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What Does the Bible Say About Church?

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The number of people who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” is growing.  

Many believe “going to church” and keeping original biblical commands aren’t required to have a relationship with God or to be a good person.

Skepticism of organized religion comes from a history of abuses, scandals, and conflicting doctrines and practices, even among those who claim to believe the same Bible.  

What does the Bible say about “church” and does it even matter anymore?  Is there an authentic biblical faith?  If there is, what does it look like?  Where can you find it and what would it require of you?  Answers to these questions begin with humanity’s origins.

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We Are Not Meant to Be Alone.

Genesis explains when God created Adam, He said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). So, God created Eve as Adam’s companion, giving them a shared purpose to create a family on the earth.  (Genesis 1:28).  

From the very beginning, God acknowledged being alone is not healthy for us, physically or spiritually. This is why God gave man and woman the gift of marriage (Genesis 2:24).  

God later would use the institution of marriage as a model for another institution that would allow people to worship, fellowship together, and demonstrate God’s way of life to the world.  That collective institution first began thousands of years ago with the ancient people of Israel, whom God called His holy nation. (Leviticus 19:2; Exodus 19:5-6).  

At specific times during the year, God commanded the Israelites to assemble together to worship as a holy congregation.  

Leviticus 23:1-2 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’”

God’s Assembly is Commanded.

Throughout history God’s people have observed these holy convocations – which are sacred assemblies – in observance of God’s instruction to worship together on days set by Him. By His design, He established a way to be with us and has always sought a place to dwell among His people (Exodus 25:8). 

Even today people faithfully gather to observe the Feasts of the Lord because God commands His people to come together for holy assemblies in both the Old and New Testaments. These are appointments God made for His Family as an essential part of building a relationship with Him.  

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, as so much more as you see the Day [of the Lord] approaching.”

The Bible makes clear that God established distinct days for collective worship – not on days we choose from traditions or convenience, but on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Feasts of the Lord outlined in Scripture. 

God’s Assembly is for All Nations.

What began with the children of Israel – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) – God always intended to expand to people from all cultures, races, and backgrounds.  

Genesis 28:14 “[Y]our descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Isaiah 49:6 “I will give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

When Jesus Christ lived on earth, He promised to build a congregation of people from all nations called by God the Father (John 6:44).  This collection of faithful believers would extend God’s holy assembly to include those beyond the physical nation of Israel.  

Matthew 16:18 “[Jesus said]…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Acts 14:27 “Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”

God’s Assembly is Holy.

In Scripture, the word most frequently translated as “church” comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which just means “a called-out assembly of people.” Even the congregation of ancient Israel is called God’s ecclesia (Acts 7:38).  So, several English bibles helpfully and more accurately translate ecclesia as a congregation, assembly, or community of believers.  

In contrast to many modern uses of the word, in the Bible the word “church” does not refer to a building.  It also is not a physical or corporate organization. The ecclesia is quite simply the assembly of people called by the Father and made holy by His Spirit.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also in Christ.  13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and all have been made to drink into one Spirit.”

This holy assembly of people called by the Father is joined by the Holy Spirit and unified through Jesus Christ.  

God’s Assembly is United in Spirit and Truth.

A unifying characteristic of faithful disciples is obedience to the Law of God. For example, under the leadership of the apostles and other congregational leaders, 1st Century followers of Christ gathered to hear God’s word, pray and sing hymns collectively on all the biblical Holy Days wherever they could – in synagogues, in homes, and even along river banks (Acts 13:42, Acts 16:13, Romans 16:5, Philemon 1:2).  

As it was then, the “Body of Christ” now includes people from all nations (1 Corinthians 12:27) who share a common bond of spirit and truth that transcends differences in time and culture.  

Acts 10:35 “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”

John 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him.  24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Ephesians 4:4-5 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

What binds together God’s assembly – the ecclesia – is unity of spirit, doctrine, obedience, and faithfulness to true Biblical teachings.  

God’s Assembly is His Family.   

The people of the ecclesia are sometimes referred to as the “elect of God” (Colossians 3:12) or the “called, chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). But, most distinctively, the ecclesia is intimately connected to the Father’s purpose for mankind which is to build His household, the very family of God. Those led by His Spirit of truth are actually called His children!

1 Timothy 3:15 [I write] so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church [ecclesia] of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

These family-oriented characteristics of the ecclesia go all the way back to the gift of marriage God originally gave to Adam and Eve.  

Ephesians 5:23; 30-32 23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church [ecclesia]; and He is Savior of the Body….30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.  31 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’  32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church [ecclesia].”

The structure of the physical family from creation is the model for the relationship between Christ and members of His body who are called into the eternal family of God. Those who desire to join God's family and receive eternal life must become part of His assembly to fellowship and worship together in spirit and truth. From beginning to end, the Bible clearly shows why “church” matters.

swipe

What Does the Bible Say About Church?

