"Psalm 128 “The LORD bless you from Zion!”
Psalm 92 “They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God.”
Zion is the place where God’s people came corporately, met with God, God spoke to them, God gave them instruction and empowered them and God blessed them.
Today that place is the “House of God” or “Local Church.” The Local Church is the place where God’s people come corporately, meet with God, God speaks to us, God gives us instruction and empowers us and God blessed us. All these take place in the local church."
The above blurb is taken from a pastor's blog I read recently. I was a little surprised by the passage, which is not the entire post, just a little section. The scriptures he is using here are from the old testament prior to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Christ destroyed the temple and tore the veil with His death and resurrection. The veil, or curtain, in the temple separated the holy of holies where the presence of God dwelled from the inner and outer courts of the temple. Only the priests entered into the holy of holies. When the veil was torn, the holy of holies and the presence of God became accessible to everyone who wished to enter. No longer are only priests able to enter into the presence of God or the holy of holies. Our bodies have now become the temple of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). Now, God is with us wherever we go.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.
Doesn't that make sense? Our bodies are the temple of God. Priests made the sacrifices to atone for the people's sins. When Jesus died and rose again, no longer were sacrifices necessary on behalf of the people. We can go directly to God the Father ourselves and ask for forgiveness for our sins. We live each day sacrificing our bodies as the temple of God. That means we should take care of our bodies through proper nutrition, exercise, and anything that would violate the temple or be immoral violations of the Word of God.
But what about the rest of the section of the blog post above? Are our traditional churches really the only way we can be blessed, receive instruction, be empowered and meet with God? My Bible does not support that statement scripturally.
Joh 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him.
Jesus did not say above "Go to your local church, serve the pastor, build parking lots and idols to yourselves and I will reveal myself to you. I will know you because you attend church every Sunday morning."
He said to keep His commandments and we will love Him. Those who love Him, the Father will love. Jesus will love him and will reveal Himself to him. To see Jesus, we must keep His commandments and love Him. That's all.
John Chapter 15 is very clear in my opinion. We do not abide in a church. We abide in Him. He is our vine...we are only the branches. The church is not what gives us life. The "local" church is not what gives us salvation. The "local" church is not what allows God to speak to us or instruct us. The branch lives because it is grafted into the Vine. The branch lives because it draws its nutrients and life source from the Vine. The branch is empowered to grow because it is grafted into the Vine. Any branch not grafted into the Vine and keeping the commandments of Christ, is cut off from the Vine and will wither and die. Many self-proclaiming Christians attend a "local" church every time the doors are open, but that does not mean they are grafted into the vine nor have a personal relationship with the Vinedresser.
None of this means that we should not come together with other believers. On the contrary:
Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised),
Heb 10:24 and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works,
Heb 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
We find encouragement, or we should, from other believers. Jesus even said where two or more are gathered, He is in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20). So, the presence of God can come down in a gathering with other believers. But we must also understand that the New Testament Church as described in the Bible does not in any way resemble today's denominational structure nor the cookie cutter template that we see today in the service and "worship" format "local" churches have adopted. A prayer meeting in my home with other believers would still qualify as a gathering of two or more people and Jesus would still show up in the midst of that group if the gathering was in His name.
To say that the "local" church is where God speaks, instructs, and the only way we can be blessed is a deception straight from the enemy that unfortunately is very deep rooted in the traditional denominational system of beliefs even though there is very little to support these beliefs scripturally.
God blesses us because we keep His commandments and seek His kingdom and His righteousness. He blesses us because we are His children. He blesses us because we are His chosen people. He blesses us because we walk in His will for us. He does not bless us because we attend a "local" church every time the doors are opened, nor is His presence confined to the walls of that building. Why would we make Him so small? He is the Creator of the Universe and the Giver of Life! He has the ability to speak to us wherever and whenever He chooses in any manner He chooses. HOWEVER we should not forsake spending time with other believers and worshipping corporately. We should gather with other believers to exhort and encourage one another [as the Word says], especially as we see the return of Christ approaching.