Obeying the Ten Commandments – Christian Necessity or Fool’s Errand?

Points to Ponder:

  • Are the Ten Commandments relevant today? If so, how?
  • What is the impact if a Christian breaks one of these commandments? Do you go to hell? Do you have to confess it in order to be forgiven? What does it do to your standing with God?
  • What is the benefit if a Christian keeps all of these commandments? Does it enhance your standing with God? Should these commandments be paramount, or primary?

Executive Summary (for those who can’t stand the suspense):
Q: If the Steelers played the Ravens in the Super Bowl, who do you think would win?
A: It’s an invalid question. Both teams are in the same conference. The playoff structure of the NFL precludes this from ever happening.

Q: If Jesus Christ were to come to earth today as a man, who would he vote for?
A: It’s an invalid question. Jesus came to earth as a man when it was the right time to do so. Today wasn’t the right time.

Q: Does a Christian need to obey the Ten Commandments?
A: It’s an invalid question. The Ten Commandments have nothing to do with us becoming a Christian or staying a Christian.

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5)
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. Thou shalt not covet.

The Ten Commandments Equates to The Law
In the New Testament, the Ten Commandments were either equated with the entire Old Testament law, or given prominence, much as the Declaration of Independence or the Preamble is equated with the entire Constitution (e.g. “We the People”). Some examples are:

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
(Matthew 19:16-19, also repeated in Mark 10:17-19 & Luke 18:18-20)

Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
(Romans 2:17-22)

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
(Romans 13:8-10)

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. (Ephesians 2:11-17)

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
(James 2:10-11)

If you believe that a person goes to Heaven based on their adherence to the Ten Commandments, then you believe in salvation by works (Romans 3:20, 4:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-10).
If you believe that after receiving Christ as your Savior, you must keep the Ten Commandments, then you believe in legalism (Acts 15:1-5; this is the topic Paul addressed in Galatians).

For Next Time:
The Ten Commandments has been inscribed on many secular, academic and government buildings. Recently, there is a concerted push by some to remove them. Consider some questions, which we will withhold answering until the end:
• What was/is the purpose or statement of those displaying the Ten Commandments?
• What is being stated or implied by those who are removing the Ten Commandments?
• What should be Christianity’s response?

Calvinism & Christianity

Calvinism is a false religion masquerading as Christianity. It is “another gospel” in that Jesus Christ is not the central figure. The term “Reformed” is a synonym for Calvinism.

  • A Mormon adheres to the teachings of Joseph Smith.
  • A Jehovah’s Witness adheres to the teachings of Charles Taze Russell.
  • A Seventh Day Adventist adheres to the teachings of William Miller.
  • A Christian Scientist adheres to the teachings of Mary Baker Patterson Glover Eddy.
  • A Calvinist adheres to the teachings of John Calvin.
  • A Christian adheres to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Calvinism’s central tenet is that God pre-determined who will be saved, and sent Jesus to die for them only. The rest of humanity was created for the express purpose of eternal destruction.

Calvinism’s Five Major Doctrines are summarized into the acronym TULIP:

T Total Depravity of Man Man cannot turn to God; he has no free will.
U Unconditional Election The only ones going to Heaven are those whom God has chosen.
L Limited Atonement Jesus only died for those whom God chose to be saved.
I Irresistible Grace Man cannot resist God. Those he chooses MUST be saved.
P Perseverance of the Saints God will eternally secure his elect so they cannot be lost.

Here’s a humorous fictional exchange highlighting the differences of Calvinism & Christianity:

A Calvinist Goes Soul Winning

JC:       Hello. My name is John E. Cal Vin from the No Hope Deformed Church.

MS:     Hello. My name is Mary Smith. What can I do for you?

JC:       I come to proclaim that God is sovereign, and rules and reigns in the affairs of men.

MS:     Is that all? Aren’t you going to tell me God loves me?

JC:       Oh no! I would never speak such blasphemy!

MS:     Saying ‘God loves you’ is blasphemy? Why?

JC:       Because He may not.

MS:     What?! You came here to tell me that God might not love me?

JC:       In point of fact, statistically speaking, He probably doesn’t.

MS:     Why are you telling me this?

JC:       Because God is sovereign, and rules and reigns in the affairs of men.


MS:     So, who does God love?

JC:       His elect.

MS:     His what?

JC:       Those whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world to eternally save for His own good pleasure. Those whom He has not chosen are left to their own choice.

MS:     What choice do they have?

JC:       To be doomed for eternity.

MS:     And what else?

JC:       Nothing else.

MS:     You need more than one option to have a choice.


