Sunday, September 22, 2013

Answering David Cloud on the Church, pt. 2

Part One

As you read through the New Testament, you read phrases like the following.

Acts 8:1:  "the church which was at Jerusalem"
1 Corinthians 1:2:  "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth"
Galatians 1:2:  "unto the churches of Galatia"
1 Thessalonians 2:14:  "the churches of God which in Judaea"
2 Corinthians 8:1:  "the churches of Macedonia"
Revelation 1:4:  "to the seven churches which are in Asia"
Colossians 4:15:  "the church which is in his house"

Those all fit into what we know ekklesia, the word translated "church" in the King James Version, to mean, that is, assembly.  Assemblies are in particular locations.  An assembly is always local.  Then you read the New Testament, and you can see that churches are local.  You would have no reason to think that church is anything but an assembly in a particular location, in a town, like "at Jerusalem," "at Corinth," "in Judea," or even "in his house."  Nowhere does the Bible define the church as otherwise.

David Cloud, however, says "there is more to Christ's church than the assemblies."  He says that he has "examined [1 Corinthians 12:13] repeatedly, and the only thing [he] can see [t]here is a Spirit baptism and a spiritual body."  His first actual argument is that Paul uses "we," including himself with the church at Corinth, so he must be part of the same body as the church at Corinth.  There are a lot of arguments against 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaking of Spirit baptism, but as an argument for Spirit baptism, his "we" argument doesn't hold up.

First, I agree that Paul is including himself with the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12:13 when he says "we."   Paul was baptized into one body, just like the Corinthians were.  The point of "one," however, was not one in number.  "One" is being used as one in unity.  1 Corinthians 12 is about the unity of a church, using the analogy of a body.  It is a common usage of Paul.  He says, "one mind," "one mouth," and "one spirit," and uses those, not to say that there is only one in number, but that they are one in unity.  Does anyone think that when Paul writes that a church has "one mind" that is he saying that they have one in number?  Cloud calls this verbal gymnastics, but it's actually just syntax.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:16-17:

 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.  But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

Here is a similar usage of "one body."   A man is joined with a harlot.  Are these two now numerically one body?  Of course not.  They are one body in unity during the time they are physically joined, yes, but not one in number.  Two physically unified people are now one.  And then the Lord is one Spirit.  The saved person is one spirit.  But they are unified into "one spirit" through salvation.  They are still two in number, but one in unity.  The verbal gymnastics are on the side of Cloud.  They have to be, because scripture doesn't teach what he is saying.   To do so, the Bible would contradict itself in numbers of different ways.

Just because 1 Corinthians 12:13 says "one body," doesn't mean that there is numerically "one body" on earth.  If you are going to use that as some kind of grammatical rule, then consider 1 Timothy 3:12, my favorite example of this:

Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife.

Is anyone going to think that there is only one woman in the world who is married to all of the deacons in the entire world?  To be consistent with Cloud's logic, there would have to be.

Cloud is in trouble in 1 Corinthians 12:27 with "ye are the body of Christ," Paul excluding himself, especially after Cloud has himself stuck with his "we" understanding.  The way that he deals with this is by saying that "body" is used in two different ways in the same chapter, so that body means two different things there.  Cloud is saying that in the same chapter there is a universal, invisible body and then a local, visible body, and you know it simply by Paul's usage of pronouns:  "ye" means local and then "we" means universal, according to him.  Paul says "the body of Christ" -- "the body," not "a body."  He doesn't write, "Ye are a body of Christ."  That point seemed to be lost for Cloud.  It is tell-tale.  Anyway, I would wonder at what point Paul made the switch between the supposed "two meanings of body."  That would be some good information to know.  It's, of course not available information, because it does not exist.

The analogy of the "body" that Paul uses is local.  A person uses "body" as an analogy because he wants to communicate something local.  It's a body because it actually is in one place.  Bodies are in one place.  You don't have a foot in Kansas, an eye in New York, a hand in Oregon, and a knee in North Dakota.  You've got them all in one place by the very meaning of body.  If you want an idea that is non-local, you don't use body to get it.  God uses body as an analogy to show the unity of a church, it's oneness.  There is diversity in a body, many body parts, but a unity in that those body parts are all there together, attached, working together.

