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.
We have Jesus declaring that he will build His Church. What is “The Church”?
ekklhsia ekklesia ek-klay-see’-ah
1) a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly
1a) an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating
1b) the assembly of the Israelites
1c) any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously
1d) in a Christian sense
1d1) an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting
1d2) a company of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake
1d3) those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body
1d4) the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth
1d5) the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven
EXODUS 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
lhq qahal kaw-hawl’
AV-congregation 86, assembly 17, company 17, multitude 3; 123
1) assembly, company, congregation, convocation
1a1) for evil counsel, war or invasion, religious purposes
1b) company (of returning exiles)
1c1) as organised body
Thus we see that, above all, the word Church does not refer to a building of bricks and mortar.
Ep 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
So we see from the scriptures that the Church is the people, the assembly of believers.
What is the function of this assembly, then?
Mat 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Obviously, the function is to be true witnesses to the truth of Jesus by doing good to all men that they may see and believe in God. But not only believe, also, glorify Him!
How, then, do we accomplish this? How are we to be the Light of the World? Is this accomplished by staging regular meetings, Bible study groups or church services?
Or is there something else?
Let us consider the Words of Jesus as recorded by the Apostle Matthew in what has become known as the “Sermon on the Mount”. (Mat Chp 5-7).
Could it be that ceremonies and services have replaced obedience to Christ’s commands? After all if we sing, pray, preach enthusiastically then we feel that we are glorifying God. But are we?
Christ criticised the religious people of his day because they had been putting more emphasis on keeping the religious rites and ceremonials, whilst neglecting the more important aspects of the Law; (Mat.chp.23)
What is true worship? Where is it carried out? In the Building on Sunday? During house group?
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.
latreia latreia lat-ri’-ah
AV-service 4, divine service 1; 5
1) service rendered for hire
1a) any service or ministration: the service of God
2) the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law
3) to perform sacred services
The service that Paul is referring to has to do with worship.
Where and how?
Jo 4:20-24 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Jesus answers the whole problem of where and how to worship God when he spoke to the woman of Samaria. The problem between the Jews and the Samaritans was one of where and how to worship? Which rituals and which priests were true? Jesus says that the place to worship is not in a physical place or building, it is in the heart, by the Spirit and in truth.
Luke 6:46 “But why do you call Me `Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?
What are those things that He has said to us?
Mark 12:30-31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Mat 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Who is the one that does the will of God? The one who faithfully goes to a church building, attends all the meetings he/she are expected to, gives regularly and faithfully to the collection plate? Or he that does good to his/her fellow man, keeps themselves pure and preaches the gospel at every opportunity, and yet doesnt go to a church building?
What is Church?
Mat18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
What is Church?—We are, whenever we meet in His name!
Where is Church?—Wherever we meet in His name!
Did Jesus leave behind a bunch of buildings that He wanted to be filled?
Was his instruction to “Preach the Gospel and make Church members of all nations”?
2 Cor 13:5-6 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
If after you have examined yourselves you realise that you have not been true to the Faith, then repent and turn to the Lord. Confess your sin and walk away in newness of life. As the scripture says;
Gal 5:1 ¶ Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
© 1996 By John L. Hayworth
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