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What would happen if there were no more churches?
In recent years, it has been shown that church statistics have been "stuffed". People are kept on church lists for two or even more years after they stop going to church. When they move from one place to another, they are registered on the new lists, but are not deleted from the old lists. Even children are on those lists. However, reality shows us that there are many abandoned churches; and in some places the doors of churches are only occasionally opened for services.
In these circumstances, it seems appropriate to ask: What would happen if there were no churches at all? The general answer would be that this would be the darkest day in human history, a day of general abandonment to crime and every evil thing; but such would not necessarily be true.
First, the true church to which the Bible refers is not a building. . It is a company of people. The building in which these people gather (called the church) has nothing to do with the way people associate with God.
„Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in houses made with hands”, is recorded in the Bible at Acts 7:48.
The words of the martyr Stephen are supported by those of the apostle Paul when he was in Athens: „ The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands”.
When he said to Peter, “upon this rock I will build my church”, Jesus was not referring to any building (Matt. 16:18). He was referring strictly to people. Jesus indicated that all members of the assembly, that is, of His church, would believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus did not say that His followers should believe that He is the heavenly Father Himself. Nor did he suggest, as some have misunderstood, that Peter was the foundation of Christ's church. Peter understood this as he stated: ”Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead. He is the stone which was set at nought of you the builders, which was made the head of the corner.” – Acts 4:10, 11; 1 Peter 2: 4
When Jesus said, under certain circumstances, that one could tell the church about someone else's mistakes, it was clear that he was not referring to whispering these things to a pile of wood, stones, or bricks, but to a company of Christians.
Speaking of these church-related matters, some overlooked the fact that Jesus was not an appointed priest; that he never built a church, nor did he ask anyone to do so; that he never preached from the pulpit; that he never rang a church bell and did not ask for the bells to ring for people to come and listen to him; that he never wore priestly vestments, nor did he ask anyone to do so; that he never ascribed the title of father, reverend, most blessed, his holiness or most holy, doctor of divinity, bishop, archbishop, etc., and did not ask anyone to do so; that he never sprinkled anyone with holy water, nor did he ask anyone else to do so; that he never sold holy candles or other holy objects, nor did he ask anyone to do so; that he never offered indulgences, nor did he ask others to do so; that he never used in reference to himself or his successors the titles of Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Orthodox, or any of the more than 163 names now used by Christians.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, wrote the following: “Salute Prisca and Aquila my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life laid down their own necks; unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles: and salute the church that is in their house. ” - Rom. 16:3-5. This quote leads us to the root of the problem: there, in Rome, was a church, a company of God's people, who met in a private house, a perfectly legitimate thing and worthy of praise for any company of Christians.
Some believe that in heaven there is a long boulevard full of churches and nothing else, if maybe some beautiful houses for those who put their lives in the service of the so-called "church works". Let's get a fair idea. It is not God's will, nor His purpose, to turn this earth into a place where everyone will live in churches, monasteries, and hermitages. What God wants is not the churches, but the hearts of the people. The Father grows up looking for hearts to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23) - “I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.” (Jer. 31:33, 34)
What use will all the cathedrals and churches in the Kingdom of God be for then? And what will people build then, if not churches?
Listen to the word of the Lord: „ And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for calamity; for they are the seed of the blessed of Jehovah, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:21-24)
There are many communities in the so-called Christianity today who have had the opportunity to see what happens when churches cease to be used. Statistics show that in all countries of "Christianity" there are many abandoned buildings. We do not know if research has been done to assess the moral condition of people in places where people do not have access to a church. But if we look at the situation, we can see that the places where most crimes and immorality are committed are the metropolises, where there are all kinds of churches. When we go to the countryside, where the decline of the churches is obvious, we find the backbone of the citizens of this nation. The honesty and morality of rural areas is high. Farmers, for the most part, although they can't get to church, and even if they milk the cows on Sunday mornings, they honor God's name, and are eager to listen to anyone who comes up with a message that will help them understand more about the good Creator. Some argue that the cities with the most churches have the most wicked and unfaithful citizens.
A moral citizen wants to know as much as possible about God, to hear as much as possible about Him, and, above all, to see his name honored. This means that such a person will have an ear eager to listen and a heart eager to know the things God reveals.
Most rejections of God's Word are found in the communities where most churches are.
