The Church: Its Residence Is Where Ever God Chooses

where two or three are gathered, I am in the midst.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, There I am in the midst of them (Matt.18:20, KJV).

Introduction

Church, the place of worship, fellowship, where sanctity is often sought, where many seek refuge for the soul and spirit and wisdom of the Heavenly Father; or is it? It is often found occupied, performing funerals, marriages, dedications, ordinations, and generally seen as the institution or place of familiarity. Many members of a church carry the mindset in attending church to fulfill their rightful place according to their upbringings. For others, the church is a place to seek out the interests of their members or neighborhood people, and there are others as well who strive to identify hypocrites, or those who, because of their position in the community, feel they must attend to uphold their status. Finally, there are those who seriously seek the meat of the word of God in order to fulfill their life’s purpose.

The revelation of, “Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord:” (Deut.12:11, KJV)

In recent years, there seems to be a falling away from the church as prescribed in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, KJV. Hosea reveals, “God’s people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge” (Hos.4:6). Is this summation true with the understanding of the where the residence of the church may be found as well? The findings will reveal that the church can reside within today’s household and anywhere God chooses to reside.

Definitions

Wasn’t it Jacob who fought with the angels all night and in the morning, anointed the rock/pillar and named it Bethel, meaning “house of God” for God was there? (Gen.29:16-22, Abingdon. 1980, Bethel) What about Joshua, warning the children of Israel to put away their other god’s and to stand for the true God of Israel, boldly sharing, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Is he not making a statement of his household being where God dwells? What about the city of Bethlehem, meaning the house of bread? Is not that the city which brought forth the Bread of Life, for the entire world to see? (Abingdon. 1980, Heb. 1035, Jn. 6:35, 48) These are just a few examples for those who seek to grasp God’s house. How many more structures are defined as God’s house?

The book of Matthew identifies the church as the kingdom thirty-six times; the branches (Jn. 15:5), Christ’s flock (Matt. 10:25), the salt and light of the world (Matt.5:13, 15. Jn. 10:15, Smith. 1983, 117).

Strong defines it as Ecclesia – a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both (Abingdon. 1980, Church).

R.G. Clouse reveals the word “church” in two different forms. As an adjective, he describes its cognate forms as kirche, kerk, and kirk, which comes from the Greek meaning “used first of the house of the Lord, then of his people.” The public assemblage described in Acts 19:32, 39, 40. Each is understood as Ecclesia (Clouse. 2001, 246). It is noted that the LXX defines it as the congregation/assembly of the Israelites, especially gathering for religious reasons (246). Clouse also speaks of the church of God as “a supernatural entity which is in process of growth towards the new world to come and with like attitude finds it to be the sphere of action of the risen Saviour, by the Holy Spirit” (246).

The Illustrated Davis Dictionary Of The Bible give two responses; that of Ecclesia which is identified in the states of Greece as the “assembly of citizens summoned for legislative or other purposes” and “is nowhere unequivocally used in the N.T. for the building in which any particular Christian community met”.  Its related findings reveal “the public worship of the church was engrafted upon the synagogue service” which consisted of preaching, reading of scripture, singing, prayers, and administration of the Lords Supper and baptism (Old Time Victory Hour. 1973, 146).

According to writer and editor, Wayne Jackson, of the Christian Courier, “Church” is used of the people of God universally and that Christ was the “head of His church in every city throughout the world”.

The church father, Ignatius, was the first to speak of the “catholic” church as a universal church composed of all with the local congregation reflecting the unity of the local church (Ferguson. 2005, 57).

The Household

Paul instructed those of Rome; to embrace, enfold, salute, and welcome the church, Ecclesia, that was in Priscilla’s and Aquila’s house (Jackson. Christian Courier, 7, Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:18, Rom. 16:3-5). In those days, Churches were held in the household and if they are found to operate in the households today would it not be o.k.? Paul writes the following;

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I Beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth (Gal. 6:6). I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such. The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1 Cor. 16:13-19, KJV).

Paul provides a clear variable within this church. He declares the church in the house of Stephanas, having harbored a refreshing spirit were they themselves acknowledged by the salutation of the Asian churches. Galatians 6:10 states; as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

It was the household of faith, Paul placed emphasis upon in recognizing the church. that was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla and the unfeigned faith, Lois and Eunice, provided for Timothy. It was through the teaching of laws and by hearing the word of God, Timothy was able to grow into that level of faith described in Galatians 3:23-25 (1 Cor. 16:13-19, 2 Tim.1:5-7, KJV). The stronger one becomes in the word, the stronger one becomes in their faith. It is what builds a deeper core of belief in the Father.

The Kingdom

Jesus responded to the disciples as to how it was going to be in the Kingdom of Heaven. But is that identity to be understood as the church? Smith’s Bible Dictionary states the Kingdom is mentioned thirty-six times in the New Testament and identified as; Christ’s household – Matt.10:25; Christ’s flock – Matt.26:31, the salt and light of the world – Matt. 5:13, the branches, Christ being the vine – John 15, etc (Smith. 1983, 117, John 1:51, Rev. 210:1-21, 22:1).

