Question: The “church” is, and always was, “man’s ways and means”; and that is so easy to see now, with all of the information that is at our fingertips. Originally, “Ecclesia” was not buildings and institutions. Words matter! Why did King James have to bind the translators of the KJV to the word “church” if it was the right word? Sadly the word “church” is now so elevated above truth, and so much is built upon it, that few are going to give up the empires and businesses that they have established, no matter what the truth is. What do you think?
Response: The value of a word and its usage is not determined by the abuse of men. In Ephesians:1:23 Paul clearly states that the church “…is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” In Matthew:16:18, the Lord promised to build His church and said that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” In 2 Timothy:2:19, Paul noted, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
The church is not a building but the people that may meet in a building. Even in the conditions approaching the endtimes, we are to “…consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb:10:24-25).
The church is not a “business” or an “empire,” but too many have forsaken the assembling of ourselves together because of such abuses, though the implication of Hebrews is that if we are commanded to not forsake the assembling, this must be possible (no matter how small the group) until the Lord takes us in the Rapture or by death.
The Lord has some assignments for us, and we need to have the Holy Spirit’s guidance regarding where we are to gather. We may not recognize immediately why the Lord has us where we are. We continue to encourage those who write to us that they aren’t to be fearful of a church that isn’t perfect, since there are none.
If we do as the Bereans did, searching the Scriptures daily to see if what they were taught was so, the Lord can use such a situation mightily in spite of the human failings we may encounter. God has His people everywhere, in the midst of faulty settings, and He may lead us to a place we would not have chosen in order that we might “forsake not the assembling” and fulfill our role among the saints to encourage, help, serve, admonish, and together become Bereans.
By definition, the word translated “church” is from ekklēsía (a word derived from ek, meaning, “out of, from, and to” and kaléō, “to call”). More properly, “the Church” comprises a people who are called out from the world and to God (see Strong’s Concordance). That is what we need to keep in mind.