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Organized Religion

Preached at Faith 6-5-11

When I preached this message, I announced at the same time I would follow with an article. More than ever I am hearing the words, “I do not believe in organized religion” and strangely enough, quite often they are coming from people who have been heavily involved in a local Church. When this is said by those who were once faithful a Church, what they mean is they no longer believe in the local Church and do not want to be accountable and faithful to a local Church. This goes right along with the trend of removing the word “Church” from the sign or the name of the “Church.” It is thought that the word “Church” turns people off.
 
So, let us get something clear first: “Church” is a Bible word, and “Churches” is a Bible word. The Greek word is ek-klay-seeah, which means, a calling out, a popular meeting, a religious congregation and it is also translated “assembly.” From this alone, it is impossible to say “I do not believe in organized religion”, if the meaning is, “I do not believe in the necessity of going to and becoming a part of a local Church.” That person is saying “I disagree with the Bible’s definition of a Church.” What saddens my heart is that many of those who speak in these terms and justify their absence from the local “assembly” were once dedicated Christians who were not only loyal to but actively involved in the ministries of the local Church. It is strange indeed that many who are now anti-Church were saved (in some cases, made professions of faith only) in those very Churches. It is also not surprising that many of the anti-local Church proponents have a strong worldly lifestyle and attitude closely resembling that of lost people. Those who are anti- (Church) organized religion are actually for “disorganized religion.”

There is much more that can be said about the subject and I may in the future go deeper into the subject.

  1. Jesus organized the Local Church. Matthew 16:18 Notice the words, “I will build My Church.” Two chapters later He instructs the disciples on how to resolve conflict. See chapter 18:15-19 and notice that “If he shall neglect to hear them (the witnesses) then he is to “Tell it unto the Church.” Question: Which Church? The universal Church? No. The invisible Church? No again. The Church in Rome? No. The Church across town? No. The answer is obvious: He is to tell it to the Church that has the Biblical authority to deal with the situation. Question: How can they tell it to Church (assembly) if they are not assembling?
  2. Secondly, not only did Jesus organize the Church, but the Apostles recognized the Church. Look at Acts 11:19-26 notice that in verse 26 “they assembled themselves with the Church…” The Church did not assemble with them, rather they assembled with the Church. The Church was already assembling! Read Acts 13: 1-4 and notice the first statement: “Now there were in the Church that was at Antioch…” Now, were they in the building or were they in the assembly? By the way, the indication is that they were not just in the Church, but a part of the Church. Now read Acts 14:19-28 notice in verse 27 “And when they were come, and had gathered the Church together…” How can you gather a Church together if it is not known who is a part of that local Church? Did they go through the city and up and down the streets and invite people to meet and be the Church? Of course not. They gathered the known members of that assembly. In Acts 20:28 Paul gathered with the Churches for the last time and is giving instructions/encouragement. He exhorts the elders (Pastors) to “take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God…”
    Now listen…how could they feed the flock if the flock was not gathered together as a flock? Notice “feed the Church of God.” How can they do that if the Church is not assembled? Look at verse 29 and answer the question: “enter in” where? Only one answer will work there and it is “the assembly.” Look at Gal. 2:4 and Jude 1:4 and you will see that it is talking about the local assembly.
    Now if you do not believe in the local assembly of the Church, how do you reconcile 1 Cor. 12:12-28 describing the body of Christ like the body of man? How ridiculous to think it natural for your hands to be at Walmart, your feet to be at the beach, your liver to be at the ballgame While your brain and lungs are at home asleep! The body of Christ functions together like your body functions together.
  3. The Saints apprize it. That word means: set a value to; having a worth fixed. The Church comes together to worship together as they did in both Old and New Testament times; to pray together as they did in old times, to evangelize as they did in old times, to edify as they did in old times.

I say without fear or apology that those who are saved, yet out of fellowship with God’s Church are out of God’s will and fit right in the middle of Hebrews 10:25, “Forsaking the assembling of themselves, as the manner of some is…”

There are two groups of people who do not apprize the local Church and do not faithfully attend or fellowship in the local assembly:

  1. Those who are lost and without hope.
  2. Those who are lazy/worldly/backslidden/carnal/excusing.

Eph. 5:25 “Jesus Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.”
That is enough for me. I want to love what He loves.

The audio for this message can be found here. 

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