THE HOUSE OF GOD
A STUDY OF THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CHRISTIAN, AND A NON-CHRISTIAN: BELIEF OF THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD
“For the time is come that judgement must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God? And if the Righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17,18).
At first glance these Scriptures may not appear to be saying all that much, particularly to the casual, or non-observant Bible reader. It’s one of those Bible passages which many people do not seem to spend a lot of time with. Even those who do studiously read the Scriptures on a daily basis, tend to focus on the last part of the passage, verse 18, overlooking the significance of what is actually being said in the first part, verse 17. It’s usually one of those passages that escapes the full attention of many, apart from the righteous being scarcely saved, and how bad things will be for the ungodly on Judgement Day, etc. Many view the word Gospel as an ambiguous term, so people tend to be more occupied with what they perceive to be the overriding issue in these two verses, the Judgement of the ungodly. However, whilst the judgement of the ungodly is not a matter which should be diminished in any way, these Scriptures not only refer to the judgement of the ungodly, they actually provide the reader with information as to exactly who the ungodly are, and that which qualifies a person as godly. What verse 17 reveals is rather confronting when one looks deeper into the significance of its words, for what these two Scriptures present is no less than an insight into the purpose of election, and the inextricable connection between the essentiality of believing the Gospel—a completely unambiguous term—and salvation. These verses reveal the conclusive and irrevocable evidence that only Gospel believers are Righteous in God’s eyes, that it is only they who are of the House of God. The passage before us also clearly and distinctly identifies those who are ungodly, unrighteous, sinners as those who do not believe the Gospel of God, and that consequently no such person can be of the House of God.
Along with its secular sibling, the religious world is one which tends to base much of its beliefs on opinion, feelings and experiences. Subjectivity rules much of religion. Whilst there are various fundamentals of religion that are non-negotiable, religion for the most part is something which many see as a very personal thing, where each individual has their own opinions and beliefs which are considered sacrosanct. Couple this with family tradition and experiences which are seen by many as validation of their religious convictions, and you have a very powerful and influential force which gives people identity, and even purpose to their lives. The growing attitude is ‘God is who you believe He is, and the way to salvation is what you think it is’. Religion is very much a hodgepodge of man-made traditions, half-truths—which are perhaps the most deceptive of lies—experiences, superstitions and a very limited sprinkling of the Word of God. Religion, far from being a reflection of what true Christianity consists, is the very antithesis of it. Many religious leaders are quite reticent when it comes to the finer details of what their beliefs entail, preferring to focus only on those doctrines which they know will be received and welcomed by the majority. Few people on the ‘Christian’ side of religion ever spend any real quality time with what they believe. They do not seriously challenge their beliefs by weighing them up alongside certain Scriptures they prefer to avoid, or are less than familiar with, and which their negligible, misshapen theology has no answer for. They’d much rather simply go along with other willingly numbed minds that simply follow convention, and the status quo. People just do not like disruption to the regularity of their lives, and for the religious, who are quite content with what they believe, etc., unfamiliar truth is just way too inconvenient. For many, religion is used in an advantageous way to mix socially with others who are of the same mind. Religion is also used as a convenient medium through which many people place God in a box, and whom they only briefly let out on Sundays. The reality is that there are relatively few people who are so serious about the things of God, that they are willing to believe the Truth of God no matter how ‘disruptive’ the consequences may be. To believe the truth, and let the chips fall where they may, poses too great a threat to most people’s comfortable lives. So few there are who believe the only Gospel of God by which He saves, who care not as to the consequences of how others will react, or what they will say.