There are other issues for 1 Corinthians 12:13.  "Baptism" is only water everywhere in 1 Corinthians up to 1 Corinthians 12:13.   Even greater, 1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn't fulfill the model or prediction or prophecy for Spirit baptism in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33.  In every instance of the model for Spirit baptism, Jesus does the baptizing, already saved people are being baptized, and the Holy Spirit is the medium.  1 Corinthians 12:13 doesn't read that way, because it isn't Spirit baptism.   1 Corinthians 10:2 says, "And were all baptized into Moses."  Is that Spirit baptism?  Were all of the children of Israel placed into Moses at that moment spiritually?  Even if you are looking for Spirit baptism, you don't find it in 1 Corinthians 12:13.

I understand that universal church advocates "find" a universal church in 1 Corinthians 12:13.  I understand David Cloud believing that it is in there, because so many people have taught that.  He, however, did not come to that position from solely reading and studying the text.  He was influenced by universal church teaching to come to that position.

More to Come.


DLF said...

Thank you Kent for your continued teaching in this area of Local vs. Universal. I would have to say I don't disagree with anything you have said in this series. But it really doesn't matter if I agree. What matters is the Bible says. We have heard Bible teachers and preachers glibbly use "church" as universal for so many years that it is hard not to think of it that way and I'm talking about published and well-known preachers. You have to read universal into these passages to make it say universal, but upon careful examination, it's just not there. I too, have appreciated the ministry of Cloud over the years but I believe he's got this one wrong.

D. Flaming

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Bro. Flaming.

Anonymous said...

Again, excellent article.
Jim Camp

The Preacher said...

Those all fit into what we know ekklesia, the word translated "church" in the King James Version, to mean, that is, assembly. Assemblies are in particular locations. An assembly is always local. Then you read the New Testament, and you can see that churches are local. You would have no reason to think that church is anything but an assembly in a particular location, in a town, like "at Jerusalem," "at Corinth," "in Judea," or even "in his house." Nowhere does the Bible define the church as otherwise.

You would have no reason to think that the church are not those members in particular of his one body (corporately) that meet locally, "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee" (Hebrews 2:12).

What church would that be?

KJB1611 said...

Dear George,

Hebrews 2:12 refers to the pre-Pentecost church in Jerusalem.

Mt 26:30* And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

Great article.

The Preacher said...

KJB1611 wrote:

"Hebrews 2:12 refers to the pre-Pentecost church in Jerusalem."

It does? The book was written to the Hebrews, more than likely by Paul between 62-65AD which would have had all the Jews scattered, except the apostles (Acts 8:1) which were left in Jerusalem.

Therefore, the church of the Hebrews would have included all those saved Jews scattered among the Gentiles THROUGHOUT the world, even this book of Hebrews bringing truth to the church of future tribulation Jews.

Once again, the church where Hebrews assemble is shown as a corporate entity, even when individual Jews meet in local assemblies throughout the world.

KJB1611 said...

Dear George,

Hebrews 2:12 is quoting Psalm 22:22. Psalm 22:22 did not happen in the mid-60s A. D., and neither is Hebrews 2:12. Neither passage is talking about some allegedly worldwide church of Hebrews. I simply do not have time right now to go through Hebrews 2 in context, but what you are saying simply is not what the context is about.

Of course, if one is part of a denomination that believes in hierarchicalism, as if I'm not mistaken, you are, it will be very hard to accept the truth on the meaning of the word church. Only those who believe in congregational church government and reject Presbyterian hierarchy and Episcopalian hierarchy are likely to receive the truth on what the word "church" means.

From the page of your religious denomination:

"Our’s is a New Testament Presbyterian form of church over sight, with Bishops and Elders ordained to territorial bishopricks (Acts 1:20) throughout North America, Europe and Africa, for which we make no apologies to those religious standard bearers of other denominations."

