The Church is “A Clean Place”
Section #1: Introducing The Church as “A Clean Place”
Section #2: The Assembly
Section #3: The Congregation
In the Old Testament – how it was
“all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them” – Num. 16:3
The former quote was spoken by an apostate, but the words were true. Not in the application that Korah meant, I say, the words were true. Those who entered the congregation of Israel were partakers and beneficiaries of, “The Tabernacle of the Congregation” (Ex. 30:16). The congregants of Israel were religiously devoted to GOD who dwelt within the Tabernacle, thus the Tabernacle could rightly be called: “The Tabernacle of the Congregation”. Both it and the people who attended were, by necessity, separate from all other people on the earth. Speaking on this wise, the Lord said, “Speak unto ALL THE CONGREGATION of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be HOLY: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2).
The whole of scripture could be recited in context to confirm this congregational principle of separateness! Yet, my reader, let these few verses be sufficient for now. It was written six times in eight verses,
“He…shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” – Deut. 23:1
“A…shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD;” – Deut. 23:2
“…to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” – Deut. 23:2
“A…shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD;” – Deut. 23:3
“…to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:” – Deut. 23:3
“The…shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.” – Deut. 23:8
Such statements should not surprise us, my reader. The whole of scripture exists as a commentary on the matter. If the heart of God depicted in Deuteronomy 23:1-8 is still shrouded in mystery, my reader, Deuteronomy 23:9-14 will also be a mystery. Oh! How we NEED to understand the New Testament potential of the Old Testament command, “Up, SANCTIFY THE PEOPLE, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you” (Josh 7:13). On the same vein but only in a later generation, a weeping Priest of the Lord arose to decry the situation of national security in these words, “Now therefore, make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do His pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the Land, and from the strange wives…until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us” (Ezra 10:11-14)! Ezra said this after he had “prayed” and “confessed”, “weeping and casting himself down before the House of God” (Ezra 10:1). In this generation there was a nationwide revival of consciousness that the congregation of Israel was, more specifically, “the congregation of God” (Neh. 13:1-3)… thus there were ordinances to keep (Deut. 33:4-5, Num. 15:15)! Understanding this, the revivalists Joshua and Ezra arose to do judgment and reestablish Church Purity in the congregation of God, but the prophet Jeremiah, on the contrary (being born into a revival-less generation), lay prostrate in lamentation on behalf of Zion, saying, “The adversary hath spread out his hand upon her [Zion’s] pleasant things: for she [Zion] hath seen that the heathen entered into her Sanctuary, whom Thou [God] didst command that they should not enter into Thy congregation” (Lam. 1:10)! We must come to understand what Joshua, Ezra, and Jeremiah understood, what the Law commands: how that there is a population-wide criteria of holiness contained in ordinances for the entire congregation of Israelites (under-age children excluded).
“One ordinance…of the congregation” – Numbers 15:15
There is “one ordinance” for “the congregation” – a narrow criteria of conduct which could only be fulfilled by regenerated men (Num. 15:15). Like as the use of the word assembly, a congregation describes a gathering of various places for various purposes (religious, ceremonial, judgment, or war; see Num. 10:3, Ex. 12:27, Num. 25:6, Joel. 2:15, Ex. 19:7-8, Judges 20, 2 Chron. 30:5, 34:29, 1 Sam. 10:17, 2 Sam. 5:1-5, 1 Kings 12:20, 2 Kings 11:19, 21:24, 23:30), but all these places were in Israel. Because all congregations were in Israel, the word “congregation” was often used to describe the entire multitude, all of which were savingly converted (including converted strangers, see Ex. 12:19, Num. 9:14, Deut. 23:1-3, Num. 9:14, 15:15).
In times of apostasy, of course, these biblical ideals were not fulfilled. The people, as “Belial” (2 Cor. 6:15), became lawless and unholy. Because of this there arose a “congregation of evil doers” (Ps. 26:5) who were, more specifically, “the congregation of the dead” (Prov. 21:16). Contradicting these dead congregations was God’s-gathering, and it was called: “the congregation of the people” (Ps. 7:7), “the congregation of the righteous” (Ps. 1:5), “the congregation of the saints” (Ps. 89:5), “the congregation of saints” (Ps. 149:1), and speaking in terms possessive to God, “Thy congregation” (Ps. 68:10, 74:2) and “the congregation of Thy poor” (Ps. 74:19). “Thy congregation” specifically refers to “the poor”, the “purchased” of God, and God’s “inheritance” which is “redeemed” – “this Mount Zion, wherein Thou hast dwelt” (Ps. 68:10, 74:2, 19), the psalmist stated. From these verses there are specific persons which are categorically named and excluded from God’s congregation. They are “sinners”, “the wicked” “evil doers”, also called “the dead”. To expel them from God’s congregation, ministers must establish “judgment”, such judgment where “the ungodly shall not stand, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Ps. 1:5). Hallelujah!