Most people do not like to talk about saved and lost, of salvation and damnation. Most do not like to talk, or even think, about things they are uncomfortable with, which makes them feel a little uneasy, and gives them cause to squirm in their seats. Issues concerning which many have varying, and quite emotive, personal opinions on, are generally things people do not wish to discuss. People simply do not like to talk about, or even contemplate that which they feel threatens them in any way, which might cause them to reflect upon, or even challenge, the way they think, and why. In whatever sphere it may be, most people only feel comfortable within the small worlds they have created for themselves within the significantly larger world around them. People grab bits of information, and form beliefs and lifestyles they believe will help preserve and protect them throughout their lives. Most feel a sense of security and safety within their worlds, their reality, and only step outside their comfort zones, made up of things with which they are familiar, when they have to. The boundaries between what is familiar, and that which is just plain wrong, continue to be blurred at a rapid pace. Familiarity, far from being limited to that which often breeds contempt, can also be the breeding ground, a hot house, if you will, for the increased growth, and evolution of error, which eventually becomes tradition, and for many, truth itself. As they happily cut themselves off from realities they prefer to ignore, most do not realise they are shutting themselves away from the reality they need, the reality that will never go away. For the religiously minded, these falsely perceived safety and security measures which they have implemented are often based on unreasonable assumptions, illogical understanding, and private interpretation of the Scriptures, which lead to irrational views on God, and salvation. Sincerity and longevity of belief is generally mistaken as undeniable dual indicators that what a person is believing in is true. People love that which is near and dear to them, and everything which does not fit, that does not conform to what they believe and know, and sometimes only what they want to believe and know, even that which is truth, is usually ignored, denied, or dismissed as something unacceptable, and, therefore, that which could never be received by them as truth. To maintain a sense of ‘order’ in one’s life, and in one’s beliefs, many opt for a head-in-the-sand approach, or a head-in-the-clouds attitude toward the reality of God rather than an attitude of study and discovery, an openness to whatever the truth may be, and a fearless willingness to accept reality come what may. The reality is, truth never goes away. It is said that ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’, however, this statement would more accurately be presented as ‘REALITY is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’. The truth is always there whether a person chooses to look at it, or even consider it in their minds. The reality of truth is inescapable, and eventually, our lives and beliefs will be judged on whether we were conformed to the truth of God, or not.
There is nothing ambiguous in the two verses we have before us. They are quite clear in what they are saying, and the language employed is quite definitive and unmistakable. The fact that there are few who believe, or who are willing to even hear, the Gospel of God, is no reflection on the clarity of the Gospel, or of the truth which it proclaims, but is a sad, yet nevertheless, true witness of the spiritual blindness of the masses. Notice at the beginning of 1 Peter 4:17, the apostle writes, “…judgement must begin at the House of God…” The apostle then immediately provides us with a clear insight into who the people are that actually make up the House of God, by writing “…and if it first begin at us…” The us spoken of here is a clear reference to all those who make up the House of God among whose number the apostle includes himself. To find out precisely who these people are we need to go back to the first chapter of Peter’s first Letter, and the opening two verses, in order to discover whom Peter was writing to. The apostle Peter addressed both his Letters only to believers, the ones he describes in his first Letter as "...the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia, ELECT according to the foreknowledge of God the Father..." (1 Pet. 1:1,2); and in his second Letter, Peter describes those who are of the House of God, as “…them that have obtained like precious Faith with us through the Righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:1 cf. Rom. 1:12). There is no controversy, no room for opinion, or debate, here, concerning who the apostle is writing to. The Scriptures themselves establish the undeniable fact that Peter is writing to Christians, and in light of this we may safely, and Scripturally, conclude that it is exclusively Christians who are the ones that make up the House of God: “…judgement must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us…” After Peter speaks of judgement beginning at the House of God, he then immediately follows it up with a direct reference to those who make up the House of God by writing if judgement “first begin at us”. Thus all those to whom Peter has addressed his Letters are revealed as Christians, the only ones who belong to the House of God. They are the saved, elect people of God.
