In CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE, January 1989, there was an article under the above heading. Since the word "flock" above is in the singular, it sounds like God has only one flock, but apparently the writer does not believe this. Jesus Himself said: "...they shall become one flock with one Shepherd" (John 10:16). But our brother flies in the face of what Jesus said and tells his readers that:
"Today, each local congregation is a flock of God's sheep."
Dear brother or sister, do you believe that baseless assertion? I suspect that many of you might accept it without question because you have heard such taught before. Does the Lord have a First Baptist flock, a Reformed Presbyterian flock, an Emanuel Evangelical flock, and such like? Is each local church a separate, independent, autonomous flock of sheep, each with its own name?
Let's compare these two statements:
1) Jesus said: "one flock".
2) Our brother asserts: "each local congregation is a flock of God's sheep."
Now which one of these statements do you believe is the truth? They can't both be true. Does Jesus really have thousands of flocks or does He have only one flock as He claimed? Will you believe the Lord or accept the false teaching of man? It is hard to believe that anyone, especially a Christian, could so blatantly contradict Jesus Christ.
There is not a passage anywhere in the New Covenant Scriptures that says or even implies that Jesus has a multiplicity of flocks. Our brother is teaching as truth a doctrine originated and perpetuated by men who seek to justify their own "local congregation" creation.
Is each "local church" a separate, distinct, independent "flock" of the Lord's sheep? How many "flocks" does Jesus really have? Did Jesus tell the truth when He plainly said "they shall be one flock..."? Does Jesus really have thousands of little flocks? Who is telling the truth, Jesus or the writer of that article?
Of course, the writer is by no means the only preacher today making this claim of the many flocks of Jesus. Churches have been claiming such for more than a thousand years. The claim is that in each "church," there is a "flock" belonging to Jesus and that within the "church" as a whole, (the "universal flock") there are thousands of little flocks, each called "the local flock" or "the local church." Their claim is as true as the one our brother has made. It has gradually become a common assertion as pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers have tried to justify all the local church institutions; each one supposedly totally autonomous and independent, with its own name and identity.
Our dear brother even claims that:
"... The 'Chief Shepherd' has every right to expect the shepherds of local churches to reflect his love and care for the sheep."
Here he speaks again about "shepherds of local churches," not shepherds of sheep, unless he means that each local church is a sheep! NT Scripture nowhere says anything whatever about "shepherds of local churches"! In fact, it does not even say anything about "shepherds of the Lord's sheep"! Jesus Himself is the one and only Shepherd of His sheep! It is still as true today as when David wrote it: "The Lord is MY shepherd..." I have no other Shepherd and neither should you.
If you look to men or a man as your shepherd, you may as well choose the Pope of Rome, for he has as much right to be your shepherd as any Eldership, any Elder. or any other man. Keep in mind that shepherds control the sheep.
Of course, in the NT Scripture there is no such thing as a "local church" institution such as the local churches are today. It is as foreign to God's word as the position of the Pope of Rome! Why do "church leaders" come up with such unscriptural ideas? Such teaching has gradually developed in a desperate effort of men to force the Scriptures to justify their teaching and practice. The concept and practice comes first, then comes the desperate effort to prove it is right by an appeal to the Scriptures. This is the same method used by all denominations in an attempt to justify their human institutions. All of them can justify, in their own eyes, the view that their own denomination is acceptable to the Lord. If the local "Lutheran Church" is acceptable to the Lord, so are all other denominations, because they are all the creations of men!
Are local church organizations the "sheep" of which Jesus spoke? Does Jesus have one "universal" flock made up of all these local church institutions? Are these local corporate structures the "sheep" Jesus had in mind? You know better than that, so why do you accept and go along with such heresy?
Is the Baptist Church brand of local church organizations a part of the Lord's sheep? Or, the local Presbyterian Church churches? Or, the local Church of God churches? Does Jesus have ONE FLOCK made up of all these local church institutions? Are these local corporate structures the "sheep" Jesus had in mind?
Our brother also claims that "Shepherds of a local flock must account for each sheep." Where in Scripture is any such thing taught? Again I ask, where in God's word do we read about "shepherds of a local flock"? Did Jesus or any of His apostles ever speak of a "local flock"? Certainly not. Jesus plainly said there is "one flock," not thousands! He is the one Shepherd of the one flock, His sheep.
Our brother is but one of the many Bible teachers who are desperately trying to justify or explain the practice of what is now called "the local church," the organization or corporate institution. Is such a corporate structure the "ecclesia" for which Christ died and gave His life? (More and more of these preachers are even proclaiming that salvation is obtained in this local church institution; therefore, one must get into one of these institutions in order to be saved and serve God.)
One of the consequences of this unholy teaching is this: Since the Eldership has all authority in and rules over the local church organization in pontifical fashion, it follows that the Eldership is likewise "the head" of the local body; and the Eldership is also the "king" of the local kingdom! With such teaching as this, it is no wonder that many so-called "Eldership's" act as though they are indeed the Pope of the local church.
Let me close by asking you some more questions.
1) How many ecclesias does Christ have? How many did He promise to build in Matthew 16:18
2) How many flocks does Christ have? Do you really believe that Scripture teaches that each local corporate church is a "flock" of Christ?
3) Of how many bodies is Christ "the head"? Ephesians 1: 22-23; 4:5. Is each local church a body of Christ?
4) How many families does Christ have? Is there such a thing as "the local family of Christ" and does He have 25-30 "families'' in some cities? Do you really believe that Christ has thousands of little, local families with different names, such as the "First Methodist Church", for example? Can you find anything like that in the NT scriptures?
5) How many priesthood's are there? (cf. 1 Peter 2:9.) Is each local church institution a "local priesthood"?
6) Is there only one holy nation or is each local church a little "holy nation", separate, independent, and autonomous?
7) Over how many kingdoms does Christ reign as King? Is He really the King over thousands of little "kingdoms" which today are called "local churches"? Is the local church-Kingdom the one into which being born again (saved) puts each individual? Wonder which local kingdom the eunuch was born into by the birth of the water and the Spirit?
Dear brother and sister, if you can't see how ludicrous and wholly unscriptural all these claims are, it has to be that you are unwilling to honestly consider this matter. The hireling clergy are desperate in their efforts to justify their employer, the local church institution, as being Scriptural because upon that organization they depend for their livelihood. Look at the folly in which they engage to make you think such is from God and that you should be a member of some "local kingdom" and help pay for its operation! Open your heart to honest, objective study of God's word, seeking the truth that can make you free. Free yourself from the membership / slavery in the local institutional church. It is not from the Lord Jesus Christ, but from men. Get out and claim your freedom in Christ, accept your personal responsibility in serving the Lord, and LIVE FOR JESUS.