The kingdom revealed by “the apostle Paul identified the kingdom of God as “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary. 1986, – Kingdom of God).

Strong defines the kingdom as royalty, rule, or (concretely) a realm (literally or figuratively): a foundation of power, sovereign, from the prime; (to walk); a pace (“base”), i.e. (by implication) the foot: (Strong. Kingdom, Gk. 932, 935, 939).

Therefore providing the foundational stronghold of what holds together the family of God. For those who seek God are instructed in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Recognizing that the kingdom mentioned here carries the same definition as given previously by Strong. This kingdom is of God, the Christian’s foothold, base, stronghold, defender, advocate, and protector; whether in the physical or spiritual. It therefore follows with the understanding of “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matt 6:30-31, KJV). “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matt.6:34, KJV). These findings engage the witness to whom the church body are found to subdue themselves to in the spiritual church. To be totally dependent in the Father who provides all. John provides an excellent example in the instruction given to the seven angels (messenger, pastor), which were told to write unto the seven (spiritual completeness) churches while there, on the Lord’s Day. Each church was instructed in completion of their letter with; “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29 and 3:6, 13, 22). All include that of the spiritual church and that of the Physical church. The evidence, following through with the defining of the Kingdom, is strengthened by John who saw in the spirit the seven churches and was instructed to have the angels (messenger, pastor) write to unto the seven churches. The Pharisees, in attempt to tempt Jesus asked them to shew him the tribute money; “They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt 22:21, KJV). According to the book of Matthew, we are to give the things of God to God. Do we understand what God has given to us and that we should be sure to follow through with his directions, such as: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Man’s following of Christ reveal many things such as the gifts he holds. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (1 Cor. 12:1).

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Cor. 12:4-7).

The spirit within is made manifest in the spirit, but the spirit also is found to reside in the physical bodies. Do these physical bodies interact in the storehouse?

Storehouse –In the ancient world, the storehouses were known to have been situated underground in storing the oil and wine (PC. Biblesoft, Inc. Nelson.2006, storehouse).  It is with this thought that the OT:1004, from OT:1129 abbreviated; a house (in the greatest variation of applications, especially family, etc.): is based upon. The storehouse is found to be that of both; in the family house and larger housing areas. There is vivid memory placed in the minds of those familiar with the state of Kansas, its station in tornado alley. The perfect example of what a storehouse can be is shared in the popular film of Dorothy, and The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy is found seeking her auntie Em for protection as she stomps on the two doors that was the gateway opening to an underground pantry/protection area (Fleming. 1939). Another event found within scripture revealing that of the storehouse may give more understanding.

6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob (12 Tribes) are not consumed. 7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me (by seeking him in his word), and I will return unto you (our comforter), saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? (John 1:1, John 14:18, KJV) 8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?

In tithes and offerings! We must recognize that our tithes (tenths) and offerings  are understood as a tenth of everything we sacrifice or raise up, highly active, or as a tribute (Strong. Heb. 8641, from Heb. 7311). To continue;

9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat (that fills and sustains) in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. KJV

To gain further understanding, read Ps. 29:2, Prov. 3:9-10. The storehouse definitely sheds light on a household whether it is understood as the household or a building.

The building

What building would that be? The church! The called out ones! What building are we speaking of? Paul explains one building as “For we are labourers together with God; Ye are the building” (1 Cor. 3:9, KJV).

Strong defines building as a place where family resides (Abingdon. 1980, building).

Peter defines Jesus as the individual cornerstone of such a building and there is no other (Acts. 4:11, KJV). If one will look on a dollar bill one will find a cornerstone pictured on the back with the all-seeing eye that is often acquainted with the beliefs in biblical symbolism. The creation of our National Arms, reveal no proof of it within it historical documentation; however, Archaeologist, E. Raymond Capt, does give credence to “there is cause to believe that there is a deeply religious and supremely spiritual truth incorporated in the design of our Great Seal (Capt. 2001, 23). When looking at the dollar bill there is a noticeable space between the all-seeing eye and its base foundation. It is here that we see a spiritual entity within the physical as it intertwines tightly with the storehouse. Is there a connection of the monetary means that is in harmony with that of Caesar, and that of the cornerstone, being that of Christ, spiritually and physically? The space between the two, in the Great Seal, will one day soon be eliminated totally and completely when the head cornerstone takes his rightful place during the time John speaks of the New Jerusalem coming down from God himself, “behold, the tabernacle of God is with men (Rev. 21:2­-3, Strong. Gk. 4633, Tabernacle (tent).

The Tabernacle/Tent

The point to be sought after here is will the tabernacle that John saw coming down, reflect that of the physical, or spiritual, or both?

Tabernacle is defined as Heb. 4908 mishkan (mish-kawn’); from OT:7931; a residence (including a shepherd’s hut, the lair of animals, figuratively, the grave; also the Temple); specifically, the Tabernacle (properly, its wooden walls): Heb. 7931; as the idea of lodging (Strong. Tabernacle).