Being a member of one of the churches is not a guarantee of holiness. In previous centuries, savage pagans were forcibly enrolled in churches, but this did not seem to tame them in any way. There are records that they drank large amounts of wine from the skulls of their enemies.
The same thing happens nowadays. Suppose a law were passed by which we should all become members of a certain church, because otherwise we would be killed. Will we be more different when we become members of that church by obeying the law? In fact, we would be worse people because of that. Before the law was approved and enforced, we could have said: “I do not know the Lord; I don't know what he asks of me. I won't say I'm on his side when I don't know anything about him. I don't know any reason why things in the world are the way they are.” But approving such a law would make most of us hypocrites, very disagreeable to God. There are some who say that social pressure was aimed at getting people into the church, and this has led to the "integration into the church" of many people who, left to their own devices, would not have dedicated their hearts to God. But this reasoning is totally wrong.
God does not want people by force. There is a true worship of God, in which worshipers must desire to serve the Creator. Jehovah does not want to force people to be saved. Its worship is a different worship from that practiced in churches. God does not encourage those who want to serve him to meet in a church, where a differently dressed person will pray for them. On the contrary! The Son of God said: „And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.”
Let's take a look at these words. Here we are told that each must pray individually, not entrust his prayer to another. The reason is also specified. Jesus does not want his servants to be hypocritical, to do things in public for others to see their piety. The synagogues of Jesus' day correspond to the churches of today. Who are those who are now praying in church, in public, standing? The answer comes naturally. Jesus rebuked those who prayed in public to be seen by people. Who are, today, those who are called to bless every social occasion with public prayers for the invocation of God's blessing upon governments, armies, or on any other occasion? Again, the answer comes naturally.
Jesus seems to suggest that those who pray standing in synagogues and public places do so for selfish reasons (for gain). They may be viewed with admiration in their community because of their feigned piety and eloquent (that is, beautiful, convincing) prayers. There is no evidence in Scripture that their prayers have not a special impact where prayers matter, that is, in heaven.
Jesus had a sermon on this subject, related in Luke 18: 9-14: “And he spake also this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at nought: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: God, I thank thee, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I get. But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying: God, be thou merciful to me a sinner. I say unto you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
In this case, they were both praying in a public place, where the others could hear them. However, the interesting thing that Jesus points out here is that the one who felt most confident and believed that he was on good terms with God was in the worst condition.
From this we can deduce that, although someone belongs to the church, being perhaps its most prominent member, he may not be in good relations with God at all. Why?
Let's follow the Bible account, which will answer this question: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself”. Let us now consider the prayer he said:" God, I thank thee that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I get. "
We can see that his prayer was selfish, arrogant; he even boasted of his supposed faithfulness. His prayer was not for God. That's why she wasn't listened to.
Instead, God listened to the humble sinner, who denounced himself, the unworthy publican: ”But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying: God, be thou merciful to me a sinner.”
This is in harmony with what is written in Scripture: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and contrite heart, o God, thou wilt not despise.” “Jehovah is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as are of a contrite spirit.” (Ps. 51:17, 34:18)
Let's go back to the text we already mentioned above: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.” Here are two important things. The first is that we can pray directly to the Father. Christ does not mention in this passage that we should pray to his mother or saints, and he does not make the slightest mention of the need to ask any other human being to pray for us. We can do it ourselves. The second thing is that the place of prayer mentioned by the Teacher can be in any house. Christ does not say: "When you pray, go to the temple or to the synagogue, or to the church, or to an altar, or to any other holy place." It says: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret”.
The lesson given here shows that God is easier to find in the quiet sanctuary of our home than in the palaces that have been erected in His name, the so-called places of prayer.
In Isaiah's prophecy, chapter 66, verses 1-3, we find a statement from our heavenly Father regarding the temples and houses of worship, as well as the ceremonies that take place in those temples (which should make us we think of the true value of exterior formalities and these imposing buildings). “Thus saith Jehovah, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what manner of house will ye build unto me? and what place shall be my rest? For all these things hath my hand made, and so all these things came to be, saith Jehovah: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as he that breaketh a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as he that offereth swine's blood; he that burneth frankincense, as he that blesseth an idol.” This expression is among the strongest and fiercest because it conveys to all people on earth that ecclesiastical structures (churches) mean nothing to the great and true God of the Universe, Jehovah.