What Does the Bible Mean by “Going to Church?”
behave yourself in the house of God, WHICH IS THE CHURCH OF
THE LIVING GOD, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15)
We often hear that it is important for us to go to church. It is said that church is where we go to hear the word of God. If you don’t go to church, you cannot be saved. It is important for you to go to church to hear the man of God preach the word of God. Christ, they say, is the head of the church. He is the church’s Savior, the head of the body.
All of this is true, but the question we need to answer is “what does the Bible mean by going to “church?” What is the church of God, and why is it so important? Who or what is Christ? Do you “know the Lord?”
The way in which the Bible is written is fascinating. It is written in such a way that its truths are “hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes” (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21). How is it possible that a spiritual work of this nature can be hidden from a select group (the wise and prudent) while being revealed to a select group (babes)? Isn’t it right there, open for all to see? Are not its words open to all of our ears?
Scripture says that to the multitudes, Jesus speaks in parables and “without a parable spake he not unto the people, but when they were alone he expounded all things to his disciples” (Mark 4:34). The Bible is a spiritual work written to the multitudes. It is readily available to everyone who wants to read it. And yet, it is clear that there is mass confusion in our world as to its true meaning and intent. Is it to be taken literally? Is it all allegory? Is God a just God? Is He truly Omnipotent? If God is real, why does he allow sickness, disease, wars, etc.? The questions go on and on.
So how do we get at the truth? Many have come to the conclusion that trying to understand the Scriptures represents an exercise in futility. While on the surface that may seem to be true, the Scriptures themselves tell us that “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14).
It is the Christ that opens our minds to the understanding of the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). But how does he do that? What constitutes a true disciple of Christ? Who are the “chosen ones?” For “many are called, but few are chosen.”
Luke 18 contains the answer to this question:
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? (Luke 18:7)
The elect, or chosen ones, are simply those who cry out to God day and night. Thus, you make yourself a chosen one by “crying out to God day and night.” This doesn’t mean all day and all night in the literal sense. Day and night in Scriptures symbolize good times and bad times. In other words, we are constantly in communion with him. But how do we get to that state? Can we simply will ourselves there?
Prayer and Meditation
It is critical to understand that Christ is the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). This power and wisdom is within you. YOU are the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16), which means YOU are the house of God (Heb. 3:6), and the house of God is the Church of God (1 Tim. 3:15). In other words, YOU are the church. Christ comes in YOUR flesh, and greater is he that is IN YOU than he that is in the world (1 John 4:2-4). In other words, YOU are where Christ dwells, and where Christ shall rule when he is resurrected within you (“… he dwelleth with you, and shall be IN YOU” – John 14:17).
Christ is the head of the church, and it is Christ IN YOU, (i.e., in his Church) that is your hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Paul “labors in travail until Christ be formed IN YOU.” This is the great mystery of biblical marriage, which has nothing to do with a relationship between a physical man and woman. Biblical marriage constitutes the relationship between man and Christ – ONE FLESH. The two shall become one flesh – not two, but one.
“This is a mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church” (Eph. 5:32).
So once again, what does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? Well, if Christ is WITHIN YOU, how are you going to find him outside of you? You must find him where he is, in his Church, which is YOU. If he is IN YOU, then that is where you have to go to meet him. This implies meditation. Let me explain.
Christ is the head of the church. In Scripture, contrary to popular opinion and belief (due to the natural reading of the Scriptures), it is not the man (Adam) that represents mankind, but the woman. Adam is the first Christ, and thus Christ is the second Adam. Thus, when the Scriptures are speaking to the woman, they are actually speaking to YOU (man). It is critical to understand this, because the central theme of the Bible is the marriage of Christ (the “inner man”) (Eph. 3:16) and “mankind” (the woman of Revelation 12). The marriage of Christ is his marriage to the church, which is YOU, individually. YOU are the woman, YOU are the Church. YOU are the bride.
Christ is the bridegroom.
Now notice 1 Timothy 2:11-12:
(11) Let the woman learn IN SILENCE with all subjection. (12) But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but TO BE IN SILENCE. (1 Tim. 2:11-12) (emphasis mine)
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. This Scripture is not addressing natural man and woman. The woman here represents YOU, as the “bride of Christ,” the church. The man here is Christ, who is the head of the church. When we go into the church, we (the woman) subject ourselves to our head – Christ, who is IN YOU!
Now notice the phrase “to be in silence,” because we are going to be coming back to it shortly. This phrase is absolutely critical, because we are going to “church” to “hear the Word of God.” And what is this Word of God? It is Christ. Again, notice:
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. (Rev. 19:13)
We always think of the Scriptures as the Word of God, but this is an error of monumental proportions. Indeed, it is Christ who is the “Word of God,” and this Christ, this Word, is IN YOU.