Smith identifies the tabernacle as the first place to have been occupied by Jehovah. It was called a dwelling or tent (Ex. 25:8). The outside appearance was known to reflect its name of tabernacle or tent (Smith, 2006, tabernacle).

Faussett defines tabernacle as “House” conveying the tabernacle that applies on to the fixed in Canaan, as Israel’s inheritance. He also acknowledges the one in which originally appeared in Beth-el (house of God); as “finally designating the church of the New Testament” (1 Tim 3:15), (Faussett. 2006, tabernacle).

Smith describes in further detail the tabernacle as;

The tabernacle was the tent of Johovah, called by the same name as the tents of the people in the midst of which it stood. It was also called the sanctuary and the tabernacle of the congregation. The first ordinance given to Moses, after the proclamation of the outline of the law from Sianai, related to the ordering of the tabernacle, its furniture and its service as the type which was to be followed when the people come to their own home and “found a place” for the abode of God (Smith. 1983. tabernacle).

Strong described the tabernacle in 1 Chron. 15:1, 16:1; 2 Sam. 6:16 as was simply called a tent (Strong. 1987, 13). The scriptural findings of that same corner stone/tabernacle are covered without any doubt. It is in Isaiah 28:16 which states; “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Ephesians 2:20 reveal “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; For we are the building; built upon that foundation.”

Is the tabernacle/tent, found as both in the physical and spiritual once again?

We read in Rev 21:2-3,

2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. KJV

The revelation here is that Christ is defined as our tabernacle and in the definitions shared by Smith, Faussett, and Strong, tent is used to describe the tabernacle as well. Would this be significant in the case of Jael who through scripture is understood to be the woman that God declared as;

“Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above the women in the tent” = (Heb.168, ohel (o’-hel); a tent (as clearly conspicuous from a distance):(a tabernacle, home, tent – KJV, Heb. 166. a primitive root; to be clear: shine – KJV).

To depict her as “blessed above women” and “above the women in the tent,” might one ought to grasp a connection as to Jesus’ mother Mary, who had also been told by the angel that she had been found “blessed art thou among women” (Lk.1:28,KJV)?

Its being about the Father's business.

Singing under the tent in Alberta, VA.

For more scriptural enjoyment, Col. 2:7, Eph.2:10, 1Tim.3:15, Heb. 3:3, 1Pet.2:5. So as Paul, so go others. Rom. 15:20, 1 Cor.1:1, and 1 Cor. 9:10.

So therefore, research reveal the tabernacle/tent as is, both being the same or as one, the house of God.

Sanctuary

The sanctuary is found within the Old and New Testament described as “A holy place set apart for worship of God or refuge from danger.” (Nelson. 1986, Sanctuary)

Strong defines sanctuary as Heb. 4720 as found in (Ex 15:17), a consecrated thing or place, especially, a palace, sanctuary (whether of Jehovah or of idols) or asylum: (Abingdon. 1981, Sanctuary).

Israel’s earliest sanctuary was the portable tent known as the TABERNACLE, where the ARK OF THE COVENANT containing the Ten Commandments was housed (Ex 25:8; 36:1). After the conquest of the land of Canaan by Joshua, the tabernacle with its sanctuary was placed at Shiloh, a town in central Palestine (Josh 18:1). The word sanctuary is applied also to the most holy place, or the Holy of Holies, in the tabernacle and the Temple (Lev 4:6). The sanctuary is also used of God’s holy habitation in heaven (Ps 102:19) by which is described as the New Jerusalem that will be coming down with no need for a sanctuary, “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev 21:22). Where all is made sacred, consecrated, and holy by God’s presence, there is no need for one specific holy place (Nelson. 2006, sanctuary).

An apostolic father, John Lightfoot states: “He that is within the sanctuary is clean; but he that is without the sanctuary is not clean, that is, he that doeth aught without the bishop and presbytery and deacons, this man is not clean in his conscience.” (Lightfoot. Sanctuary) Here the governing or directorship is being recognized! Does the Bible speak of this? In the subject of the governing of the church, is understood that the primary focus on the local church is found in the book of Acts and the Epistles. Acts 1 speaks of the church chosen person who Acts 20:28 speaks of the shepherds, (Erickson. 1998, 1089., Acts 20:28).

The New Testament’s sanctuary is understood to be that of;

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: (Heb.8:1-4, KJV).

The thought revealed here is Christ has already given his sacrifice for one and all times when he fulfilled his mission (Heb. 2:14). The realization of the Old and New Testament sanctuary is found to be our place of refuge (in the physical and spiritual realm) from the storms of life. The sanctuary has revealed the spiritual temple that is in store for all.