King David, being born into an apostate generation, endured decades of tribulation at the hands of un-expelled sinners in the midst of an Impure Israel (Church Impurity). David did not dwell idly by and accept “the status-quo” Judaism of his apostate time, no! So much the rather, David confessed to God, “I have walked in Thy truth” (Ps. 26:3). By this, he meant,
“I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked. I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass Thine altar, O LORD: That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Thy wondrous works. LORD, I have loved the Habitation of Thy House, and the place where Thine honour dwelleth…My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD” – Psalm 26:4-8, 12
David separated himself from “the congregation of evil doers” which existed in his backslidden generation, and he did it out of love for “the Habitation of [God’s] House” – from whence came the Laws of holiness! David understood the difference between “the congregation of evil doers” (Ps. 26:5) and “the congregations” (Ps. 26:12) that he would assemble with. By sitting, going, and congregating with the congregations that are clean in God’s sight, David pursued a revival (“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth Thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Thy right hand shall save me.”-Ps.138:7), and upon seizing the throne of Israel he prepared his heart to cleanse and eradicate all sinners from the Land of Israel altogether (a reinstatement of Church Purity: see Psalm 101:1-8). This is the real “King and Country”, my reader… do you agree with it? “Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2)!
Wrongfully so, some distinguish between Israelite citizens and Israelite saints. They assume that one can still dwell among Israel as a nation, when the man is not part of “the Church” (i.e. engaged in religious activities, holy convocations, and ceremonies). My reader, this is impossible! Advocates of this assumption do ascribe to the belief that one can be “an Israelite” who is unconverted and once-born, and seeing they have presumed upon the presence of such men in Israel, they conclude that the Israelite rules of holiness and cleanness belong to state officers and political dignities instead of all Israelites. Supporters of such a thought cannot argue that the congregations, assemblies, and convocations of Israel were restricted by rules of holiness, therefore to force their view upon others they claim that these congregations, assemblies, and convocations were always made up of state officers and political dignities, not all Israelites. My reader, with all scripture considered, the commands for holiness were for all the people, not just the politicians (Lev. 20:22-27)! ALL the people in ALL the Land of Israel (cities, provinces, camps, and nationwide gatherings of the people), except in those places which were designated for uncleanness (which were, by interpretation, the places of the damned), were to remain holy and clean!
My reader, Israelite citizenship does not operate like our Gentile citizenship. The Israelite nation was not as Gentile nations (Deut. 14:2). There was an inseparable mingling of state and citizen affairs in Israel, namely because Israel was holy unto God! The Land itself was HOLY! This means that unlike any other nation, state and citizen affairs were not secular but religious. Matters of state were matters of religion! The branches of society and civilization in Israel (every congregation held anywhere with any vocation in all of Israel) were, more specifically, branches of Church Ministry. Yes! And the congregants therein were Church Ministers! Therefore in Israel, the government and its citizens, along with the soldiers of war (Deut. 23:9-14, 28:7), the ingathering harvesters of the farm (Ex. 23:16, 34:22, Deut. 28:4-6, 10-13), the marital compatibly of individuals (Neh. 13:1-3), and all things that appertain to financial and economic prosperity (Deut. 28:4-6, 10-13), or likewise, family relationships and fruitfulness (Deut. 28:4-6, 10-13)… all persons of every vocation, or, “the children of Israel” as a people, had to be separated from all other peoples (exempting lawful converts from strange peoples). This means, not this congregation here or that assembly there, this state officer here or this political dignity there… no my reader! “The children of Israel” as a people had to remain HOLY! If Israel as a people did mingle with uncleanness --- men would “DIE”! Religious rites were gospel messages preached by shadows, therefore Israel’s participation (inwardly and outwardly) was necessary for conversion and present progressive holiness (which is saving union with God’s Spirit), thus all Israelites were to be Israelites indeed (inwardly and outwardly), or in other words, all citizens were to be converted, twice-born, saints (Lev. 15:31; for more information see Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, & Chapter 9).