Now Jesus’ disciples witness him going off for long periods of time to pray. They ask him to “teach us to pray.” What is very interesting here is that he gives them a 30 second prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven ….”
Probably not what they have in mind.
The answer actually lies in the instructions he gives them immediately before he actually gives them the words to speak.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matt. 6:6)
The word “door” in Scripture does not mean a literal door. No, the Bible is a coded book, and so you must learn how to decipher the codes if you want to get to the real meaning. The word “door” in Scripture means the “door of your lips.” Notice:
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. (Ps. 141:3)
Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. (Mic. 7:5)
Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, [and] went not out of the door? (Job 31:34)
Thus, to “shut your door,” in Scripture means to “close your mouth.” In other words, be in silence. A woman shall not speak in the church.
The word “closet” in Scripture means “storehouse” or “secret chamber.”
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not. (Matt. 24:26)
Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (Luke 12:24)
Matthew 24:26 seems to indicate that Christ is NOT in the secret chambers (the same Greek word as “closet” in Matthew 6:6). However, we are clearly told in Matthew 6:6 to go into thy closet/secret chamber when we pray). This “storehouse” is a reference to the “Holy of Holies” within you — the church. Once again, we are dealing with the language of Scripture here, and all of it is spiritual. The Scriptures are amazingly consistent in the definitions of its symbols. For example, the word “door” (H1817 and G2374 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) doesn’t mean something different in Genesis than it does in Revelation. Once you find the meaning of a symbol in Scripture, you can be assured that it means the same throughout. This is how you learn to “speak in tongues,” which simply means speaking the language of the scriptures, which connotes understanding what they say.
YOU are the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16); YOU are the house of God (Heb. 3:6), and therefore YOU are the church of God (1 Tim. 3:15). Yes, YOU are the church. The door of the temple symbolizes the entrance to the sanctuary, and it is your mouth. Remember, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who love it shall eat its fruit” (Prov. 18:21).
However, when you go into your “closet” (the “church”), you are to “shut your door.” You are in the presence of your husband – your head. Once again, notice:
(11) Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. (12) But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. (1 Tim. 2:11-12)
This is meditation. After you “let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6), “be still and know that I am God.” It is in this stillness that Christ “speaks” to you. But don’t expect to understand it naturally. The natural man cannot understand the things of God. This is where faith comes in. You must believe that Christ is there and that he hears you. However, you don’t need much faith at the outset. Faith as a grain of mustard seed is all that is required. That faith will be watered and nourished and will grow, because the spirit will answer you in very clear tones that you will recognize IF you are watching. The biblical command is to “watch and pray.” Beware, however! It is your trials (the “waters of affliction”) that water and nourish the seed that is Christ within you. This is what is meant by the “cross of Christ.” It is important to bear your cross. “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you” (1 Pet. 4:12). Along with meditation, you must watch (i.e., be attentive), because the answers to your prayers are going to come in ways that you may not otherwise notice, or that you may deem simple coincidence. My experience is that the answers to my prayers NEVER come from the direction in which I am looking for them. I have learned to expect the unexpected.
Never neglect to give thanks when answers are forthcoming. This is the praise spoken about in Scripture. Even your trials should be met with floods of thanksgiving, with the understanding that nothing you are experiencing is designed to harm you in any way – no matter how severe it may appear – but rather, they are for the express purpose of perfecting you. “I know the plans I have for you says God, plans to prosper you and not to harm you” (Jer. 29:11, NIV).
Learn to spend quality time in meditation. There is power in stillness and silence. At the outset you will certainly feel as though you are doing nothing, and that it is all a waste of time. Persistence is the key here. Over time, you will begin to notice great changes in yourself. In addition, you will begin to experience a peace that you have never known before. But you’ve got to stay the course. He who endures to the end, the same shall be saved. Combine your requests to God with silence. This is what it means to “go to church to hear the Word of God.” Once again, it is Christ IN YOU that is the hope of glory — not a Christ OUT THERE.
Christ is the spirit within (2 Cor. 3:17), and is our intercessor:
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Rom. 8:26)
Indeed, we do not know how to pray. This is why we go to church and become silent. Christ within, our head, is our intercessor, and intercedes for us with groanings that you can neither utter nor understand. If all of this sounds foolish (1 Cor. 1:24), it is because the spiritual is foolishness to the natural.
It is the Christ within that opens your mind to the understanding of the Scriptures. But you must make yourself a disciple of Christ by ongoing communion with him, in good times and in bad times. That means going within, being silent in the church, and allowing him to teach you. Remember, it is Christ IN YOU that is the hope of glory.
Silence. It is the loudest work you will ever do.