Printer + Reader Friendly
swipe

The number of people who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” is growing.  

Many believe “going to church” and keeping original biblical commands aren’t required to have a relationship with God or to be a good person.

Skepticism of organized religion comes from a history of abuses, scandals, and conflicting doctrines and practices, even among those who claim to believe the same Bible.  

What does the Bible say about “church” and does it even matter anymore?  Is there an authentic biblical faith?  If there is, what does it look like?  Where can you find it and what would it require of you?  Answers to these questions begin with humanity’s origins.

swipe

We Are Not Meant to Be Alone.

Genesis explains when God created Adam, He said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). So, God created Eve as Adam’s companion, giving them a shared purpose to create a family on the earth.  (Genesis 1:28).  

From the very beginning, God acknowledged being alone is not healthy for us, physically or spiritually. This is why God gave man and woman the gift of marriage (Genesis 2:24).  

God later would use the institution of marriage as a model for another institution that would allow people to worship, fellowship together, and demonstrate God’s way of life to the world.  That collective institution first began thousands of years ago with the ancient people of Israel, whom God called His holy nation. (Leviticus 19:2; Exodus 19:5-6).  

At specific times during the year, God commanded the Israelites to assemble together to worship as a holy congregation.  

Leviticus 23:1-2 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’”

God’s Assembly is Commanded.

Throughout history God’s people have observed these holy convocations – which are sacred assemblies – in observance of God’s instruction to worship together on days set by Him. By His design, He established a way to be with us and has always sought a place to dwell among His people (Exodus 25:8). 

Even today people faithfully gather to observe the Feasts of the Lord because God commands His people to come together for holy assemblies in both the Old and New Testaments. These are appointments God made for His Family as an essential part of building a relationship with Him.  

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, as so much more as you see the Day [of the Lord] approaching.”

The Bible makes clear that God established distinct days for collective worship – not on days we choose from traditions or convenience, but on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Feasts of the Lord outlined in Scripture. 

God’s Assembly is for All Nations.

What began with the children of Israel – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) – God always intended to expand to people from all cultures, races, and backgrounds.  

Genesis 28:14 “[Y]our descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Isaiah 49:6 “I will give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

When Jesus Christ lived on earth, He promised to build a congregation of people from all nations called by God the Father (John 6:44).  This collection of faithful believers would extend God’s holy assembly to include those beyond the physical nation of Israel.  

Matthew 16:18 “[Jesus said]…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Acts 14:27 “Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”

God’s Assembly is Holy.

In Scripture, the word most frequently translated as “church” comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which just means “a called-out assembly of people.” Even the congregation of ancient Israel is called God’s ecclesia (Acts 7:38).  So, several English bibles helpfully and more accurately translate ecclesia as a congregation, assembly, or community of believers.  

In contrast to many modern uses of the word, in the Bible the word “church” does not refer to a building.  It also is not a physical or corporate organization. The ecclesia is quite simply the assembly of people called by the Father and made holy by His Spirit.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also in Christ.  13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and all have been made to drink into one Spirit.”

This holy assembly of people called by the Father is joined by the Holy Spirit and unified through Jesus Christ.  

God’s Assembly is United in Spirit and Truth.

A unifying characteristic of faithful disciples is obedience to the Law of God. For example, under the leadership of the apostles and other congregational leaders, 1st Century followers of Christ gathered to hear God’s word, pray and sing hymns collectively on all the biblical Holy Days wherever they could – in synagogues, in homes, and even along river banks (Acts 13:42, Acts 16:13, Romans 16:5, Philemon 1:2).  

As it was then, the “Body of Christ” now includes people from all nations (1 Corinthians 12:27) who share a common bond of spirit and truth that transcends differences in time and culture.  

Acts 10:35 “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”

John 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him.  24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Ephesians 4:4-5 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

What binds together God’s assembly – the ecclesia – is unity of spirit, doctrine, obedience, and faithfulness to true Biblical teachings.  

God’s Assembly is His Family.   

The people of the ecclesia are sometimes referred to as the “elect of God” (Colossians 3:12) or the “called, chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). But, most distinctively, the ecclesia is intimately connected to the Father’s purpose for mankind which is to build His household, the very family of God. Those led by His Spirit of truth are actually called His children!

1 Timothy 3:15 [I write] so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church [ecclesia] of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

These family-oriented characteristics of the ecclesia go all the way back to the gift of marriage God originally gave to Adam and Eve.  

Ephesians 5:23; 30-32 23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church [ecclesia]; and He is Savior of the Body….30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.  31 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’  32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church [ecclesia].”

The structure of the physical family from creation is the model for the relationship between Christ and members of His body who are called into the eternal family of God. Those who desire to join God's family and receive eternal life must become part of His assembly to fellowship and worship together in spirit and truth. From beginning to end, the Bible clearly shows why “church” matters.

swipe