Good things do not occur when definitions of words are changed. This has happened with the word "church." Untold numbers of people will perish, all because they were misled into believing that they were part of the "church." Because of this deception, they were (and continue to be) left with a false sense of security. Instead of security, they should have been filled with sorrow and repentance for their sins. They should have had enough "fear of God" in them, that it would cause them to humble themselves at the cross, confess (and turn from) their sins, and learn to follow Jesus.
"Church," as God defines it, has nothing to do with a building or an institution. A person doesn't become part of it by getting his name on a "membership list." It has nothing to do with programs, committees, fund raisers, membership campaigns, or any of the other things commonly associated with it today - things which mislead people into thinking they are part of God's "church," when in reality they are not.
These studies take a look at what God says about the concept of "church." We have no obligation to use that word in any other way. In fact, we could say that our obligation is to not use it in any other way, for doing so is to mislead and distort.
Calling "Christianity" a "religion" is just as much of a distortion of the truth - and treats Christianity as though it were on the same level as any of the man-made religions. This false connection between "Christianity" and "religion" fits quite well with the man-made (false) definition of "church."
Because these false definitions are so prevalent, we find ourselves faced with what appears to be two "Christianities" - one fake (a mere "religion") and one genuine (a relationship with Jesus Christ) and two "churches" - one fake (involving membership lists and the like) and one genuine (those who are genuine followers of Jesus). To make matters more complex, the distinctions between the two are often blurred, with genuine followers of Jesus sometimes having a part in a man-made institution (wrongly called "church"). Much of this blurring is the fault of the leaders who fail to teach the people the differences between the two. (Most leaders who have had much training are aware of the differences, but for whatever reasons, they choose to ignore it.)
On the other hand, some genuine followers of Jesus may choose to work within the false system, not ignoring or blurring the differences between the two, but in order to encourage those who don't know better... or in some cases, to show them the way to a genuine relationship with Jesus, and membership in the "church" as God defines it.
Associating the word "religion" with "obedience to God," or with anything that is a part of becoming saved, is also a gross distortion and a lie. But this is a different issue, and has a web page of its own.
This study includes every pasage where the word "church" is found. Included is the verse list, a summary of what those verses say, study questions, and additional comments based on my own observations and experiences.
Why do people blindly go after a false concept of "church"? Why is it an issue? How should we respond?
People have invented all kinds of "church activities" that God never said anything about, and which often consume time we could have spent doing what God did say something about!
Most of these studies include a verse list and some questions for studying the concept. In some instances, a summary of what the verses say is also included.
This, rather than one's name on a membership list, defines who is a "member" of the church. The man-made type of "membership" is not found in the New Testament, and must be read-into the Bible before it can be "found" there.
This study contains a list of verses and a couple questions. The Bible's concept of being a "member" is so different from what most people think of, that there is almost nothing in common. Feel free to write your own summary.
For many "church goers," the concept of "fellowship" means getting together for gluttony and frivolous talk. This has almost nothing in common with the Bible's concept of "fellowship." More than that, the Bible's concept of "fellowship" is an obligation for the follower of Jesus; it's not something we can choose to ignore. To ignore it is almost the same as denying Christ.
This is another word (or concept) that describes the relationship of a disciple to Jesus. This is the way God describes it, and we have no right to ignore other disciples, or to treat them as inferior "second class" citizens of the kingdom of God.
This is the closest the Bible gets to the word "denomination" - and God doesn't have anything pleasant to say about it! We have no right to ignore other followers of Jesus, simply because they aren't part of our "denomination"! God gives us the criteria for knowing who the followers of Jesus are ... and "denomination" is not one of them!
The Bible says...
... Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25b-27)