THE DANGER OF THE "HOUSE CHURCH" MOVEMENT: RELIGIOUS TRADITION UNDER GUISE
There is a growing movement afloat. It's called "the House Church Movement." It has, in some circles and areas, become quite popular. It's an acceptable "thing to do." Home is where the "members" of this movement "do church."
First, I would like to be clear that I do not consider myself as being a part of any movement ("the Grace Movement," "the House Church Movement," "the King James Bible Movement" etc.). Not any movement, other than the natural movement of the members of Christ's body.
Christ is living and moving through the members of His body. Now, that's the only movement of which I desire to be a part!
That does not mean that I do not hold truths (such as "grace") with firm conviction. I do. But I do so simply as a member of Christ's body, and not as a member of some movement.
Why is it that we can never be satisfied with our identity in Christ? Why is it that we have this pressing desire to be recognized and identified with something else, anything else?
HOUSE CHURCH or HOME CHURCH
Then, there is the phrases themsleves "house church" and "home church." These are becoming ever more popular, and in some circles accepted. We hear folks say:
"We believe and practice the 'House Church!'"
"Oh, we 'Home Church' now."
Since the church has been clearly defined by Paul, and belongs to the Lord, we have attempted in this series to give the utmost care when using the term "church." Now, the fact is that there is no such term in Scripture as "house church," or "home church," anymore than there is the term "local church."
Now we are sure that there will be those who will accuse us of "squabbling over semantics." But we firmly believe in the importance of words. And there is a vast difference between "the local church" and the church in a locality. And just the same, there is a vast difference between "the house church," or "the home church," and "the church in thy house."
Do you understand the difference? The church is not something that we "do." It is not somewhere that we "go." It is who we are! We are the church when we are at work, at school, or on vacation. But we do not use the terms "work church," "school church," or "vacation church" to describe these. We are simply the church at work, the church at school, the church on vacation.
The church is everywhere that the saints are! It is everywhere its members (i.e. body parts) are. And when the church gathers it is not "doing" church, it is not "going" to church. We were the church before we gathered, we are the church when we gather, and we are the church when we disassemble! We are the church!
That's why the Scriptures tell us that Paul "gathered the church together" (Acts 14:27). What was Paul gathering? Bricks and mortar? No! He was gathering the church. He was gathering saints. He was gathering body parts! And they were the church, even when they were not meeting. So, the meeting is not the church!
Do you begin to see the problem with "house church," and "home church." It brings us right back to the exact same problem that the traditional "church" has. It steals our identity. "House church" and "home church" are not God's church! They are man's pitiful attempts at imitation!
Now, we appreciate what some in the "House Church Movement" have done to awaken many to the problems with the traditional "church." But, to some degree, the "House Church Movement" has replaced one architectural form (the chapel) with another (the house). The danger is that we carry the system of the one into the other. Have we simply swapped "having church" in a chapel with "having church" in a house? If so, the only primary difference is architecture! And architecture is not even close to being the issue!
The issue is the life of Christ living in and through His church when, where and how He pleases! Everyday, in every place, and every circumstance Christ manifesting Himself in His living church!
This is "the house of God!"
This is "the church of the living God!"
This is "the pillar and ground of the truth!"
This is "the mystery of godliness!"
"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness . . ." (I Timothy 3:15-16).
"The church in thy house" supports these truths.
"The house church," or "home church" supplants them! (It's religious tradition under guise of Bible truth.)
Are you the church, or do you "do church?" Do you "go to" a "house church?"
Don't settle for anything less than who and what God has made you in Christ!
Think on these things.
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