I would remind you yet again, my reader: Israel was bound by Laws which demanded all of Israel’s participation in religious ceremonies. Ceremonies could not be neglected by any of the population. They were not a matter of personal choice or leisure, as if it was a mere privilege. Ceremonial practices were not dependent upon civilian preferences, no! The religious ceremonies of Israel were a matter of life and death (Deut. 30:15-20)! Pause and think about that, my reader. Whosoever did not keep the Passover was not passed over (which means, the destroying angel of God’s wrath did not pass them by, but rather, pursued and fell upon them with the death sentence), for it is written: “that soul shall be cut off from Israel” (Ex. 12:15). The Day of Atonement was a wrath-absorbing escape for “all the people of the congregation” (Lev. 16:33), thus anyone who did not observe it was “cut off from among his people” (Lev. 23:29). The Sabbath was observed by all and neglected by none, for upon its neglect it was written, “whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Ex. 31:14). Circumcision, neglected by any man, “that soul shall be cut off from his people” (Gen. 17:14). Israel was a clean nation, a clean people, and when Unclean Laws were defied by individual Israelites (Lev. 15:31) or Levitical officers, the penalty was DEATH: “that soul shall be cut off from My Presence, I am the LORD” (Lev. 22:3). Any Israelite of any tribe, if they Defile the Tabernacle of God by their uncleanness they would die (Lev. 15:31). Either Israel was separated from their uncleanness or they were separated from their God, and if God did abide in their midst, He required the death of unclean persons, and if the nation did abide in uncleanness, the whole nation would be destroyed by a plethora of curses and heathen armies which God would raise up against them. Anyone excluded from Religious Services was cut off from among the people, the simplest example to reference being: Ceremonial Sacrifices (Num. 15:30-31, Heb. 10:28)! Some assume that those who were “cut off” from among God’s people were excommunicated rather than put to death (JFB), but this is not true! To be “cut off” from the people of Israel was, by God’s definition, the death penalty (Num. 4:18, Lev. 20:1-8, 18, 23:29, Ex. 31:14, see also the presumptuous sinners of Num. 15:30-31 in context with the Sabbath breaker in Num. 15:32-36, in comparison with Heb. 10:28; see also Chapter 5). Furthermore, unlike heathen nations, the punishments involving the death penalty were civilian affairs. Though our heathen nation, my reader, enforces the death penalty upon transgressors by political rather than civil powers, in Israel this was a civil matter. All the people were involved in and obligated to conduct the execution, rather than a mere state or national officer. Israel DID NOT operate like our heathen nation because in Israel… God is KING.
In the Consummation – how it will be
Speaking of the 1st Resurrection & 2nd Resurrection, it was written,
“But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.” – Isaiah 61:6 (1st Resurrection)
“And I will also take of them for Priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.” – Isaiah 66:21 (2nd Resurrection)
“And has made us unto our God Kings and Priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” – Rev. 5:10 (1st & 2nd Resurrection)
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the First Resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be Priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” – Rev. 20:6 (1st Resurrection)
At this climactic point of redemption, God fulfills what He always endeavored to accomplish; the age-old promises which were prolonged and breached time and time again. Give glory to God, my reader! The promises which saints of every generation reached after, will be performed! “I will perform that good thing which I have promised”, the LORD said (Jer. 33:14). Every congregation within Israel, and, every congregation of Israelites will be all-holy and all-saved men and women! They will be, as God said, “the Priests of the LORD”, “the Ministers of our God”, “Levites”, and “Kings” in the hour when the citizens of Israel become the conquerors of the world! This will be the final fulfillment of what was written of old, “And ye shall be unto Me a Kingdom of Priests, and an holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). Oh, this glorious calling! These glorious promises! This glorious consummation! The Lord will fulfill the prophetic mysteries which were spoken of old, saying,
“For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the Priests the Levites want a man before Me to offer burnt-offerings, and to kindle meat-offerings, and to do sacrifice continually. And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a Son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, My Ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.” – Jer. 33:17-22
The regenerated men throughout redemptive history will be resurrected into glorified bodies to rule the world! They will be, furthermore, “Priests”, “Levites”, and “Ministers” who “bring the sacrifice of praise into the House of the LORD” for all ETERNITY (Jer. 33:11)! This glorious consummation comes to birth at the 2nd Advent of Jesus Christ – a time at which redemption becomes more glorious in its manifestation for all the world to wonder at “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). God spoke of this day through the prophet Zechariah, saying,
“In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.” – Zech. 12:8
