The Building is Not the Church, by Heath Rogers
It is not uncommon for men to take Bible words and attach them to things to which they do not belong. For example, the word “baptism” is unscripturally attached to the practice of sprinkling water upon the head of an infant. The titles “reverend,” and “father” have been attached to preachers and other religious leaders. Another example is when the word “church” is used to refer to a building. While it may be true that a particular building belongs to a specific church, the Bible never uses the word “church” to refer to a physical structure.
The word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklesia, which literally means, “to call out.” In the first century, this word referred to an assembly or a group of people - not to a building or any physical structure. In fact, the word itself doesn’t even have a religious significance in the original language. This can be seen in Acts 19:39, where ekklesia is used to refer to a civic assembly. We understand the word “church” to have religious significance because the Bible often uses it to refer to the “group of people” who have been “called out” of the world and now belong to Christ.
When Jesus promised to build his church (Matt. 16:18), he did not mean that he would construct a physical building, but that, based upon his identity as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16), he would establish a means of saving men which would set them aside from the sinful world.
There is a sense in which the church is a spiritual building. Paul told the Corinthian church that they were “God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9). Together, saved individuals comprise a spiritual building. “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus Christ is the foundation (1 Cor. 3:11), the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6), upon which this spiritual building is constructed. Every time a person is saved, another stone is added to the building, that is - another person is added to the church (Acts 2:47).
There is nothing wrong with us using pictures of our building or with placing a sign that reads “Church of Christ” in front of our building. When we do so, we are not claiming that the building is the church, nor are we placing undue attention upon our building. We are simply helping others identify the location of our assemblies. However, it is unscriptural to refer to the building as ‘‘the church.” The church is the “called out” body of saved people. – via The Robison Reminder, July 20, 2008
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