The premise on which one builds his/her thesis is crucial to the sustainability of that theory, otherwise when comes face to face with truth and reality it will crumble from its very foundation if not built on the right premise.
The most popular concept which people have regarding the church is that it is a religious ceremony where people come to sing songs of praise, pray, listen to a Minister or Preacher delivering a sermon, collecting the offering, and having fellowship with one another. People encourage others to go to church, and take pleasure in inviting others to church, the ideology is, people go to church.
The other concept of church is the building or site where religious activities are held, so people generally use the term, I am going to the church.
Unfortunately, this is the premise on which most people have built their concept of what church is. But let us with an open mind prove all things and hold fast to what is good.
What is the Church
The word church is associated 0nly with those who have been redeemed; and refers only to groups of Christians assembled for worship. Even in the wilderness where Moses told the Israelites that; “God will send you a prophet like me from your own people. He was in the congregation in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us” pertained only to God’s chosen people, and anyone who joined them had to abide by their rules. (Acts 7: 37-38).
The whole meaning and concept of church has been profaned, corrupted, maligned, and compromised in order to gain popularity and commercial benefits.
The church is not a forum for whosoever will may come, The forum for whosoever will may come is done in the outer Court, in our lectures, Bible studies, crusades, evangelistic campaigns, but not in the Inner Court. The Inner Court is the place where, only those who have accepted the message, and are baptized, are added to, by being baptized into one Spirit, and it is the Lord who adds to the church those who are being saved.
The titles which are assigned to the church is a clear testimony of the core and nature of the church. It has been assigned such titles as, The bride of Christ; The Body of Christ; Body of believers; Church of the first born; Church of the Living God; City of God; Flock of God; God’s Building; God’s husbandry; Habitation of God; Household of God; Israel of God; Kingdom of God’s dear Son; Lamb’s wife; Mount Zion; People of God; Spiritual house; Temple of God.
Such titles demonstrates the close and intimate relationship the church has with Jesus Christ its head, and the reason why it was destined. In fact when the good news of salvation is proclaimed to an unbeliever, and we wish that they could be converted and have fellowship with the church, they should first be made aware that our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Sensitizing them to the fact that, God is light; and in him there is no darkness at all, and so, if we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in the darkness [sin], we lie and do not live by the truth. It is only when we [believers gathered together] are walking in the light [in truth, holiness], as Jesus Christ is in the light, that we [the believers] have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
There is a purification from sin that must take place when believers come together and have fellowship with one another, and with the Father and the Son, for if we claim to be without sin we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim that we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar, and his word has no place in our lives.
It is imperative therefore that our sins be confessed, and if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. This purification of sins is a continuous process that is administered through the cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus Christ instituted as the new agreement in his blood for the forgiveness of sins, and became effective after his death. Passover is a once and for all time phenomenon, but Atonement is a continuous process.
The church therefore is not a forum for whosoever will may come. The forum for whosoever will may come is done in the outer court, in our lectures, crusades, evangelistic campagnes, bible studies, house to house visits, but not in the Inner Court. Church is the forum where only those who are baptized into the body of Christ, and are willing to rid themselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind, and like new born babies, craving more spiritual milk, so that by it they may grow up in their salvation, for now that they have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
They come to Jesus Christ, the living stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him. They also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [the only spiritual sacrifice that is acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, is the offering of his body and blood]. For the scripture says; “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for” (1 Peter 2: 1-8).
The church is destined before the foundation of the world to be holy, meaning free from sin and accusation, put people are disobeying the message by which the church is being sanctified, redeemed, and be reconciled to God, and profaning it by not separating the holy from the profane.
The church is a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that they may declare the praises of God who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once they were not a people, but now they are the people of God; once they had not received mercy, but now they have obtained mercy.
The church as a royal priesthood and a holy nation, must be holy to their God, and must not profane the name of their God, because they present the offerings made to the Lord by fire [zeal, the food of their God, they are to be holy. They become holy by eating the offerings by which atonement was made for their ordination and consecration. But no one else may eat them, because they are sacred. (Leviticus 21:6; Exodus 29:33).
The church is therefore admonished saying; “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’
“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you: I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
If anyone in the church is living a double standard life the instruction is, “I have written to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
What is it that we are commanded not to eat with a brother who is sexually immoral or greedy?
Is it ordinary food! No! But the food which we eat when we come together as a church. The apostle Paul admonished the church saying; “Therefore, my brethren, when you come together [as a church] to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment.” The judgment is for eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus Christ in an unworthy manner, and not properly discerning the body.
The church as the body of Christ is represented by the breaking of bread, we come together as a church to recognize Jesus Christ by the breaking of bread. According to the apostle Paul; “My dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation [communion, fellowship, sharing] of the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation [communion, fellowship, sharing] in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1Corinthians 10:16-17).
It is the community spirit, the participation of the one bread that makes the many members one, and reconcile them to God, and it is the participation of the cup that purifies them from all sin. This is the premise on which the first century New Testament church started, for, “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer. Everyone was filled in awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2: 42-44).
For more on this vitally important subject check the following publications:-
Worship The Lord in the Beauty of Holiness at www.createspace.com/3450099 www.amazon.com/9781452835563
Man’s Duality at www.createspace.com/3488570 www.amazon.com/9781453857779
The Purpose of Human Life at www.createspace.com/3501245 www.amazon.com/9781456347048
Why is the World in such Turmoil at www.createspace.com/3688405 www.amazon.com/9871466328563
With brotherly love