My Thoughts. . .
Deception has always been present. It started in the Genesis 3 garden and has not stopped. It seems that man often redefines things despite the consequences. If Satan can redefine something stated by God back then, he should be just as capable of doing the same today.
In the fourth century the “universal” church financed the construction of their meeting place. After all, Hebrews 10:25 authorized that expenditure even though that passage is minus the details. How is a church building part of Satan’s deception? Although there is nothing wrong with a congregation financing the construction of their meeting place, do not assume the devil walks away from an opportunity. Time is often necessary to complete his deception and remove our suspicions.
1. Bible students usually believe authorization is necessary from scripture for any actions to be performed. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 is quoted as authority to spend the funds collected on Sunday to finance local evangelism, edification, and benevolence. Sadly, the passage itself does not show those items we have added to it!
A. If we stay within the boundaries set by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, it only mentions a collection each Sunday for a benevolent work OUTSIDE their local area.
B. If we restrict ourselves to what is written in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, it mentions absolutely nothing about that contribution being 1) for local evangelism, 2) local edification, nor 3) local benevolence. Regrettably, we read “local” into the passage.
C. If we restrict ourselves to what is written in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, 1) it says nothing about using it to purchase property nor to erect a church building. 2) It says nothing about paying a missionary’s salary who is working in a location he has been sent to by the local church. 3) It says nothing about paying Paul nor supplying the expenses of those carrying that bounty to the receiving congregation.
D. Unfortunately we add to what 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 actually states in order to finance our local expenditures. Our authority? “Everyone else is doing it,” “It is expedient,” or “How are we going to take care of our expenses if we don’t use that collection locally?” If something is expedient, it is defined as such because scripture does not provide that detail. This leaves a congregation free to define what expedient means to them. This develops into a problem. This is where Satan stays busy. For example, having a kitchen and eating at the building is defined as an expedient to promote edification in that congregation. However, for another congregation, since that action is not mentioned in detail in scripture, they claim that it cannot be an expedient. Therefore, it must be an ADDITION to scripture. That difference in opinion is used by Satan to promote division.
2. People identify the meeting place as “the church.”
TRUTH: the people who meet there are the church, not the dwelling. Does a building “fear” (Acts 5:11), have “ears,” (Acts 11:22) or need to be fed (Acts 20:28)?
3. The church building is a holy place.
TRUTH: The building is nothing more than a dwelling constructed of wood, brick, and cement. People who gather in the building are to be holy (1 Peter 1:15).
4. The church building’s room for worship is “the Sanctuary.”
TRUTH: Although the word “sanctuary” is defined as “the holiest part of the building,” that is a manmade designation rather than a Biblical one.
A. Some redefine it as “the auditorium,” rather than refer to it as the “sanctuary.” However, this does not slow the devil down in his attempts to deceive.
B. Manmade rules were created to limit the use of the building to “activities that are holy.” Such rules are not hinted in scripture. House to house assemblies allowed eating a meal, visiting, and other things. Since house to house assemblies are mention in scripture, if there is a pattern, should that not be it?
C. Holy activities are defined as a) evangelism, b) edification, and c) benevolence. Those three have to be defined because the Bible produces no such list.
5. The church building is where we meet with God to worship Him.
TRUTH: 1) This limits God to a specific time and location (John 4:19-24). 2) Worship is limited to certain actions performed in that specific location at an announced time. These are details taught but not described in the New Testament as “worship.” When we claim things were done which scripture is silent about, would we not be speaking without Biblical authority?
6. The church building is “the house of God” or His “Temple.”
TRUTH: That view is the devil’s deception of what “the house of God” or “temple” is. We are not under the first covenant where believers had to travel to a specific location to worship. The “house of God” or “temple” is not a location, nor is it constructed by man (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 4:17). Christians are the house or temple of God 24/7!!
7. Since the church building is financed from money contributed for religious purposes, the edifice may not be used for secular or non-religious activities. Eating in the building, having basketball goals on the parking lot, weddings, or funerals would be secular rather than religious. There is no authority to have those activities in the church building.
TRUTH: Manmade rules for a dwelling which was erected to provide a 1-hour meeting on Sunday morning, is a limitation that originated with man, not a restriction levied by God.
8. How one dresses shows one’s respect for God while in the auditorium. His demeanor while present also shows that respect.
TRUTH: Since the church met from house to house, what does scripture say about them entering those homes and whether they were solemn or not? One may find that solemnity in later Catholicism, but it is not in scripture.
A. What passage demands silence and special clothing to show one’s respect for God?
B. If our respect for God depends upon silence and special clothing, then when we wear something different, either before or after that 1-hour period, would that not mean we are being disrespectful the other 167 hours of the week?
C. Since those rules are not biblical, would that not indicate the warnings against adding to the word would be applicable?
D. Dress Codes requiring suits, ties, and shined shoes could eliminate those who cannot afford that manmade standard. Are such rules not a violation of James 2:1-4?
E. Why give respect to God only on Sunday morning by what we wear or how silent we are? Does that mean we are relieved of that respect Monday through Saturday because we are no longer wearing those respectful clothes?
9. Is it a sin to dress up Sunday morning or to refrain from talking during worship? No. Our problem seems to be in not recognizing the difference between man’s rules and God’s. To bind something when God does not, or to loosen what God has bound would be sinful. Satan is at work to influence us to do the opposite. From observation, one can tell that the devil has been successful! He has caused us to unite in being divisive!