Are You a Stranger in Church?

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“Strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’s house.” Jeremiah 51:51

The prophet Jeremiah was grieved and repulsed by the intrusion of the ungodly into the holy places where the priests of God were only allowed to enter. He was upset because people were not seeking to know God and His love.

Jeremiah said:

“We are confounded, because we have heard reproach: shame hath covered our faces: for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the LORD'S house.” (Jer 51:51)

The word ‘confounded’ is to be understood as ‘ashamed’. The people of God were not just upset but also ashamed that the godless had access to the most holy places in the possession of earth.

We, as the born-again people of God, are the “holy place” that God dwells. The scripture teaches:

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Co 3:16)

God no longer visits mankind in a temple built by the hands of men but lives in the hearts of the ones who have been born-again by the work of the Saviour.

This “holy place” extends beyond just you. The “holy place” is, by this scripture, enlarged to the all of the redeemed:

“In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph 2:21-22)

When we find the gathered followers of Jesus in the scripture we find that the word ‘Church’ is used to describe this event. The church is never used to reference a place but a people. When the church is used to describe the gathering of the people of God the word ‘church’ is understood as the called out.

When we as the “called out” come together in one place we became an enlarged “temple of God.” Jesus makes this promise to the 'called out':

 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mat 18:20)

Just as when the high priest entered into the holy place and God would show up to receive the offering, Jesus engages us in the “temple of God” when we gather together in His name. We are not just the temple of God; we are the holy place where God meets with His people to receive their worship.

The question arises, is the assembly of the called out a place for the ungodly to join?  We know that the godless was in the company of the believers in the New Testament church — the question is how were they received?

The church in Corinth had not only allowed but had accepted the ungodly into the “called out” assembly and the born-again were rebuked by the Apostle Paul with these words:

“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Co 5:4-5) 

This seems rather harsh for the church not to allow the ungodly in the “called out” assemblies of the born-again but what is at risk is not their feelings or our feelings but their eternal soul. It is common in church groups to not only encourage the ungodly to join in the assembly of the called out but like the Corinth church to defend their behavior.

The Apostle Paul said the born-again in this church had become, “puffed up” (1 Co 4:18) or were proud of their acceptance of the ungodly in their midst.

Many church groups have conflicted the “called out” assembly of believers with evangelism. To create an atmosphere where the ungodly are comfortable is only possible by diluting the word of God. The gospel of Jesus is to be preached to the world.

Jesus said the gift of power from the Holy Spirit was for this purpose:

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The purpose of and the exercise of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit are to edify the Lord’s 'called out':

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:” (Eph 4:11-12)

Has your church conflicted the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus with “edifying of the body of Christ?” Are you or your church leaders trying to make your church “user-friendly” by accepting or even promoting life choices that God does not endorse?

The scripture makes the mandate to proclaim God’s word clear:

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 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 20:27-28)

Is your church group teaching “all the counsel of God” or an abbreviated version? It is not what is said, it is what is left out that determines if “all the counsel of God” is preached.

Remember the purpose of the Lord’s Church is not to be concerned with feelings of people but with the condition of their eternal souls. Preach the gospel of hope to the lost and teach the complete counsel of God’s word in the assembly of the “called out.”

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