The remainder of verse 17 clearly reveals that the key qualifier for being part of the House of God, the identifying principle, is obedience to the Gospel of God. The apostle continues his discourse in a quite matter-of-fact way. Peter expresses a godly truth in verse 17 with a language that he knew would be readily understandable to his readers. “…judgement must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?” Here we see two separate and distinct groups, referred to as: us and them. The us are of the House of God, made up of those who obey the Gospel of God, and the them are those that obey not God’s Gospel. Peter here juxtaposes the elect of God, with the non-elect of the world; those who obey the Gospel of God, with those who do not obey the Gospel of God. Those with whom judgement begins, who are of the House of God, are quite distinct from those who are without the House of God, in that those who are within the House of God obey the Gospel of God. Such ones are clearly distinguishable, and completely separated, from those who do not obey the Gospel of God. No other people are included in the House of God, but those who are the elect of God. The one tangible and readily perceptible feature of all these people, as Peter describes them in our two verses, is their belief of the glorious Gospel of God’s grace. The latter group demonstrate by their unbelief of God’s Gospel that they are not elect, and, therefore, not part of the House of God. Unbelief is shown to be the single most overruling, recognizable principle in all those that are lost. Those who are of the House of God are the ones who have been given an understanding so that they would know God, and believe His Gospel. Those who obey not the Gospel of God are deceived by the god of this world, Satan, into disbelieving it. This quintessential, distinguishing feature currently present in every lost person, is the only thing Peter utilizes in demonstrating the difference between those who are of the House of God, later described as the righteous, and those who are not of the House of God, later referred to as the ungodly. Peter was asking, ‘What shall the end be of those who are not of the House of God, of those who are not part of us because they do not obey the Gospel of God?’ What shall the end be of those who do not obey the only Gospel which is God’s only power unto salvation, but who either believe in no gospel at all, or who obey other gospels by which none can be saved, thereby, denying the only Gospel which does save? Whether a person believes in a false gospel, or no gospel at all, to obey not is to disobey. Those who are of the House of God are unmistakably described as the ones who obey the Gospel of God. Those who do not obey God’s Gospel are not of the House of God. They are not Christians.
The contextual implications concerning both groups are quite obvious and absolutely irrefutable. The phrase, obey not, in 1 Peter 4:17 means ‘to be disobedient’, or ‘to disbelieve’. To disbelieve, or obey not, the Gospel of God is to reject the true God and His Son Jesus Christ. It is to reject the only legitimate, Scriptural way to salvation. To disbelieve God’s Gospel is to dismiss as inadequate, or unacceptable, the only true God, and His truth about how a man is saved. To disbelieve, or disobey, is to distrust, thus calling that which is truth a lie. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the Witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son” (1 Jn. 5:10). One cannot properly be called obedient unless one has obeyed perfectly. To obey is to respect, comply, and conform. The word obedience means to do exactly that which you have been told to do: no more and no less (see Matt. 21:28-31; 1 Sam. 15). To obey is to carry out instructions, or to comply with demands. If I have only done part of what I was told to do I have not been obedient, but disobedient, regardless of how obedient I believe myself to have been. To obey the Gospel is to believe the whole Gospel of God, not part of it, not most of it, but ALL of it. There is a vast array of false gospels that promote a jesus, and a god, but none of them present and promote the true God, or the true Jesus, for they do not teach the doctrines which are founded upon the grace of God that rightly describe and define the Truth about Who God is, and what He has done in the salvation of His people. No other gospel, but God’s true Gospel, presents God’s perfect plan for the salvation of His people from their sins through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul referred to this great Gospel, which every member of God’s House obeys, as “…the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth….for therein is the Righteousness of God revealed…” (Rom. 1:16,17). The apostle Paul wrote of the Jews who were “…ignorant of God’s Righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness…” (Rom. 10:3 cf. Rom. 10:1). Paul prayed for the salvation of such people for they did not believe in the only Gospel which reveals the Righteousness of God, which the apostle termed “the power of God unto salvation” (see Rom. 1:16). God’s Gospel alone is where you will find the doctrine of Christ’s Righteousness alone as that which is the only ground of a man’s salvation. Every other so-called gospel is a reflection of the impotent power of man which cannot save any, for all false gospels reveal only the righteousness of man. Ignorance of the Righteousness of God, is ignorance of the Gospel of God, and the fact it must be believed for anyone to rightly claim salvation.
