THE KINGDOM OF GOD VS. THE CHURCH
By Andy Zoppelt
Some years ago I did an article on the word “church”, it was called “The Word that Changed the World”. What I had presented was that the word church had no reason or basis for being in our bibles, yet that one word has had more influence and impact on Christianity than the name of Jesus and in this article I will biblically prove that. What we do as Christians and how we function together as believers is dominated by the word church. We are not ally to Jesus as our one Lord and King who rules over His one kingdom over each home, each city and each nation. The church tells us how to meet, what to do when we meet, how often we are to meet, what to believe when we meet and who is in control when we meet. The word Church was a word inserted into our scriptures mistranslating the Greek word ekklesia by a clergy system that joined Christianity to the state, the carnal nature of man and to the world. This clergy system could not survive without the use of a building and money. The word church with its understanding of a building gave the clergy its legitimacy and authority over the people and its basis for its existence. Without the need of the building and money the clergy had no basis of existence.
As Christianity began to slowly fall away at the turn of the first century, many of the pagan practices slowly crept into what was originally the kingdom of God. Christianity gradually fell into the hands of men who sought power and recognition over the people and a powerful clergy system emerged that dominated believers creating the church system as we see it today. I strongly recommend that you read the documented book “Pagan Christianity” by George Barna. The word church replaced the purpose of kingdom of God, thus dominating the whole landscape of Christianity. Christianity became more pagan than Christian in its function and practices. What we are and what we do is now dominated by the church system today. Its centuries hold on Christianity makes it difficult to believe that it is the enemy of Jesus and the manifestation of His kingdom on this earth.
We are told by both the Old and New Testament not to add to the word of God, most translators had no fear in this regard and that is exactly what they did in order to allow the church to replace the kingdom of God. I will add that there are translations of the scriptures that do not use the word church.
The practices of the kingdom of God vs. the church represent two entirely different ways of life, though both profess and use the name of Jesus and the use of the bible and that is where it ends. The difference in the nature and practice between the kingdom of God and the church cannot be measured in terms of similarity because they are contrary and their existence is hostile towards one another. The kingdom of God is a threat to the church and the church is a threat to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is based on Jesus’ authority and obedience to His will forming a single kingdom under Him on this earth. The church is based on thousands of disconnected churches competing with one another in every city throughout the land. The church is a nice Christian social club that often gives a person a sense of being saved if they just go through its forms and practices, but none of this is biblical. Even many pastors will admit that there are more unbelievers in the church than true believers. Did you get that? The church is based and sustained on the attendance and tithing of the saints in order for it to survive. The church has brought in many changes that do not relate to the gospel of the kingdom of God presented in our New Testament; it changed how one becomes a Christian through a sinner’s prayer, it has reduced faith to a passive form of mental assent, it has freely accepted division as a way of life in every city, its programs have replaced the need for the power and rule of God, it has eliminated true love and fellowship with a passive audience stuck in the pews, its clergy has removed body ministry, each church has eliminated the one assembly in each city with elders all functioning together as one body. The need of money has replaced the need of the anointing. The people have become dependent on men more than seeking the truth of the word of God themselves. The church has become a social event where one goes to hear preaching and teaching. Most people today because of the influence of the church don’t have any idea of the function of the kingdom of God on this “earth as it is in heaven.”
In the gospels, Jesus used the Greek word ekklesia (ek-klay-see'-ah) only three times in the gospel of Matthew, once in Matthew 16:18 and twice in Matthew 18:17. Ekklesia was a word that referred to people only and referred to a special people that were called out of the world and into the kingdom of God, not church. We cannot separate ekklesia (called out assembly) from the kingdom of God, the ekklesia is the domain of the Kingdom of God. The word ekklesia is made up of the preposition ek meaning “out” and the verb kaleo meaning “to call”. Ekklesia was addressing those who were called out of the world by the Holy Spirit and into the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God made up Jesus’ domain, His subject, His called out assembly of which He had sovereign rule and authority. No one has the right or authority to get between Jesus’ body and Himself.
