? If you can find more than one mentioned in Scripture, then you have read something there I have not seen. Over how many kingdoms does Christ now reign as King? Can you really believe that each local C of C church institution, as such exists today, is in reality a little kingdom of Christ? That each local church institution is also a separate, independent, autonomous priesthood of Christ?
This whole desperate effort to justify from Scripture the man-devised and instituted local corporate church institution is as absurd as it is totally contrary to God's word. Can't you see this false teaching and folly for what it really is?
As has been presented over and over in this journal, the basic cause of misunderstanding and deception is in the English word "Church." That word should not be in the Scriptures because it does not translate the Greek word into correct English. (See Hugo McCord's translation of the New Covenant Scriptures, where the word is not used. You should read his explanation as to why it is not used; simply put, the word does not translate the Greek word, and in fact, gives a totally erroneous meaning. Mark my word, that translation will never sell well because there is no "church" in it!)
Alexander Campbell published a translation in his day, called "The Living Oracles," and it does not have the word "church" in it. Why? Because it should not be there. His translation did not sell well either and is no longer published.
The Simple English Bible does not have the word "Church" in it. And there are several others. Such translations will not be popular with church-dependent people, because they "belong to" a church which is the center of their religious life.
The word "church" should not be in the Scripture. When the popular King James translation was ordered by King James, he specifically ruled that the English word "church" was to be used to "translate" the Greek word ekklesia. Why is the word "church" there? Because the King, and Head of a church, ordered it to be used! We have dealt with this matter in earlier issues of this paper. (If you would like copies of some of those articles, send $3.00 for the copying and postage and we will send this valuable information to you for your study. This is a critical matter and is the taproot of most of the misunderstanding on this subject.)
Oh, before I close let me ask you some questions: 1) How many ekklesias does Christ have? How many did He promise to build in Matt. 16:187 2) How many flocks does Christ have? Do you really believe that Scripture teaches that each local corporate church is a "flock" of Christ? 3) Of how many bodies is Christ "the head"? (Eph. 1: 22-23; 4:5.) Is each local church a body of Christ? 4) How many families does Christ have? Is there such a thing as "the local family of Christ" and does He have 25-30 "families'' in some cities? Do you really believe that Christ has thousands of little, local families with different names, such as the Southside Church of Christ, for example? Can you find anything like that in the NT scriptures? 5) How many priesthoods are there? (cf. i Pet. 2:9.) Is each local church institution a "local priesthood"? 6) Is there only one holy nation or is each local church a little "holy nation", separate, independent, and autonomous?
7) Over how many kingdoms does Christ reign as King? Is He really the King over thousands of little "kingdoms" which today are called "local churches"? Is the local church-Kingdom the one into which being born again (saved) puts each individual? Wonder which local kingdom the eunuch was born into by the birth of the water and the Spirit?
Dear brother and sister, if you can't see how ludicrous and wholly unscriptural all these claims are, it has to be that you are unwilling to honestly consider this matter. The hireling clergy are desperate in their efforts to justify their employer, the local church institution, as being scriptural because upon that organization they depend for their livelihood. Look at the folly in which they engage to make you think such is from God and that you should be a member of some "local kingdom" and help pay for its operation! Open your heart to honest, objective study of God's word, seeking the truth that can make you free. Free yourself from the membership / slavery in the local institutional church. It is not from the Lord Jesus Christ, but from men. Get out and claim your freedom in Christ, accept your personal responsibility in serving the Lord, and LIVE FOR JESUS. cah