Mt. 7:6 π Mt. 7:13-14 π Mt. 7:21-23; 2nd π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 18:28-30 π Mt. 24:4-5 π Mt. 24:11-12 π Mt. 24:24 π Mt. 28:20 π Lk. 3:7 π Jn. 1:38-39 π Jn. 10:27 π 1 Cor. 3:9-23 π 1 Cor. 4:20 π 1 Cor. 11:20 π 1 Cor. 12:12-31 π Eph. 4:11-16 π Phlp. 1:1 π 2 Ths. 2:1 π 1 Tim. 4:1-3 π 2 Tim. 2:2 π 2 Tim. 3:1-9 π 2 Tim. 3:10-11 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4; 2nd π Tit. 2:1-15 π Heb. 4:12 π Heb. 10:25; 2nd π Heb. 10:27 π Heb. 13:5 π Rev. 1:10
There is a growing phenomenon occurring in religious America and indeed around the world wherever churchianity has inserted its antichristian influences. Now, when I say "growing," I do not mean that this is the experience of the vast majority of religious "church"-goers. We are in the context of the onset of the great "falling way from the faith" as was prophesied by Jesus ( Mt. 24:4-5 , 11-12 , 24 ) and Paul ( 1 Tim. 4:1-3 ; 2 Tim. 3:1-9 ; 4:3-4; top ) so this growing phenomenon is being experienced by the always tine remnant (the few) who find the way to life while the many, in spite of their religious fervor and zeal without spiritual knowledge, are still on the way to death as they serve their own desires and agendas rather than God's. (see Mt. 7:13-14 , 21-23; top )
This phenomenon occurs something like this: One believer begins to be freed from the religious entrapments of the antichrist's "church" system. He or she then begins to speak to other "church"-goers about the inadequacies and evils of churchianity and how it is not at all what God intends for His people. Almost inevitably, the vast majority of people this genuine saint will talk to will not only reject the truths he or she is saying, but they will also reject him or her with accusations of "you're just bitter" or "you've been hurt." A clearer example of casting pearls before pigs ( Mt. 7:6; top ) is hard to find.
Then comes a time of separation. Most, if not all, of the old friends from "church" are not distant, cold acquaintances if not outright enemies. But the lonely saint - partly because of the callous and bitter treatment received from so-called believers and the leaders of the "church" system he or she was part of for so many years has only confirmed what the Lord has revealed - the lonely saint stands alone. Or he or she comes into contact with other believers who also see these truths - often in a home fellowship with fewer "church" trappings but still not completely and spotlessly pure before the Lord.
But then along comes a younger believer who is only now beginning to see the truth about "church" but lacks clarity about it all. Almost inevitably, this younger believer asks the question, "But where should I go to church?" Since this question involves two people, let's consider each side separately.
This question is not as simple as it seems. The believer that asks, "Where should I go to church?" is demonstrating the result of centuries of darkness within the realms of men's understandings of the ways of God. The question itself is not that hard to answer but it represents only the outer layer of many layers of deception.
First: "Going to church." "Church" is the English derivative of the Greek word "kuriakon" (), used only two times in the original Greek New Testament). Even the sounding of the words is essentially the same. This Greek word "kuriakon" is only twice in the New Testament and it simply means "a possessions of a lord" - any possession and any lord. Over the centuries and across the evolution of the English language, it came to mean "the house of the Lord" and it had direct reference to the cathedrals, chapels, and monasteries where the "men of the Lord" "ministered" the "word of the Lord" to "the people of the Lord," where "Lord" supposedly refers to the Christian God, Christ and the Father. Unfortunately, this evolution of language completely ignores many Scriptures which speak of Christ's people as being God's house or temple and ignores the three other Greek words which did mean "house or temple of God" (naos "temple"  40 times, oikos "house" or "temple"  106 times, and hieron "temple"  67 times). Had the writers of the New Testament intended to convey what is mean now by the English word "church," there is a plethora of Greek words available. Even the word "synagogue," which is essentially the same thing as a modern "church," was available - and, except for James the brother of Jesus, who probably wrote his book shortly before the Jerusalem council of Acts 15 and who is traditionally touted as being the first bishop of Jerusalem (doubtful in light of a better understanding of the first century notions of Christ-like leadership), no writer of the New Testament links the notion of a believers' meeting in any way with a synagogue.
The linguistic deception is consummated when the word "church" (the actual derivative of the word "kuriakon" which was originally used only twice in the Greek), appears 115 times in the English New Testament. Interestingly, "church" is never used where the word "kuriakon" is used in the Greek text. (see 1 Cor. 11:20 ; Rev. 1:10; top ) Rather "church" is used to take the place of the Greek word "ekklesia." ( 115 times) Ekklesia, in the New Testament context, refers to the people who have been called out of the kingdom of darkness, translated into Christ's kingdom of light, who are now responsible for receiving Christ's commands and carrying them out so that the interests of His kingdom are served. When this revelation sinks in, it is not even remotely possible for anyone to possibly "go to" what they are. "Going to church," in its modern, common usage, is an extremely ignorant, oxymoronic statement.