MS:     How can I know if God loves me?

JC:       You must be one of the elect.

MS:     Doesn’t the Bible say in John 3:16 that God so loved the world?

JC:       You can’t conclude anything from that verse. “The world” means only the elect.

MS:     Does God love you?

JC:       I refuse to answer such a ridiculous inquiry.

MS:     That must mean you think He does love you. How do you know that?

JC:       John 3:16 – God so loved the world.

MS:     Didn’t you just say that verse proves nothing?

JC:       It proves nothing to the lost. It only applies to the elect.

MS:     How do you know you’re one of the elect?

JC:       Because I’m a Calvinist. You’ll never meet a Calvinist who DOESN’T think they’re one of the elect.


MS:     What’s in that huge duffel bag you’re carrying?

JC:       God’s words.

MS:     I didn’t think the Bible was that big.

JC:       There are many bibles in here.

MS:     Why do you need so many?

JC:       To convince the gainsayer of the truth.

MS:     Don’t all bibles say the same thing?

JC:       Aha! Your ignorance shows! Of course they don’t all say the same thing.

MS:     Then how do you know which one is right?

JC:       Whichever one proves the point I’m trying to make at a particular time.

MS:     But if they don’t agree with each other…

JC:       They don’t have to agree with each other! They just have to agree with me!


MS:     I want to go to Heaven. Other churches say I have to repent of my sin and receive Christ as my Savior.

JC:       Lies from the pit of hell! You can’t get saved by your own free will. There is no such thing as free will.

MS:     If that’s true, why do people think they have a free will?

JC:       It’s an invention of man.

MS:     How can man invent something if he can’t choose to invent it? What you’re saying is that man uses what he does not have to do that which he cannot do.


MS:     What makes you think you are one of the elect?

JC:       The witness of the Spirit. I read that in one of my bibles.

MS:     How do you know it’s talking about you?

JC:       Because of the witness of the Spirit.

MS:     That’s circular reasoning.

JC:       It works for me.

MS:     Couldn’t a sovereign God make you think you were elect, when in fact you weren’t?

JC:       Certainly! In fact, my ascended master John Calvin teaches that God does just that with some. He deludes them into thinking they are saved, they act like they are saved, but they are not saved.

MS:     So this ‘witness of the Spirit’ you were talking about – it might not be the Spirit at all. It could be just a gastro-intestinal pain, right? …hey, where are you going?

JC:       I don’t feel so well. I think I have a gastro-intestinal pain.

Sunday – The “Lord’s Day”

“The Lord’s Day” appears just once in Scripture:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet (Revelation 1:10).

We are confident that John was speaking of Sunday because:

  • John could have used the term “Sabbath”, but did not. The Sabbath is referred to eleven times in John’s Gospel, so John was not averse to using the term if it applied;
  • John’s Lord was Jesus Christ;
  • Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week:

Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

The Lord’s Day is the day Jesus rose from the dead, not the day he died. Without the resurrection, Christ’s death is meaningless. His death is not the most significant event in Christianity – it is his resurrection. Everyone dies. Only Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Scriptural Patterns of The Lord’s Day

The New Testament church quickly began the tradition of meeting on the first day of the week. Among the many examples are:

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (I Corinthians 16:2)

The New Testament Church and Saturday Services

About 50 years ago, the Catholic Church approved Saturday evening worship as an acceptable alternative to attending church on Sunday. Within the past 20 years, that same trend has surfaced in many non-Catholic denominations.

Saturday evening services are not an attempt to reconcile “The Lord’s Day” and “The Sabbath Day” (see the bottom of this post for addressing the Sabbath). At the root of the decision for Christians to meet on Saturday instead of Sunday is – convenience.

A certain segment of the American population works on Sunday with some (i.e. law enforcement, emergency personnel, extended shift workers, professional athletes, etc.) working the entire day. This is a common argument to officially sanctioning Saturday evening services as a fulfillment of a Christian’s obligations.

But it begs a question: does the lack of attending an officially sanctioned assembly result in a deficient Christianity? A future post will address the specific issues of WHEN the New Testament church should meet – what day(s), what time(s) of day, as well as WHY Christians should meet when they do.

It’s All About You – Right?

The primary reason for church organizations sanctioning Saturday evening services is so Sunday can be freed up for sporting events, family reunions, travel, relaxation, etc. It provides an option of convenience so that one’s life may continue without undue disruption while a perceived spiritual obligation is met.

