Sunday, September 22, 2013

What do you mean when you say church?

Matthew 16:18
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.

When Jesus said this, was he talking about your local church building? Was he saying to Peter that on this spot, on these rocks here, we are going to build a building and call it "the church?" 

Lets examine some other scriptures about "the church" and see what we may find.

Acts 2:47
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Many read this and say that you must go to a church building in order to be saved. But, is this what the Bible means when it says this?

Acts 5:11
And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

This sheds a little more light on our subject. How can a building made of wood, bricks, and mortar feel great fear? Can a building hear? 

Let's examine a little further.

Acts 8:1
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Was the great persecution against the building? Were they tearing down church buildings? Did they hit the buildings so hard that the building pieces were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria? Did those pieces landing there start a revival and more church buildings begin to grow at those spots?

Acts 11:26
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.

Were they brought to a building and assemble with a building? Were the disciples (believers) called Christians (Christ-like) because of a building?

Acts 14:23
And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Is there more than one church? Or is this referring to local assemblies that are still a part of "the church" at large? If so, is it referring to a building, or the believing people themselves?

Acts 20:28
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

When Elders are charged to feed the church of God, are they ordered to feed and care for a building? Did Jesus die for and purchase a building with his blood?

1 Corinthians 12:27-29

King James Version (KJV)
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Are the gifts of the spirit given to build up the building? Or the believers themselves? What say ye?

Ephesians 3:10
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

Is the building supposed to know the wisdom of God? or God's people?

Colossians 1:24
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

Did Paul suffer for the building? Or for the people?

Ephesians 5:29
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

Does our Lord cherish and nurture a building? Or the people who meet there.

1 Timothy 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Was Paul concerned with how we conducted ourselves in a building? Or with how we live our lives?

Seen enough? There's a lot more. However, I believe I've made my point. Jesus didn't die for a building. He doesn't cherish a building. He doesn't care for a building. 

A building will never go to heaven or hell. A building will eventually either be torn down and replaced, or rot in disuse. so why are we so focused on a building? Why do we think that unless a person attends our building, they are either not saved or backslid? 

Deny that? Well, what do you mean when you say "They don't go to our church?" What is your intention in your mind, when you say, "They stopped coming to church. They are backslid?"

No, Jesus didn't die for a building. You don't have to attend a certain building to make heaven. That's Churchianity, not Christianity. When scripture says "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together...", it is not referring to a particular building.

I have news for you that are caught up in churchianity rather than Christianity:
Not all believers have the same gifts. Not all giftings that you may have are needed in any particular group of believers. If you are attending one body of believers, and your gifts are not needed there, then keep looking. 

Somewhere there's a body of believers where your gifts are needed. Don't stay in one building and shrivel up and die. Don't sit on a pew and rust from lack of use. Let God lead you where you are needed and can be used for his glory and kingdom. 

We do need each other to make heaven. We can go to heaven together or to hell alone. But, we must allow God to lead us to our field of labor. If we are unable, or not allowed to labor in one place, we must find where it is that the Lord wants us to work with other believers. It's his "church". It's his work. We only labor with him. 

Lord, help us find the field you wish us to work in.