Clearly, the disobedient ones of 1 Peter 4:17, 18 are those who do not believe the Gospel of God. These stand in opposition to those who do believe the Gospel of God, who are all part of the House of God. By their disobedience, they also stand in opposition to the very Gospel of God that saves. Those who do not obey the Gospel of God, but have faith in another, are abiding in a false reality. Their trust is in fiction rather than fact. Notice that nothing is said in the two verses we have before us, of the character and conduct of these people. Some of the ungodly may well be the nicest, kindest people you could ever want to meet. They may be highly religious, and extremely charitable, etc., but the overriding common denominator in all of them, be they nice, or evil, kind or mean, is the fact that they do not obey the Gospel of the grace God; they do not believe, or trust, in the Righteousness of Christ as the only ground of salvation, for they hold to gospels which do not reveal this most vital of truths, the very key to salvation itself. The only distinguishable feature here spoken of by the apostle Peter of the inhabitants of God’s House is their belief of, or obedience to, the Gospel of God. This shows that believing the Gospel of God is not some optional thing in a Christian’s life, therefore, there can be no Christian life without saving faith in the only Gospel God has ever authored. It also shows that the Gospel of God is not something which is ambiguous, or open to the interpretation of men, but is the very Word of God. It also demonstrates that the Gospel of God is a very definite and definable entity. The Gospel is the absolute truth, it is God’s own Testimony of Who He is, and of how He saves, and is what must be believed if any are to be saved. Disbelief of God’s Gospel is a denial of God and His way to salvation, it is to call God a liar. Unbelief reveals an evil heart toward God. Original sin could not have done without it, and it is the sin that keeps all people, religious or secular, from the true God. The Gospel of God is as tangible as any Bible, and God’s people are commanded to, and do, preach it to every creature. “…preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15,16 cf. Jn. 3:15,36). If the Gospel must be preached, then obviously there can be no rational argument made against the absolute necessity, and certainty, of its being known, understood and believed by all those who have been ordained to eternal life (see Acts 13:48). The Gospel of God cannot simultaneously, and legitimately, be one thing to one person, and mean something completely different to another. The Gospel of God is not dichotomous, nor is it what each individual believes it is. The Gospel of God is not something which is adaptable to what a man wants, or sees, it to be, but that which a man must accept, conform to and believe. The Gospel of God is one Gospel with one meaning, and that meaning is the one God alone has attached to it. All God’s people obey God’s ‘interpretation’ of His Gospel, and no other's, for they are given one faith to believe God’s one and only Gospel, His one and only Message. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in THE faith; prove your own selves...” (2 Cor. 13:5). To rightly examine is to have the true standard by which one can compare oneself to. Believing false doctrines reveals one is not in the Faith. To believe false doctrines is to disobey the Gospel of God. Only when one abides in the doctrines of Christ can one confidently say one does believe the Gospel of God, that one is of the Faith of God.
There can be no justification without true saving faith, and there can be no true saving faith without the correct and exclusive belief in the Gospel of God as the power of God unto salvation, the only way God saves. Believing the Gospel is an indispensable part of being a Christian, and is the very element used by Peter to define a true Christian. Belief of the Gospel is the key identifying characteristic, or hallmark, if you will, of every truly born again Christian. Every Christian is literally born from that Seed that is God’s Word: His Gospel. Belief in another gospel is conclusive evidence that one has not been born of God, that one has not been given the faith from God which believes only in the Gospel of God. The Gospel is that incorruptible seed which gives birth to believers, and those believers believe only in God’s Gospel as His only power unto salvation. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God….And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:23,25). The Christian is literally given birth to by the Gospel of God. (please see my book ‘Born of the Gospel’) No corruptible seed, a false gospel, can ever be that from which a Christian originates. No truly saved person ever started out their Christian life believing a false gospel, likewise, no true Christian ever ends up believing a false gospel. A true Christian believes God’s Gospel from start to finish, now and forever. Only the Word of God, the Gospel of God is that which produces real Christians. Peter does not speak of those that have no place in the House of God, in 1 Peter 4:17, as ‘them who do not love’, or ‘them who are not kind and forgiving’, or ‘them who live not holy lives’, but refers to “…them that obey not the Gospel of God.” Nor does the apostle define those who are of the House of God by their character or conduct, but by the telling factor found in all true Christians: their belief of the Word of the Truth of the Gospel of God. The apostle Paul speaks of “…the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the Truth of the Gospel” (Col. 1:5). The hope of Heaven, is to be found only in the Gospel of God. Peter refers to Christians by the first and foremost distinguishable feature of all God’s people: their belief of the Gospel of God. There can be no true Christian without the sanctifying work of the Spirit of God. Equally, there can be no true Christian without the gift of faith with which every saved person believes the only Gospel of God. The apostle Paul declared: “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit AND BELIEF of the truth: whereunto He called you by our GOSPEL, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13,14). There is no glory which awaits those who are not sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God, OR who do not believe the Gospel of God. Again, Peter does not ask, ‘What shall the end be of them who are not nice’, or ‘who are not loving’, or ‘who do not belong to our denomination’, or ‘who do not act as Christian as we do’. The primary difference between those who are the people of God, and those who are not the people of God, is their distinctive and singular belief in the Gospel of God.