When three Federal Holidays – Independence Day, Christmas, and New Year’s – fall over a weekend, the holiday’s observance is changed to the following Monday. Therefore, in 2016 Christmas Day, which occurred on Sunday, was officially observed on December 26, a Monday. The reason is simple – it provides the convenience of a three-day weekend.

There are those who mutually choose to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries on a day different than the actual date. The reason is the same – convenience.

We assemble on Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In truth, Easter Sunday is redundant to the Christian, as every Sunday is Resurrection Day.

So why would we choose to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on another day of the week? The answer is sobering – convenience. Jesus Christ gave up his life to die in my place and pay for my sins, which was terribly inconvenient for him. Does it seem right that our gathering together to celebrate his sacrifice should only occur when it’s convenient for us?

Hey! What Happened to Keeping the Sabbath?

Keeping the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments. Christians don’t keep the Sabbath any longer. So, if it’s no longer a sin not to keep the Sabbath, is it still a sin to kill, steal, covet and commit adultery? Are there only Nine Commandments now? The relevance of the Ten Commandments is a separate topic that will be fully addressed in a later post.


The Leadership Structure of the New Testament Church

The spiritual leaders of the New Testament (NT) church were known by a variety of titles.


The sole NT reference is plural; the singular ‘pastor’ does not appear in the NT:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-12)


This is a somewhat general term, meaning ‘older’, and (implied by extension) wiser. The Greek word presbuterosis survives in the name of today’s Presbyterian Church.

Paul and Barnabas ordained elders:

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)

Elders were distinctly separate from the Apostles:

And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. (Acts 15:4)

And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. (Acts 15:6)

Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: (Acts 15:22, 23)

And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. (Acts 16:4)

Elders were undoubtedly the church’s leadership, synonymous with ‘bishops’ and ‘pastors’:

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (Acts 20:17)

In the same passage, Paul says this to the elders:

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (I Timothy 5:17)

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (Titus 1:5)

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: (1 Peter 5:1)


The name of the Episcopal church comes from episkopos, the Greek word for bishop, meaning ‘superintendent’. While some churches today have bishops, it is more common to refer to them as pastors.

Elder and bishop seem to be used interchangeably:

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: (Philippians 1:1)

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (1 Timothy 3:1-2)

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; (Titus 1:5-7)


There’s little evidence that ‘elders’ includes ‘deacons’ (Philippians 1:1).

A deacon’s qualifications are separate from a bishop’s (I Timothy 3:8-13).

Deacons will be explored in-depth in a future post.

Ordaining Authority

The apostles ordained church leaders (Acts 14:23), who ordained other church leaders (Titus 1:5).

One or Many?

There’s more evidence in Scripture for a plurality of elders than for one man overseeing a congregation:

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders (plural) of the church (singular). Acts 20:17)

Remember them (not ‘him’) which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their (not ‘his’) conversation. (Hebrews 13:7)

Obey them (not ‘him’) that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they (not ‘he’) watch for your souls, as they (not ‘he’) that must give account, that they (not ‘he’) may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

And when they had ordained them elders (plural) in every church (singular), and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)

There are potentially serious issues with a governance structure of a church having only one leader, and each Christian having their very own pastor. These will be addressed in later posts.


The Church Meeting Place

The Bible uses the term “the church” 70 times, all in the New Testament. The underlying Greek word is ekklesia, which means, “a called out assembly“.

The Church Where You Live

Groups of believers within a geographical area are referred to as “the church in/at/of <city>“:

  • Acts 8:1 – the church which was at Jerusalem
  • Acts 13:1 – the church that was at Antioch
  • I Corinthians 1:2, II Corinthians 1:1 – the church of God which is at Corinth
  • Colossians 4:16 – the church of the Laodiceans
  • I Thessalonians 1:1, II Thessalonians 1:1 – the church of the Thessalonians
  • End of Titus (footnote) – the church of the Cretians
  • Revelation 2:1, 2:8, 12, 18, 3:1, 7, 14 – the church of/in <city>

Left unsaid is whether all believers in these cities met in one place, or there were multiple congregations within a particular city. The latter seems more likely, due to sheer volume and land area (but maybe not).

There is also no mention of exactly where these congregations came together, whether synagogue, rented building or open field.

The Church in Thy House

There are four references to “the church <in a person’s> house“:

  • Aquila & Priscilla (Romans 16:5, I Corinthians 16:19)
  • Nymphas (Colossians 4:15)
  • Philemon (Philemon 2)

This phrase has been used as an argument that the model of New Testament Christianity is to meet in ‘house churches’. This seems a stretch, as it is just as likely that the term is put forth to encompass all believers within a certain person’s household, whether immediate family or inclusive of servants and near kinsmen.

