Staying Connected

One of the big difficulties we face as a church during the Coronavirus 19 pandemic is staying connected with one another. “One another” is a well-used phrase in the new testament. It represents the bond we share as members together in the body of Christ, a love and a responsibility we have towards all the people who call Cypress home and the neighbors and friends we come into contact with.  A virus will not destroy that bond, it will cause it to grow stronger as we care for each other, check on each other, pray for each other and care for each other. As circumstances change in our personal health and income we will rise to the occasion as each of us are gifted by the Holy Spirit to meet the various needs of God’s people. Read more…

Unworthy Manner

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Friday Day 15

Unworthy Manner


Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another–if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-34


The Apostle Paul had some concerns about the way in which the Corinthian church was participating in the Lord’s Supper. His concerns tell us two things: There is a right way to take the supper and there are many wrong ways to take the supper. The Corinthian Church was doing a number of things wrong surrounding the practice of the Lord’s Supper. Paul’s warning to them is also an instruction for us today.


Jesus instituted the supper at the end of a Passover meal. Perhaps the Corinthians thought every Lord’s Supper should be after a meal, so they were engaging in a meal before the Lord’s Supper and then adding the supper to the meal. However, in their meal they were not waiting for one another, some had plenty to eat and others had little, some were getting intoxicated at the meal and there were divisions and open conflict. Paul tells them “if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.”


God was judging their behavior and condemning them for it. Paul was in effect saying, “Take a look at what you are doing. Do you think your activity is worthy of such a sacred rite?”


I’m convinced that every Christian who heard Paul’s letter understood exactly what he meant. Unfortunately, there are many today who misapply it to their lives and as a result create all sorts of anxiety in their minds and hearts as they come to take the Lord’s Supper.


What does it mean to take the Supper “unworthily”? Does it mean that we are to be unworthy of such a sacrifice? Does it mean that those who do not have perfect lives should not participate? Does it mean that if we can think of any way in which we do not measure up that we should not participate? The answer to all these questions is “no.”


This is not a discussion of the character of the worshipper but the conduct of the worship. Paul says, Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty…” In an unworthy manner is the “way” we take the supper, the attitude of the heart during the supper, the care for one another at the Lord’s Table. Paul even says to wait for one another… meaning they knew each other and who they were waiting for. It was for members only. Unbelievers and people excluded from fellowship were not allowed to partake in the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Corinthians 5).


The Lord’s Supper is a continuing reminder that there is forgiveness for the sinner and strength for the weak and weary, therefore discern the body. But the warning is not to come to it when we are insensitive to His presence, unloving to our fellow church members, or regretful for His great sacrifice on our behalf.


If we truly enter into the spirit of the Supper we will have a heightened sense of our own unworthiness and of God’s grace. This awareness of God’s love for us ought to make it easier for us to love one another. It also should make us value this ordinance to the degree that every member would participate every time the Lord’s Supper is offered. United in love for Christ, discerning the body, fellowshipping in the spirit together as the Local Church.


The Lord’s Table

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Thursday Day 14

The Lord’s Table


Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:26-29


The second ordinance given to the church is the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. Remember that, like baptism, the Lord’s Supper is not ours to change as we see fit. An ordinance by definition is an authoritative order; a decree. We don’t choose the ordinances, God has chosen them for us. We don’t get to decide how we carry out the ordinances, God has already given us specific instruction as to how to carry out these ordinances. We don’t get to change them to suit our individual tastes and preferences because they do not belong to us… they are given to us by God.


Notice that Jesus instituted the supper, it is His table. He selected the people he wanted to be there, his church, and He selected the menu of the bread and fruit of the vine and he even selected the order of how the meal is to be eaten. He blessed the bread and the cup in separate prayers, He passed them out to be shared by everyone present, and He reminded them of the next occasion he would have to share the supper again with His church which is in the future kingdom when He returns.


The Lord’s Supper is rooted in history. It was a certain man, the Lord Jesus, and it was a certain night, “the same night in which He was betrayed” (1Co_11:23), and it was a certain event in which He took real bread and real fruit of the vine and instituted the supper. The Passover meal that had preceded the Lord’s Supper looked back in Israel’s history to the event by which God delivered Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. The Lord’s Supper at the time of its beginning looked forward to an event of deliverance for all mankind, Christ’s death on the Cross and His Resurrection.


