It is considered normal practice for a Christian to go to church once a week, For some Christians Saturday is considered to be the day on which to worship God, but for most it is on Sunday. This tradition has been with us for a long time and many believe it was founded on the teaching of the Bible. Yes, many believe it is a Christian duty to go to church at least once a week and worship God with like minded believers.
The churches, for the most part, have not stood for the entire truth of God. They ceased to be the pillar and ground of the truth before Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy. Christendom, in modern times, has been divided into three main schools of thought, Catholicism, Arminianism and Calvinism. Arminians have held the precious truth, that God loves all, that Christ died for all, and that it is God’s will that all be saved. But they have held the awful error, that He is not able to carry out His will. Calvinists have taught that God is able to save all whom He wills to save. This is a glorious truth. But they claim that He does not love all, that Christ did not die for all, and that it is not His will to save all.
This is a serious error. Catholic, Arminian and Calvin doctrines are faulty.The church you attend would in all probability hold to one of these established doctrines. Just look at their “articles of faith” or “statement of beliefs”. They say that all evil people will end up in an ever burning hell fire to be tortured for ever. A few others say the evil ones will simply be annihilated. Is that true?
Why do you attend where you do? In the vast majority of cases it is because your parents went to the church where you now go. But in some cases people switched for various reasons. Perhaps for friendlier fellowship, a more charismatic eloquent pastor, a doctrine more to their liking, etc. A few even looked into the bible to see what the bible taught about how to worship God.
Christians will say the reason they go to church is to worship God. Some few may even say they go to the house of God to worship. Did Jesus Christ tell us how God should be worshipped? Is it to be in a building made with hands?
Jesus had a discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well dealing with this very same topic.
John 4:20 – 24 (KJV) Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. :21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. :22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. :23 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. :24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
The woman wanted to know the place where people should go to worship. She asked which of these is the right place? Her concern, and the major issue of the moment for her, had to do with the specific proper location for worship. In this respect, this woman differed little from the Christians today who ask, “Where should we worship”? “What church should we attend”? “What ministry should we submit to?”
Jesus indicated that the time would come when neither in “this mountain” nor “in Jerusalem”, as well as any other geographical locality or building, would be relevant as a condition to worship.
Places are of no consequence to God. God is spirit. If man is to worship God, then man must worship God AS HE IS, and not as man thinks He is or where man thinks He may be. The natural man attempts to build structures in an attempt to enable them to worship God according to their belief.
The place of worship has no bearing whatsoever on the act of worship.This is one of the great truths that the vast majority of church members have not grasped to this day.
So what should our attitude be toward the churches? It should be one of peace and tolerance.Truly the churches have gone the road God said in His word they would travel. They have a form of devotion, but deny its power. See 2 Tim. 3:1-5. Yet He has allowed them to exist. Why should I or anyone, object? Our attitude toward the churches should be one of peace. So far as I am aware, each denomination has some truth. But I do not want to be a member of any of them.
But this does not mean that the churches have been useless. Nothing is useless. In a universe operated by the Creator in accord with the counsel of His own will, no useless thing could exist. The churches, partly, have contributed to building up western civilization. The Judaeo–Christian ethic has been a positive influence on the development of many cultures and nations.
Does this mean that Christians should never go to church or have fellowship with others? Of course not. Does fellowship only occur in the context of a church meeting? Truly our fellowship is to be based on a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a relationship with “church”. One may find there are more opportunities for fellowship outside the local church building than inside.
Some will ask, ‘How do we worship God in Spirit?’ But this you will not discover until the time comes when you learn that neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, nor in the church system, nor in the denomination, nor in the mass, nor in any such thing do men worship the Father and Jesus Christ. When you acknowledge all these things and break free from these rituals and the traditions of men, then you focus on Jesus only, and then only will you understand what it means to worship in spirit and in truth.
The other extreme is the one who is so independent and self-sufficient that he holds nothing but contempt for any religious gathering. In seeking to be free, that person has come into lawlessness and rebellion. He is going his own self-righteous, puffed-up way, not being led by the Holy Spirit. We need balance, and not extremes. We need to be truly be free from man’s religious requirements and bondage, yet humble before the Lord and before our brothers and sisters in Christ, ready to serve one another as He leads, and brings us together as He directs, with meek and receptive hearts.
If I were to be asked, would you go to an gathering on Sunday or Saturday, I would say Saturday rather than Sunday. Although it is not necessary, at least for me, to do so, Saturday has more scriptural validity than Sunday. Saturday, the Sabbath, was a command under the Old Covenant, and some Christians feel it is important for them to keep it today. Sunday was made a day of worship by the decree of the Catholic Church, not by scripture.
Jesus made it clear that “where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Only two or three people!
Mat_18:20 (KJV) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Jesus did not say, “Where two or three HUNDRED are gathered together, I am in their midst.” And He did not say, “Where two or three DOZEN are gathered together, there I am.”
Jesus also did not say where the two or three had to be gathered together. He did not specify a church building or a living room meeting. And He did not say how many times a week they had to be gathered, or if the gatherings had to be structured or unstructured, open or closed, inside or outside.
By establishing His Presence in the midst of even a small group of two or three, Jesus tells us that large numbers are not important. The numbers are irrelevant. Either Jesus is in the midst, or He is not. If Jesus is not in our midst then having a large group of people will not compensate for Him not being there. Of course, Jesus can sometimes be in large groups of people. Jesus is building His Church (ecclesia), and it is a spiritual house, not a physical house.
What is a Church?