Those who truly believe the Gospel of God believe there is no other gospel by which a man is saved. To genuinely believe a truth one must discount, or disbelieve, everything which does not conform to that truth. 1 + 1 = 2 is an absolute truth. To properly lay claim to believing 2 is the only correct answer, one must discount the possibility that any other number is, or could also, be the correct answer. To properly know and believe a truth, is to know and believe nothing else is the truth. Gospel believers believe only in God’s Gospel. They do not believe that anyone was, or can be, in a saved state whilst even considering any gospel which is not God’s unique Gospel as having the power to save. There is only one God that saves, and, therefore, there can only be one Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation. Those who believe the Gospel are of the House of God, and those who do not obey the Gospel are not part of the House of God, but of the house of the (spiritually) dead. This is not to say that those who are not part of God’s Household are all irreligious, vile, amoral and wicked people. It does not even mean that some of them at least do not believe they are Christians, as those mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23. What verse 17 of 1 Peter 4 does mean, what it does demonstrate with the utmost clarity and certainty, is that all those who are of the House of God all believe God’s one and unique Gospel, and no other, for belief in any other gospel is judged as disobedience toward God’s Gospel. The true Christian’s exclusive belief in God’s Gospel being His only power unto salvation, is an obvious dismissal of any notion that anyone is, was, or ever can be, saved who believes in any other gospel. To not believe this is to not be a Christian. Those who do not truly believe the Gospel, as God has borne record of in His Holy Word, and as the Holy Spirit of truth teaches and reveals to all God’s chosen, are not of God’s House, and are, therefore, lost. Those who, for whatever reason, do not know, cannot understand, and, therefore, have not the God-given faith to believe the Gospel of God, to the exclusion of all others, are lost. “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3,4). The chief component in the spiritual makeup of the lost is that they either do not believe the Gospel of God, or in the exclusivity of its power to save. They believe that other gospels are, or also have, the power to save. Whether such people choose to call themselves Christian, or not, these are the ungodly and unrighteous upon whom the Lord will, on the appointed day, take vengeance upon. The following Scripture underscores the gravity of the situation: “…the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the Presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9 cf. Jn. 3:19; Rom. 1:18; Rom. 2:8,9; Rom. 3:5,6; 1 Cor. 8:3; Heb. 5:9). It is made abundantly clear from these Scriptures that disbelieving, disobeying the Gospel of God is a life and death issue which carries with it “eternal consequences of the most profound magnitude”. It is incumbent upon every person who is concerned with their eternal future to make sure they believe the Gospel of God, and that they have not embraced, nor look favorably upon, any false gospel. The same eternal fire reserved for those of Sodom and Gomorrah who gave themselves over “…to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jd. 1:7), is also prepared for those who do not believe the Gospel of God. Notice, also that the following list which reveals the types of people who shall be thrown into the Lake of fire, includes, as second from the top, those who are unbelievers. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8 cf. Rev. 22:15; 1 Cor. 6:9). Reference is made here “…not merely to atheists, who do not believe there is a God, or deists only, that do not believe in Christ; but such who profess His name, and are called by it, and yet do not truly believe in Him, nor embrace His Gospel and the truths of it, but believe a lie; these are condemned already, and on them the wrath of God abides, and they will be damned at last…” “…he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18). A person can be the sweetest, most altruistic, and religious person around, but if they do not believe the Gospel of God, they cannot be Christians, they are not saved. All is vanity without the truth of God. “Obedience without faith is of no avail.” No matter how much one tries to fill one’s life with good deeds, and a religious overlay, etc., a silent, but ever-present and dark emptiness remains, if one does not believe in the Gospel of God. “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 1:14).
