The first battle, I feel, that is the most important psychological barrier to overcome is the addiction we have for our pastors, churches and denominations. It’s actually idol worship. Nowhere in all of scripture does it say that we are to “go to church” for our salvation. There was no church building for Adam and Eve to worship in. There was no church building for Enoch to walk with God in. Try “walking” with God in your next church service and see what they do to you. You may be asked to leave. That is precisely the point. God does not want us “going to church” in our churches. In fact, there was no “church” until 3,500 years after Adam.
Back to our examples. Noah had no church building to worship God in. (Unless you count the ark as his "church". It was a very smelly church. All of these Men of God, prior to the flood, walked with God by literally "walking" with God in the "church" of God, the forests and fields of nature. That is where God is. That is where we will come into close communion with God. Why? Because God made the forests and the fields. He created nature. That is where God is.
Man prefers to worship their man-made-gods in churches because man built and created the church building. It reminds him of his pride and ego. He goes to worship himself and the religion he has created to supplant the worship of God. All churches do today is entertain. It is a "feel-good" religion that glorifies the works, wisdom and education of man. Not one is teaching the true gospel and the teachings of Jesus. Jesus didn’t say, "Go sit and be entertained in church". He told us to go and teach only what He has commanded us. See how the churches of today have you breaking the command of Jesus for their man-made laws and traditions!
It was after the flood that man decided to build the first "church". It was called the Tower of Babel. God didn’t appreciate it and destroyed it. He doesn’t appreciate our churches either. He will destroy them.
Abraham was a man of God. He never built a church to worship God. His son Isaac was a man of God and he never built a church to worship God. Where did he worship? The same place all the righteous men went, "He went out to the field one evening to meditate." Genesis 24:63. That is what he was doing the evening he met his future wife, Rebekah.
But you say, Moses built a temple in the wilderness. Yes he did. But it was not a church. It was not a place where the people came to worship "IN". It was a house for the Ten Commandments and the Presence of God to live in so He could be among His people. Only three times a year did the people gather in front of the Temple. (Try suggesting that to your church: meeting only three times a year.) The people went out and worshipped in the quiet places of the fields, valleys, mountains and woods. Out while tending to their work, in the open and in their homes, they worshipped God. If anyone attempted to enter the temple, except a priest, he was struck dead.
It was in the fields where David first learned to worship and pray to God. He was a shepherd and wrote many of his Psalms while watching the sheep, or in the desert running from Saul.
And Samuel never built a church for worship. All his worship services were conducted outside. 1 Samuel 9:12, 13. Nowhere in the Old Testament will you find any building being built for the purpose of worshipping God as a "church". You will find many texts and historical references that show that those who built "churches" were the pagans. 2 Kings 10:18-27. All the pagans built temples to congregate in and do their pagan worship in. But God’s true worshippers were not to build "churches".
It was during the time of the Jewish Babylonian captivity that they began to build synagogues. They copied the system of “church” worship from the pagans. Now they had a place to gather and worship in, just like the pagans. But understand, God did not tell them to do this. This was of man’s design, not God’s. God wants us to meet Him in our homes, in our work and in His nature. He is to be a real God in our real lives, not just a once-a-week, in-a-building, God.
Ignatius Theophorus “was an Apostolic Father and student of John the Apostle and was the third bishop of Antioch.” He was “born in Syria, around the year 50; died at Rome between 98 and 117.” Ignatius in his letters began to express the concept of a universal “visible church” from which “those who separate themselves from it cut themselves off from God.” (Wikipedia).
Instead of Jesus being the head of the Spiritual Church or “body of Christ”, Ignatius wanted men of the church to stand “in place of” Christ and control the church. Remember what Jesus said? “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23, 24.
From the time of Ignatius on we begin to see “visible” churches taking shape and revolving around bishops. Ignatius instituted the “church” order and hierarchy of office claiming that the bishop presided “in the place of God” and to instigate the “primacy of the See of Rome”: the pope. “Ignatius is claimed to be the first known Christian writer to argue in favor of Christianity’s replacement of the Sabbath with the Lord’s Day.” (Wikipedia). In other words, he began the movement to begin a “church” system to be “in place of” God’s spiritual church system and within that “church” system to substitute the pagan 1st day Sunday to be “in place of” God’s Holy, 7th day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments. Keep in mind, in the Bible the “Lord’s day” has always been the 7th day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments. Ignatius simply attempted to equate the phrase “Lord’s Day” with the 1st day, pagan Sunday. How well it has worked! He also attempted to equated “church” with God. How well that has worked! “Church” and “Sunday” go hand in hand with the pagans.