Temple

The formation of the Christian church has based its foundational beginnings from Solomon’s temple which was built to provide sanctuary “intended for ministrations of the priests, the congregations of the people assembling in the courts:” space for the stores, treasures, and priests living quarters (Smith. 1986, 679). The identity; however, of the first temple built in Jerusalem is the only temple to be directly authorized and devised by “the Almighty himself as His place of special worship for His chosen people” (Strong. 1987, 7). The Christian historian, E. Raymond Capt, writes of why the temple was built as he respectfully reflects upon the words of Solomon in identifying God as one, “whom the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain” 2 Chron. 6:18). It is the securing thought of man, cannot see, nor understand, the spiritual without being able to associate it with the material in his nature (Capt. 1979, 5). The message conveyed is then juxtaposed with the purpose of Christ speaking in parables (Matt.13, Acts 17:18). Mark A. Maddix affirms that “God the creator can be known, by way of analogy, through images, symbols, and concepts drawn from human experience in the created world.” (Estep. and Kim. 2010, 248) Ephraem, the Syrian speaker and classic writer draws his imagery from both Bible and nature (Ferguson. 2005, 219).

Lea and Black write of the sections deep within the second temple were occupied by priests, the Jewish men (the Israel Court), and the Jewish ladies (Court of Women), (Lea. and Black. 2003, 59 – 60).

The correlation of The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible which defines the temple as being a sacred place such as a sanctuary is also understood as, “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner” (Acts 4:11, KJV). “And what agreement hath the temple (the entire precinct) of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (1 Cor. 6:16 KJV). Paul also writes, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1Cor. 3:16, KJV). He further emphasizes certain specifics such as; “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?” “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Cor. 6:19-20, KJV). The scripture underlined as I will dwell in them; identifies Ex.29:45, Ps. 90:1, Zech. 2:10-11, John 6:56, Eph. 3:17, and Rev. 21:3.

To further conclude on the thought of the temple, “And speak unto him, saying , ‘Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the Man Whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both’” (Zech. 4:12,13, KJV). It is He that reveals the solidarity of “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which its new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name (Rev.3:12, KJV).

Assembly/Congregation

In acquiring the definition of the assembly, the dictionaries of Smith, Easton, Faussetts, and Nelson referenced the synonym as a congregation.

Smith’s reports the congregation as a collective community of holy people held by the governing father of each family or tribe whose bond was of “religious rather than political” (Smith. 1986, 122). Faussett seems to support the same idea of the holy community of patrimonial fathers but adds those who were circumcised to join in with the princes and the seventy elders who took part in the government with God (Faussett. 2006, congregation).

Easton’s distinguishes the congregation as resulting probably “from the Greek kuriakon” meaning the Lord’s house, which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship, and as assemblies convened for the purpose of engaging in solemn religious services (Ex 12:27; Num 25:6; Joel 2:15), or of receiving new commandments” (Ex 19:7,8,  Easton. 2006, Congregation).

Nelson explains the congregation the Old and New Testaments are expressed as to the children of Israel and the church. There is acknowledgement of where once the usage of Ecclesia and synagogue in the New Testament was interchangeable, now there is found a rift between the usage of Ecclesia and synagogue in the Jewish synagogue and the Christian Church (Nelson. 2006, congregation).

Church

Church is a very popular entity among Christian believers. Of the 115 times it is mentioned in the New Testament, at least 92 times is the word understood “to refer to a local congregation” (Nelson. 2006, church). Twice the church is identified within the house of Priscilla and Aquilla (Rom. 16:5, 1 Cor. 16:19), once, in the house of Nyphus (Col. 4:15), and once, in the house of Archippus, Philemon, and Apphia (Philem 2). Apphia is recognized as having maybe been Philemon’s wife or part of his household; according to the Bible dictionaries, of Faussett, Nelson, and Smith.

The definition of Church, throughout the New Testament is defined as in the Greek 1577 as ecclesia, meaning “a calling out”, a religious congregation (Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both) Abingdon. 1980, church).

Nelson reveals the church as “a local assembly of believers as well as the redeemed of all the ages who follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord”, the spiritual body of Christ (Nelson. 2006, Church).

Smith describes the church as in the general direct description of it being a kingdom as found in Matthew 16:19. He goes on to share Ecclesia, the Greek word for church is understood to be a called out assembly by a magistrate or legal power. “The real Church consists of all who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ as his disciples, and are one in love, in character, in hope, in Christ as the head of all, though as the body of Christ it consists of many part’s” (Smith. 1986, church).

It is with such instruction, given by God, that we must review the following scripture as fore-mentioned, revealing some of the church as “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles (orig. the official name for disciples – sent one’s), secondarily prophets (whom communicate God’s message boldly), thirdly teachers (instructor), after that miracles (miraculous power), then gifts of healings (the cure –effect), helps (relief), governments (directorship), diversities of tongues (an un-acquired language)” (Smith 1983, apostle, Nelson. 2006, prophet, Smith.1983, 534) (Abingdon. 1980, teacher, miracles, gifts, healing, helps, governments, tongues;)1 Cor. 12:28, KJV). It is these specific entities that mark the acknowledgement of such a place called the church and its fulfillment in the physical building. Jesus was the one who called out the disciples/apostles (Luke 6:13). Twelve are listed in the following along with a mentioned gift and condition.

