The Church—The Body of Believers
Download Audio (8MB)
It is a wonderful blessing and privilege for Christians to be able to meet regularly to worship the Lord and fellowship together. Many Christians live in countries where they are not able to openly gather together and fellowship. We should desire and seek fellowship with other Christians, because we need that time together with others who believe as we do, who love the Lord and have committed their lives to Him.
In the world today, living a Christian life is not always an easy task, so it is a blessing to get together with other Christians for fellowship, to read and study God’s Word, to sing and praise the Lord, to pray for one another and to ask for prayer. It is also a good time to celebrate Communion together.
We are told in Hebrews 10:24–25, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day (of Jesus’ return) drawing near.”
The Lord knew that we needed united fellowship with other Christians for our own inspiration and for spiritual refreshing, and for being strengthened by His Word. Also, as the above verse says, meeting together is a time to encourage one another, and to stir one another up to grow in love and good works. There is also power in unity, and united prayer and fellowship bring down the Lord’s blessings. (See Acts 4:32–33.)
It’s important to bear in mind, however, that meeting together for fellowship and spiritual renewal—whether it is done in a church building, a private home, or a storefront or a tent—is not our service for the Lord. It is common in churches to call the fellowship meeting the service, and some Christians believe that going to church and giving an offering is all they are required to do to please God.
However, our actual work and service for the Lord is in our everyday living for him, in reflecting His love and truth to others, living according to His Word, and sharing the gospel with others. Meeting together for spiritual fellowship and worship is a time to be renewed, reinspired, and spiritually strengthened for the days ahead and the problems and challenges we may face.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus sent His disciples out to minister to the people. It was a great deal of work, and when they had finished their service, the Bible says, “Then the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus. And He said to them, ‘Come aside into a quiet place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:30–31). Likewise today, there is a difference between our service for the Lord and our “gathering ourselves together to Jesus” and “coming aside to rest” to be reinspired.
For its first 200 years of existence, Christianity had no buildings, and Christians just met wherever they could. Jesus said, “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). Apart from holding secret meetings in forests, catacombs, etc., initially the only meeting places that Christians had were their homes. The Apostle Paul refers on several occasions in his epistles to “the church that is in your house” (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19).
The original meaning of the word “ekklesia,” translated as “church” from Greek, the language of the New Testament, literally means “the called-out assembly” or the body of believers. God’s living church is composed of Christian believers in God who follow Jesus, the body of Christ, not a building or any particular denomination. The church is the assembly of true believers, not a lifeless building made of concrete and steel.
Sad to say, Christianity at times has become centered in the buildings, and as a result, people began to lose the vision of reaching the world with the love of Jesus. As they began to concentrate on acquiring properties and buildings, they lost sight of the church’s calling to lead the millions of lost souls who have never heard the gospel to Christ. If the church had spent that money to evangelize the world by supporting missionaries, printing gospel literature, and bringing God’s love and truth to the lost, many more people would have heard the message and the poor, oppressed, and undernourished peoples of the world would have received assistance. Our worship of God should cause us to move outside the church to reach the lost and the suffering in our world.
When Jesus was asked where people should go to worship, He answered, “Believe Me, the time is coming, and now is, when you will worship the Father neither (at the temple) on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem. For the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeks such people to worship Him” (John 4:21, 23).
Stephen, the first martyr of the early church proclaimed at his death, “The Most High God does not dwell in temples made by human hands!” (Acts 7:48). The true temple that God dwells in is the human heart—your heart, and the hearts of all those who know and love Him (1 Corinthians 3:16–17). The Scripture is clear that God seeks to live in people’s hearts.
Church buildings are certainly helpful so that Christians can have a place to regularly fellowship, where they can meet together for spiritual feeding, inspiration, and united prayer, because often individual houses are simply not large enough to accommodate everyone. A church building can be used more fully for God’s glory if it is put into use as a place where its members can gather more frequently than just the weekly meetings to study and learn the Word of God, and learn how to live a Christian life and be witnesses to others.
When Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person” (Mark 16:15), He meant for each of His followers to do whatever they could to help spread His message. Even though they may have jobs or other responsibilities, they can still share the good news with their own families and friends, colleagues and coworkers, and people they meet throughout their day.
Most Christians understand the importance of attending church regularly, and supporting missions and the church, but it is important to also understand that every Christian is called to carry their faith outside the building to help others in need. We also should support the missionaries who are sacrificially devoting their lives to preaching the gospel to the lost and caring for the poor and the needy.
Are you letting Jesus shine through you no matter where you are so that you can be a witness of His love for others? We are each called to be a part of His living church that is reaching the world with His love and is like a city set on a hill shining forth His light to the world (Matthew 5:14). “You also, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, … offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God” (1 Peter 2:5).
From an article in Treasures, published by the Family International in 1987. Adapted and republished January 2024. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.