“The earliest Christian meeting places were converted houses called titulae. After Christianity was legitimized by the Edict of Milan in 313, basilicas and centralized churches sprang up quickly in the next 50 years throughout the Roman Empire.” Infopedia
“From the beginning, the Church was organized as a constellation of individual churches, each centered in a city or town, and each led by a bishop. Bishops of the more important towns exercised leadership over the churches in surrounding communities. By the fifth century a system of church organization emerged in which the bishops—known as patriarchs—of the five great sees of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem presided over the Church in their respective regions, while the emperor was expected to protect the Church and safeguard doctrinal unity.” Collier’s Encyclopedia, 1998.
As you can see, the first “churches” of the early Christians were homes. Throughout the New Testament we read where the Christians met in homes. When Jesus sent out the disciples, He sent them out, not to church buildings or synagogues, but to homes. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house’. If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” Luke 10:5-7.
It is interesting to note that Jesus, when speaking about a place of prayer did not talk about a synagogue, or a temple, but He said, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Mark 11:17. Interesting, a house. In Acts we read that the early Christians were “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house…”. Acts 5:42. Why the “temple courts”? Because that is where the Jews were. Therefore, the Christians were there in order to convert them.
Paul said, “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” Acts 20:20. I see, publicly and from house to house. Would publicly be like what Jesus did, teaching from the seashore beside the Lake of Galilee? Or how about when Jesus was sitting in Peter’s boat to teach to the multitudes? Maybe it was like Jesus who sat on the mountainside to give the “Sermon on the Mount”? Funny, I don’t remember the Bible talking about any “sermon in the church”? Do you? Sounds to me like somebody is following the wrong example in our “churches” of today. I do remember Jesus reading scripture in synagogues, but they threw Him out. They will do the same to you if you teach what Jesus taught.
The author of Hebrews says, “He (Jesus) was faithful to the one who appointed Him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house…”. Hebrews 3:2-5. Sounds to me like the “house” where God wants to meet with us is not a “church” building, but the simple assembling of Christians who love the Lord. Verse 6 goes on to say, “But Christ is faithful as a Son over God’s house. And we are His house…”. I see, God wants us to be His “house” to dwell in. No mention there of expensive church buildings.
1 Peter 2:5 states very plainly that “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We are the church. Wherever we meet together, that is the church. The texts at the end of this section will clearly show that the early Christian church revolved around homes, not “church buildings”.
You see, God wants us to be free. Each of us is to be personally responsible to God. No man can tell you your duty. I can tell you what God says. I can tell you about Righteousness. But it is your responsibility to accept it or reject it. Churches were to be left free. Churches were the people wherever they met. The most important aspect of a loosely consolidated home-church system was for everyone to be able to speak his or her mind. Each was to be able to speak what God had shared with him/her.
This method of meeting and communicating left the church free from dictatorship and control by man. The Holy Spirit could then move among the people and individuals could be used to talk to and instruct the “church”. You will find that happening throughout the Old and New Testament. This text will give you an example in the Old Testament. 2 Chronicles 20:14.
The true church of Christ is to be able to meet and share ideas, share concepts and by the use of the Holy Spirit and through search of Scriptures, Old and New, they were to try the spirits and test the spirits and come to a unity of truth based on Scriptural truth. You see, I have tried that. I have gone into churches to see if they would like to have a Bible study. They were so afraid they might learn truth that they threw me out. My Bible tells me that it is the wicked who are afraid. The righteous have nothing to be afraid of and are commanded to search and study.
As we noted above in the historical notes, Ignatius was used by the devil to develop a “church” system that became obedient to a hierarchy of men, not God. The whole purpose of the “church” system was to control the thoughts and the will of man. Instead of each individual coming to his own personal experience with God, he was now told what to believe, what to think and how to live it. As the “Christian” churches proliferated, each breaking away from the one before, they continued to set up this system of control. Each denomination broke away from the one before it and set up its own “box” to hide itself from God and to control its members. They would come so far with a certain doctrine, and then stop and go no further. That is why you have over 42,800 denominations worldwide with an average of 10 new ones organized each week. World Christian Encyclopedia.