Random House Webster’s unabridged dictionary defines a kingdom as “a governmental unit ruled by a king or queen…A REALM is the domain, including the subjects [saints], over which the king has jurisdiction; figuratively, a sphere of power or influence.”
Random House Webster’s unabridged dictionary defines church as “a building for public Christian worship. Public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.”
In the scriptures the kingdom of God was made up of “the called out assembly” united together in every city like Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, etc.. The body of Christ was made up of the house assemblies being united and connected to the city assemblies and all united together making up the kingdom of God. There was no Baptist church or Presbyterian church or Calvary chapel dividing up the cities; such divisions are destroying and misrepresennting the existence of the kingdom of God from which Jesus functions as its Head. What good is the King if there is in reality no kingdom? The church leaves us with a structure that allows each church to operate under the whim and control of the thousands of pastors etc.. Spiritually it matters nothing how great they can conduct business and give an appearance of representing Jesus if in fact their very existence is destroying the kingdom of God on this earth as it is in heaven. The whole idea and structure of the church is against the clear scripture that demands the establishment of the kingdom of God. There can be no greater sin than the sin of destroying and dividing the kingdom of God where brothers and sisters are not subject to one another and to the one Head.
Each church stands on its own doctrine and defends its own right to exist in every city…that is called chaos. The church literally silence its members as an audience and allow no room for anyone to challenge its own system. I remember one time hearing a pastor say, “It’s my way or the highway.” They don’t have to say it, but that is the way it is. Our churches today are a stronghold against the function of the body of Christ and prevent it from coming into being. The church has been deceived by the powers and principalities in heavenly places, the very powers it was intended to bring down. Division, naming our churches is a stronghold of Satan against the unity of the kingdom of God. How can we experience the power and glory of God while ignoring the King? Unity according to Psalm 133 is like a flowing oil, an anointing that comes down out of heaven and pours over all its members subjected to Jesus’ authority. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; FOR THERE the Lord commanded the blessing — Life forevermore [salvation].” NKJV
The church has blocked the continuous flow of the Spirits upon the united body of Christ and the anointing out of heaven. They have instead used “their own” creative forms of organization to provide for their existence. The church has influenced the body of Christ for too long, in fact many will not be able to see this because of its influence throughout the centuries and thus the true salvation oil --- life forevermore---will bypass them. The five foolish virgins had a strong moral base in being a virgin, but they lacked the oil that was meant to unit them in Jesus under His authority. Morally they had a form of godliness while denying His power, the very nature and essence of the kingdom. Everything they did was outward, show, entertaining and twisting the scriptures to maintain and support their existence. For the purpose of success and their existence they widened the narrow gate so unrepented souls could find their way into the church, they cheapened grace so many could stay in church and maintain their sin, and they eliminated body ministry so the pastor could dominate the meetings. They created a building with it seats forming an audience facing the pulpit, preventing the people from getting to know one another. They maintained the name of their church so the public could identify them separate from the rest of the body. The churches do all they can to draw the people unto their church, even at the cost of stealing members from one another. They spend God’s money on advertisement, guest speakers and entertainment. They provide many programs to draw people into their church. They provide in-house ministries to give its members something to do in order to build “their” church. They provide stimulating worship teams that emotionally charge up the meeting with no lasting results and of course it was the pastor with his teaching that drew us into “his” ministry within the building. All of this has absolutely nothing to do with the kingdom of God that saves. How can so many professing believers who are supposed to search the scripture not see this? Everyone knows division is sin, but the majority accepts it. Everyone knows there are no names given for churches in the bible like Baptist, yet we ignore it. You cannot read the bible without knowing that the scriptures are dominated by the kingdom of God, repentance, love, unity, body ministry and obedience; yet we ignore these scriptures because we assume that the church is God’s will and thus most are willing and choose to be deceived.