( Grammar errors reproduced from the original.)

By the way, your religious organization also has very serious error on the holy Trinity:

We believe that Jesus Christ is God the Father (John 10:30) manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), and that Jesus Christ was and is the bodily manifestation of God Almighty. (

Jesus Christ is not God the Father. That is idolatry.

The following statement about the Holy Spirit is just bizarre:

2.05 As a ghost is the spirit of a dead man (Luke 24:37/ Matthew 14:26), we believe that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Jesus Christ which He gave up on Calvary when He died for our sins (John 19:30/ Matthew 27:50/ Mark 15:37/ Luke 23:46), and as the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:2-8) is the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9/ Philippians 1:19). These Three being One God, each exists eternally as God, and as the manifestations of themselves in One as distinguished from the Other. God is a spirit, and that spirit is the Holy Spirit, who was the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) of Jesus Christ, who Himself was the bodily manifestation of God the Father with the Holy Spirit breathing within Him as the very Life of God. Though the Eternal God cannot die, God the Father sent His Son into the world to do just that, yielding up the ghost when He had finished His Father’s work; upon which the Holy Ghost of God became the working manifestation of God the Father in baptizing believers into the very body of God, Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 Corinthians 12:11-14/ Acts 1:5). (

The comparison of the Holy Ghost of God to the human spirit of a dead man is totally unscriptural and is idolatrous. Other serious errors are also found.

George, if you believe the articles of faith of your religious organization, you hold to very serious false doctrine about God. Please visit:

and receive instruction about who God is.

Thanks for the comment.

The Preacher said...

KJB1611 wrote:

"By the way, your religious organization also has very serious error on the holy Trinity:

We believe that Jesus Christ is God the Father (John 10:30) manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), and that Jesus Christ was and is the bodily manifestation of God Almighty. ("

There is absolutely no problem with the doctrinal statement above and that the Godhead is a trinity, for in the beginning of our Articles of Faith you have the following statement:

"God the Father having drawn[1] us unto His Son Jesus Christ".

Therefore, saying that Jesus Christ is God the Father "manifest in the flesh" only clarifies that he is the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the Father "manifest in the flesh" by the Holy Ghost! All three different aspects of the Godhead are manifest as one. Your pre-defined misconceptions or your lack of understanding does not allow you to call it idolatry, for this is just plain ludicrous.

KJV1611 wrote:

"The comparison of the Holy Ghost of God to the human spirit of a dead man is totally unscriptural and is idolatrous. Other serious errors are also found."

Your lack of misunderstanding of the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of God that puts saved, born again believers into his body what it does. Calling this also idolatry is plain ludicrous.

And you are correct about receiving instruction about the church, for Paul was ordain by a presbytery of elders (Acts 13:1-5) which he himself was part of a presbytery that ordained Timothy as a bishop (1 Timothy 4:14).

So, what seems to be the problem with a presbytery since it is biblical? Who ordains those in your church to do the work of God?

Anonymous said...

George - I have to admit, you seem to be straining quite a bit to try to force Hebrews 2:12 to support some sort of universal, world-wide "church."

It doesn't.

Hebrews 2:12 is another example of synecdoche - it is referring to "church" as a representative entity that can apply to all local churches, wherever and whenever they are, in line with the promise that wherever two or three are gathered together, He is there with them (which also necessarily demands a local church interpretation). Nothing about it suggests a worldwide "church." Besides, how would it even be possible for someone to sing priase in the midst of some worldwide body of people who have not been and never will be gathered together until the general assembly and church of the firstborn *in heaven*? Your argument doesn't even make logical sense, much less biblical sense.

Anonymous said...

"We believe that Jesus Christ is God the Father (John 10:30) manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), and that Jesus Christ was and is the bodily manifestation of God Almighty."