In the lecture halls of religion (also called "schools of theology"), "not going to church" is often equated with the notion of "forsaking the assembly" of Hebrews 10:25; top . This is an extremely poor understanding of what the verse is actually talking about. The Greek word for "assembly" is neither "kuriakon" nor "ekklesia" but rather is "episunagoge" ( 2 times). This word is also only used twice in the New Testament and has a very specific meaning. To get an idea of this specific meaning, consider the other usage, which is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1; top . In that passage we will be "gathered together" with Christ at His return. There will be no possibility of forsaking that assembly because He will have consummated the assembly which He has begun among His followers now. It is this assembly now, the formation of saints, deacons and elders ( Phlp. 1:1 ) each one spiritually gifted in his or her own area and all being conformed to the character of Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:12-31 ; Eph. 4:11-16 ) that is consummated upon Christ's return. It is the present-tense forsaking of the assembly of His body that is referred to in Hebrews 10:25; top , not some "church" attendance.
To see the ludicrous nature of the usual theological interpretation, if "forsaking the assembly" truly referred to leaving the "church" assembly, then everyone running off to the local cafeteria for lunch after the meeting would be guilty of forsaking the assembly and would then be in the position of having a "certain and fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation" which the writer of Hebrews expressly links to the sin of "forsaking the assembly." ( Heb. 10:27; top ) If "not going to church" and "forsaking the assembly" were indeed the same thing, we could never leave the "church" building - a fate worse than death! Obviously, somebody's theology is awry.
There is no other passage in the New Testament that can even be remotely construed as requiring any believer under any circumstances to attend any regular meeting. Where believers are under some external religious requirement to attend regular meetings, it is merely a form of "Christian law" that opposes the grace (power) of Christ. The meetings in the New Testament were attended because the Spirit of Christ drew those people together. Even John the Baptist asked, "Who warned you to flee the coming wrath?" ( Lk. 3:7; top ) Answer: The Spirit of Christ drew them to hear him and then to follow Christ. We should get a clue.
But if the New Testament does not require us to attend meetings, where does the requirement come from? Quite simply, it is the traditions of men that war against the living, powerful, sharper-than-a-two-edged-sword, Word of God which is the Spirit of Christ. (see Heb. 4:12; top ) Why is any believer obligated to obey that which is not of Christ? Obviously, we are not obligated to obey but rather we are obligated to turn away from such requirements.That brings us to the simple, bottom-line answer to the question of "Where should I go to church?" - recognizing that we now really mean, "Where do I go to meet with other believers who are genuinely attending to the affairs of the kingdom of Christ?" And the answer is quite simple. We go wherever the Head, Christ Jesus, personally tells us to go. If, in accord with some plan of His, He impresses upon our hearts to go to Church X on some Sunday morning, we should go. If He never impresses that upon our hearts to go or never to return to Church X, we should be at liberty in that also. If Christ were to put it on someone's heart to become a full-fledged member of some abominational "church," they are free to do so - but knowing that the "church" is the system of the antichrist, it is difficult to believe that it is actually doing the leading of that individual. Christ does have His own methods and ideas which are incomprehensible at times, however, so if it were actually Christ directing someone to attend or even become a member of a "church," it is completely certain that supporting the institution is not the reason Christ is sending someone to that "church." We are all at liberty to follow Christ as best we are enabled by His grace - and no other has authority to curtail another believer's liberty. Our only duty is to warn and instruct those who would attend a "church" for deceptive reasons.
Rather than recommending "church" or even house group attendance, the New Testament encourages people to practice - especially upon other members of the family of God - the things pertaining to sound doctrine (see Tit. 2:1-15; top - a fascinating passage, especially in light of Paul's warning to Timothy that in the last days people would not endure sound doctrine - 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top ) and to focus on listening to the voice of the Lord in accordance with the Scriptures. (For those who have been conditioned by years of spirit-numbing religiosity and who don't believe we are supposed to hear the Lord for ourselves, why did Jesus say, "My sheep hear My voice."? - Jn. 10:27; top . If He's not speaking or we're not supposed to be listening, that's a rather dumb thing to say. If we're not hearing His voice, maybe we're not really His sheep. It pays to be sure just whose sheep - or goat - we are!)
We should not even worry about where we should go on any given day. The person who is being conformed to the character of Christ and who regularly hears the voice of the Lord will be where they are supposed to be. It is far more important that husbands love their wives (being Christ to them), that wives submit to their husbands as unto the Lord (showing how Christ submitted to the Father), that children obey their parents (recognizing authority), etc., etc. These are much more important than where we go on any given day. Then we will be the body of Christ - and not just another pew potato going to "church" practicing the deceptive passivity that opens one's life to the deceptions of the demonic. And it is true that any person truly listening to the Shepherd who is still trapped in the "church" system will someday hear His call to leave and will not need to hear the voice of another man at all. It is also true that anyone not listening to the voice of the Shepherd will not be moved by a man's voice either - so why waste time and energy on someone who has already turned a deaf ear to Him? All we need to do is hear and obey the Shepherd. Period.
