The Church is Not a Building

By Justin Johnson

Down the road from my house there is a Free Methodist Church that has a sign in their grass that says “Holy Ground”.

What makes their grass more holy than mine? Do they use anointed weed control?

What really gets my head spinning is why another sign labels the building the church while there is not a soul inside it on many days.

The church is not a building, but a body of people with the same head: the Lord Jesus Christ. While churches don’t have steeples, it most definitely can not be the church without any people.

“And he [the Lord Jesus Christ] is the head of the body, the church” – Col 1:18

If the Bible be true about the church not being a building, then why do Christians sing songs like “On Holy Ground”, written by Geron Davis, made famous by Sandi Patty.

“As I walked through the door, I sensed His presence,
and I knew this was the place where love abounds
For this is the temple, Jehovah God abides here,
and we are standing in His presence on holy ground

We are standing on holy ground…”

Don’t they know that the temple of God is not a building with doors that they go to on Sunday, sometimes Sunday night, but never on Monday?

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” – 1 Cor 3:16

It seems obvious from this verse that the Spirit of God dwells in me if I walk through the doors of the local saloon, McDonald’s, a Jesus Culture concert, or not. (Most likely not.)

The Church and Sacrilege

The church is a spiritual body and not a physical place. A person is made the church by trusting the gospel of Jesus Christ that he died for your sins, and was raised from the dead to provide salvation from both sin and death (Eph 1:13-14).

It is only when the faith of Christianity is confused with a religious system that physical objects and places are given status as sacred or holy.

My Bible says “Holy Bible” on the front, but it is the words in it that are holy because they were inspired by God. It is not the physical pages that are holy (though the cowhide is rather smooth).

The difference is clearly illustrated by the outrage of religionists when you burn their “holy book”, and the calm of Biblical Christians when Bibles are burned. It is the words that matter, not the ink and paper.

It is possible to commit sacrilege in Muslim mosques and Jewish temples by desecrating physical objects. When you mishandle the transubstantiated bread and drink in a Catholic Mass this is an egregious sin in their religion.

However, it is impossible to profane the building where the church meets. The pews, pulpit, hymnals, carpet, sound system, and toilet paper are not any more sacred than the furniture in the office building next door.

This is because the church is not a building it is saved people. You cannot go to the church, if you are saved, you are the church.

What Buildings Can’t Do

In the Bible, the church has ears (Acts 11:22), rests (Acts 9:31), is gathered together (Acts 14:27), receives edification (1 Cor 14:5), is persecuted (Phil 3:6), can know and teach things (Eph 3:10), can communicate (Phil 4:15), and brings Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 15:3).

Buildings cannot do these things. People can.

The error of thinking the church is a building is so deeply settled in our culture and language that it is hard to stop saying wrong things such as “where do you go to church”, “that is a big church”, and “what time is church over?”

But we must stop perpetuating the error if we will ever eliminate the confusion between the faith of Bible Christianity and a religious system that has holy places where people go to receive a blessing.

What is a churchgoer anyway if the church is saved people? If someone thinks they must go somewhere to find the church, they most likely misunderstand the gospel that makes them the church.

On Sunday I will not go to church, but I will go to meet with the church (Acts 11:26). We meet in a building south of Swayzee, there is nothing holy about the place or the things in it.

If no one else meets with me and our building is burned up by religious people, the church will still exist, because the church is not a building, but people who are saved by faith in the gospel of Christ.

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Published: August 31, 2013
Last Modified: September 1, 2013
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