Clearly, the House of God referred to in the fourth chapter of Peter’s first Letter is the Church of God. There are some who believe it to be a reference to the Temple at Jerusalem, but when seen in the light which context so eloquently provides we find that the description given of those who are part of the House of God is clearly referring to those who believe the Gospel. In addition, when compared with many other Scriptures we shall forthwith provide the reader, we are left with no alternative, but to conclude that the House of God is composed of the body of believers, Christians, who all hold to the Gospel of God, and no other. Earlier in his Letter, the apostle Peter in reference to his fellow believers, wrote “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house…” (1 Pet. 2:5 cf. Eph. 2:19-22). We see from this verse that God’s House is not a material building, but a spiritual one. God has no temple on this earth, other than the body of believers He has chosen to obey His Gospel. Addressing the Church of God at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote “…ye are the temple of God, and…the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (1 Cor. 3:16). “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building” (1 Cor. 3:9). “…ye are the temple of the Living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Cor. 6:16 cf. Eph. 2:19-22). Interestingly, this verse comes from a passage which contextually refers to believers not being unequally yoked with unbelievers (see 2 Cor. 6:14-18). The House of God is a spiritual House which is built with the lively stones that are comprised only of Gospel believers. Those who follow the true Jesus revealed only in God’s Gospel “…believe He is precious…” (1 Pet. 2:7), but those who are disobedient, reject Him. This does not mean that some, even most, do not follow one whom they call jesus, or whom they call god, who is in reality an imposter, but that they do not believe in the true Jesus of the only Gospel of the only true God.
Those who are appointed to disobedience (see 1 Pet. 2:7,8) are not of the spiritual House of God. They believe in a false gospel and a counterfeit god, or in no god at all. The lively stones which make up the House of God are “…a chosen generation…” (1 Pet. 2:9), chosen by God to believe His Gospel, and no other. The apostle Paul in his Letter to the saints at Ephesus refers to the Church of God as the “…Household of God” (Eph. 2:19), “…and which is sometimes called ‘the Household of Faith’ (Gal. 6:10), the Church of God consisting of believers, the family in heaven and in earth named of Christ (see Eph. 3:14,15); in which family, or household, God is the Father, Christ is the firstborn, ministers are stewards; and here are saints of various growth and size, some fathers, some young men, some children: and to this family all believers belong, whether Gentiles or Jews; and which they come into, not by birth, nor by merit, but by adopting grace; and happy are they that belong to this city and House! they are freed from all servitude and bondage; they can never be arrested, or come into condemnation; they have liberty of access to God, and share in the fulness of grace in Christ; they are well taken care of; they are richly clothed, and have plenty of provisions; and will never be turned out, and are heirs of a never fading inheritance.” The Scriptures describe the family of God as: “… the temple of the Living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people….And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:16,18).