The Lord’s Supper is about God’s gift. We catch the work of sacrifice in Christ’s words “this is My body which is broken for you.” In this statement He is identifying Himself with the Paschal Lamb, the lamb that was sacrificed in connection with the Passover. But we make a mistake if we interpret the admonition to “do this in remembrance of Me” (1Co_11:24) as a call to remember only His death. We are to remember that His death brings life. But we are to remember His life and His teaching, His Resurrection and the hope that it brings, and we are to remember His purpose in the world.


Therefore there is in the observing of the Lord’s Supper a proclamation. Christ had said to them that every time they shared the supper together they “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1Co_11:26). This is a word of evangelism and also a word of hope. In this Supper, Christ gave the church another way of being touched by the gospel, a way for the eyes to see as well as for the ears to hear. A way for the senses to feel and smell and taste. It is an illustration… for as the physical body partakes of the elements of the supper and they become a part of the person eating and drinking. It is a physical reminder of the reality of Christ’s death on a cross for us and of the spiritual results of faith in Christ. It reminds us that Christ is in us, living in us because of the new birth.


Symbolic of a New Reality

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Wednesday Day 13

Symbolic of a New Reality


Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:37-38


When we accepted Christ as our personal savior a number of things happened to us that we may not have been aware of. The specific order of events happened in a moment, but they happened in a particular order, according to the scriptures.


First of all, before you believed that Jesus was the Son of God and before you placed your faith in him as your own personal savior the Holy Spirit was at work in your heart convicting you of truth and convicting you of your sin and your need for a savior. Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit there can be no salvation. The Holy Spirit revealed truth to you and at the moment you believed you became a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ.


The moment you believed you were given the righteousness (right standing) of Christ and the Holy Spirit began to dwell in you. You were immersed (baptized) by the Holy Spirit into Christ. Paul says in Ephesians we were “placed into Christ” and “in Christ” we have forgiveness and peace with God.


Paul also says in Romans that since we have been placed into Christ through the Spirit we have retroactively been crucified with Him.


We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4


And if we were buried with Him through this baptism into Christ then we were also raised with him at his resurrection. Paul says this is to give us power to walk in newness of life.


There are many Christians who have not fully embraced this truth and live defeated lives, not allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them or even recognize that there is a better way to live life now that you have become a child of God. This is why the divine order of salvation, baptism, church membership and personal accountability is so important.


We need the love of other believers to guide us into all truth. We need the experience of corporate worship and preaching to open our hearts to the things of God and to remind us of the beautiful things God has done for us.


Peter told the men and women who were convicted by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost exactly what to do. Repent means to turn away from confidence in yourself and place your confidence in what God has done for you. Just like the people of Peter’s day, it was our sin that caused Jesus to die on a cross.


Then Peter tells them to be baptized for (because of) the forgiveness of sins. Not to get forgiveness, but rather because you have been forgiven. And on that day 3000 people were baptized and added to the church.


The physical baptism was an illustration of the spiritual baptism that had already taken place. It is still a public confession of our faith in Jesus Christ and an act of obedience in following Jesus which symbolizes our old life has been crucified with him and we have died to our old way of life and we have been raised to walk in newness of life.


This is what is required to follow Christ. This is baptism and it is the first thing we are to do after we believe. This is the reality of our new way of life and it begins with baptism.


God Given Authority

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Tuesday Day 12

God Given Authority


The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

John 1:29-34


When I was a kid we had a small pool in the backyard where I spent a lot of my time. We played all kinds of games in that tiny pool, and I did a fair amount of baptizing my brothers and friends. Having grown up in church I knew how to do it. I said the right words, I held up my hand and waved it to heaven and then I tipped them backward into the water and brought them right back up. Baptism right?


Not exactly. Christian baptism requires a proper candidate, the proper mode and the proper authority. We occasionally had a proper candidate for baptism, a born again believer who wants to follow Jesus. We had the proper mode of baptism, immersion in water. But nobody was successfully baptized in that pool because we had no authority to baptize. That authority can only come from God through one of His local New Testament churches. Without the proper authority, the person being baptized is just getting wet.


John the Baptist was set aside by God from his mother’s womb to present Jesus Christ to the world. He was sent by God to prepare the way for the messiah by calling Israel to repentance and then baptizing all who confessed their sins and turned towards God. He was preparing a people for the coming messiah Jesus Christ. This was something new, this was not the same old washings of consecration that Israel was used to… this was public and it demanded personal sacrifice and commitment.


