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Editorial March/April, 2013

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Editorial, March/April, 2013; Charles A. Pledge

This issue is on the theme of The Kingdom of God and
Godliness. Godliness is the state of being godly. Godly is an
adverb describing the manner of being. Godliness, the state of
being godly, then is primarily about manner; disposition; spirit.
That is what we must consider in this issue, and especially in
the issue of life.
The primary problem of mankind is the heart problem. The
heart given over to worldliness is the heart which its owner
knows not, Jeremiah 17:5-10. He who trusts in the material; the
physical; the here and now does not understand the deepest
thoughts and feelings of his own heart. Yet these are the people
who are usually relied upon to rule over God’s people. God’s
people have always loved to have it so. It is only fitting that this
issue deal with God’s kingdom and godliness.
The disposition of the heart shall determine the final outcome of
life. It is the disposition which bends the thoughts of the mind
into their mold and creates habits and patterns of life which are
followed to their extreme ends. The ends are the final results of
applications of the thoughts which rule and remain easily
accessible to our memory. We shall in this editorial deal both
with specifics and principles in general.
Many among us are awakening to the fact that all is not well. I
am reading of “Church of Christ Books,” “Church of Christ
Articles,” “Church of Christ” this and other. I made a remark on
Facebook in February that we have “churched” ourselves to
death. It takes a wrongheaded mentality to emphasize the
“Church” over godliness, righteousness, and many other matters
of salvation. We rarely hear the word Christian used to identify
God’s people. What we are hearing more and more at funerals
and in other settings is that “He/she was a member of the
Church of Christ,” as if that explains everything.
-1- Editorial Gospel Standard, March/April, 2013, Charles Pledge, Editor
Christian is the only proper noun name God has given to his
children in this age. A new name was prophesied to be given by
God, Isaiah 56:4-8; Isaiah 62:1-2. In Acts 11:26 the disciples
were called Christians first at Antioch. The word called is from
a compound word used to describe a divine calling, or a call, or
word from God. Nothing remotely similar to this may be said
concerning “Church.”
The reality of this matter is that pagans used the word church to
identify their houses or building in which their gods were
worshiped. This is why the Greek word for temples is translated
in the KJV as “churches” in Acts nineteen. The KJV translators
no doubt were smarting under the injunction laid upon them to
not tamper with the word “church,” and showed a bit of
upmanship in scholarship and did what they were told not to do
under the banner of this is the way it is supposed to be.
But what has this to do with the kingdom and godliness. In the
first place, the word church demands a concept of control. By
control we do not speak of leadership, but rather dictatorship, or
lording it over. The use of “Church” also demands a tolerance
of sin. After all, church revolves around a physical plant;
buildings. With a building someone must have the authority to
speak and be obeyed. The eldership in Scripture is not about
authority, but leadership. The passages in Hebrews thirteen
often quoted as grounds of authority are passages referring to
the apostles. Context demands apostles in those passages and
one must strain to get elders there. Elders must lead by example
and teaching, showing and convincing others what Christianity
is all about. Their godly lives are to assure others of their
sincerity, and their ability in teaching Scripture shows them to
be sincere in both word and deed, thus generating the kind of
following good pastors exercise.
Godliness must be an obvious part of life in order for
Christianity to work. Those principles which we call Beatitudes
-2- Editorial Gospel Standard, March/April, 2013, Charles Pledge, Editor
in Matthew chapter five are principles by which God exercises
his goodness and grace. These principles permeate his character
so they are obvious in his actions. The same must be true of his
children, Matthew 5:44-48. It is just here that people balk and
scream legalism and Phariseeism at those who attempt to teach
and practice it. It is at this point that modern elders will tell
their preacher that if you make it too strong, then we will have a
mass exodus of members. I was told by three elders of a
congregation (not where I preached) in Michigan several years
ago, that if they tried to practice what I preached they would not
have two members left. I told them knew their song leader, an
elderly, godly man, and his equally godly wife, and thought
they might be two who remained. They failed to appreciate my
When social drinking, gambling, crooked business standards,
fornication and more, are openly practiced by members, and the
rest tolerate it, that is corruption. When it not only is tolerated,
but also encouraged, then that is deep corruption. The latter is
the general picture in religion today and such is admitted by
honest people who know the lives of others. Yet, such is
tolerated without as much as a whimper of open protest.
