By Eric Wheeler  (originally posted 3/8/2006 – reposted 5-31-2015)

There seems to be real confusion in Christianity as to what the “gatherings” of the Body of Christ should look like. In our call to dismantle the “churches”, or rather, man’s churches and his kingdoms, it appears that many are at a loss as to what the true Church should look like when we get together. I think that we are failing to look at the Biblical model and understand it. Let me explain.

What the “church” looked like before Jesus.
According to the Bible, at the time of Jesus’ birth, the people of God were in dire spiritual condition. Even though many of them were faithfully attending church (synagogue) services every week, the Gospel of Luke nonetheless described them as “sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79). Jesus described them as spiritually “poor, blind, brokenhearted, oppressed, and held captive” (Luke 4:15-21). He said that their pastors were hypocrites and “blind guides of the blind” and that they were denying their parishioners access to the Kingdom of God (Matt. 15:14; Matt. 23:13-16).

Collectively, they were called a “church” (Acts 7:38), and they all individually went to “church”- that is, to a local synagogue or to the Temple to worship. They were expected to tithe, and to faithfully contribute to a “building fund” (which they called the “Temple Tax”), as well as support various ministries and proselytizing missions imposed on them by their leaders and elders (Matt. 23:4-25). Their church pastors were educated in seminaries called “rabbinic schools” and most of them were trained at the very feet of other well-known and “highly-respected” theologians (Acts 22:3). Weekly church attendance was required, and for the most part, lay members were expected to quietly sit by and listen, as the “head-clergymen” gave the “spiritual tenets of the week” to the congregants.

In truth, the above description sounds like a modern-day Christian church service. Unfortunately, it is true. The only problem is this entire church system was condemned and destroyed by God twice! Why do Christians insist on resurrecting it and perpetuating it? It is true what Stephen said of us when he described the spiritual (and physical) descendants of the people of God. He said, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so do you!” (Acts 7:51).

Jesus said that He came to build His Church! Not to re-institute and rebuild the same old church system that He warned was going to be destroyed (Matt. 24:1-2; Heb. 8:13). The old covenant with its “church system” was done away with – including its temple priests, buildings, tithing requirements, offerings, alters, mediators – everything! God is not pleased with what “Christianity” has become! It is nothing but the old resurrected Levitical church system masquerading around in His name. That system is dead. It couldn’t save its adherents then, and it can’t save us now! Even the first-century apostles had to acknowledge this: “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them [the new believers], by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:8-10). And again it says, “By Him [Jesus] everyone who believes is justified [made right with God] from all things from which we could not be justified by the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:39). This whole Levitical system of worship was instituted by the Law of Moses! Why are we still trying to resurrect it and perpetuate it?

This system of worship was part of the Law of Moses.
The whole Mosaic system of worship was founded on form [“works”] and not substance [faith]. It was given because of the congregants’ (churchgoers’) unbelief – their lack of faith! Isn’t this exactly what the Scripture says? “I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith” (Deut. 32:20). God gave them the entire Levitical worship system and package because they had no faith! They didn’t want to have a close, abiding, communicative, honest relationship with Him which is by faith, because of their fear, carnality, sin, and “spiritual nakedness”. They were too afraid that if they got close to God then they would be “found out” and exposed for what they truly were. They didn’t want to come to the Light (to the Mountain of God) lest their “nakedness” be exposed (Exod. 20:26). So instead, they “stood afar off” as it says (Exod. 20:18-21). For it is written: “This is the condemnation: that Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the Light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21). Instead of coming to the foot of Mount Sinai to hear God for themselves, they hid behind Moses and told him to be their mediator to stand between them and God, and to speak His words to them in God’s place (Exod. 20:18-21). Wherefore, God, lamenting and acknowledging the fact that they truly didn’t have a heart for Him, granted their evil request (Deut. 5:28-31). Because of His people’s unbelief and their hardness of heart, God then set up for them the entire Levitical system of worship which He said was designed to cause them “to fall backward, and be broken and snared and caught” (Isa. 28:13). And He said, “I also gave them up to statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they could not live” (Ezek. 20:25).

This entire Mosaic package and system of worship is contrary to faith! That is why God foretold by the mouths of the prophets long ago that He was going to give us a “new covenant” (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-11). One that wasn’t founded on having to rely on others to have to teach us, and read to us, and to interpret the will of God for us. Instead, God was going to write His laws and His ways in our hearts and in our minds! No longer would we need men as mediators to teach us and instruct us. For He was going to give us His Holy Spirit to do that! Notice what the Scripture says: “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’; for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.” (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:11). “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26).

God told us long ago that the just [righteous] live by faith, not by the Law (Hab.2:4; Rom.1:17). The Law brings death (Rom. 7:10; Gal. 3:10). We can’t live or have eternal life by the Law or by its system of worship. We live and worship God by faith, not by the Law! The Law is not of faith (Gal. 3:12). The whole Levitical system of worship is part of the Law, with all of its commandments, sacraments, hierarchies, trappings, and the like. True religion is never dictated or compelled. It is of the heart! It is of faith. It is of free-will. There are no expectations, mandates, or compulsory regiments. Today’s “Christianity” or rather “Churchianity” is riddled with these faithless compulsory tenets.

Should Christians gather together?

