Monday, February 12, 2018

What is Church, and Why Do You Attend?

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

What is Church and What Purpose Does it Serve?

We are sharing an encouraging Vision in our visions section.

 Beloved Brethren, we have already shared two articles previously which deals with the foundational truths of our salvation: Those articles are True Repentance and Being Born Again. In this week’s message however, we will focus specifically on assembling to fellowship with God and one another. Naturally, we all have certain favorite things and preferences, and these have an influence in the choices and decisions we make. Our preferences must not, however, take precedence over the reality of Scriptural truth. As you may have observed, divisions in the church today are largely due to people’s stereotypes and preferences, and this has caused many to disregard proper Scriptural guidance on why, how, where and when to worship God, and what spirit or motive should be guiding our decisions.

Therefore, it is in the light of this, that we are obeying the Lord in presenting this message today. Now, in our experience with the Lord, we were taught never to force our message on people, but to allow room for the Holy Spirit to do His work of convicting or exposing people's sin. Our aim, therefore, is not to convince you or give a specific prescription on how you ought to live but by your faith you should identify the Voice of God in our message, and if you are familiar with the Scriptures, and have the Holy Spirit you should experience the joy and peace of God while reading this message.

What does “Church” mean? According to Strong’s concordance, the word “church” comes from the Greek word ‘ekkl├ęsia’, which refers to an assembly, or a (religious) congregation. It also means people called out from the world and to God, with the outcome of this being the Church.

Undoubtedly, today there is a lot of confusion of what church really is, and this has created such a wrong impression that many people literally regard the church as being a building. In the true Christian sense, Church simply means an assembly of believers, in a local setting, gathered in the name of the Lord to worship (1 Corinthians 14:19; Acts 5:11; Colossians 4:15). The Bible mentions that some brethren in the early church gathered in homes (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19).It was, and will always be, an assembly of local people who form the church, with the aim of having fellowship together, encouraging one another and, best of all, to worship God in unity (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Vision of Three Angels Discussing What Church Means

This vision was given to Charis after her morning prayers on December 20, 2015. She shares: “I was laying on my bed when suddenly three mighty men (I knew these were angels) appeared and spoke to me. The conversation was about why and for what purpose people are attending church. As I was listening, I could not understand most of the conversation they were having, but I was made to understand that you don’t need to feel guilty if you don’t go to church on a Sunday at a specific location or building in order to ‘feel’ you have attended church. The Lord accepts any weekday or weekend gatherings/fellowships in His name, and dwells amongst His people as He promised (Matthew 18:20).

Brief understanding:

Brethren, both my wife and my daughter Charis have also been contributing to this message, and since they prayed to the Lord for this message to be delivered, He gave Charis this vision to further give understanding to our message. As you know from previous articles, the Lord has always given visions relevant to the messages we share in order to emphasize its truthfulness.

Places of Worship

The excessive negative perception that has been created around places of worship has largely contributed to the division in the body of Christ. As it is, some people will simply not recognize a home assembly as a place of worship, where more than two or three people are assembled (Matthew 18:20). I’ve heard some people say that “it just doesn’t feel like a church!” because a few people are present, space is limited, and some feel too ‘close’ to others. Those who reason this way are honestly going to church for the wrong reasons, and we will discuss further below.

Generally, people are deceived by the current perception created by the institutional order. They have made the church into an institution instead of an informal place of worship which makes it accessible to people. It is setup that people think this should be the order. Hence, their attitude is that if you don't go to an institutional church you are not right. We meet many Christians who are dissaponted with themselves because they haven't been able to make it to an institutionalized church for months or years. I also felt the same when I was not even saved and I felt very guilty until the Lord told us and explained the meaning of Matthew 18:20.

Regarding the temple Solomon built, God's presence filled that temple and so people went there and prayed towards it (2 Chronicles 5:14; 2 Chronicles 6:20-21). In relation, many pastors present the church building as a place where the presence of the Lord dwells but we see in the Bible that after the Lord died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two (Mark 15:38) and  now "we enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus"(Hebrews 10:19). The Lord God now dwells in individual believers as we are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19; John 14:12). The Lord showed that after He was risen when the two men on the road of Emmaus talked; He was in their midst (Luke 24:15). When the disciples were gathered in his name He appeared to them but in a physical form (Luke 24:36). The Lord is always present when we fellowship.