Corruption is rampant. Godliness is disappearing.
I have been told by elders (again, not where I was preaching)
that there is nothing they can do about it, yet they can withdraw
from a God fearing man or woman who protests the toleration
of evil in their midst, and they call that rebellion against the
eldership. I call it rebellion against the toleration of sin. But,
again we have differences of opinions. Mine has no weight of
authority in the eyes of worldly people.
Now that we have your attention, we wish to emphasize that
this issue is about the difference between the kingdom of God
and godliness and the modern church as it is known in this
century. The church as known and practiced today is not the
-3- Editorial Gospel Standard, March/April, 2013, Charles Pledge, Editor
kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the rule of God in the
heart. The modern church is not the rule of the heart, only the
control of many of the activities of life. The fundamental
difference between kingdom and church is that “Church” is not,
nor ever can be the rule of God in the heart, while that is the
definition of the kingdom of God. This might raise the
eyebrows of “Traditionalists” who depend upon the teaching of
man for guidance, but among those who rely upon a study of
Scripture to learn God’s will, we shall see nods of approval.
The end result is obvious: the total outcome of life. The end
result of application of Scripture is seen in 1 Timothy 1:5,
“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure
heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” That
translates into godliness abounding in the life of that one. The
opposite end of the spectrum is “Church life.” This is the life of
toleration of sin and making excuses for failures to try to please
God rather than self.
We do not wish to “kick a dead horse too hard lest the
corruption splatter on us.” However, it seems that a majority of
preachers have refused to see why so many in the world have
rejected the modern church. Rather than understand the
fundamental principles of triviality and corruption as rampant,
heads are stuck into the sands of ignorance and false
accusations flung at those who have rejected what God rejects.
There will be a payday someday and those who have sowed the
wind shall reap the whirlwind of judgment. Then, there is that
final judgment awaiting all who disobey God. Then, those who
have today closed their minds to all except what they have been
told by men shall wish they had listened to the Scripture, and to
those faithful to it.
We prefer to be spurned by those who consent with sin and the
sinners and accepted by God, than to enjoy widespread
popularity with men and rejection by God. In the case to be
examined in this issue, we believe the reader can easily identify
-4- Editorial Gospel Standard, March/April, 2013, Charles Pledge, Editor
with this conclusion. We commend the next article of brother
Melvin Elliott to you.
-5- Editorial Gospel Standard, March/April, 2013, Charles Pledge, Editor

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Church or Kingdom Rule?

Do We Desire Church Religion or the Rule of God’s
Melvin Elliott

We begin this article by making it clear that it has always been the
purpose of God to establish his rule in the hearts of men and that his rule
will stand. Further, refusing to live by it brings disaster. Space forces us
to trace these facts with a few verses but we challenge you to read the
many verses to this end. We read, Deuteronomy 8:2: “And thou shalt
remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years
in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was
in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.”