John’s ministry came to a climax on the day he baptized Jesus. This is what he was called to do and he was faithful to his calling. After John baptized Jesus his ministry began to diminish. He continued to baptize others but most of the ones he baptized began to follow Jesus. The authority John had been given to baptize was never handed down to John’s disciples, they had no calling or authority to continue baptizing after John died. However, we are told that Jesus began to baptize those who believed in Him as savior, although Jesus never personally baptized anyone, but His disciples did the baptizing.


We can see that the line of authority was very clear: From God to John to Jesus to His church. Anyone outside of that line has no authority to baptize. Believers who are not part of the church have no authority to baptize.


In Acts 19 Paul encounters some believers in Ephesus who wanted to serve God in the church there but they had no gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul inquired about their baptism and found out they had not been baptized by the proper authority. They were likely baptized by some of John’s disciples and God had held back the gifts of the Holy Spirit from them until they had proper baptism. After their “re-baptism” they received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and were able to exercise them in the church at Ephesus.


How important is proper authority? If it was important in Paul’s day it is still important to us today. Proper candidate, proper mode and proper authority.



Scripture and Tradition

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Monday Day 11

Scripture and Tradition


So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. – 2 Thessalonians 2:15


We are closing out the series called I Don’t Know What I Believe with a look at Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We could easily do a series on each of these topics but we are looked at these two very important ordinances of the church in one message yesterday and will examine them this week with a little closer look.


An ordinance by definition is an authoritative order; a decree. When it comes to the church, we don’t choose the ordinances, God has chosen them for us. We don’t get to decide how we carry out the ordinances, God has already given us specific instruction as to how to carry out these ordinances. We don’t get to change them to suit our individual tastes and preferences because they do not belong to us… they are given to us by God.


The ordinances were given to the church by Jesus. He gave the apostles instructions regarding these ordinance during His personal ministry. We have these instructions passed down to us in two forms: Scripture and tradition.


Scripture is the word of God passed down in written language.

Tradition is the word of God passed down by observation and repetition.


There was a time, before the Bible was produced where churches everywhere conducted themselves by tradition, oral tradition and physical example. They did things like they had been instructed and continued to do things the way they saw the Apostles model them. These became the traditions of the early churches. And these traditions were considered to be as authoritative as scripture.


So why do we baptize like we do? Why do we observe the Lord’s Supper in the way we do? The answer is scripture and tradition. “We have always done it this way” is a perfectly appropriate reason for the way we conduct the celebration of the ordinances.


We have a long celebrated history as English speaking Baptists, going all the way back to the first century converts who were instructed by Paul and returned home the Wales. There is a long celebrated history of the Baptist churches in Wales going all the way back to 93 AD. Prior to the year 300 Baptist churches in Wales flourished and were making many converts of the pagan religions. But beginning in 300 AD these churches were being forced underground because of persecution by Roman Catholics, their leaders were killed, their histories were destroyed… all because these Baptist churches refused to submit to Catholic teaching and baptism. They were called ana-baptists because they re-baptized the converts from Catholicism, refusing to accept their infant baptism as scriptural. This is the heritage we have as Baptists. We are not Protestants, because we never came out of the Catholic Church (protesting the church) we were throughout history, in various places in the world, local New Testament Churches, separate and distinct by their tradition and doctrine. They held fast to the traditions and to the scriptures and refused to change the ordinances given to them by Christ.


This is our heritage, holding fast to the traditions and standing on the truth of scripture we move into the future… knowing what we believe and why we believe it.





The Local Church

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Friday Day 10

The Local Church


19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22


In the current evangelical world there are a number of interpretations regarding the ekklesia or church of Jesus Christ. The New Testament teaching on the church contains a number of analogies used by various writers to describe the nature and function of the church. The “body” of Christ, the “household” of God, the “temple” of God, the “kingdom” of Christ and the “bride” of Christ are some of the ways the church is described.


All of these metaphors give important insights into the nature of the church but individually they fall short in giving us the complete picture. Collectively they give us an understanding of what the church is and how it is to function.


Semantics, particularly the current usage of English provides us with problems as well. The word ekklesia is clearly interpreted as a called out assembly of people, but the word is often used as a noun to describe the institution of the church rather than individual local churches. When Jesus said “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” he was speaking of his institution, not any particular local church. Local churches will go out of existence, but the institution of the church will always be represented by active local churches in existence somewhere on the earth until the end of time.


