Mistaken Impressions About The Local Church

April 8, 2013

Mistaken Impressions About The Local Church

            It is commendable for a church to desire that the church be, in doctrine and practice, like the churches in the New Testament.  One reason why we study the New Testament is to see what we should believe and do.  Unfortunately, some churches, in their zeal to be “biblical,” try to deny themselves of everything that isn’t mentioned in the Bible

Some say that a church shouldn’t have a building because we don’t read in the Bible that churches had buildings.  In defense of their belief, they may quote Acts 7:48-50.  “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,   Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?    Hath not my hand made all these things?”

It may be that we make a mistake when we call the church building “God’s house.” It’s not that we think that God dwells in our church building.  God doesn’t need a building.  The building just serves as a meeting place for the church.  The only sense in which it can be called “God’s house” is that it belongs to him.

In the Old Testament God told Moses to build the tabernacle.  It wasn’t meant to be a dwelling place for God.  Exodus 25:8 says, “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” This verse is saying that God wanted to dwell among his people, not in the tabernacle.  The tabernacle served as a point of contact between God and his people.  Acts 7:47 says that Salomon built a house for God.  “But Solomon built him an house.”  The building he built was luxurious, because they believed that God deserved their best.  It appears as though God identified with the temple.  He didn’t rebuke Salomon for being too extravagant.  At first they only had the temple, but later on they built synagogues in various places to facilitate the teaching of God’s Word.  We never read that God told them to build synagogues, or that he rebuked them for doing it.

Sometimes people say “It isn’t biblical.” By that they mean that it isn’t mentioned in the Bible.  If we have to deny ourselves of everything that isn’t mentioned in the Bible, we would be without a lot of things that are commonly found in our churches.  Some examples are:

The Sunday school

The pulpit

Hymn books

Benches or pews

A personal Bible

Recordings of messages and music

A piano or organ

Much more could be added to the list.

If the church can’t have a building, the next best thing we can have would be “house churches.” There is nothing wrong with that, but it puts many limits on a church.  If we couldn’t have anything but house churches, we would need a lot more pastors, or they would have to go from house to house preaching to those who were gathered there.  We already have a lack of pastors.  A building makes it possible for a pastor to serve a great number of believers.

Sometimes there is a negative reaction to church buildings because churches have built a bigger or more luxurious building than they needed.  That does happen sometimes.  Sometimes those who criticize do so because, in their opinion, the church built a bigger or better building than they needed.  There are few who would deny that a building greatly facilitates a church in carrying out its functions.

There is no justification in thinking that people who attend a house church are more spiritual or biblically oriented.  If the church meets in a home, are we not justified in asking, “Who owns the house?”  If it belongs to the church, then the congregation has a building.  What hinders them from building a building just for the church?  If the house belongs to someone in the congregation, he or she may have more authority in the church than the others. He or she could throw the church out of their house if they don’t agree with some decision of the church.  If the owner of the house falls into sin, the whole congregation will fall into disgrace.

In an increasing number of countries around the world Christians are suffering persecution.  The only way they can have a church is by means of what is called “an underground church.” That means the church has to meet secretly in homes of the believers.  There is no other alternative.

Don’t let anyone tell you, “You’re not spiritual” if you attend a church that has a building.  If your church has a building, thank God for it and do what you can to maintain it.  If your church is raising money to build a building, be generous in contributing to the building fund.

 

Our e-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

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