Proverbs 19:21; “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless
the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”
Some of the kings of Judah refused to follow God’s word given through
the prophets but God’s counsel always stood and his promises came to
pass. This is brought into focus during the reign of Zedekiah in II
Chronicles 36:12; “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the
Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet
speaking from the mouth of the Lord.” Jeremiah spoke God’s words but
Zedekiah refused to follow God’s counsel; his rule given through the
prophet. According to Jeremiah 18:1-12; the people also refused to
follow God’s rule and were guilty of sin. As they refused to follow
God’s word, they were not his kingdom in heart and so ceased to be his
God speaks to us through his apostles and gives us assurance that they
speak his word. He does this in that he required at least two witnesses to
the truthfulness of any proposition. Deuteronomy 19:15; “One witness
shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin
-1- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three
witnesses, shall the matter be established.” Jesus applied this rule in the
New Testament. In Matthew 18:19-20; “Again I say unto you, That if
two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask,
it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two
or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of
them.” For most of my life, I have heard this explained that if only two
or three gathered for worship, God would be with them. Although that
may be true, it is a total misapplication of these passages. This passage
discusses truth, authority, rule and how we can know whether it is from
God or not. This was spoken in reference to the apostles that the unity
of their teaching would confirm it is God’s rule. Verse 18 teaches that
when two or three apostles are agreed, that it is proof of heavens rule.
Paul said; “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him
acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments
of the Lord.” (I Corinthians 14:37) Neither you nor I, nor any other
person/s have anything to do with the origination of truth. That is God’s
exclusive role and we must submit to it.
Without this understanding we miss the main point. Jesus was in the
midst or middle of the apostles, showing his approval that they were
speaking his words. He confirms this in Matthew 19:28; “And Jesus said
unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in
the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,
ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Thrones are seats of authority and judging can be either to approve or
condemn. This is explained in John 20:23; “Whose soever sins ye remit,
they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are
-2- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
How did they remit or retain the sins of the people? It is clear in the
scriptures that it was dependant on how people responded to the rule of
God that they preached. In Acts 13:46; “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed
bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have
been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves
unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Their sins were
retained because they put (literally to thrust or push away) the sayings
of God from them. It was their action that put God’s rule or God’s
kingdom out of their life. This is in the middle voice showing it was
their rebellious actions toward the word of God. Luke said they
“…[J]udge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life…” Yourselves is a
reflexive pronoun showing that the subject acts upon or for itself
referring the action of the verb upon self. Thus their own actions of
refusing to receive God’s word, judged them unworthy of everlasting
life, putting themselves outside the benefits of the kingdom of God.
This is further confirmed by the opposite actions of the Gentiles. In Acts
13:48; “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified
the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life
believed.” So the Gentiles on the contrary rejoiced that they were
privileged to hear the word of God. Further, they glorified, honored and
praised, the word of God, i.e., they accepted the words of Paul to be the
word of God and in so doing they honored God. As the word ordained
has gathered a lot of religious baggage that it did not have in 1611, we
must look at its original usage. The term is used of military positions.
The original word meant: “To put in order, arrange, make ready,
prepare.” Also, “To arrange in rows or ranks, or other regular order; esp.
to draw up in order of battle; to set in array; to array, marshal, order.
Obs.” “To set in proper order or position; to arrange; to keep in due
order; to regulate, govern, direct, manage, conduct. Obs.” (Oxford
-3- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
English Dictionary) Obsolete means this was the old or original meaning
of the word at the time the King James was translated. The same word
is translated “addicted” in the King James translation and “set
themselves” in the American Standard Version of 1901.
It is interesting to note that Berry’s literal translation of the Greek reads
thusly: “And hearing [it] the Gentiles rejoiced, and glorified the word of
the Lord, and believed as many as were appointed to life eternal.” So the
Gentiles by believing the word of the Lord honored and glorified God
in that they addicted themselves to it and thereby set themselves in order
to be governed by the word of God. So they set themselves in step with
the rule of God. God has appointed all who do so to eternal life. Calvin’s
Unconditional Election, God’s arbitrary for unknown reasons, choosing
some to be saved and passing over others, is not in this verse or in any
verse. What is in Scripture is that man chooses his own fate by how he
receives the word of God. It is the revealed will of God, the rule of God
that has the ability to lead men in a righteous and an acceptable life to
the glory of God the Father.
