Sunday, April 26, 2020

What is a church?

From the Greek word “Ecclesia,” we have arrived at the modern term “Church”
which indicates a meeting or gathering of people who religiously share common beliefs and interests. Some congregations comprise a number of people who are piously interested in being known for doing good works and righting social injustices. Some think of church in terms of a meeting place specifically  designated as a church building or perhaps an ornate cathedral. This is all very nice and commendable but it not related to God’s new covenant with mankind.

When the woman of Samaria met Jesus at the well the following conversation ensued - Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. (John 4: 20-21)

For centuries the Jews who worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have met and worshipped in the synagogue where God would meet the chief priest once a year under certain conditions in the Holy of Holies, a room separated from the rest of the congregation by a thick curtain. During this moment the chief priest would sprinkle the blood of a lamb on what was called the mercy seat and on the basis of that blood the sins of Israel would be rolled back for another year. The lamb selected was to be without spot or blemish and was considered by God to represent the blood that the Lamb of God, His own Son Jesus would shed for the sins of all mankind on Calvary.

The conversation with the Samaritan woman continued - Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming he who is called Christ; when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4: 23-26)

When Jesus was speaking to his disciples he said -  “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you”. (John14: 15-17)
This is what Jesus was also referring to when He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, that His Holy Spirit would meet with and dwell within every believer and would later be manifest at Pentecost.

At the time of His death on the cross - “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27: 51) This was to signify that there was now a new covenant between God and man, that he would no longer meet them in buildings made by human hands.

The church in historic bible scripture refers to the meeting of those who believe and trust in Jesus the Son of God as Lord and Savior, and may consist of just a few or of many and has little to do with the good works we may do other than as gratitude after the fact for what God through Christ has done for us.

We are admonished not to forsake meeting together - Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews10: 19-25)

We see that Day drawing near and just as in the first century the persecution of the church by the sons of Satan is increasing daily throughout the world. It may become necessary to meet quietly in homes and in smaller numbers than in the usual great numbers and meeting places. But know this, that you and I are the church! - Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

No comments:

Post a Comment