And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; (Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon (Zelotes), Judas (James’ brother) and the traitor Judas of Iscariot. And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company (Christian community) of his disciples (called out ones – refer back to definition of church), and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; (Lk. 6:14-17, Smith. 1983, church).

If any man come to me, and hate not (love less) his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Lu. 14:26-27).

A true disciple is found within a specific category according to an early church father. Ignatius describes two types of people recognized in the church. Those who are zealous for truth are found to be well developed theological, fixed doctrinal lines, therefore not afraid to tell one, when they have stepped over doctrinal lines and then there are those who believe in loving unity, accepting what you believe without judgment (Litfin. 2007, 44). Of the church father’s, Ignatius was the first to acknowledge the church mothers. Perpetua, named as one, was defined as a true disciple. She along with Felicity gave their lives for their belief in the name of Jesus. It was Ignatius who bolstered that true Christianity was proven by the laying down of one’s life (Litfin. 2007, 44).

Jerome, another church father, recognized a woman’s relationship with Christ in Psalms, as can be identified as the individual woman or symbolic of the Bride of Christ. In recognizing it as so, aren’t all, male and female to exercise, as true disciples, the willingness to give their lives for Christ (Litfin.2007, 125. Ps. 45:10-11, KJV)? If so, is the discipline of Jesus found within the “church” body of believers? It is deemed beneficial to reflect upon such a question. In continuing on with the subject of the church, the questions that come to mind are asked and answered in the history or the church.

History

Where or when did the church begin? Well of course it began in Antioch or did it? It is with the understanding of the; household, storehouse, kingdom, building, tabernacle/tent, sanctuary, temple, assembly and the church, all house the called ones, family, or community of God. Each entity has been mentioned in the Old and New Testament. The book of Acts tells the way of a Christian, but was Christianity truly accepted first under Roman ruler Constantine? There has come to view, documented evidence that can no longer be ignored, the spread of Christianity and the church was visible in Britain before Constantine. Remember it was Jesus who spoke;

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt 16:17-19, KJV).

Upon this rock (Petra), Peter being that disciple/apostle was to teach what he had learned from Jesus. It was the foundation of truth that was to be placed into the temple/building of each individual. Remember it was Father who had revealed truth to him and it was given him to teach the word of God. It was upon this rock that we understand the following;

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles (the 12 and Paul) and prophets (like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Malachi, Zephaniah, Zechariah and others), Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 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 2:19-22).

Litfin brings to view the connection of Matthew 16:18 and the first church in Antioch defining the perfect description of what is known of the Antioch-ene believers (Litfin. 2007, 35). It was both; that, of the Christian Jewish people, with their strong beliefs of the laws, and the Gentiles, who were experiencing the difficulties in understanding what Paul details in Galatians 3:23-25. Research reveals Josephus, the Jewish historian, and Litfin’s acknowledgement of the city of Antioch as; it “deserves the place of the third city in the habitable earth that was under the Roman Empire” (Whiston. 1998, 3.2.4). The dates of coverage given by the writing of Acts cover that AD.30 – AD 62, from Jesus ascension and Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, according to Nelson (Biblesoft, Inc. 2006 – Acts). The fact known of Peter, the disciple, to whom was first to be called to follow, and as one sent forth (Apostle), and knowingly the one who Jesus stated as upon this rock, I will build my church may indicate the church of Antioch’s beginnings. But, does it certify as the only place that the church was built or Christianity was being spread?

The beautiful thing about the times past is that not all is lost in the telling of history. Those who desire to seek both, the alignment of Biblical and secular history, have found compelling evidence that reflects the beginning of the church. The seminary environment has grasped the realization that the earth reveals in nature, God and his creation. Psalms 19 reveals “God himself via the two-volume book of nature (vv. 1-6) and the book of the law” (vv. 7- 13) (Demerest.2001, 1020). The general revelation pulled from the aspect of external has definitely shown to be the aspect upon which the researcher is able to present some astounding evidence, revealing seventeen years of in-depth study, the strong probability that Christianity and the Church was spread further than once supposed during the time of Christ. But first, one must understand the sincerity proposed in Rev. Morgan’s statement;

“the fairest way of treating the subject of the first introduction of Christianity into Britain seems to be to lay down an affirmative statement, adduce what evidence there is in support of it, and leave the reader to draw the conclusion whether it makes good such statement or not. We write as investigators, not as dogmatists, but our propositions must of necessity often assume the affirmative form, or we should be mere negationists of history” (Morgan. 2001, 62).       

