Many “Christians” are taken aback when they hear me say that we should not encourage someone who is seeking a relationship with God to “find a church home.” First, let me say that I can understand how hearing this could shock the very foundation of those who are committed to religion. Allow me to make my case and shed some light on this position. Would you advise someone who knows nothing at all about cars to go to a car dealership to purchase a car? Of course not, because you would fear that someone might take advantage of that person because of their lack of knowledge in regard to cars. You would probably advise that person to do some research on their own. You would recommend the various resources that exist to educate consumers in specific areas. The Bible, the very word of God, is the only resource that anyone, who wants to learn about God, should be referred to. Jesus Christ died so that we no longer had to go through other men to access God (see John 14:6 & 1 John 2:27). Furthermore, when did Jesus, or the Apostles, ever direct anyone to religion? Let me remind you that is was the religious zealots who crucified our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did because He did not submit to the laws of religion. Jesus preached obedience to God’s commands instead of traditional worship, which failed to clear the guilty conscience of the worshiper (Hebrews 9:9). I know that you are probably thinking that the modern day Christian church is very different than the temple worship that the Jews of that time participated in. To that I’d say that you are mostly right, because the Jews refused to accept that Jesus was the Son of God, and they blatantly rejected His teachings. They held fast to their law and tradition that made temple worship a requirement for serving God. The modern Christian church is built on the fact that Jesus is indeed God’s only begotten Son and that Salvation can be found in no other name (Acts 4:12). Aside from those obvious differences, temple worship and modern day church are eerily similar, if not the same. Consider this; both the temple worshipers and the modern church require routine attendance on a regularly scheduled basis. Both the temple worshipers and the modern church have a man who is approved by men and is responsible for sharing a message with it’s members. Both require that their members sacrifice their worldly possessions and finances as a payment for a man, not named Jesus, interceding before God on their behalf. Both have worldly processes, rules and regulations for determining which men are is qualified to share God’s Word with the people. Both keep their congregation or worshipers estranged from the truth and personally knowing God and emphasizing a commitment to a building built by human hands. Neither of them grow their members into servants, filled with the wisdom and knowledge of God. In fact, both temple worshipers and the modern church keep their members dependent upon human leadership and not the Holy Spirit of God. Think about it, who or what are you serving, praising, or worshiping when you go to church? Are you praising Him because He showed up in the trial you were in because of your refusal to go along with ungodly worldly rhetoric? Have you been persecuted unfairly because you stood by God’s Word, despite opposition? Did you lose a job because you insisted upon praying or reading your Bible on your break? In John 16:33 when Jesus said that we will have trouble in this world, He meant that we would have trouble in this world because we live according to His Word. It is a fact that everyone in this world has troubles, but a Believers troubles come because we are completely obedient to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and refuse to compromise. In John 15:18 Jesus says; “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first”. Again, why did the religious leaders hate Jesus? It was because He came with the message about a faith that freed temple worshipers from their obligation to religion. Basically, Jesus’ message threatened the power and the pockets of the temple hierarchy. Fast forward to today’s Christian church: How do you think the message that Believers were not obligated to be in church (a building on earth that is built by man) in order to be in God’s presence would be received? Some of us have loyally attended church for years, if not a lifetime, yet we still would not feel comfortable teaching about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why is that? Why are we not prepared to serve the message that we have supposedly been obeying and learning in church our whole lives?
Someone else might ask; what about the verse that says not to forsake fellowship. It is true that Hebrews 10:24-25 says; “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”. They conveniently, or unwittingly forget that Hebrews 10:22-23 says ” let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful”. Verses 10:22-23 say that faith in God’s Word creates a sincere heart and a full assurance of Salvation. It does not say that faithfully attending church would result in Salvation, which is the goal of our faith (1 Peter 1:9). The pure water referenced in Hebrews 10:22-23 is the Word of God which cleanses us so that we can be in God’s presence. Our fellowship is with the Father, the Son, us and the Holy Spirit as it says in 1 John 1:3. Do you truly believe that God would give us the gift of His Spirit so that we could sit in a man-made building and listen to another man? The Holy Spirit is given to those that love God, as Jesus says in John 14:15-16; “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. Jesus says in Mark 10:45 “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”. We too are obligated to serve God’s Word. Hebrews 5:11-14 also speaks to this; “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil”. The key phrase in this passage is “by constant use”, meaning that we must constantly seek and apply God’s Word in our everyday life in order to grow in understanding and wisdom. Practice truly does make perfect and our goal is to resemble the perfect sacrifice that God gave in Christ Jesus. Think of it like this; you can keep going to church once or twice a week and maybe get what amounts to a sip of God’s pure water, or you can go directly to the source, which is the Bible, and drink til your heart is content. 1 Peter 1:22-23 says; “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God”. Clearly we are made pure by obeying the Word of God, so I ask you: How can one obey that which they do not know or understand? The Disciples went from students to those that were given the responsibility to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bring men to God. Specifically, they were calling men out of religion and into a relationship with God through faith in His Word, which dwelt within them through the promised Holy Spirit as Jesus says in John 14:26 “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”.
The bottom line is this: Our responsibility is to God, not to religion, which is really the law. Think about it; the routines, rituals and traditions that are practiced in today’s church come from the law of Moses. Hebrews 8:5-7 says; “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in Heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another”. Of course we don’t offer animals at the alter anymore, but a check, debit card or cash will do. There is no longer a High Priest who intercedes and prays to God for the people. Today we have a Pastor, Bishop, Pope, or Grand Pubah, who claim to speak on behalf of God, though they rarely share the challenging messages that call for change and sacrifice. We no longer worship in a temple, instead we worship in a “church” though both are earthly structures built by men. Decide for yourself, are you a servant who is qualified to minister the Word of God to the hearts of the lost and broken? Or are you a religious church recruiter whose faith and hope are dependent upon attendance in a building that has failed to render spiritual fruit in your life? All that being said: Why would you refer anyone to the modern day Christian church if it fails to grow its’ congregants into Spirit led ministers of the Gospel of Christ Jesus? It you were a dedicated member of a fitness club for years and yet you failed to lose any weight or attain better health, would you encourage your friends to join that club? Mark 1:17 Jesus says “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men,” which means that Jesus was going to teach His followers how to faithfully obey and serve God in the world. Religion fails to transform those who seek God into servants or fishers of souls. Religion creates a false sense of righteousness that serves only the flesh and leads the fish into the fire.
Do you not know that you the are God’s temple, and the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. 1 Corinthians 6:19
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live”. Isaiah 55:1-3.