Brethren, the Presence of the Lord is not restricted or defined by large, beautiful buildings with thousands of people and a charismatic pastor or priest leading the service, neither is church defined that way. The Scripture clearly says where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, He is right in their midst and this is not restricted to a specific place or day (Matthew 18:20; Romans 14:5-8). Since the Lord established our home church ministry more than 5 years ago, my family and I never fail to meet daily in the name of the Lord, while members of our ministry who have family and work commitments gather on three occasions weekly to fellowship, encourage and worship God. As a home ministry, with an explosive daily individual evangelism, we have grown closer together in a strong bond of love, appreciation and respect for one another. Through the Lord’s guidance, we have learned to serve one another in faithfulness. This is among the many enviable benefits of a small congregation.

Ungodly Reasons for Assembling

As for larger congregations, I will be direct in my observation. While it is not wrong for a larger assembly to meet, there are distractions and some disadvantages, chief among them being that Christians are not empowered to operate in their God-given gifts. Most of the sermons of preachers are centred on money, and that is to pay the cost of the huge infrastructure and the worldly lifestyle of the pastor and his associates. Some people go to church so that they may show off their clothes and some worldly positions and wealth. It is more about a social class gathering than being right with God. Some go to serve on the church board, with some using the power of money and position to influence relationships in the church. Furthermore, some come to church to lust and distract others. Others regard the church as a place of entertainment, especially when there are live bands. I have heard and seen people cheering loudly for the band or vocalists more than for Christ. It is good to worship the Lord in music, but is Christ in the centre of our excitement or the rhythm of the music?

Many believers also assemble within certain church denomination where they are taught that their church or denomination is superior to others, or is the only “true church” and all the others are false. In the Scriptures, we see Paul correcting the church for the same spirit of division that was among them, which is today still operating in the modern churches (1 Corinthians 1:12 -13). The truth is, only Christ can save souls, not the congregation. Therefore, anyone who is born again and sealed with the Holy Spirit belongs to Christ (Romans 8:9; also refer to Worthless Religion and Spirit of Division).

In addition, some people treat the church as a social club, where they can meet with friends for fun and do worldly activities, such as worldly parties or network for business. Some people go to church because of nice facilities and other comforts such as cafes or free childcare that many churches now have. There are also people who also go to church in order to have people to rely on in case of hardship. Although the church is called to help those in need (Matthew 5:42; 10:8; 25:35-40; Acts 20:35), we are also called to Lean of God Alone.

Reasons for Godly Assembly

While we do gather as an assembly, serving the Lord is an individual approach and we individually express our adoration, appreciation and worship to God in the assembly (Psalm 35:18; 22:22, 25). Our gathering must not to be to cause any harm (1 Corinthians 11:17), but instead love and sound Christian living must be shown (Romans 12:10). Since we know by faith that God is in our midst, while the Word of God is being preached to us, we should examine ourselves and allow God to convict us and purify our thoughts, hearts and actions with the aim of turning from sin (2 Corinthians 13:5). The word of God tests the sincerity of our hearts and our commitment to Him.

The benefit of being in God’s presence with the proper frame of mind holds the advantage of allowing us to be set free from the bondage of guilt, sin and fear (Psalm 34:4; Galatians 5:1). This means that we should not come to church to show the pastor or others that we are merely present in the church. Instead, we come because of obedience to God and a consuming love for Him and His dwelling place in the assembly of the righteous (Psalm 84:1-4; Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 2:12; Psalm 35:18). In His Presence, you have come to receive the joy and peace to deliver you through the problems of this life (Matthew 11:28). You come to reconcile with God and walk away in happiness, and when coming into His Presence you come to receive counsel to correct your ways, submit to His ways and gain the joy of knowing Him, and the hope of eternal habitation with God (Deuteronomy 5:33; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Regarding breaking bread as in Acts 2:46, there is a misconception that this means to cook big meals and spend much time eating and talking during each fellowship meeting. However, the very Scripture speaks about communion; the bread the believers broke in their homes. If it spoke about bread for meal times it would not be mentioned, but it is referring to the sacramental bread. The Bible says eating does not bring us closer to God (1 Corinthians 8:8), so this is definitely in reference to the Word, the symbolic bread of life (John 6:35). The Lord is encouraging family devotional time and for families to break bread in unity to our common faith while giving praise to God. This should be done as often as possible because we are doing this in remembrance of the Lord (Luke 22:19).

Have you been going to church for the wrong reasons, condemning other Christians who don’t go to your church, or failing to assemble with other believers (Hebrews 10:25)? Please repent. To accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please begin by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance.

For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed regards in brotherly love,
Brother Glenn