Know ye not that “we shall be changed”, my reader? So glorious is this change (1 Cor. 15:51-53) that the disinterested become devastated and the sin-obsessed become envious! The weakest Israelite will be AS DAVID and the whole congregation of God’s people will be AS GOD! This glorious defense (see Zech. 12:8) of God’s people will happen by a sudden change of their persons. It was foretold that, “when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2)… thus with the whole of God’s people changed they will march forth to accomplish the mystery foretold long ago, which said,
“Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.” – Psalm 149:5-9
In THIS WAY, my reader, the congregation of the God will be stablished before the Lord Jesus Christ in glory. It is written, “His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives” (Zech. 14:4)! What a day! Aye, “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:3)! In THIS WAY, God said, “their congregation shall be established before Me, and I will punish all that oppress them” (Jer. 30:20). Behold, my reader, the consummated congregation caught up in the air with the LORD, and, from thence, descending down to the earth for war, for conquering, till all the saints reign with Christ for a thousand years! “For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
In The New Testament – how it is
“I will declare thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” – Psalm 22:22
“For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto thee.” – Heb. 2:11-12
The uncreated I AM, the Almighty God, the highly exalted One prophesied in psalm 22: this God, who is the Pre-Incarnate Christ, He was, He is, and He is to come. This One Being is transcendent over time itself. Demonstrating this, He repeatedly declared the end from the beginning, and above most prophetic utterances, Psalm 22 is staggering. It contains the most profound and explicit scene of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, centuries before He died. David wrote as if he was looking upon the crucifixion scene with his own eyes! My reader, think of it! David lived hundreds of years before the Roman crucifix or Roman Empire even existed! And yet it is as if David was watching on in the very act of Christ crucified! David wrote a first-person utterance of Christ as He hung on the cross, the Lord Jesus, saying: “they shake the head”, “they gaped upon me with their mouths”, “all My bones are out of joint”, “they pierced My hands and My feet”, “they look and stare upon Me”, “they part My garments among them and cast lots upon My vesture” (see Psalm 22:7-8, 12-18). Amazing!
Throwing the Jews into holy perplexity, God Almighty who is Holy-Holy-Holy, who is utterly other than all of humanity… He calls humanity His fellow humans, yea… and He used the affectionate and friendly name, “My brethren”! What a glory! Here, my reader, in this psalm – Psalm 22 – the same psalm which depicted the death of the undying One --- thereby God made possible this impossible claim! Humanity IS His brethren, praise God! And this was accomplished by this awful and glorious crucifixion scene! Think of it, my reader. Think of the impossibility that the Second Person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ, spoke in reference to redeemed humanity as, “My brethren”!? The writer of Hebrews explained the wonder with infallible exactitude, saying, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of One, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them BRETHREN” (Heb. 2:9-11)! These “brethren” of Christ are those who are, as He said in psalm 22:22, “in the midst of the congregation”, and the word “congregation” is interpreted in Hebrews 2:12 as “the Church”! These brethren became brethren by a Divine sanctification, a spiritual union between God and man whereby they became “ONE” (Heb. 2:11). These beloved individuals are, as Christ said, “the children which God hath given Me” (Heb. 2:13). Therefore THESE individuals – and none else – are the persons in the congregation of the New Testament Church! But, my reader, are we turning it into a mingled congregation, a mixture, a person-to-person contradiction, a gathering of God’s and Satan’s children? Or are you in line with the scripture? By its rule and mandate it was written that, “the congregation”, is the children of God. Christ became the God-Man, thus it is not blasphemy for Him to look upon redeemed humanity and say, “My brethren”! Is it true for you, my reader, in your local congregation?
The NT assembly and congregation began in the same higher, unseen place (“heaven” –Heb12:23), a place for the persons of God’s Divine election. Therefore the local gathering is a supernaturally-knit fellowship which, in supernatural terms (1 Cor. 2:14), was required to be regulated (1 Jn. 1, 1 Cor. 1:8-9, 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1). Finally, because true saints were capable of falling into a spiritual condition which would result in their expulsion from the gathering, the sober mentality of the people gathered exhibits their awareness of this danger, thus they gathered together locally that they might help prevent one another from suffering Divine-expulsion – an expulsion which would first begin in the heavenlies by the Lord Himself, and thereafter in the local assembly (on earth “as in heaven”) – then the Lord would expel them through His God-ordained authorities in the Church [for more information see Chapter 3 & “The Earth & Heaven Interconnectedness of Courtroom Appeals and Legal Transactions” from “Answers to My Brethren, The Calvinists”].