Before Jesus left this world He gave direct orders to His disciples to obey His commands, thus establishing His authority over His called out assembly.
Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, instructing them to observe [obey] all things that I have commanded you.”
Obedience to Jesus and His kingdom is a must, no leader or pastor has any right from deviating from that course.
“On this rock [Jesus] I will build My [ekklesia] called out assembly, and the gates of Hades [the powers of principalities in heavenly places] shall not prevail AGAINST IT[a demonstration of His anointing, His authority and power]. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [the source of our authority], and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
This is exactly what we see in the Lord’s Prayer and in many other places: “Your kingdom come [not church], your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13
How many times we pray that prayer given to us by Jesus and totally ignore its substance and its mandate?
2 Timothy 4:3-5. “For the time will come when they will not endure [put up with] true, uncorrupted teaching, but according to their own desires[man centered], because they have itching ears [desire for knowledge to know], they will heap up [accumulate] for themselves teachers [pastors]; and they [the Christians] will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables [church is a fable manufactured by the clergy].”
Jesus said, “If the light that is in you is instead darkness, how great is that darkness?” If a single word misrepresents God’s word, how much has that single word affected our walk in the kingdom of God? How few people in the church are even aware of God’s eternal purpose for us as a body of believers though they read over it time and time again?
“That I [Paul] should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the called out assembly [as one body and one kingdom] to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 3:8-12,
As Jesus’ witnesses and as the extension of His kingdom from heaven, we were meant to be a formidable enemy to all God’s enemies, we were meant to bring down the gates of hell, powers and principalities in heavenly places and bring all God’s enemies under His footstool. We were meant to be an army united with wisdom under our commander and chief Jesus. The church has dumbed-down all of this by ignoring God’s purposes and by creating a powerless institution that has no power at all while killing its wounded… it is a Christian social club that makes us feel good and that convinces us of a salvation far inferior to the one Jesus preached. The flavor of the salt is gone and we are now being trampled underfoot by the powers and principalities that we were intended to bring down, those powers and principalities are now in our midst as the enemies of Israel were in their land due to their failure to remove them. If we can’t see this, we are hiding in some corner somewhere hid within the walls of our churches.
“And He Himself gave some to be sent out [apostle is the wrong word], some prophets, some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, [all ministry is to produce the following] for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we ALL come to the unity of the faith [one body in every city] and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; [now what follows is what we are experiencing] that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, [here is what we are to experience as believers] but, speaking the truth in love [to one another], may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — [this is the kingdom of God under one Head] from whom the whole body [not each church], joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16
Is this what we are finding when we go to church?
The subtle purpose of the church is to fill the pews and physically grow under the guise of Jesus’ name and the preaching of His word. Many people walk out those doors never to return… yet church goes on. Who knows what these hurting people are experiencing, once they leave who is going to miss them. They had no function or purpose in the first place; church can go on without them. If this is not the cruelest and most subtle deception handed down to us, I can’t think of anything more demonic and disastrous.
How can we say that we are born again and yet not see and experience the kingdom of God as intended by Jesus?
“Jesus answered him, [Nicodemus] ‘Most assuredly, I tell you, UNLESS one is born again, he can not SEE the Kingdom of God.’ … Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly I tell you, UNLESS one is born of water and spirit, he can not ENTER into the Kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don't marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born AGAIN.’” John 3:3-7
How can it be that we claim with confidence to be born again and yet have no idea or experience within the reality and existence of kingdom of God? I find nothing in scripture to support a salvation divorced from the kingdom of God. If Jesus was our acting Head would He permit what we are doing today? I don’t think so, at least that is clear in His word. The anointing of God’s Spirit would make us one, not divide us, we would be subjected to the gospel of the kingdom handed down to us by those whom He sent.
