First we need to define the word "church", most believe it is a building or organization, but it is not! It is a community or assembly of believers.
Why do we assemble?
Because there is a command to assemble on the Sabbath before the Lord in prayer and worship.
Leviticus 23:3 "Six days can work be done but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, a holy gathering."
Ecclesiastes 5:1 "Keep your foot when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools,"
Matthew 9:35 "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing sickness and disease among the people."
Matthew 21:13 "It is written, My house is called the house of prayer,"
Mark 6:2 "And when the Sabbath day had come, he started to teach in the synagogue,"
Luke 4:15-16 "And he taught in their synagogues, being praised by all. Then he came to Nazareth, where he had been raised, and as the practice was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and then stood up to read."
Luke 4:31 "Then he went down to Capernaum a city in Galilee, teaching them on the Sabbaths."
Luke 4:44 "And he taught in the synagogues of Galilee."
Luke 19:46 "As it is written, my house is a house of prayer."
I Corinthians 12:28 "And God has set some in the church, first as apostles, second prophets, third teachers, and after that workers of miracles, then the gift of healing, helpers, administrators, and interpreters."
Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider how we can inspire each other to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day approaching."
Up until the time of the Babylonian captivity there was only one location (Jerusalem) for the gathering of worship and to celebrate the annual high Sabbath days. After the destruction of the temple and the exile of the Jewish people, synagogues were established to service the small communities of exiled Jews. Thus began the establishment of churches. Yet according to Mathew, any location, even ones home will do.
Matthew 18:20 "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the middle of them."
The Sabbath day was established as a day of rest, a holy gathering of Gods people, as few as two people gathered in the Lords name constitute a church meeting.
Does it Matter Where?
Does the physical location of assembling to worship matter? Yes!
Does your group assemble to worship him in places dedicated to false religions? Then it is doing wrong!
Exodus 34: 11-16 "Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods."
Deuteronomy 7: 1-5 "When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire."
Deuteronomy 12: 1-3 "These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place."
The Lord's command was to destroy the places where false gods were worshiped and warned against making agreements with the people of the land, which includes making agreements not to rent or use their places. When renting these type of places, are you not helping them out financially to spread the false doctrines. God made it clear not to have anything to do with these pagan religions. God warned that these places of worship would be an influence, so they were to completely separate themselves from other religious practices.
1 Corinthians 3: 17 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
Should we as the temples of God worship within the temples of the ungodly?
1 Corinthians 8: 9-11 "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?"
Yes, one should be strong enough in faith to understand and stand firm against paganism, but those that are weak, or new, who are facing trials may end up stumbling into the hands of the group whose building you are using. Is it worth the risk?
1 Corinthians 10: 20-21 "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
Coming together is to encourage, teach, admonish, and edify one another, and should be joyous!
When most Christians think of church, the following comes to mind, singing a few hymns and then the congregation sits quietly in their pew, while the pastor conducts the service and delivers the sermon. They stand and sit on cue and pass the offering plate.
The gathering together with others is to be a participatory and interactive event, where each person uses his God given spiritual gifts for the benefit, or building up, of the congregation as a whole.
A church should be a place to assemble and hear the word of God read aloud, and those that have questions can ask them aloud, a place of prayer, a coming together in joy and song, a place where those in a common belief can fellowship together encouraging and strengthening each other in their belief.
Music was always an important part of religious services, there were singers and musicians who took part in most worship services, be it the weekly Sabbath or annual Sabbaths. Music, singing, and dancing were part of the celebrating before the Lord.
In locating a church, you need to find one that follows doctrines that are scriptural, as outlined within the Bible. No church organization, or minister can get you into heaven, its an individual responsibility.
The sermon in today's church meeting seems to have become the primary event of the service, with everything else leading up to it. The sermon has taken over center stage, and the meeting is judged by the quality of the sermon message. Sitting through a boring sermons while glancing at your watch and trying to stifle a yawn is part of Satan's counterfeit Christianity. That format is non Biblical. People learn more and are rarely bored when engaged in conversation with each other.
1 Corinthians 14:26 "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying."
Clearly when the brethren met, everyone shared in the teaching and uplifting, it was not just for a special few to deal with it, but interaction occurred..
Being a member of God's church involves a spiritual membership, not a physical one. Having the spirit of God dwell within you is what makes you a member of his church. Christ is not returning to a material building, he is returning to a church that is built on the foundation of the prophets, apostles, and Christ himself, Ephesians 2:19-22.
The church (body of believers) would be a small group.
Jesus taught that the true church would be a "little flock" (Luke 12:32), hated by the world (Matthew 10:22), and persecuted (Matthew 10:23). He also taught only a few would find the way to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14; 20:16). Jude indicates that the number of saints was relatively small (Jude 14), while Paul called the small group a "remnant" (Romans 11:5).
Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it"
If you cannot find a church in your area, remember that the true temple of God is your own body, for the spirit of God dwells within you.
Is there only one true Church Organization?
Luke 9:49-50 "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."
There are many organizations, as long as the hold true to scripture they are following God's word.
Remember that you must do what is right with God and not what is right with some church Organization, for some day you will have to answer to God, not to the Organization.
The Church of God Proclaimed