My Thoughts. . .
In February 2020, a virus invaded our shores, traveling across continents and oceans from Communist China. After the invasion, one could almost hear the doors of church buildings being shut. It was not safe for groups of people to be that close together. Safety was the concern and rightly so. Even with the precautions, members of different faiths have been infected and some have lost their lives. When weeks turned into months, different doctors disagreed on decisions previously made, giving the public an excuse to do things detrimental to their health. Mask appeared and disappeared. Local and State governments made demands attempting to save life rather than frustrate it. Their attempts produced protected frustrated people.
Remember the sound of those church building doors closing? The sound produced false conclusions. Some thought the government was attacking “the church” in an attempt to destroy our faith! Hebrews 10:25 was quoted as though it taught only one choice was available to the faithful. 1) Be in the auditorium/sanctuary regardless, or 2) you could stay home and lose your soul.
Church buildings are not part of biblical faith. They were not heard of before the third or fourth century. That is about 350 years after Jesus promised to build his saved assembly (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:46-47). Preaching by the apostles was done in the courtyards of the Jewish Temple until early persecution prevented it (Acts 6:8 – 8:4). Prior to and after that, saints met in different homes (Acts 2:46). The saved numbered over 8,000 very quickly (Acts 2:41; 4:4). With an average of 25 meeting in each house, how many homes would be needed to house such a fast-growing number of saints?
Most people see the first century church meeting in large church buildings, capable of seating thousands of people, when such was not the case. Such a view leads one to misunderstand scripture. When Paul wrote, “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20 KJV). What was possible for Corinth, with a smaller membership, was not feasible for the Jerusalem church that had a much larger one. Actually, when Christians today partake of the Lord’s supper on Sunday, regardless of location, we are eating the Lord’s supper TOGETHER as the body of Christ.
The idea of having several local assemblies identified in each city as a different congregation is not a biblical view. With thousands of members meeting house to house, it was still one congregation in Jerusalem. Today that view is a hard pill for some to swallow. Two congregations may merge, but even that is not a common occurrence in the history of today’s church. Just because we are acclimated to practicing something for a hundred years or two, does not mean our pattern negates the first century one.
The building is not holy, even if you sprinkle “holy” water on it in a dedication service. Just because a Virus closes the church doors does not mean the church no longer exists. The people who follow Jesus are his church or assembly. Burn down all church buildings and the body of Jesus will still exist. The building is just a dwelling place in a specific location where today’s Jesus people go to be edified. We are God’s dwelling place, not a constructed church building nor a specific location (John 4:19-21). Paul referred to the membership as “the church of God” and “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 12:27). The meeting place was never described as such. Were those Roman Christians who met in the catacombs (graveyard) not “the church”?
Some with a skewed concept of the church see the church building as a “holy place” or “holy grounds” where they are Deity blessed by being present. People believe they “meet” God there. They create special rules to keep that building “holy.” Some create rules where certain rooms are “off limits” to eat in. Some argue that money which is contributed to the church must be used only for spiritual things. Therefore, the building is holy and must not be desecrated by secular actions. One dresses to the hilt to impress God while there but puts on daily attire when outside its holy influence. The holy wear will hang in the closet until the following Sunday. What is worn the rest of the week is not put in that holy classification.
The Bible points out that those who gladly received Peter’s preaching were added to the saved (Acts 2:41). Those who were saved were the church or body of Christ. He was their head (Ephesians 1:22-23). There is not an edifice, referred to as “the church building” which God is going to save. Putting a sign in front of that building does not make it the church of God. The saved will still go to heaven even if they never edify one another in a borrowed, rented, or purchased building. Whether one meets with 20 others in one home while 20 others meet in another, all 40 are still the church of God or body of Christ before they arrive on location, while on location, or after leaving that location. They are the saved whether at home, at work, on vacation, at the gym, at the ballpark, traveling in their car alone or with family, co-workers, or friends. The church building is not holy, those who fill it are. Why? They belong to Jesus who is the Savior.
So, are you a member of Jesus’ body or is your church building needed to make you holy?