Church of Pensacola
Church of Pensacola

The "church", the ekklesia, is the invisible spiritual organic reality of the collective whole of those who are born again saints, "called out ones" who belong to Jesus Christ and who have separated themselves from this world to live holy and righteously in union with Jesus Christ. Although this group of believers is worldwide, we are usually identified by the location where we assemble together. We must not forsake the assembling ourselves together as is the custom of some, but the bible never speaks of "going to church" in the way so many now days do.


The scriptures speak of the church as being 'the church of God', "the Assembly of God", 'the church of Christ', 'the chuch of the Firstborn', 'the church of the Living God', but especially 'the church of Antioch', 'the church of Ephesus', etc. Now this has given rise to the misconception that the church is the building we gather together in for our local assembling of ourselves together unto God in union with Christ. While many know this is not technically the true church at all, we often use the term 'church' to speak of the actual building. Well, this is understandable and we should just be careful to know what people mean and not go around correcting others in a wrong spirit.


Yet I do think it is important for us to learn to define our terms according to the Spirit. Yes, the local fellowship of believers is often done in a centrally located communal building that is sanctfied for that purpose, so it is understandable that this building has come to be known by many as being "the church". But let us make sure that we are each living holy, separated lives so that we are truly living as saints by God's grace and not still sinners with false hope needing regular affirmation because of our fears.  Let us realize now that real saving faith is not trying desparately to convince ourselves that we are really "saved" in spite of all the mountains of clear evidence in our daily lives to the contrary, and it wont change God's righteous justice during your judgment even if "Brother Bobby" (no one in particular is portrayed here) calls you "brother" and speaks of you as a Christian.
The early believers devoted themselves to the breaking of bread (eating meals together, which was back then not an instant process), the fellowship (the mutual sharing of their everyday lives and other things with one another, in spiritual and practical things), the apostle's doctrine (what we would call "the New Testament" now days) and to prayer (not many of us are properly praying together now days). They did not cease declaring Christ from house to house as they preached the gospel wherever they went and whatever they did, and they often lived together in what we call "community".


If we love one another it shows, and the love and unity the early church demonstrated was much different than the "going to church" we see now days in modern 'churches'. As soon as the offering is taken up you can count the minutes until most get what they really want:  to go home in order to do what they really want! The pastor himself heads home where he can continue to try to avoid intimacy with the flock, so as to not lose any 'aura' he may have by fraternizing with the 'audience'. Very few spend time with the pastor at his home, seeing how he lives, and the pastor spends very little time with members of the 'church', praying with them and discipling them personally. Then, after the people have had enough time to make some more money, the church doors are opened for another "worship service"!

The sermon is more and more a form of entertainment, with the expectation that everyone who comes receives an affirmation that they will indeed "go to Heaven when they die"!! If the people like the sermon they tell the pastor how much they "liked the sermon" (as if that is the measure of the quality of the message)!


The church affairs, money and order of 'worship' is usually conducted by the one pastor, sometimes with the small group called 'elders'. If anyone disagrees with what is taught and tries to discuss their concerns they are often forced to leave. The 'worship' consists of singing several 'worship songs' and a sometimes a short prayer.


Most of us know many of the problems associated with the last days "going to church" phenomenon, so I will not beat a dead dog here, but suffice it to say that the real "church" is not where we assemble, even though we may be identified by such, and the real "church" is not something that happens once or more times per week, but we are the church 24/7. We are born into becoming members of the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, and he is our head. We are the church of the real Lord Jesus, "the pillar and foundation of the truth", by the grace of God!


The genuine Christians of the early church loved each other so much that they laid their possessions at the apostle's feet, and they shared everything in common, not worrying about what was theirs. Our goal should not be that others share this way with us, but that we grow in our love where we recognize that everything we have is God's, and when we love our brother by giving or sharing with them we are loving Christ. It clearly says that whoever gives to the poor lends to the LORD, and that the LORD will pay him back. We are not looking for anyone's stuff, donations, or anything else, but we are wanting to help edify and encourage and strengthen and bless each person for their highest good. Paul said, by the Spirit, "If I were still pleasing man I would not be the servant of Christ."

Every believer has a vitally important part to play in the local fellowship of believers. This becomes clearly evident as we all get to know one another. When we stop worrying about our own honor and riches and praise and being liked, then the Lord Jesus can look out for us much better. The love and unity that God calls us to is a much more thorough and perfect love and unity than we imagine, so we better get busy learning how to love one another and how to lay down our lives and serve one another by praying for each other and keeping our own attitudes right so we are not the ones causing problems by our own pride, evil suspicions, secret sins, jealousy, and selfish ambitions, etc. If we can learn to keep a humble heart and learn to not only accept correction but to love it, we can become a very great blessing to God's people and gain great assurance and certainty in our faith and hope.

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© Tom Heiden