The Church of God is not filled with the brotherhood of man, but is made up of all those whom God has called out of the world to be the Brotherhood of Christ. God’s elect are called by the Gospel, separated unto the Gospel to be believers of God’s Gospel, and no other. Only those who abide in the Doctrine of Christ evidence the fact that they are God’s called out ones, who make up the Brotherhood of Christ, God’s special people. God’s chosen people. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the Doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the Doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9). He who does not abide in the Gospel of God has not the God of the Gospel. He that abides in God’s Gospel has the God of the Gospel abiding in him. The word church is mentioned 77 times in the New Testament in 76 verses. The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia, made up of ek, meaning 'out of', and klesis, meaning 'a calling'. Significantly, a house is made up of family. The Church of Christ is made up of all those people whom God has called out of the world to be His children, His people, His family. Christ said "...I have chosen you out of the world..." (Jn. 15:19 cf. 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Jn. 4:5,6; Jn. 17:14; Deut. 7:6-8). The people whom God has called out of the world, are called out of darkness and ignorance concerning Who God is, what God has done and for whom He has done it. They have all been translated into the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of God, “Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet (qualified us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:12,13). “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). In other words these called out ones are all given an understanding, and, by grace, they are also granted the faith to believe God’s only Gospel. They have been made alive by the grace of God, by which is given the faith from God so that they will believe only in the Gospel of the grace of God which alone saves. The one binding force which holds these people to God is His love for them: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” (1 Jn. 4:10). “As an union commenced in nature, is the fountain and spring of all the issues and communications of love, so an union completed in love between God and His people, is the foundation and basis of all the communication, both of grace and glory. What is the bond of union between God and His people? Truth, His love, which was unchangeably fixed upon His people in Christ, before the foundation of the world (see Eph. 1:3), from which union proceed all the blessings that ever were, or that will ever be communicated to the Church…Either God’s love to His people is the bond of their union, or their love to Him. Not their love to Him, because that is the fruit and effect of His love to them, and flows from union. We love Him because He first loved us.” The principal element of these people being part of the House of God is their common belief, or “like precious faith” (2 Pet. 1:1), in the Gospel of God, and no other. The apostle Paul refers to it as “…mutual faith…” (Rom. 1:12) and in his Letter to Titus as “…common faith…” (Titus 1:4). Salvation begins with belief of the Gospel, for the Christian is, and can only be, born of the Seed that is the Gospel of God: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God….And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:23,25 cf. 1 Cor. 15:50). A Christian can never be born from an incorruptible seed, a false gospel. Jesus says of His disciples “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn. 17:16). Those who are of the world do not believe God’s Gospel, but only the world’s gospels (see Jn. 8:23,24). The world loves its own, and those who are of the world love the world. Only those who have been called out of the world by God believe exclusively in His Gospel of salvation.
The House of God is the Church of God. The only House which is constructed exclusively with Gospel believers. God’s House is the only house where there cannot be found even one person who disbelieves the Gospel of God. Many denominations go by the name of ‘The Church of God’, but the only Church which God recognizes as His Church is the one which is made up of His people who only believe His Gospel. “The Church may be compared to a sheepfold, because it is separated from the world: it is where the people of God, and sheep of Christ are gathered together; where there is a strict union between them” (see Jn. 10). Christ and His people are bonded together by the fact that Christ is the Author of, and His people are the believers in, the Gospel of grace. Christ and His people form a compound. “The elements in any compound are always present in fixed ratios.” Christ is the eternal Author, and His people are the eternal believers. This union is energized by the grace of God evidenced by God’s chosen all believing one Gospel, the Gospel of the grace of God. Christ said that His people are not of the world as He is not of the world. The apostle John concurs in his writing to fellow believers, “Ye are of God, little children….They are of the world….We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 Jn. 4:4-6). Here we see the little children of God as distinct from those children of the world. The children of Grace, and the children of Wrath. The children of truth, and the children of error. Those who are of God have been given the gift of faith from God, not so they can believe the Gospel, but to ensure they will believe only the Gospel of God. The gift of faith which God gives to all His people does not require them to add anything to it in order to ensure their salvation which is only by grace through belief in the true God as He is revealed in His true Gospel. It is purely by grace through the gift of faith whereby one is saved. Without the gift of faith one cannot savingly believe the Gospel of God. The Gospel is God’s power unto salvation, and the gift of faith given by the grace of God is the power to believe it. These chosen ones are chosen unto salvation, to hear and recognise the Gospel of God as His only power unto salvation. Those who are not of God do not recognise the true Gospel as God’s Gospel, let alone the only Gospel that saves (see 1 Cor. 1:18). They have only the faith which is common to man, according to his sinful nature, and so believe only the gospels which are customary to sinful man, gospels which are indicative of the lost, and hopeless, state all men are in by nature. The apostle Paul testifies to the fact that the Spirit of Truth resides in all those who are God’s people. The Holy Spirit of God “…beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16). This statement of Paul’s comes immediately after writing of Christians being the sons of God, being led by the Spirit of God: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). The apostle John referring to God’s Holy Spirit, wrote “…the Spirit is truth” (1 Jn. 5:6). He who does not have, and is not led by, God’s Holy Spirit of truth into believing God’s only Gospel, cannot be among the children of God.