The word “church” is most frequently applied to a building rather than to the occupants of a building. The word has been adopted by almost every denomination to represent its own particular brand of worship; thus we have the “Roman Catholic Church,” the “Baptist Church,” ,” the “Anglican Church” and many others. The Word of God knows no such distinctions.
Church is commonly defined in dictionaries as a building used for public Christian worship. But what is the bible definition of church?
The word church in the Bible comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which means a called out company or assembly, literally “out-called” in Greek. Whenever it is used in the Bible, it refers to people and not necessarily His church. The word ecclesia occurs 115 times in the original text. However in the King James version, as well as the American Standard version, it has been rendered 112 times by the English word “church” and 3 times by the word “assembly”. The translators translated the word ecclesia as “assembly” in three verses because they falsely assumed that ecclesia should on be translated “church” if it was a part of the called of God..
Here is one example where the word ecclesia refers to a group having no relation to the church as most understand what the church is. This is referring to the city council of Ephesus.
Acts 19:39 (KJV) But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly (Greek word ecclesia).
Acts 19:39 (CLV) Now if you are seeking for anything concerning other things, in the legal ecclesia will it be explained.
This is why it is so important to examine the original Greek words in scripture.
The book of Ephesians reveals to us the ecclesia as the body of Christ. Seven times in Ephesians the ecclesia is linked with the glory of God.
Eph 1:22 – 23 (KJV) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church (ecclesia), Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Ephesians 1:22 – 23 (CLV) and subjects all under His feet, and gives Him, as Head over all, to the ecclesia” which is His body, the complement of the One completing the all in all.”
Also in Colossians:
Colossians 1:18 (CLV) And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first,
The ecclesia (church) is the body of Christ. Just as a human body has many parts, so to does the ecclesia.
Rom 12:4 – 5 (KJV) For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
The book of Ephesians also stresses the unity and oneness of the ecclesia. It tells of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, one body, one Spirit, one hope, One Lord,
one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all.
Similarly 1 Corinthians 12, tells us of the composition of the ecclesia and each individual member has a specific function. The emphasis is on the diversity in the body. None can be dispensed with–none can say to another, “I have no need of you”–all are essential to the well-being of the body, and they are united by being under the direction of the head, Jesus Christ.
A Need to Fellowship
A scripture that is often mentioned to show the need to fellowship as a group with like minded believers is Hebrews 10:25.
Heb 10:25 (KJV) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
The usual interpretation of this passage associates it with attendance at a Christian place of worship. This verse is taken by virtually every church and every leader to mean that we should not stop attending church; that we should be in “church” every Sunday or Saturday. I confess that I taught that same thing in the fellowship I was part of. So let us have an unbiased exposition of this verse. Hebrews 10:25 doesn’t address going to church at all. This verse addresses something altogether different.
The word “assembling” is from the Greek word ἐπισυναγωγή (episunagōgē Strongs G1997). It is never used of an “assembling” in the sense of attending service at church. The only other place where episunagoge occurs is II Thessalonians 2:1
2Th 2:1 (KJV) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering (episunagōgē) together unto him,
The word episunagōgē, literally, means to synagogue. It is a compound of the Greek prefix “epi” with the word “sunagoge” from which we get our transliterated English word synagogue. Epimeans higher than, highest, and “sunagoge” means an assembly, or gathering. Putting these two words together gives us the meaning “the highest assembly”. It means something far greater than merely having a group of church goers together in one place. It is a meeting in a higher realm and on a higher plane. It indicates an assembling in the spirit, as Paul also testified in Ephesians 2:6.
Eph 2:6 (KJV) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
It is the called out ones, the Elect who will worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Jesus is setting them free from vain worship and traditions of men, and He is gathering them together into a spiritual house of living stones. The Holy Spirit is leading them into an ever deepening, ever increasing relationship with Christ every day.
It is our duty to be part of building of the body of Christ, unto the end that we should all attain to the unity of the faith and of the realization of the son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the complement of the Christ” (Eph.4:11-13). That is the divinely ordained standard of maturity for the saints of today.
Anyone who claims to be able to worship God at any time and in any place becomes a heretic to the organized religious system. Consider this, if the places of worship were taken away, and men truly worshipped in spirit and in truth, the whole religious system would fall apart. There would be no reason for it to continue. The whole religious system is built upon having a “place” for people to come to so that the works of church leaders may continue to be carried out. Religion always tell us where, when and how to worship. But let us praise God for the privilege of gathering together with those of “like precious faith,” and rejoice in any assembling of saints that is truly unto Him.
Christ-based fellowship continues as long as you are abiding in Jesus, while church-based fellowship only lasts as long as you are attending that church. When you go to their services and support their agenda then they embrace you. Once you leave, and they realize you are not returning, they want nothing more to do with you. That is the simple reality. In most cases their fellowship with you is church-based, human leadership-based, or money-based, but it is likely NOT Christ-based.
Be not distressed because of those who would use the scripture in Hebrews 10:25 as a hammer to bring disapproval on you because you do not attend their times or place of meeting.
The true character of a church, fellowship, or ministry is not judged by how they receive you when you join, or how they treat you when you are there, but rather, how they treat you when you go, and how they relate to you after you have left.
Occasionally we may feel that we are not doing enough in obedience and worship of God, but we should not get discouraged. God works all according to the council of His own will (Eph. 1:11). We need to recognize that God does indeed gather His people together when and how it pleases Him, but such gathering together is unto him, and the place and order becomes inconsequential.
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