Where the Early Church Met

The early church met:

  • Acts 2:46, 20:20, I Timothy 5:13 (perhaps) – in homes
  • Acts 5:12 – in the temple and also from house to house
  • Acts 10:24-27, 14:1, 17:1, 18:4, 19, 26, 19:8 – existing Jewish synagogues (although this seems to be an evangelistic strategy to preach the Gospel to assembled Jews & Greeks – in other words, they went where the people were)
  • Acts 28:23 – in prison

I Corinthians 11:17-22, 14:23 – the “one place” referenced here is not enough to conclude that it was ONLY one place, or that it was a building owned in common by the church.

There does not seem to be an attempt to replicate the OT temple, either in structure or in philosophy that the presence of God dwelled in a particular building.

Where Today’s Church Should Meet

It is not specified definitively where the Gentile church congregated. There is no evidence that a building was set aside solely for the purpose of church gatherings. Many church buildings today are costly, ornate edifices that lie empty five or six days in a week.

There are multi-purpose buildings that are inhabited on Sunday for church and on weekdays for Christian schools and other educational or service opportunities, but these are in the minority.

The Christian’s responsibility of stewardship compels the church to assess the wisdom of sinking thousands or millions of donated dollars into little-used properties. Assets owned by a church often become the focus of contention, as factions within the organization vie for control and ownership of things, rather than on the spread and care of the Gospel.

How to Become a Christian

The title and content of this post may seem simplistic, even trite. If so, consider it intentional. Although the message of the Bible is incredibly rich and deep, with a lifetime spent before exhausting its wonders, it is also simple enough that a child can understand:

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. (Mark 10:13-15)

This ‘childlike faith’ is all that is necessary to come to Christ, and puts to rest the idea that becoming a Christian is an arduous task.

Think about it: if God loves you (and he does), and he wants you to know him (and he does), why would he make it hard? Why would God make you live your entire life never being certain of his favor? Why would he make you wait until you couldn’t do anything about your eternal state before he revealed if you made it or not?

Why would he, indeed? And the answer is – he didn’t.

The Romans Road

There are numerous Scriptures that reveal the simplicity of the Gospel. The so-called “Romans Road” is a series of verses all drawn from the Book of Romans, and frequently used together because of their proximity to each other.

Well-worn and clichéd, the Romans Road nevertheless explains how to become ‘born again”:

1. You must recognize your desperate condition:

There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

Everyone is a sinner, including me and you. This universal aspect is not helpful to your soul. Just because everyone in front of and behind you is awaiting the guillotine won’t soften the reality of your own trip to the blade.

2. You must understand the magnitude and consequence of your sin:

For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a)

God does not grade on a curve. It only takes one crime to make me a criminal. It only takes one sin to make you a sinner. And the penalty for our sin is death (eternal separation from God).

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10)

3. You must agree with God on the remedy for your sin:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Any other method of payment for sin is insufficient. Only the sacrificial death of Christ can satisfy God’s righteous demand. Note that God showed his love before you or I ever cared.

4. You must place your trust in Christ for salvation:

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:13)

Trusting Christ alone includes us discarding any other way of salvation. This is called “repentance”. And Christ promises to save all who call on him:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

Too simple? Why should it be difficult?

What is a Christian?

The word ‘Christian’ comes from the Greek word khristeeanos, and means ‘follower of Christ‘. khristeeanos comes from khristos, which is the word used for ‘Christ’.

While it may seem like splitting hairs just a little – but maybe not – a Christian is not a follower of Jesus (the man), but a follower of Christ (the annointed of God).

Christ the Messiah was chosen by and sent from God Almighty. Jesus did not come to earth to show us the way to God. Rather, Jesus was specifically chosen by God to come to earth and reconcile us to God.

It’s not us finding our way to God. It is God making the way for us to come to him.

‘Christian’ in the Bible

A form of the word ‘Christian’ appears three times in the Bible:

  1. Acts 11:25-26: Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
  2. Acts 26:28: King Agrippa’s scornful reply to Paul when the apostle was testifying of his heavenly vision: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
  3. I Peter 4:15-16: But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Follow Me

When Jesus told his twelve disciples to “follow me”, he commanded them to accompany him, or be in the same way with him. (Yes, one of the twelve betrayed him. However, we cannot reasonably conclude that a Judas Iscariot in the church is God’s plan).

And they did follow him, even when many of his other disciples stopped. Their reasoning for staying speaks to what it means to be a follower of Christ:

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (John 6:66-69)

The disciples stayed with him because they heard the words of eternal life coming from him, and believed he was the khristos.