Yet, who is teaching the gospel as Jesus commanded us to teach it? Now you can see the truth of Revelation 17:5, “Mystery: Babylon the Great [Catholic Church], The Mother of Prostitutes [All the Protestant churches that join her in her teachings] and of the abominations of the earth.”
(Now you can see the truth of Revelation 17:5, "Mystery: Babylon the great [Catholic Church], The Mother of Prostitutes [All the Protestant churches that join her in her teachings] and of the abominations of the earth.")
Instead of lifting up Christ, let me quote to you what a major “Christian” church paper wrote. “The church and the (church paper), the (church paper) and the church: they are conterminous. In manner peculiar to our faith communion, paper and church blend, interact, and foster each other. The (church paper) is the leading edge of the church. The (church paper) seeks to represent the church, to advance the church, and to articulate the church.”
Not much there about Jesus, is there? It’s all about “church”. And that was a Sabbath keeping church.
Have all the “churches” fallen today? Are any teaching the pure Word of God? Since few will be saved, as Jesus said, can you see why? And yet everyone is thinking they are going to heaven. Everyone thinks that his/her church teaches the truth. That’s because they have given their salvation to the church. They have stopped learning for truth and have made the church, the denomination and the minister their god. Since they have accepted another god into their life, they cannot go to heaven. They have broken the 1st commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors,...” Malachi 1:10.
Because of the “church” system of today, no new truth is allowed into the churches. Not one church system will allow a “different” concept to be taught than what has already been accepted. They do not want “discord” in their churches. They do not want to be shown that they have been wrong all these years. That wouldn’t look very good, would it? So the “churches” of today are blissfully stupid while entertaining their people on the way to hell. However, instead of letting in God’s truth, they are bending over backward to let in worldly standards, like homosexuality and women’s ordination.
"Even the church, which should be the pillar and ground of the truth, is found encouraging the selfish love of pleasure. . . Often the place set apart for God’s worship is desecrated by feasting and drinking, buying, selling, and merrymaking." COL:EGW
“However, the Most High does not live in buildings made by human hands. As the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house can you build for me,’ declares the Lord, ‘or what place is there in which I can rest? It was my hand that made all these things, wasn’t it?’ You stubborn people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do.” Acts 7:48-51. Nothing has changed in 2000 years.
It is the devil’s “church system” that prevents the free exchange of ideas to flow from church to church, or even member to member. Since no church wants to be wrong, they forbid their people to study with any other church or read anything that does not come from the “official” church system. That brainwashing is in every church. It is expressed in many different ways, but to prove it, just ask a member of a different church if they would like to have Bible studies with you. They will probably decline stating that they have Bible studies at their church. They are not willing to hear new ideas or explore other possibilities. How sad.
No true Christian has any fear of learning. We are to hear. We are to read. We are to test the spirits. I have read the different doctrines of most denominations and religions including the Islamic faith. I have even read the Koran. That is how I know who is and who is not of God. Are we making “church” our god, or are we making God our church?
But what do we do with the text in Hebrews 10:25 that tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together? Nothing. Everyday when I read the mail from inmates, I am assembling with them in spirit. When I am on the phone with other Christians, I am “assembling” with them. When I am in chat rooms with other Christians, I am “assembling” with them. It doesn’t say to “assemble in a church building”. But most importantly, it tells us that when we assemble, we are to be “exhorting [one another]”. Not much of that going on in our churches. Maybe we are doing the wrong “assembling” in our churches.
So how am I supposed to worship God? Instead of listening to your preacher, your church, your denomination or group, why not let God answer that question? Here is His simple answer. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world (or its churches), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:1, 2.
The Old Testament understood that concept. When Jacob was running away from his brother, he went to sleep one night, under the stars, and the Lord revealed Himself to Jacob. In the morning Jacob said, “This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:17. They understood that any place they met with God was the “house” of God, even if there was no building present.
How simple. Simply put, true worship is living the holy, righteous, perfect life that God wants us to live. If you make the “church” your god, you lose. If you make God your church, you have eternal life.
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-17. Get out of your church now.