Observe some of today's churches. Is God in those places? Or is there only a pretense of God in those places?
Believers in Christ, we understand that the church is the body of Christ. It is the group of people that gather (assemble themselves together) in His name. Usually we hold church in a house of God. 1 Timothy 3:15 describes the house of God as "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
Not every church is fortunate enough to build - or acquire a building to be used as - a house of God. I knew of one church that gathered at different believers' houses until the day they were able to acquire a building. Today, I have learned of a church that gathers at a high school.
In the former instance, the believers of that church were devout men & women of God. They strived to keep themselves holy in all things. What does this mean? It means that they considered, "If Jesus were to visit my home, would he approve or disapprove of it?" Would He find stacks of distasteful reading material (i.e. pornography, horoscopes, how to read palms/tarot cards, gambling)? Would he approve of the television programs I watch?
Does this seem extreme? Of course it should to the carnal mind. This extreme way of life is one lived by those who are called and wish to be chosen. Those who strive to be called "faithful" and be found in the remnant. It is an extreme way of life which path can only be found by the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit. So at these believers' homes, there generally was not another spirit at work when church was held.
In the latter instance, I am not familiar with the hearts of the believers who gather at the high school so I do not touch them in any way here. I bring up this instance only because of a further story that was told to me. The two pastors of this church wish to purchase a certain commercial building that is zoned in an industrial section. The details of the purchase were sketchy, but I can relay only what I was told: In order to purchase the building, they have to purchase it with the assistance of a gentleman out-of-state due to this reason: as a church, they cannot buy the building. I'm not certain why as far as what laws are involved. Then, I was told the building would be used as their church for certain days of the week (i.e. Saturday, Sunday), but they will lease it out during the rest of the week to others. It was stressed to me that the City would be able to lease it out. Upon hearing this, I imagined that the pastors were going to achieve buying the building by asking for a federal grant which would then explain why they couldn't purchase it under the guise of a church, but rather under the guise of a community center. I was told this was not the case (the federal grant) & that is where the out-of-state gentleman came in... where money was concerned. Apparently, this building costs $25 million to purchase. Incredible. And the closing costs alone were $3 million.
Already, I've got a figurative red flag urgently flapping in some unseen forceful wind right in front of my eyes. I'm certain it has something to do with the sketchy reasons in the purchase process. But then, a second figurative red flag pops up next to the first one and waves about in like manner. Why? I'm told that the church is going to lease out the building to the City - and anyone else - to hold events there. And it was told to me like this, "So if someone wants to hold a KISS concert there, then KISS can play there. And if they want to serve alcohol, then that is acceptable by us. We may put a limit on how much alcohol can be served."
WOAH WOAH WOAH! Back up. Wait a minute. I need to clean my ears. I don't think I heard correctly. Did I?
Yes I did.
I do a big "Hmmm" right about here.
So then I ask, "Wait. The church is going to permit unGodly concerts and actions to be displayed inside their place of worship?"
And the answer I'm given, "It's just a building."
So I ask, "But isn't it your church?"
And I'm told, "See, you're saying the church is made of stone & steel...that it's a building. The church is the group of believers."
I didn't want to contend with a brother in Christ. But I felt we were already at odds in our ways of thinking.
I asked, "But then, what happens if these people go to their KISS concert and drink their alcohol. Then later, they find out the concert was held in a church...?"
I didn't get to finish my question - I was being told, "So? So? Hey - it's just a building."
I forced my question in, "Won't they be confused? They'd wonder why a church would permit that sort of behavior."
I was told this "tactic" (that's what it sounded like to me) would get them to come to church then.
I said, "But wait - last I recall, God is not an author of confusion. And I would think people would be a little confused about the whole thing. And you know the enemy is only going to use it and say you deceived them into going to church."
I was basically told that the reason they were going to allow the leasing of the building to the City with such liberty was because it would... and I'll paraphrase this... it would draw hell-bound people to the church.
I was then told a story about how some preachers in the past would say that if they could set up a church, they'd set it one step away from Hell's Gate. The reason being, they could save people who were on their way.
I had to point out the immediate flaw in that response, which was: "But setting up church at Hell's Gate is different than inviting Hell into the church. You could save people on the way to Hell's Gate, but permitting Hell to have free reign in the church is a-whole-nother story."
Every point that was made to me, I contested with the Scriptures. I was sad at what I was hearing. I repeatedly said, "That sounds too extreme to me. Where in the Scriptures does Jesus teach that practice? I'm going to have to pray and ask God about that concept."
As with everything I am taught regarding the things of the Lord, I refer to the Scriptures. Here are some Scriptures that back up my cringing at such tactics:
1 Corinthians 8:10 - For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
2 Corinthians 6:16 - And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
1 Peter 4:17 - For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
I also thought of the story in Matthew 12 about the unclean spirits being swept from the man. Now I know Jesus is talking about a man, but He has likened our bodies to the temple of God. Teaching us not to defile it. I cannot help but consider that any building that is used for the worship of God - which worship must be done in Spirit and in Truth - should not also house other spirits in the off-days that the Holy Spirit is invited. To me, that sounds like a double-standard. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Matthew 12:25 - And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
Matthew 12:29 - Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
These are the thoughts that come to me. This church will of course do what they want. It saddens me to think of a couple things: 1) a person in a position of authority would be listened to and considered as giving sound advice or Godly wisdom simply because of their position; 2) the church is not asked to pray about the matter to determine whether it is God's will and the wisdom comes from Him; 3) nobody would ask the person placed in a position to watch over them whether or not God gave this advice; 4) The church is becoming a den of dragons.
Twenty-five million is a lot of deniro. I could understand leasing out the building simply to pay off that kind of debt. The conditions that were explained to me, however, are not ones I would agree to Scripturally. But - the fruit of it will be seen in time.
It is said twice:
Proverbs 14:12 - There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 16:25 - There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.