The True Church
Many church buildings have become a liability rather than an asset. Once constructed in a way that was designed to glorify God, with spires that pointed upwards and architecture that was meant to inspire the worshipper, many churches have become expensive to maintain and inconvenient places in which to worship.
As a result, and because of dwindling attendances, many have been sold and the buildings have been put to other uses. They might now be offices, homes, warehouses, banks or night clubs, like the one in Chesterfield, a market town in Derbyshire, in the north of England, shown on the front cover of Glad Tidings nr. 1549.
In Old Testament times when Israel was a nation ruled over by God‘s appointed kings they were instructed to build God a Temple which became the focal point of the nation’s worship. It replaced a temporary tented structure called The Tabernacle which had been constructed during their wilderness wanderings and which was their religious centrepiece for many years, until the time of Solomon (about 970 BC).
The Temple Solomon built was to be “exceedingly magnificent” (1 Chronicles 22:5) and was designed to attract the religious attention of nations around Israel and their rulers, who might then worship the God of Israel. But that ideal was seldom achieved and often the building fell into decay and disuse, or it was defiled when the building was dedicated to the worship of heathen Gods.
The prophet Ezekiel was once given in vision a tour of this very Temple which was being used to worship many different false gods. They had erected idols, painted images on the temple walls, were offering incense to these idols, weeping for a fertility god named Tammuz that was supposed to die in winter and live again in the spring, and even worse things:
He brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house; and there, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, and they were worshipping the sun toward the east. (Ezekiel 8:16).
They had turned their backs upon the one true God and were looking elsewhere for something different to worship and the outcome was disastrous for them. Within a few years that temple had been destroyed and the nation had been taken captive and had been deported to far-off Babylon.
Jesus and the Temple
Seventy years later a small number of exiles returned and resettled in Jerusalem and they rebuilt the temple, as best they could. But it was much later, only about 15 years before the birth of Jesus that King Herod redeveloped it and made it into a magnificent architectural feature once again. This was the temple that Jesus visited on several occasions and which he denounced as a place of trade and commerce rather than true religion, It had become a place where the religious establishment made money, but imposing their own commercial regulations and by controlling monetary rates of exchange. This was what Jesus said on the first occasion when he drove out the traders:
He said to those who sold doves,
“Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:16).
When challenged to show the Jews a sign of his authority to make such pronouncements, Jesus made a statement that would be quoted against him years later, when he was being tried by the Jewish authorities. This was what the Master said, and what the apostle John later recalled:
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body (John 2:19-21).
Jesus and the Church
With the coming of Jesus, many things changed fundamentally. Now there is no need for ritual sacrifice, keeping feast days, having a special category of priests, special clothes, incense an prescribed offerings. Nor are the followers of Jesus now asked to build temple or a church in which to worship God. Indeed the temple at Jerusalem was demolished by the Romans less than 50 years after Jesus denounced the religion that was practised there a false and manmade. Instead, his followers met in homes, in rented buildings, in the open air – wherever practical and achievable. For they had come to realise an important truth: the building they had thought to be sacred was in fact profane. It had become a place occupied by Sin, rather than by God – just like the nightclub in Chesterfield.
Jesus was and is the head of the church, and his people are those who acknowledge his headship and come to God through him. They need no church buildings, no priesthood and none of the trappings of religion that some people think important.
For the church comprises the people, not the building, and Christ seeks to live among his people, who try to live according to his standards following his teaching, awaiting the time when he will return as king to reign on earth. The true church comprises the household or family of God and we should all want to be part of that family, living together with others who believe what the Bible teaches and who share that true and living hope.
I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
– Editor of Glad Tidings
- God or a god
- Bible sayings about God
- Glory of only One God Who gives His Word
- A Triple God or simply a rather simple One God
- Reflect on how much idolizing happens
- Biblical Prayer at Tabernacle Site Shilo
- Monumental Podium Discovered in City of David
- Entry to Herodian Hilltop Palace unearthed
- The meek one riding on an ass
- Judaism & Catholicism Universal ‘churches’
- Synagogue, Church or Ecclesia for the Christian
- What’s church for, anyway?
- Making church
- Church sent into the world
- Parish, local church community – Parochie, plaatselijke kerkgemeenschap
- Small churches of the few Christadelphians
- An ecclesia in your neighbourhood
- Intentions of an Ecclesia