The kingdom proclaimed by the Christ is a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36). Though the full unveiling of the nature of this kingdom occurs in the apostolic writings, the ministry of Christ established all its fundamental features. It is a kingdom from above, a kingdom entered not by natural birth, but supernatural birth (John 3:3-6). It is a kingdom belonging not to those born of the flesh, but those born of the Spirit (Matthew 8:11-12). It is a kingdom belonging not to those born of Abraham’s body, but his belief (John 8:39, 56). It is a kingdom whose localized assembly is based on faith in Christ and the exercise of His authority (Matthew 16:16-19). It is a kingdom of those who are humble and helpless like children (Matthew 18:1-4).
The description which is given to us in the New Testament precludes the membership of those who do not have the Holy Spirit and are not united to Christ by faith. Therefore, union with Christ is the only way to be or enter into the Covenant of Grace. Dr. Renihan helps us again:
Apart from union with Christ, the federal head of the New Covenant of grace, there is no participation in the blessings and benefits of Christ’s covenant. Paul is quite clear that “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9). This is consistent with all other cases of federal headship in the covenants of Scripture. Apart from Adam, none participate in the Covenant of Works. Apart from Abraham, none participate in the Abrahamic Covenant. Apart from David, none participate in the Davidic Covenant. Federal headship always defines and delimits the extent of the blessings and benefits (or curses) of each covenant.
Because Christ’s federal headship was established in the Covenant of Redemption, and because the New Covenant mediates that covenant to its inheritors, the extent of the blessings and benefits of the covenant is limited to those for whom Jesus Christ is High Priest in the New Covenant. As summed up by John in 1 John 5:11-13. “11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Therefore, no one should be recognized as a member of the New Covenant and thus, of a local church, other than those who profess and b...