Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Church, Where? - Part 4

After having looked at some general issues surrounding the church in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 I now move on towards more specifics.

It is clear from scripture that while the universal/invisible church does exist the bible deals mainly with the local/visible church. These churches consisted of believers, those that are called by God as saints, but it is clear from Paul’s letters that there were also people in these churches that were in all likelihood not members of God’s family. These unbelievers were there by false conversions not by being admitted as members by the church knowing they were not believers.

It seems that all too often people want to claim to be a New Testament Church or an Acts church but in doing so I think there is an error made. Acts is a historical book and by design of God more of a descriptive book than a prescriptive one. This does not mean we cannot gain principles from it, we should, but to take what was done in the New Testament and apply it exactly as prescriptive for all time is incorrect.

For example to claim we are to have house churches because that is what is in Acts we may miss the point of why house churches were utilized in the 1st century. If we read scripture and look at the times the first Jewish believers still met, initially, in the synagogue if possible until persecution began and then due to the times they met in homes. Thus the principle today is that the place of meeting is not the important aspect and this fits well with the word for church, Ekklesia, since it does not speak to a building but to a people. So the place of meeting is not the focus. When we see a country such as China the circumstances believers face would necessitate the house church but in other places a more localized meeting in a specific building may be more prudential.

The principle I see in Acts is that the church is to be a place where a community of believers/saints meets to worship God and if that takes place in a hut, a school, or a warehouse it should not matter. This community is a group of individuals called to faith by God that meets for the primary purpose of worshipping/serving God. Just as the Jews were called out of Egypt to worship/serve God the believer is called out of the world to worship/serve God (Ex 7:16). Where this is done is of less importance than that it is done.

From this we can see that the where of worship is of less importance than the fact that believers gather to do so. I think the next issue I will cover is to deal more with some things that I think scripture touches on that are to be elements or aspects of the meeting.

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