1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you [all], and you [all] do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you [all] concerning ALL things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” NKJV
This whole idea of us functioning as one anointed body, having gifts from God, dependent on one another has been replaced with one man, making a career out of his ministry, silencing, dividing and paralyzing the body of Christ for the wrong purposes. What is troubling is that most don’t see it.
In the Old Testament every piece in the temple was anointed with oil, representing a shadow of the coming living temple of the body of Christ that was to establish His presence, His kingdom, His rule and His authority on this earth. The word church is anti-King and therefore anti-kingdom and anti-anointing or anti-Christ. What is anti-kingdom is anti-Christ.
The establishment of the kingdom of God and first love originally took priority over everything: “But seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33, NKJV
The first words from the mouth of John the immerser and Jesus was “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” It was the message and life of the early called out assembly of believers as they met in intimate fellowship from house to house. It was key to their lives as believers and it was demonstrated by the importance they put on it. The last words of a person often holds significance, Jesus’ last words before He left His disciples was found in Acts 1:3, “To these he [Jesus] also showed himself alive after he suffered, by many proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking about God's Kingdom.”
It was also the last words concerning Paul in the book Acts: “Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who were coming to him, preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ[its King] with all boldness, without hindrance.” Acts 28:30-31,
The Last words mentioned by Jesus before He went to the cross was in His prayer to the Father that we should be one as He and the Father are one. Unity is at the very heart, essence and nature of the kingdom of God… there cannot be a divided kingdom of God like there cannot be a divided God. Could we conceive a division within the tri-unity of God, and then tell me how we can see division within the body of Christ? Biblically this is heresy. What deceives us is that we think God will sustain this system because of the majority.
Matthew 13:40-42, “Therefore as the tares [that were sown in the ground of the kingdom] are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age[when God brings forth “this gospel of the kingdom” and shakes everything that can be shaken]. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather OUT of His kingdom all things that offend [Him], and those who practice lawlessness[against His rule and authority], and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Could one even imagine thousands of divided churches in heaven, with pastors in charge over each group? There are no churches that are going to heaven, no divided churches in heaven and no pastors drawing disciples after themselves. There are no Baptists, Presbyterians, no Calvary Chapel, or any such names given by men…we must see that this is against Christ and His kingdom or we are going to be the five foolish moral virgins with good religious morals and no anointing ending in hell.
“Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does THE WILL of my father IN HEAVEN. [Sounds like the Lord’s prayer.] Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness [they did not obey Jesus who is the King of His kingdom]!'” Matthew 7:21-23, NKJV
We do a lot of things in His name, but that is not good enough; we must obey His word and establish His kingdom on this earth in obedience to His word. To the assembly at Sardis, Jesus said to them, “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1, NKJV
“And THIS gospel of the kingdom [the one Jesus preached and not the one we are preaching] will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14, NKJV
As the atheist say, “We don’t have to fight the church, they are doing an excellent job of killing each other.” That is our witness to the world, no wonder we are called hypocrites and are losing our young people to the world.
Luke 12:32-34, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give to the poor; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
We won’t get many sermons on that verse. Kingdom love is a sacrificial and compassionate love for one another within the body of Christ. We are to use our finance to support one another, not to provide a building that has no eternal value and for monies for a pastor that has no biblical justification. The church today is robbing God of His desire to minister to the poor and needy by using the tithes to support a building. Those early believers lived out of a sacrificial love for one another and supported one another. All the money went to those in need.
“They continued steadfastly in the apostles' instructions and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” Acts 2:42-45. Dare anyone call this heresy?
Paul’s plea to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20 is clear and worth noting, yet most are willingly blinded to his mandate to Christ’s kingdom:
“Now, behold, I know that you all, among whom I went about preaching the Kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am clean from the blood of all men, for I didn’t shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you[elders of the city of Ephesus, not pastors of divided churches] overseers, to shepherd [personally care for] the assembly [not church] of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood[Jesus’ blood is in the establishment of the kingdom of God and we treat it like a business]. For I KNOW that after my departure, vicious wolves [teachers, pastors, elders] will enter in among you, not sparing the flock[not holding to its unity]. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking PERVERSE THINGS[Greek diastrepho dia= through and strepho = to twist or spin. Using the words of Jesus with a twist and spin to entice the flock to follow them and their ministries], to draw away the disciples after themselves[that is a definition of the church]. Therefore WATCH, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears.”