Believing in Christ = Being Born Again

Anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is ‘born of God’:

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (1 John 5:1)

Being ‘born of God’ means being granted the right to be a son (child) of God):

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

Believing in the Son – the Christ – is the way to everlasting life:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

It’s all about Jesus Christ. A Christian is one who believes that Jesus is the Christ. In turn, God grants the believer everlasting life.

In the next post, we’ll see what Scripture says about how to become a Christian.

The Church, Inc.

Church organizations in the United States are non-profit corporations.

Non-profits are also called a ‘501(c)3’ because that’s the part of the IRS tax code defining the non-profit. A non-profit can be a church, a credit union, the YMCA, the Red Cross or the American Cancer Society.

Corporations are artificial entities, having certain rights and responsibilities. Authorized officers of the corporation are empowered to own property, construct buildings, and buy and sell vehicles.

In many cases, the authorized officers of a church are the pastors and deacons, who therefore perform spiritual duties as well as govern the business affairs of a corporation.

For a church to incorporate, it must have a constitution. A church constitution is a legal document. It defines the corporation (church) and lays out its bylaws, such as who is eligible for membership.

There are arguments put forth against church constitutions, such that they are ‘un-Biblical’. Whether or not a constitution is Biblical is irrelevant. If a church wants to be recognized as a non-profit organization in the United States, it must have a constitution.

 A constitution serves a valid purpose. It is logical and reasonable for a constitution to lay out certain criteria that those seeking membership must adhere to and pledge to honor. It would be silly for the ‘Yamaha Lovers of America’ to grant membership to an avid Harley-Davidson fan.

Contributions given to charitable organizations, such as churches, are tax-deductible. There is nothing unseemly with taking actions to legally pay lower taxes. In fact, from a Christian stewardship perspective, it may be wrong NOT to reduce your taxable income. Simply put, if you legally can, why wouldn’t you?

The church (the community of believers) does not require a legally-constructed artificial entity in order to be valid. The validity of the church is the Holy Spirit indwelling each believer.

Churches do not need to own property, buildings or vehicles in order to be churches. Otherwise, the underground churches of China, North Korea and Iran could not be legitimate churches. And they clearly are, perhaps more so than any in America.


The House of God

How It’s Used

The term “house of God” is commonly used to refer to a church building. Some church organizations incorporate under a name that includes “temple”, i.e. “Main Street Baptist Temple”.

The concept hearkens back to the Old Testament, where both the Ark of the Covenant and “Solomon’s” temple are called “the house of God”.

Where It’s Found

The phrase appears 89 times in the Bible. Only three of these occurrences are used in conjunction with the New Testament church, none of which refer to a physical building (I Timothy 3:15, Hebrews 10:21, I Peter 4:17).

The first occurrence is in Genesis 28, where Jacob awoke from his vision of “Jacob’s Ladder”:

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. (Genesis 28:16-19).

Note the following:

  • The first Biblical reference to ‘the house of God’ labels a nondescript area of rocks;
  • The Hebrew word ‘Bethel’ means ‘house of God’. Jacob stood up a rock, poured oil on it, and proclaimed it the house of God.

What It Means

The house of God is a synonym for the presence of God. God does not live in buildings (Acts 7:48, 17:24). Wherever the spirit of God is, that is the house of God.

It is common for Christians to call their church building ‘the house of God’. Many times, it is an innocent utterance, as this teaching is common in Sunday school curriculum, and ingrained in children as they grow into adulthood.

The presence of God is the house of God. Christians possess the Spirit (thus the presence) of God. Christians are the church. The church (collective Christians) is the house of God:

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. (I Timothy 3:15)

Scripture also teaches that the Christian is the temple of God:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (I Corinthians 3:16-17)

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (I Corinthians 6:19)

Therefore, the New Testament ‘house of God’ is not a building or an organization. It is the individual Christian, within whom Christ dwells, and by extension the collective Christian assembly, which is made up of individual temples.


The Church

The Church is the Body of Christ
Ephesians 1:22-23 – And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 4:15-16 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Colossians 1:18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

One Body, Many Members, Added by the Holy Spirit
Romans 12:4-5 – For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

I Corinthians 12:12-20For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.


“Members” is a metaphor for body parts (foot, hand, ear, eye), and not referring to being on the membership roll of a credit union, rifle club or church organization.

The members of the body of Christ are individual Christians.

“Members” are not individual churches:

  • A church organization is an inanimate object
  • Church organizations may contain non-Christians, who are not part of Christ’s body.