Jesus Whereabouts 12-30

Biblically, we find the movements of Jesus strangely silent from around the age of twelve to thirty. There is a strong amount of evidence enlightening those who have gained interest in such a task as the Christian historian, archaeologist, E. Raymond Capt. He has spent many years, researching, documenting, and reporting his findings of Jesus’ uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, as being an “Apostle of Britain, with the help of twelve other disciples of Christ, including his son, Josephes, and Mary the mother of Jesus, as having established Christianity in the Isles of Britain over five hundred years before St. Augustine set foot on English soil” (Capt. 2008, 21). C.R. Dickey writes of Arch-bishop Ussher declaring the “British National Church was founded in 36 AD., many years before heathen Rome confessed Christianity” (Dickey.1995, 289). The Tradition’s of Glastonbury reveals extraordinary evidence that Jesus and his uncle Joseph of Aramathea, spent time in Glastonbury, England during the fore-mentioned silent years (Capt. 2008). Glastonbury, England was found, at that time, a prominent “place of safety, remote of Roman authority,” although Rome invaded Britain later in 55 B.C., they stopped short of Glastonbury, which was at the back of a large estuary, known as a “Celto-British lake village” (Capt. 2004, 139). The History of England unveils although the South of Britain was attained at first then the North, there was a small part that was never subdued under Roman rule, which coincides with Capt’s statement at the time when Joseph of Aramathea was believed to have spent his time in Britain (http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/The-Romans-in-England/).  Reverend R. W. Morgan, author of St. Paul in Britain, also tells of Joseph of Arimathea was the first to introduce Christianity into Britain in A.D. 36-39 (Morgan. 2001, 62). According to Capt, the support of Joseph and his companions shortly after the resurrection is found in several sources; Tertullian, Eusebius, Chrysostom, St. Hilary of Pottiers, and Gildas Badonicus, and Gildas, the Wise Albanicus, strongly support that Britain received the Gospel in the time of Emperor Tiberus, who died in A.D. 37 making way for the dates that each of the ecclesiastical and secular authorities recognized Joseph of Arimathea, as being “evident that Christianity (Culdee Church) flourished in Britain approximately A.D. 36-39″. Dickey writes of the visits of Joseph of Aramathea introducing Christianity are legendary and “is an established fact of history, and it is amazing that this is not more generally known” (Dickey. 1995, 287). The documentation shared, makes way for the first Christian Church built above ground being erected around A.D. 39-41, making the Papal title created many years later, since the Roman Hierarchy was founded around A.D. 350 (Capt. 2008, 47-48).

Another historical factor learned within the writings of Capt is that of “the time of Paul’s trial and acquittal in Rome and before his return to Rome” there is a gap of silence that seems to be fulfilled and understood with the help of acknowledging The Lost Chapter of Acts of the Apostles (Capt. 1999, 3). It was he and Dr. Gene Scott, who believed it was at this time, Paul was fulfilling his desire to visit Spain as spoken of in Romans 15:28 (Capt. 1999, 3., Morgan. 1984, Introduction). Paul was also believed to have re-visited a few churches in Asian Minor. There is additional reason to believe Paul had heard of the “Tin Islands” because it is known that the Romans had already conquered the larger part of Britain at that time (Capt. 1993, 3).

Of course the research acknowledges the importance of Constantine and his profession of faith throughout all of his positive endeavors. He was an earnest student of Christianity, known for “commissioning new copies of the Bible” (Britannica Encyclopedia: Constantine Final Years).  It was his hope to “heal the schism within the church” as he sought unity by convening at the first church council of Nicea in 325AD (Blaising. 2001, 840). But one must acknowledge that God stated that he would leave a remnant for truth to continue through that of Judah and of Israel. Why not on Britain soil? God’s truth shall prevail through unveiling the traditions of men that have made void the word of God. To travel to Glastonbury, England, one soon hears the words in song still being sung today. That of “And did those feet in ancient times, walk upon England’s Mountain Green? And was the Holy Lamb of God, On England’s pleasant pastures seen?” (Capt. 1997)

The following scripture is due at this juncture.

“But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad (Luke 8:15-17).

As it is shared through the words of Peter; “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Out of the many books found in the Bible, Luke and Acts are not the only books that instruct “the Church” how to perform within, there is also amongst them the Books of Timothy and Titus.

To leave out such research proposing The Church and Joseph of Aramathea and Jesus’ time as well as Paul’s, being spent in Britain, would seem to fit under the category of keeping intact those traditions of men that make void the word of God. For more in-depth study; C.R. Dickey’s One Man’s Destiny, and Rev. J.H. Allen’s Judah’s Sceptre and Joseph’s Birthright.

Church Instruction

Matthew 18 amazingly gives something very powerful to the church. Within its scriptures it recognizes some defining requirements for the born again Christian/church (1 Cor.3:9, 1 Cor.6:19). Matthew 18:1 begins with the disciples posing a question to Jesus as to “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus responds as he acknowledges the heart and mindset He seeks from his children (Matt.18:2-4). Next, there is mention of a reception which is instantly followed by the warning of offense, the need to seek the lost sheep gone astray, instruction for edifying an individual, expressing three steps as to when a witness is needed Matt.18:5-16, and as for where two or three are gathered in his name, He is in the midst (Matt.18:20). We find that he explains an assembling of God’s people (Gk.1577: ekklesia; a religious congregation (Christian community of members on earth). Finally there is the requirement for the humbling willing need for his little ones to have the mindset of forgiveness, in which he directs them to forgive not seven times; but, seventy times seven (Matt. 18:22). These are the ways of the Kingdom. These are the ways of God’s people, his community, His Church.