Need anyone say more? Everything he has warned us about and wept about has today become common practice.
“Do you not know that you[every believer in Christ] are the temple of God [built on Jesus the rock[? If anyone [pastor or leader especially] defiles [scatters, destroys divides] the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, NKJV
The whole context of 1 Corinthians 3 deals with division and building on Jesus as the foundation. The unity of the body seems to be a real theme for Paul and division has been a real threat to the body of Christ. Yet few see it and are unwilling to do anything about it…whose side are we on? For years the church has gotten away unchallenged, but now millions are rising up challenging its existence. We have lost most of our young people because they see no relevance in the church …we were meant to be a family under God our Father, not an institution.
Matthew 12:30, “He who is not with me IS AGAINST ME, and he who doesn’t gather with me [in unity, one kingdom under Jesus], SCATTERS [divides His flock].”
Matthew 12:25, “EVERY kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city [the early assemblies were one originally in each city] or house divided against itself will not stand.” NKJV
The kingdom, the city and the house all make one in Christ and function as one.
Romans 16:17-19, “I urge [beg, exhort,] you, brothers, mark those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to [against] the teaching you have learned [from Jesus and Paul]. Keep away from them. For such people[pastors mostly] are not serving our Lord Christ[found in John 17 and the establishment of His kingdom], but their own appetites. By SMOOTH TALK and flattery [fine speech, eloquent words to make you feel good] they deceive the minds of the people [people who don’t know God’s words… innocent and unsuspecting].”
We too quickly forget that division is iniquity; treason to Jesus’ kingdom and those who practice such will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. That should put every pastor on alert. I know many are sincere, but they are sincerely deceived. Today believers support those who cause division and we go to their churches in defiance of the Kingdom of God. This speaks of the overwhelming blindness we have today. We have no comprehension of what division does to the kingdom of God…we just shut our eyes to it.
1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I beg you, brothers, through the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be NO divisions among you, but that you be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” WEB
Both Jesus and Paul wept and warned us over division, something we have now accepted as normal. Many are now speaking out against the message and messengers of division and the church. What does “no division among you mean”?
Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, DIVISIONS, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice SUCH THINGS WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” WEB
Those who cause division will not inherit the kingdom of God. Today every pastor maintains their division and they are not under Jesus authority establishing His united kingdom in every city. How could Jesus be recognized as our Lord while we reject His word, His kingdom and His rule over His whole body? God is now bring forth light because He is about to bring in His kingdom for these last days.
Jude 18-19, “In the last time there will be mockers [false teachers], walking after their own ungodly lusts [desires not from God]. These are they who CAUSE DIVISIONS[among us], and are sensual [carnal and walk as natural men in the flesh], not having the Spirit.” Who causes division among us>the church!
1 John 2:18-19, “Little children, these are the end times, and as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists [antichrist = false anointed ones leading us out from under Jesus and His disciples] have arisen. By this we know that it is the final hour [because of the falling away]. They [the false anointed ones] went out from us [as Paul warned], but they didn’t belong to us[not having the same anointing producing the same kingdom]; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us [under one King]. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us.” WEB
John 17:11-21, “Sanctify them [make them holy] in your truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through THEIR WORD, that they may all be one[division is rebellion to this word]; EVEN AS[having the same nature] you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us [why does Jesus want us to be one? Here is the answer:]; that the world may believe that you sent me.” WEB
“For where envying and strife [division] is, there is confusion and every evil work.” James 3:16, KJV
Which will it be the kingdom of God or the church?