The real godly motivating factors behind the desire to "go to church" are:
1) the desire to be with God and
2) the desire to be with other believers.
Both of these are appropriate desires within the heart of the believer. But we must recognize once and for all that the "church" is not God's house - we are! And, since He has promised that He will never leave or forsake us ( Heb. 13:5 ; Mt. 28:20 ), how could we possibly go to any place here on earth where He is more with us than what He already is? No such place exists or even could exist - so don't fall for that deception. He is no more with us at an hour-long "church" meeting than HE is with us the other 147 hours in the week. It is good that we desire to be with God - but we are already with God so let us simply turn our attention toward Him and enjoy His presence whether we are alone or with others.
It is also good that we desire to be with other believers. But the spiritual maturity of any believers we might find at a "church" is so minimal that we will find ourselves seeking the living in the place of the dead. We indeed may find a fellow mourner at the cemetery, but it is much more likely that we will only stumble over the monuments to the corpses. And, if we simply "go to church" to satisfy our own desires for fellowship and we do not await the leading and guiding of the Head Christ Jesus, we are only practicing lawlessness, doing that which is right in our own eyes and according to our own desires (see Mt. 7:21-23; top ) - hardly a good basis for a relationship with God.
So, the bottom-line answer to any believer asking this question is: Go wherever the Lord tells you to go but recognize that the Lord focuses more on who and what you are as you are going about your everyday life.
Jesus said, "The gates (schemes) of hell will not prevail against My people (ekklesia)." ( Mt. 16:18; top ) For centuries, even millennia, true believers in Christ have thrived within the buildings of the system of antichrist because they simply loved one another with the love of Christ and left all the "other stuff" to those who trafficked in such things. The life of Christ, though handicapped, cannot be stopped - not even by the "church" deceptions of antichrist.
From the inside, the a simple way of differentiating between "church" and ekklesia is that the "church" is a system of the clergy lording it over the laity (and all the attending deceptions and distortions of spiritual life - and especially where the class of clergy routinely denounce the evils of the clerical system from the pulpit!) whereas ekklesia is the deepening relationships of equal brothers. It is Christ Himself how has allowed this co-mingling of truth and error to exist so that the wheat and tares could both grow to maturity until the day their true natures would be manifested. (see Mt. 18:28-30; top ) We are getting very close to the day when each will be revealed for what they are and Christ is graciously allowing us to see more clearly which is which so that we might choose which we will be on the day when He sends His angels to separate one from the other.
With this advice to the younger believer in mind, let us now consider what the older, more mature believer should do. Let's take a moment to consider how the centuries of darkness have taken a toll on our understanding of God's way. When John and Andrew first came to Jesus, He did not say to them, "Go to your home town synagogue and learn the Bible there." No. He said, "Come and see" and they went and remained with Him. ( Jn. 1:38-39; top )
Paul told Timothy, "But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra - what persecutions I endured." ( 2 Tim. 3:10-11; top ) It is indeed important, as Paul had already previously instructed Timothy, to take "the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, [and] commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." ( 2 Tim. 2:2; top ) But the "manner of life, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, afflictions" and the other happenings in one's life are not conveyed through impersonal speeches from a pulpit. They are only conveyed when lives are shared.
This is God's way. The older is to say to the younger, "Come and see. Share in my live and glean what you may from my life." This may include opening our home so that the younger may actually live with us for a time. It may mean including the younger in all our dealings with other people throughout the day. Whatever it means in terms of regular involvement - and only the Lord can lead us in that - it means that our walk with Christ, while not necessarily perfect, must be genuine and possessing at least some maturity. Rest assured that we will be held accountable for every way in which we make the younger stumble in his or her walk with Christ.
This "taking them under our wing" is not so that we can draw men after ourselves as so many "church" leaders do. Rather it is so that our godly lifestyle is demonstrated (and not just talked about - see 1 Cor. 4:20; top ) and duplicated. This is how God enables the younger believer to move on to spiritual maturity so that soon he or she is albe to say to another, "Come and see how I live in Christ."
Know also this: If we are unwilling to take younger believers under our own wing - as so many supposed great "pastors" are, instead remaining impersonal and distant and infallibly expert behind their pulpits - we are not fit to lead anyone anywhere in the kingdom of Christ. If we are not enabling our wife and/or children to continuously grow in the grace of Christ (the enabling power of Christ to overcome sin and self), we are not fit to lead anyone else either. If our life in Christ is not real at home, it will just be a lie everywhere else too.
There is only one foundation - Christ Jesus. Let everyone who builds upon that foundation take care to build as a master craftsman - using only high quality building materials and putting them together in a manner that will withstand the ravages of the elements and the test of time. There is no excuse for shoddy workmanship within the kingdom of Christ for He has given us all things for His glory. (see 1 Cor. 3:9-23; top )
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!