Bullinger explains the calling of the Church to be that of all in “one body” “one calling”, and “one hope”. They are a true remnant being called to be that of “my people” incorporating those who have changed their spots from worshipping idols to that of being a true remnant, all being baptized into “one body” containing those of the nations whom are to become a people for His name and the election of grace identified as a remnant, taken from Israel (Rom. 11:5, Bullinger. 2008, 16).

The Church is instructed not to conform to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove that “which is “good, and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom.12:2, KJV).

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 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. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness (Rom 12:3-8, KJV).

Conclusion

The church! What is the church? What about its members? The research gained here provides the sought out wisdom of God (Js.1:5), in following the instructions “to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil2:12) acknowledging that it is He “which worketh in you, both; to do of his good will and pleasure” (Phil.2:13).

As the children of Israel were instructed to do all that God had commanded them, that it may be well with them, so is it the same expectation for the Church of today that it be well with thee to live long here on this earth (Deut. 6:6, Eph.6:3). The definitions of eleven structures are given with the physical in mind, but the spiritual aspect is found in perfection. The reader will find the documentations given conclude its findings. The physical entities defined are household, kingdom, storehouse, building, tabernacle, tent, sanctuary, temple, assembly and church. Each is found to provide housing for the soul and spirit. Most are found to house the physical body in bringing together a many-membered body. It is here that the many-membered body can identify their positions as to what “God hath set some in the church” such as the ones sent forth, those who boldly communicate God’s message, and the instructors (1 Cor. 12:28). The gifts including to not only those fore-mentioned, but others who harbor gifts such as “after that miracles, gifts of healings, helps, governments, and  the diversities of tongues” are found legitimate (Smith 1983, apostle, Nelson. 2006, prophet, Smith.1983, teacher, 1 Cor. 12:28, KJV). Are we to overlook these mentioned and believe that each one is not an important aspect to either of the structures mentioned? God forbid! The scriptures definitely identify the physical church and how it is to be governed. The book of Acts is noted for the teachings of how God’s church (holy people) are to act. Matthew 18 teaches the church how to act and respond to certain situations. Both are brought forth to encourage the reading with understanding the scriptures. The laws and writings of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament are given for our example (1 Cor. 10:11). Each housing unit provided in the physical is spoken of housing a Holy people of the congregation or a religious people. It must be understood that the object here is a “Holy” people, not a religion that is to house a church. It is the keen element to be understood within both the physical and spiritual structures. It is the oneness, of one spirit and one mind that embodies the individual church. It is the gifting of God who has provided the service within the housing structure. The church (body) is to house that of the babe, until the time of teaching as spoken of in Hebrews 5:13-14; therefore, fulfilling 1 Cor. 12:28. The church is not to find themselves guilty of members within the church for thirty years, still needing the milk (Heb. 5:12). The church has a job to do and in so doing, they will find themselves implementing and experiencing how to “discern both; that which is good and evil” “going on to perfection” teaching the laying on of hands and looking to eternal life (Heb.5:14, 6:1-4). It was Christ who stated that “upon this rock I will build my church” and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Peter’s name, meaning rock, but of which rock was Peter to stand? It was Christ, the living water, the way, the truth and the life (Matt. 16:18). The same rock God told Moses to strike, provided that living water for the children of Israel (Ex.17:6). But be forewarned; just as Ezekiel spoke of those shepherds who are not and those who are feeding the flock (church), the scriptures speak of two rocks. Moses spoke loud and clear, identifying the ways of those who follow the Rock in Deuteronomy 32:4. God being that “Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” and the other as revealed in Deuteronomy 32:31, ”For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” Why?

For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.  O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up? (Deut 32:28-30, KJV)

Whereas upon reading the scriptures, one will find that it is the warning to the children of Israel that was to be understood while they were making their way to the promise land (Deuteronomy 31:30). Paul writes in Ephesians 5, the very sentiment of how Jesus “might present it to himself a glorious church (the bride of Christ), not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” at the last trump (Eph 5:27, KJV). Thankful for the wonderful understanding of Deuteronomy 32 as one soon grasps the revelation of “They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation” (Deut.32:5). Have the church corrupted themselves into thinking the local church building is the only residence there is?

Remember Joshua presents his house as a house of God as he proclaims to the children of Israel “as for me and my house we are going to serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). Paul in his instruction to Timothy is found to bring forth if a man does not take care of his household, he is worse than an infidel (unbeliever) (1 Tim.5:8). Although it is looked upon as the instructions of the bishop (overseer) in the church; it is the instruction given to the head of the household/structure being given as the house of God and is still found to be justly applied.

