Never think that whenever or wherever Christians meet together, there is a church.
The Church is not:
- A building that can be seen or touched or painted.
- A place to meet to hear sermons, announcements and special music.
- A place where our spiritual, emotional, or physical needs are met.
- The coming together of people who believe in the Lord and are saved.
"It is possible to be born again and not to have gained Christ. It is possible to be born again and not walk in the Spirit. It is possible to be born again and not be a carrier of the nature of Christ." (Stewart Peterson) It is possible to have been born again and not be "in" Christ.
The Church is not:
- A multitude of heads, a multitude of committees, a multitude of groups that meet, a multitude of denominations, a multitude of works and charities.
- A membership roster, a mailing list, a club of contributors or prayer partners.
- A house of religious merchandise, dispensing tapes, books, movies, etc.
- A place to "fellowship" around the coffee maker after the morning service.
Reclaiming the word "Church": A Personal Note.
I have known for a long time that the church (I have titled it the "organized visible church") is out of line with its beginnings. I have been hesitant to speak out against its unscriptural doctrines, traditions, and practices, feeling like a child who thinks she has sinned if she puts other books on top of her Bible. But I have learned that to question the church is not attacking God. This idea is a tool of Satan to protect error from being exposed and most important of all, from being corrected.
The Church, the Body of Christ, is not:
An organization to be planned; it is not organized nor can it be organized in any way, shape, or form. In fact the word, organized, is anathema. For the moment it becomes organized the Spirit is quenched and Jesus has been shut out; it is a body without its Head. It is counterfeit!
The organized visible church:
A definition. (one or more or all of the following may be included)
- Its foundation is one or more specific Biblical truths.
- It has a human headship: a ministerial staff (usually paid) to plan, organize, guide.
- It reports to, contributes financially to a larger organization, joining it in world-wide efforts to send out the gospel to the ends of the earth, alleviate hunger and pain, etc.
- It uses the world's methods to bring people in, trying to meet special human needs, trying to expand its membership. It guages its spiritual growth on its numerical growth.
- Its foundation is based on racial or ethnic lines.
- Its services are organized in the popular fashion of congregational singing, prayer from the pulpit, special music, announcements, a collection, a sermon.
- Its works are organized; they are not in direct personal obedience to the specific instructions of Jesus for that local body. As a result the deeds are not righteousness but lawlessness. (Jesus came to redeem us from every lawless deed...Titus 2:14).
God has a Message for the organized visible churches. But first some Christian writers expound on what the Church, the Body of Christ, should be with a smattering of what it is not.