Many call the building they meet in a “church.” According to the Bible, is that building really a church? Or is the church something else according to the word of God? What is a church? Read the Scriptures cited below then listen to the study which is partially quoted and linked to below for some answers.
Ephesians 2:19-22 “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 11.3 “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Hebrews 9:1-15: “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
Thus, one can see that God does not dwell in a building and never has. He did not dwell in the Temple. See, e.g., 1 Kings 8.27. Today, the Holy Spirit dwells in believers. When they come together, they are a church (an assembly) who form a spiritual organism. See 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. When they leave the building, if indeed they are meeting in a building, when they turn off the lights and go home, the Holy Spirit (God) is not in that building and the church is no longer in that building. If they meet under a bridge, the church is under that bridge while they meet there. If none of those who come together are born again believers, baptized into that church, then they are not a Bible church since the Holy Spirit indwells none of them.
Some excerpts from a radio teaching by Dr. J. Vernon McGee on 1 Kings 5 (the complete teaching is linked to at the end):
“Man has been a builder from the beginning. In Genesis 4.17 we are told that Can “builded a city and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” The face of the earth is scarred by great mounds that hide the ruins of great cities and splendid buildings of the past. The spade of the Archaeologist has penetrated into the depths, and you can judge each civilization by the height of the buildings. There are those who say that the cave men of the Stone Age (if they ever existed) were barbarians and uncivilized. They were not builders but sought refuge in caves. The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans are all counted as civilized, and it is evidenced in their architecture. Modern man claims a high degree of culture because he has built subdivisions and shopping centers, apartment buildings, and tall office buildings. Today man is building his own cave in which to live and work—like a gopher. The rest of the time he crawls on the freeway like a worm. As long as he can push a button and turn a switch, he says he is living. That is modern man.
“The first buildings of impressive design were the temples. All pagan peoples had temples. Some temples were crude; others, such as the Parthenon in Greece, were the highest expression of beauty. All of this building stems from the Tower of Babel, which was a monument to man’s gargantuan resistance to God. Pagan temples have always been the highest architectural expression, but the pagans who have attended, both civilized and uncivilized, have been on the lowest spiritual level. These temples have been elaborate, large, ornate, rich, and impressive. The temples of the kings on the River Nile, Asshur of Ninevah, Marduk of Babylon, the ziggurats in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, Baal of the Phoenicians, Athena of the Greeks, and in Athens the Parthenon, Jupiter of the Romans, the Aztec temples of Mexico—all of them are manifestations of rebellion against God.
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). What did they do? They built temples, changing “the glory of uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1.23). Each made a house for his god to live in. They put their gods in a box like a jack-in-the box.
“The temple Solomon built was never considered in Scripture as a house in which God would live….
“The temple was complicated. The simplicity of the tabernacle was lost…. There is an application for us. We are living in a day when the emphasis in put on methods rather than on the word of God. The church is filled with new programs and new methods.
“When I first began my ministry I pastored a little white church on a red clay hill in Georgia, surrounded by a cotton patch….
“The second thing to notice about the Temple was that Solomon made little windows of narrow lights. There had been no windows in the tabernacle. … The people no longer depended upon divine light as they had in the tabernacle….
“ … The temple was more ornate and gaudy than the tabernacle, and there was more ceremony and ritual connected to it.
“Notice how complicated the temple is in comparison to the tabernacle. …”
For more on the misconception of the meaning of church, see “Sustaining Property Tax,” an article by Winnie Varghese which shows her complete misunderstanding of the meaning of “church.” Her type of church is a place of pagan worship.
For a more thorough study, see The Biblical Doctrine of the Church.