We have established that man must accept, believe and yield in heart to
the word of God, the rule of the kingdom in order to serve God and to
be acceptable to him. We will sum the matter with a few passages of
Scripture. Romans 1:16-17; “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the
righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The
just shall live by faith.” Paul affirmed that it is the gospel that has the
power to save. Another is I Thessalonians 2:13; “For this cause also
thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of
God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as
-4- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that
On the opposite, for those who refuse the rule of God, are these
statements of Paul. In Romans 1:18; “For the wrath of God is revealed
from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who
hold the truth in unrighteousness;” Also, in II Thessalonians 1:6-12;
“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to
them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when
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; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be
admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was
believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our
God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good
pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him,
according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We have shown a number of things. I) The kingdom of God is the royal
rule of God in the hearts of men. 2) It is not a physical or worldly entity
but the rule of God over the spirit of man. 3) So, for one to have the
blessings of God they must yield from the heart to his rules and live in
harmony with them. 4) By yielding from the heart to the rule of God, the
mold of doctrine, Romans 6:17-18, we are forgiven of sin and become
a servant of righteousness. 5) The above passages also show that citizens
of the kingdom are called by the gospel, the rule of God and by
submission thereto are forgiven of sins and transferred into the kingdom.
-5- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
(Colossians 1:13-14) 6) These passages also prove the characteristics or
nature of the kingdom is spiritual. This is confirmed by the fact that we
must welcome the word and submit to all of God’s rules from a heart
that will hear his word. 7) All the scriptures related to submission to
God, our warfare against evil, the work we are to do, the calling and the
benefits of it prove it to be spiritual in nature. In approximately nineteen
different scriptures, it is stated that it is in this way that God calls us to
turn from the allurements of the world or flesh, yield to his rule and so
become his servants the fruit of which results in everlasting life.
Now we must show the difference in being ruled by God or man’s
teaching in modern religion. It matters not by what religious names they
call themselves, we have shown by holy scriptures that all men must
desire to know and to submit to the rule of God in order to be called into
his kingdom. By modern church religion we mean those church
organizations that make up what they will teach and practice. They do
this by making rules not found in the Scripture and ignore some that are
there. For example, in the last few years, some have debated whether
they will allow homosexuals to preach or be recognized as acceptable
members. While it may be more informal with others who ignore the sin
and say nothing about it, all such refuse to follow the rule of God:
specifically, Romans 1:24-28; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21
and Colossians 3:5-6. Also, a number of other sins are included in these
passages that are, with rare exceptions, practiced by some in all churches
regardless by what name they call themselves. In all of these situations,
this shows those who call themselves believers have not yielded in heart
to the rule of God. To please men, they will make and/or neglect the rule
of God. Such are obviously not servants of God.
Apparently, by their irresponsible neglect, they think they have the right
to exempt themselves and others from the will of God. Note these
-6- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
passages which show what happens when we fail to comply with all God
requires or refrain from what he forbids. Galatians 1:8-9; “I marvel that
ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ
unto another gospel: (heteros, another of a different kind) Which is not
another; (Allos, another of the same kind) but there be some that trouble
you, and would pervert (transform into something of the opposite
character) the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven,
preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto
you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any
man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let
him be accursed.” This specifically shows when one alters God’s word
in any way that it transforms the gospel into something of a different
character. Further, the curse of heaven rests upon all who do so. Now,
we call special attention to verse 10, “For do I now persuade men, or
God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not
be the servant of Christ.” This is a statement of fact and it clearly shows
whom we serve.
Everyone must answer this question, “For do I now persuade men, or
God? or do I seek to please men? It cannot be evaded. All answer it by
their teaching and actions. Whether you follow God or man, it shows
who you desire to please. Since a person does what he wants to do, his
teaching and actions reveals the intent, the purpose or design of his
heart. Note this passage, Hebrews 4:12; “For the word of God is quick,
and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to
the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and
is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Paul declares the
word of God is a discerner of what the heart is thinking and intends to
do. The word discern means: “To separate (things, or one thing from
another) as distinct; to distinguish and divide.” (OED) How then does
-7- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
the word discern, judge the thoughts and intents of the heart?