Some have taken this teaching to mean that there is an invisible universal church into which we all became members of when we believed in Jesus Christ. However the scriptures teach that there existed believers who were saved but had not yet become part of the church until they were baptized and added (see Acts 2).


When Paul said he was the least of all the apostles because he persecuted the church, he was not talking about an invisible body of believers, he was referring to the institution that Christ established, having persecuted people who were part of the local church in a number of different areas. These believers had submitted to public baptism and had identified themselves publically with the other members of the local church. They were easily identified because of their behavior.


Remember that Jesus asked Saul (Paul before he was converted) “why are you persecuting me?” Paul could have said, “I’m not persecuting you, I’m persecuting church members” but Jesus would argue that these were members of his body and what you do to these people in the local churches you are doing to Christ. The church is his visible body on earth. It is found in various places all over the world and as an institution it is still being persecuted today. But who is being persecuted? Individual believers are being persecuted as part of the local church in the world today.


There is however a group that we become a part of when we believe. It is called the family of God. We are adopted into it, having been placed into Christ by the Holy Spirit. All family members have the spirit of God dwelling in them and they have an eternal destiny made available by the blood of Christ. But it is not the church.


No one was ever adopted into the church, that metaphor is only used of the family of God. But as Paul says in Ephesians 2, as fellow citizens and members of the household of God we can and should be added to the “building” of the church. We become the proper building material when we become believers but we must willingly submit ourselves to God and follow Christ in physical baptism and actively seek the fellowship of the local church where we can serve God according to His plan not ours. The teaching of the New Testament does not allow for believers to remain isolated and not become part of a local church.


The teaching that has evolved over the years that says a believer can be a member of the universal church but not be baptized and not be in fellowship with the local church is not found anywhere in the Bible.

A Temple Filled

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Thursday Day 9

A Temple Filled


And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Luke 24:49


When did the church begin? Did it begin on the shores of Galilee with Jesus calling the disciples to himself or did it begin on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit empowered the church as they were gathered together in Jerusalem? And the other question is why does it matter?


Yesterday we looked at Paul’s analogy of the church as a temple built with living stones (individual believers) upon the foundation of the apostles and the chief cornerstone Jesus Christ. So who began the building?


Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ – Isaiah 28:16


God laid the foundation for the church when He sent his son Jesus to earth to die on a cross for us. His sacrifice for sin was accepted by God and the stone the builder’s rejected became the chief cornerstone. Remember the words of Jesus:


But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Luke 20:17-18


Upon the living Christ were laid the foundation stones of the apostles. Given the ministry of truth they were to direct the church and carry out the great commission given to the church in Matthew 28.


And there were the seventy, followers of Christ who were dwelling in Jerusalem who made up the 120 people on the day of Pentecost and then there were 39 more people. The counted number were likely all men as that would have been the custom of the day, but we really don’t know. Maybe the 39 were the women who followed Jesus and helped to support Him financially.


All of these constituted the church at that time. They were told by Jesus to “tarry” in Jerusalem which means to stay there, but can also mean to “sit still” or to “stand down.” Whatever that means, they were told by Jesus to wait until ye be endued with power from on high. Who is the “ye” he is speaking to if it is not the church? Who was the great commission given to if the church was not in place? Who was the Lord’s Supper given to if it was not given to the church? Who had the authority to Baptize on the day of Pentecost if it had not already been given to the church?


On the day Solomon dedicated the temple it had been standing, completed for almost a year. Every stone had been laid and all the furniture was in place but it was missing one thing: The Spirit of God. On that day the Shekinah glory filled the temple and the priests had to leave because they could not remain in the presence of God.


On the day of Pentecost the Spirit of God filled the temple made of living stones and the church was empowered to carry out the work of Jesus Christ until He returns. But the presence of God did not frighten them but it emboldened them for greater service.


When will the church be complete? When the last living stone is added to the church… Christ will return to take His people home. In that sense, Christ is still building His church, living stone by living stone, until the end of the age.


Begun on the shores of Galilee, commissioned on the mount of ascension, empowered on the day of Pentecost and bringing glory to God world without end. This is the church of Jesus Christ.

A Purpose, Person and Promise

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Wednesday day 8
A Purpose, Person and Promise


A Purpose

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:18-20


Every ekklesia has a purpose. The people who are called to assemble together are called to carry out some kind of business in an ekklesia. Jesus had a purpose in mind when He called out the disciples into His ekklesia. Jesus said “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This purpose supported His own resolution to “seek and to save that which was lost.” The purpose of the church is to introduce people to Jesus Christ and to see their lives changed as they place their faith in Him.


