· When we pray: "We thank thee for the opportunity to come here in thy house to worship thee?" Is it necessary "to come here" in some church building in order to worship God? This seems to be a growing concept and I hear it more and more. Apparently many think the building is indeed the house (place) of worship. That is the place we go to attend "Worship Services," whatever that means. On the sign board out in front of the building the times of these "Worship Services" are given. Is the building the "house of God"? More and more this is being stated. God does not dwell in temples made with hands. The building is not sacred nor is it "holy ground" or a "holy place." Where do we read in Scripture about "Worship Services"? You don't! We can, and should, worship God anywhere and all the time. We are always in His presence. We worship Him when we serve Him by serving others and living as He directs.
· When we pray: "We thank thee for the church"? What is meant by "the church" in this oft-repeated prayer? Don't Christians make up or constitute "the church"? If so, are we thanking God for ourselves?
· When we pray that "we shall bring no reproach upon the church"? Are the Lord's people the church? If so, are we praying that we bring no reproach upon ourselves?
· When we pray that we may all "be faithful to the church"? Are we the church? Does it mean that we are praying that we will be faithful to ourselves?
· Often I have heard (and in years gone by I have often used such myself): "We thank you, Lord, for that blood-bought institution of the New Testament, the church" What is meant by that expression? True, Jesus purchased the church with His blood, but is it an institution or organization? Jesus redeemed or purchased a people from sin and they are His church (ecclesia); the saved, God's children. Jesus did not give His life for some institution or organization!
The idea is prevalent that Jesus died to establish, set up, or purchase an institution to be the container of the saved. Hence, our salvation depends upon our seeking, finding, and joining that institutional container in which salvation is found. There are many institutions operating in the name of the Lord. The trick is to find the right institution, the one with all the scriptural identification marks, and get in it in order to be saved. The erroneous view is that salvation is to be found in that institutional container for which Christ died! Not so! Jesus did not die for an institution or organization; He died for you and me! Praise God! I don't have to find the right institution or organization and get in it to be saved! The church (ecclesia) is the saved!
"So then, those who received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls...And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:41,47). -- CAH.