It is very simple. Jesus said in Luke 12:8; “Also I say unto you,
Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also
confess before the angels of God:” But what did some do? In John 9:22;
“These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the
Jews had agreed already, that if any man confessed that he was Christ,
he should be put out of the synagogue.” Jesus commanded that we
confess him and the Jews forbad it. Now we will see how the command
of Jesus to confess him discerned the intents of the heart. In John 12:42-
43; “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but
because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be
put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the
praise of God.” Therefore, their refusing to confess revealed that in heart
they desired the praise of men rather than the approval and praise of
We need to look closely at the word confess. It literally means to speak
the same thing, to assent or agree with. The word is further defined by
how it is used in the context. So it conveys the idea of confessing
allegiance to Jesus as ones Master and Lord and that we are his loyal
followers. Therefore, to confess Jesus as Lord includes more than simply
mouthing the words that one believes that Jesus is the Christ. Those who
say they believe in Jesus but refuses to be a loyal follower of his word
are hypocrites of the first order. They say they believe in Jesus but as
they refuse to accept his word and rebel against it, so their confession is
Jesus uses the practice of the Scribes and Pharisees as a perfect example
-8- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
to prove this point. In Matthew 15:6-9; “…Thus have ye made the
commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites,
well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto
me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is
far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men.” God had said, “For God commanded, saying,
Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let
him die the death.” (Matthew 15:4) This is God’s command but what did
the Scribes and Pharisees teach and practice? “But ye say, Whosoever
shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou
mightest be profited by me; honour not his father or his mother, he shall
be free…” (Matthew 15:5) So what was the result? “Thus have ye made
the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” To
knowingly and deliberately go beyond or fail to measure up to God’s
rule is transgression of his law and that is sin. They nullified the law of
God by their tradition. With what result: their worship was vain,
therefore, it was folly and useless. May I call your attention to the fact
that although caring for parents is not a command dealing directly with
worship, their disregarding of it non-the less made their worship
What is the difference in principle of this case and the situation of
today? In Galatians 5:19-21; “Now the works of the flesh are manifest,
which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of
the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they
which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” These
things are all works of the flesh and those who practice such will not
inherit the Kingdom of God. Further, In Ephesians. 5:3-7; “But
-9- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once
named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish
talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of
thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor
covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom
of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for
because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of
disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.”
Yet, today, men in modern church religions, those claiming to be
followers of God, openly and routinely practice such and others
fellowship them. In this way, they become a co-participant with them.
It is not uncommon for so-called followers of Jesus to even defend those
who practice such wickedness. By their teaching and actions, they also
make these commandments of God of none effect and in many cases
array themselves in defiance of them. Does it not follow that their
worship is also vain, folly and useless? What is the difference in
principle between these modern church religionists and those Jews in
Jerusalem? The words and deeds of both prove they refuse to follow the
rule of Jesus preferring their own rules or those of other men. What does
it matter by what religious name they call themselves, their teaching and
actions negate the commands of God? How does their church name give
them the right to suspend, set aside or make useless the rules of king
Jesus? In all such cases, they show that they are as rebellious as those
Jews in Antioch who pushed the word of God from them. They are also
one with those who negated God’s commands in Matthew 15. They all
make themselves hypocrites when they say they believe Jesus is the
To knowingly and deliberately go beyond or fail to measure up to God’s
-10- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013
rule is transgression of his law and that is sin. Thus the ones described
above by Jesus and all who follow and participate with them are sinners
and not part of God’s kingdom. They may be acceptable in man’s
modern churches but they are no part of the kingdom of God. Therefore,
as the characteristics of God’s kingdom and modern churches, regardless
by what name they designate themselves, are opposites in nature, they
have rejected the rule of God and are no part of his kingdom.
2731 President Lane, Kokomo, IN 46902
-11- Church or Kingdom, Melvin Elliott, Gospel Standard, article Jan. 2013

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Blessed Are the Poor In Spirit

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