If a church replaces this purpose with any other thing it ceases being a church of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the central focus of the church and it is our “good news” to share with the world.


A Person

The good news is about a person. Jesus Christ must always be the central focus of everything we do in the church. It is His church not our church, it belongs to Him. That is why it is so important to know the real Jesus. If Jesus is not God then he has no business being worshipped. Jesus wanted His disciples to know and understand who he was and the church He established is built upon this foundational truth.


13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:13-16


Why did Jesus ask them this question? Because without this understanding there can be no church. Jesus needed to make sure His disciples knew that He was the promised messiah and that he was the only begotten son of God. Jesus asked the group this question and Peter spoke for the group to answer, but you can picture all of the other disciples nodding in agreement as Peter answered.


And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:17-18


A Promise

As Peter answered correctly Jesus turned his attention towards Peter’s answer and told him he was blessed by God to have this knowledge because this understanding only comes from God. And then Jesus proclaimed something very important. The Greek word translated Peter is petros which means small rock or pebble and Jesus acknowledged his name but then used the Greek word petra to describe what the church would be built upon. The rock upon which the church was being built was not the small pebble Peter but was one of two choices: The “petra” was the truth of who Jesus was or it was the massive cornerstone of Jesus Christ the son of God. Either of these two ideas fit within the rest of all scripture but the idea that Peter is that rock does not. Jesus declares that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. This is the promise made to us as His church.


We read yesterday that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. What truth? The truth that Jesus is the messiah and the Son of God and that He has come to seek and to save that which was lost. This is our purpose as a church and this is the person we serve and this is the promise He has made to us as His ekklesia.





A People Building

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Tuesday Day 7
A People Building
17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:17-22
The word translated Church in the Bible is the Greek words; Kaleo (to call), with the prefix; ek (out), so it’s a called out group of people. However the English word “church” does not come from the word “ekklesia” but from the Latin word “Kuriakon”, which means “dedicated to the Lord “or “belonging to the Lord”, this word was commonly used to refer to a Holy place or Temple. By the time the NT was translated from Greek to Latin, it was customary to use a derivative of “kuriakon” to translate into church. So is the word church is a poor translation of the word “ekklesia”, since it implies a sacred building or temple? Maybe, but maybe not… we need to understand what kind of building or temple the church is supposed to be.
“Ekklesia” was not a religious or Christian word. It means “called   out assembly” and was used for a variety of assemblies in the first century- social, political or religious.
The term referred to the gathering of fellow citizens. In Paul’s day it was used of fellow citizens of Ephesus who were called together to discuss how they might stop the spread of the gospel because it was harming their ability to sell and produce idols. In the ancient Greek city-states it was a gathering of legal citizens who had the right to vote and they took care of official business in a democratic fashion. Even in Israel the term was used of sacred assembly to celebrate Holy Days like Passover and Pentecost.
The point is it was a group of people not a building or place to gather. It was the “gathered together people.” Paul speaks in terms the Corinthians could understand when he says “when you come together”… and then he goes on to describe what they do when they come together. Reading the scripture, worship, singing songs, teaching and prophesy (proclaiming the gospel).
But the Jews were used to worshiping at the temple in Jerusalem, or in the Synagogues scattered throughout Israel. And the gentiles were used to worshiping in the pagan temples of Greece and Rome which were scattered strategically throughout the Middle East and Asia. So what were they to do when they became followers of Jesus Christ? Christian Jews were no longer welcome at the temple or at the Synagogues. Gentile Christians were no longer welcome in the pagan temples and often were not even welcome in the cities they conducted their business in because they refused to pay tribute to the idols of the city.
So Paul gives them an analogy in Ephesians 2. He says the church (ekklesia) of Jesus Christ is like a building, but made up of people instead of stones. It has a foundation made of people, and Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. After the cornerstone was put in place other “living stones” were added to make up the foundation. Paul said these living stones were the apostles. And we also are living stones, as believers we have been adopted into the family of God… making us eligible to be citizens together with other believers – called together by God to carry out the business of Jesus Christ in the ekklesia. We, as the church are like a temple with all us “living stones” fitting together, forming a beautiful dwelling place for God to inhabit. We, as fellow saints together have been called together to be the church.
God once dwelt in the temple at Jerusalem, now he dwells in every New Testament Church in every corner of the world where people gather together to carry out the business of Jesus Christ.