Make no mistake. Christians should be getting together with other Christians regularly! How else can the disciples fulfill the Great Commission if they are not getting together with each other and sharing and spreading the Gospel? Jesus commanded His disciples (you and me) to go out and preach the Gospel to every living creature, baptizing, and teaching them to observe everything that He has commanded us to observe and obey. The problem is that some “evangelists, pastors and teachers” quit going out! Instead, they began to set themselves up as “little kingdoms” called “churches” by gathering the people of God permanently around them. This makes the disciples reliant on them instead of teaching the disciples to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit in faith to lead and teach them. This reliance on the ministers (servants) only enslaves the people of God by disempowering them through fear and unbelief. When a person no longer trusts and relies on the Holy Spirit to lead and teach them, they become powerless and unproductive. They become needy, fruitless, “clingy babies” who become totally dependent on others to continually lead them, teach them, feed them, and guide them. As Paul said, “You have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first [basic] principles of the oracles of God. And you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes of milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are mature. That is, those who by reason of habitual practice have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:11-14). Notice that it says, these disciples became that way! They didn’t start out that way. They became dependent! Why? Because of a lack of habitual practice and exercise. They apparently were never encouraged, prompted, and pushed by their leaders (their spiritual “coaches”) to go out in faith baptizing, teaching, and training others – making disciples themselves, just as Jesus had instructed us to do.
Even Jesus, our example, never gathered His disciples around Himself to stay there permanently! He taught them and trained them, and then He sent them out telling them to make disciples (students) themselves and to train them, and then to send them out to make other disciples, and so on, and so on (Matt.10:5-16; Matt. 28:19). It was supposed to be on-going until the end of the age! Notice: “Go therefore, and make disciples, baptizing them…and teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you to observe [even this command of making disciples], and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). Why did “evangelists, pastors, and teachers” quit going out as Jesus commanded, and instead, began to “set-up camp” in order to start forming “little cliques” around themselves called “churches”? Have they never read what the Scriptures say? That when the disciples began multiplying around the apostles at Jerusalem, God sent a persecution in to scatter them far and wide – all of them except the apostles (Acts 6:7; Acts 8:1). The purpose was so that they wouldn’t become spiritually dependent on the apostles, thus becoming “unproductive babies” by their lack of spiritual exercise and practice. These new disciples were forced to become “teachers” themselves because they could no longer rely on the apostles to feed and teach them. They were being forced to grow up and to begin to learn to spiritually “walk” by having to make and baptize and teach other disciples (students). In other words, the students became the teachers! Isn’t that what the Scripture says? “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word!” (Acts 8:4). This is the way that “church” was meant to be. Not the way that Christendom has it today, where the disciples just sit around as spectators “ever learning, but never fully able to come to the knowledge of the Truth” (II Tim. 3:7). The “Truth” that is being referred to here is “the full measure of the stature and maturity of Jesus Christ”! (Eph. 4:13). That is – spiritual adulthood! Afterall, isn’t that the original purpose and only reason that God gave leaders to His Church anyway? For it says, “He, Himself, gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry [service], for the edifying of the Body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we should no longer be children.” (Eph. 4:11-14). It wasn’t so the leaders could lord it over His people by building-up “little kingdoms” unto themselves called “churches”, whereby they hold the disciples captive by hedging them in and controlling them through fear, superstition, and Biblical ignorance. But rather, it was to help and encourage His people to GROW UP and MATURE so that they will no longer be dependent on others like little children who are by nature beguiled “by every wind of doctrine and by the trickery of deceitful men” (Eph. 4:14).

The Church was given leaders by God for the very same reason that He gave little children parents! It was to help steer them, protect them, and guide them as they grow up. This includes nurturing them, correcting them, loving them, comforting them, and encouraging them. The ultimate plan and goal being – that one day they will “leave the nest” as God had ordained, and begin to have children of their own to teach and instruct, thus furthering the Family and Kingdom of God. God instituted this original spiritual “maturity plan” from the beginning. For He commanded that in due time, “a man should leave his father and his mother [his parents]…” (Gen. 2:24). But while he is still a child under his parent’s care, God instructs that he should submit to his parent’s authority (Eph. 6:1). Notice that even Jesus abided by this ordinance of God. For Jesus said to His parents at twelve years old when they couldn’t find him, “Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). Nevertheless, still being a child, the Scripture says that He went with them and “was subject to them” (Luke 2:51). Obviously, Jesus was anxious to begin His ministry. He, as any child should be, was looking forward to growing up and becoming a productive member of society and a servant [minister] to the people of God. He couldn’t wait to grow up, become productive, and bear spiritual fruit!

Why do church leaders seek to keep their “children” perpetual students? God did away with that system of worship completely! It doesn’t lead to anything other than spiritual immaturity, delinquency, dependency, and ultimately, death. What happens if a baby bird refuses to grow up and leave the nest? Eventually, that baby bird will die! If it doesn’t learn to fly and feed itself, it will surely die. Mommy and Daddy Bird can’t support it forever. Even Jesus told his disciples to look to the example of the birds if they lacked spiritual understanding! (Matt. 6:26). We are not to become dependent on others. We are to be totally dependent on God. We must “step out of the boat” in faith. We must leave the comfortable complacent pews of our “church” and GROW UP!

Please feel free to reproduce, reprint and/or forward as desired. Altering or editing is strictly prohibited. To contact us, send a request to or call us at 720-346-4033. Using an article for any form of advertising is strictly prohibited.

Tagged with:

Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.