Published April 13th, 2012 by Dirk Waren
I was reading an article by a respected minister recently where he lamented how church buldings are looking more like office complexes than churches. The problem with this statement (amongst others) is the last word: He called a facility where believers meet a church. Yes, I realize this is regularly done in our culture, but it’s simply not biblical. No where in the Bible is a building where believers meet called a church. The orginal Greek word for ‘church’ is ekklesia (ee-KLEE-see-ah), which literally means “called out of.” It refers to genuine believers — people — who have been “called out of” this lost, dark world into God’s kingdom of light through spiritual regeneration (Colossians 1:12-14,1 Peter 2:9 & Titus 3:5).
In the early years of the church, believers simply met in houses. As such, you’ll regularly see passages in the epistles that make references to “the church that meets at So & So’s house”. Examples include Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15 and Philemon 1:2. As you can see, the “church” refers to the believers — the people — who met at these houses. The houses where they met were not the church and neither are the facilities where Christians meet today (or in the past).
This issue is important for many reasons. For one, believers need to understand that they are the church, not some building that they go to a couple times a week to meet with other believers. When believers start to realize that they are the church their Christianity and service to the LORD becomes a 24/7 thing rather than a 1-3 times a week thing (or less).
In the Old Testament the Israelites met at the temple or tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was located. The lid of the Ark was where God’s very presence dwelt. This has all changed in the New Testament where believers’ very bodies are God’s temple and the LORD dwells in us by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), which was made possible through spiritual rebirth.
We have to get away from this Old Testament mentality that God only dwells in certain buildings. No, God indwells the believer himself or herself. “Church” isn’t a once-or-twice-a-week thing. YOU are the church. It’s an every-second-of-every-day thing!
Any additional questions about the church — like When did it begin? and What is the “one true church”? — are addressed in this teaching.
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