Posted by: Joe Palmer | January 17, 2013

Do you Go to Church? or Are you “The Church”


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Joe Palmer

Right now I am studying about the church.  I am learning lots of things but I got to thinking about something last night that I want to throw off you the readers and let you share your feelings as we look at the Bible together.

The church is the “Called out” of Christ.  That is the meaning of the word Ekklesia, the Greek word we translate church.

The church is the saved of the Lord.  The saved are added to the church by the Lord. (Acts 2:47)   Thus in the most precise sense the church refers to the people.  Some of my friends chide me because sometimes I say, “I am going to church.” referring to the assembly on Sunday. They would respond, “You can’t go to church, you are the church.” As I studied I wondered if any scriptures would back up that usage. I have thus far found a few scriptures that I think give credence to calling the assembly, the church.

“For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.”  (1 Corinthians 11:18 NKJV)

Paul here refers to their coming together or assembling as when they are the church.  I am part of the church but when we assemble we are the church. Thus to go to the assembly is to go to “THE CHURCH.”  I cannot call myself the church individually because I am only a member of the church.  That would be like a finger saying I am the body.  It is only one part of the body.

“Likewise greet the church that is in their house.” (Romans 16:5 NKJV)

Paul here greeted the church that was in the house of Priscilla and Aquila.  Where they in the house as he wrote?  That isn’t what he meant.  He was greeting the Christians.  Which ones? The ones who meet in that location.  He calls them the church that is in their house.  So when they assembled they were the church.

I know this is a little issue but studying is fun and I just wanted to throw this off my readers to see what you think about these two verses in regards to this particular usage of the the church.

“I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”  (1 Corinthians 14:18–19 NKJV)

Paul is discussing tongues. Here he says, “In the church i would rather…”  What does he mean in the church?  He means the assembly.  So when Paul goes to the assembly would he accurately say he is going to the church?  I think it makes sense.  See verses 23 and 28 as the same usage is continued.

As far as I am concerned this is enough study on this topic.  I think to say I am going “To  Church” is okay.  Of course you still need to understand that isn’t the building but the saints assembled that make it “The church.”

One thing we need to keep in mind in regards to such matters.  There are two issues that need to be balanced.

  • The need to be accurate in our speech.  I get it. The building isn’t the church.  We don’t want people to think that way. That can lead to people thinking the building is a holy place when God doesn’t say it is.
  • The need to understand what people are saying, without being contentious.  I get called “Pastor” a lot.  Sometimes I correct people, sometimes I don’t. If it is a teachable moment like working with a new Christian I do.  If it a stranger who says, “You must love being a pastor.” I don’t.  Why?  Because I think to correct the second person would like just create more tension than it would do good. It wouldn’t help me build a relationship with them.

If someone tells you they are going to church tomorrow, do you know what they mean?  Would picking their words apart do any good?  Would they really be better off, or more Godly if we trained them to say, “I am going to the assembly of the church tomorrow.”

Here is what Paul says about such debates.  “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.”  (1 Timothy 6:3–5 NKJV)

Joe Palmer

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