It seems that few people understand what the kingdom of Jesus Christ is. It is his church. It is his body, it is himself. It is a body of people who have obeyed the principles...commands...laid out for one to become a subject of that church, or kingdom. But it has no name. It is referred to in a number of ways, but none of them are a name. People need to be able to recognize and determine the difference in a name of someone or something and that of a simple description of what it is. All religious denominations have given themselves a proper name. They had to do this in order to be identified one from another. But, you see, there is but one kingdom of Jesus Christ. So there is no need for a formal proper name. The many times it is mentioned in the scriptures, it simply identifies what it is, the church of Christ. The kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God, the church of God, etc. If, after reading this article, you fully understand the difference in a formal name and a descriptive term, this article will be successful.
Jesus first mentioned the church in Matthew chapter 16, read the following and notice that he mentions no name or what he would call it, but also notice that he referred to it as his church and then also as the kingdom on heaven. Same thing, all in lower case letters.
"When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-20 KJV)
And it is continually referred to in this manner, by Jesus, by his apostles and any others who mentioned it. We have a good example of this very type of situation in our solar system. Of all the bodies in our system, only the sun and moon are called by what they are, not by a name. All the other celestial bodies have been named. The reason for that is there are a number of planets and the only
way to identify them is to name them. To simply say, the earth's planet would not distinguish between the huge number of them. So, to simply say that the Lord's church, is sufficient. or to call it the church of Christ, is sufficient. The body of Christ is sufficient, so is 'the kingdom', 'the church', 'the church of the firstborn', and on and on.
I've had people ask me what denomination I belong to and they want to fight me when I say, "I belong to no denomination. I am only a Christian in the Lord's church. I have never joined any religious denomination." They invariably try to tell me that I do indeed belong to one. I do not.
The Lord's church is described precisely in the New Testament as to the requirements for Jesus to add you to it, the mode of worship, the Christian life and all we need to know concerning life and Godliness. Now notice, the word 'Christian' is a proper name and the Bible advises us of that. And notice that it is always capitalized.
"And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." (Acts 11:26 KJV)
"Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." (1 Peter 4:16 KJV)
And bear in mind that this was their name, yet they were called by many descriptive terms also, such as sheep, disciples, members, soldiers, saints, priests and so on.
There are other factors which must be taken into consideration. for instance, location. When the church is referred to as a whole, universal, it is simply referred to as the church. If it is only intended for a specific congregation, it is identified in that manner. "The church at Laodicea, the church at Corinth or, notice this quote:
"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:' (Philippians 1:1KJV)
Notice in this scripture location, as all others, the proper names always begin with an uppercase letter while the others are always lower case. Care needs to be taken to differentiate the local from the universal church. The above quote is concerned only with the church at Philippi, whereas when the term "the church", alone is specified, it includes all those within the body of Christ currently as well as those who have passed on. His church will never cease, even after the judgment, those who are in his kingdom, will remain in that condition forever.
Now, again let us understand that all denominational groups have to have proper names in order to keep separated from all the other groups. And it also indicates that there are differences in them and simply the Lord's church. Otherwise, they need no other name, no other head, no other discipline, no creed, or any of the other things which make them different.
The Lord's church was established on the first Pentecost following his death, burial and resurrection, when the comforter (the Holy Spirit) which Jesus had promised his apostles would come upon them. It did come and enter into them all, giving them miraculous powers and full knowledge of Jesus' teachings. It would also guide them into all truths. Read John chapter 16 concerning this promise to the apostles.
At that time there were no Christian denominations. The vast divisions began when the the church leaders began to inject their own thoughts and ideas into the operation of the church which resulted in the great apostasy. Yet the Lord's church in its purity, continued to survive, even after it was forced to meet and worship in secrecy. It continues to exist today and will survive forever.