Actually, George, as this is formulated, this is a modalistic understanding of the Godhead, which is not biblical trinitarianism. You can loudly affirm all you want that it biblical, but it is not. Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, not God *the Father* in human flesh. All three Persons of the Godhead have existed as separate Persons of God from eternity past. Jesus Christ is not a manifestation of the Father. He is a separate Person from the Father, always has been, and always will be. Either you don't believe in the Trinity as the Bible describes it, or else you have a suboptimal understanding of the terms like "manifested" that you are throwing around.

John 10:30 affirms that both the Father and the Son are God - they are both Persons of the ONE God. It does not, however, say that they are one Person, which is obviously contradicted by other portions of Scripture.

I Timothy 3:16 says that "God" was manifest in the flesh (unless you use one of the monopoly money bibles, in which case it says "he") - it does NOT say that *God the Father* was manifest in the flesh. Your effort to slip that in is not scriptural, nor is it honest.

If you truly believe the statements of faith you presented, then you are a heretic on the doctrine of the Trinity.

KJB1611 said...

Dear George,

A presbytery is simply a group of pastors. There is nothing hierarchical at all in the word.

Far more importantly, Jesus Christ is God the Son manifest in the flesh, not God the Father manifest in the flesh. You can be wrong on church government and still get to heaven, but if you really think Jesus Christ is God the Father in a body, not God the Son in a body, you are an idolater, and idolaters shall be in the lake of fire forever.

I sincerely hope, George, that you really reject the doctrinal statement you claim to believe. If you do not, examine yourself whether you are in the faith, because only he that has the Son has life, and the Son of God is not God the Father

The Preacher said...

Whoever you are "KJB1611", and stand on your stupid statement of calling me unsaved because I believe that 'I and the Father are ONE" has as its understanding that Jesus Christ was BEGOTTEN of the FATHER is the typical "gnat strainer" who thinks he has the corner on the Godhead. I also believe that GOD was manifest in the flesh. I will allow you to believe your understanding and still call you a brother.

So just stop your, because if I am not saved, than all of you including me will find themselves in the Lake of FIRE. I am absolutely persuaded about my salvation therefore calling me out on it "on a technicality" is just plain nonsense.

You only prove that your "church", much like a Baptist Brider, think they have a corner on the truth and therefore call someone unsaved because they do not have the same understanding of the Godhead. This is typical of the Ephesian church in Revelation 2 that lost its first love.

I know I have the Spirit of God and therefore, KJB1611-

"A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren" is an abomination to the Lord".

And to show your inconsistencies, you continue to try to answer disagreements of the church when you do not believe I am part of any church?

The Preacher said...


"A presbytery is simply a group of pastors. There is nothing hierarchical at all in the word."

The "presbytery" can be found in Acts 13:1-5 and that has nothing to do with any pastors. You just made that up out of thin air, for presbytery are elder men that have the power to ordain and govern.

The Preacher said...

A clarification:

An elder in light of the most elder in the church who he himself has been ordained in that position as an elder.

KJB1611 said...

Dear George,

When I said a presbytery is a group of pastors, I meant a group of pastors in a single church, not any group of pastors.

Concerning what is far more important:

When something as serious as who the true God is is at stake, we ought not to misrepresent the issue. You are not unsaved if you believe that the Father and Christ are one. You are unsaved if you believe Jesus is God the Father.

George, the Son of God is eternally begotten by God the Father. The Son of God has had his goings forth from the Father from of old, from everlasting, Micah 5:2. The Son being eternally begotten is specifically what distinguishes him from the Father, who eternally begets him.

You may call whether the Father is the Son straining at a gnat if you wish, but when you stand before the Triune God, and you recognize that idolaters will be in the lake of fire, it will not be very funny, and you won't call the true knowledge of the true God "stupid." Only those that know the true God have eternal life, John 17:3.

No, George, whether the doctrine of the Trinity that Christians have believed from the first century until today is true or false is not a "technicality." It is everlasting life or everlasting damnation.

As for who I am, my testimony of conversion is here:

Some of my background is here:

I also post on also also this blog every Friday, Lord willing.

George, please receive instruction on the true doctrine of God here:

This will glorify God and be to your eternal benefit.

KJB1611 said...

Please pardon the typo "also also" above.