Have the perverse and crooked nation crept in unawares in the history of the church as well? The research supplies multiple documentation as the scripture warns of a book that was once to be sealed until the end as stated; “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Dan.12:4). And then opened by one who prevailed as stated

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David (Christ), hath prevailed (subdue, means of success) to open the book, (Heb.10:7, lo I come in the volume of the book, learn of me Matt.11:29) and to loose the seven seals thereof (Rev 5:5) promoting To him that overcometh (subdue, means of success) will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame (subdue, means of success), and am set down with my Father in his throne (Rev.3:21, KJV).

It is Christ who instructs one to ask, seek, knock, and with faith un-wavering the wisdom that is to be given liberally that which he has promised and so it is with the revelation in history (Matt. 7:7-8, Js.1:5).

The history of long ago is steadily being opened for those who have the ears to hear and eyes to see what the Spirit saith to the church. The actions of Joseph of Aramathea and Jesus spending time in Britain reveal much for the children of Israel. Joseph of Aramathea’s part being played in the first Christian Church in Britain and Paul’s visit reveal the church was far more outreaching in paving the way for the covenant promise of God. To intrude upon the reader a little more; the Hebrew word “ish” means man, and the word “Brith” (covenant) when joining them both it becomes “Brith”-“ish” in which is understood as “A covenant man” (Allen. 1917, 275).

The documentation given is found to break through many traditions of men that are often found to make void the word of God.

Bethel (house of God) whether one finds it as the pillar that Jacob anointed or as a huge assembling of God’s people, there is always that certain scripture that will resonate. That of; “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt.18:20, KJV). For as with Bethel; Jacob had Elohim (God and the angels), (Boa. 2001, 362).

The history of the church and the whereabouts of Jesus between the ages of twelve and thirty prompt new light and meaning to the book being opened in the end times. Wasn’t it Daniel who was told that the book was to be sealed until the end and knowledge shall be increased? (Dan. 12:4) And aren’t these the last days? Revelation (the unveiling, uncovering) also speaks of the seals being opened (Rev.5:1,2,5,9, 6:1, 22:10). The one who opens the seal/s is Christ and it is he who places the seal of truth in our foreheads. The instructions given to the Church reveal that there is a physical and spiritual housing for God’s children. It is God, The Father, with the absorbance of taking in His instructions through the Son, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, by which one is able to implement application of doing what is needed to make the church, the house of God. The house of God is chosen by God (Deut.12:5, 14, 21, 26, Jn.4:20-23). The results found within this research acknowledge that the Church residence can be found within the household, storehouse, building, tabernacle, tent, sanctuary, congregation, temple, assembly, kingdom and anyplace chosen by God.


 Reference:

Allen. J.H. Rev. Judah’s Sceptre and Joseph’s Birthright. Massachusetts: Destiny Publishers. 1917

Boa. Kenneth. Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation. Michigan: Zondervan. 2001

Bullinger. E. W. God’s Church: Its Calling, Hope, and Motive. Pennsylvania: Bible Student Press. 1887, 2008

Constantine and His Final Years. Britannica Encyclopedia: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/133873/Constantine-I/22046/Final-years

Capt. E. Raymond. Biblical Antiquities: Book III. Oklahoma: Artisan Publishers. 2004

_____. King Solomon’s Temple: A Study of Its Symbolism. California: Artisan Sales. 1979

_____. The Lost Chapters of Acts of the Apostles. Oklahoma: Hoffman Printing

_____. The Traditions of Glastonbury. California: Covenant Productions. VHS. 1997

_____. The Traditions of Glastonbury. Oklahoma: Artisan Publishers. 2008

_____. Our Great Seal: The Symbols of Our Heritage & Our Destiny. Oklahoma. Artisan Publishers. 2001

Christian Classics Ethereal Library. The:John Lightfoot - Sanctuary. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/lightfoot/fathers.i.v.viii.html (accessed on January. 23, 2014)

Clouse. R.G. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd Ed. Edited by: Walter A. Elwell. “Church” Michigan: Baker Academic. 2001

Demerest. B. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd Ed. Edited by: Walter A. Elwell. “General Revelation” Michigan: Baker Academic, 2001

Dickey. C.R. One Man’s Destiny. Massachuttes: Destiny Publishers. 1942

Elwell. Walter A. Ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd Ed. “The Council of Nicea (325)” Michigan: Baker Academic. 2001

Estep. James R. and Jonathon H. Kim. Ed. Christian Formation: Integrating Theology & Human Development. Tennessee: B&H Academic. 2010

Fausset’s Bible Dictionary. Electronic Database. Tennessee: PC Biblesoft, Inc. 2006

Ferguson. Everett. Church History: From Christ to Pre-Reformation. Vol. 1. Michigan: Zondervan. 2005

Fleming. Victor. Dir., Judy Garland and Ray Bolger. The Wizard of Oz. California: Warner Home Video. DVD. 1939, 2013

Jackson. Wayne. What about “Local” Church Membership? California: Christian Carrier Publications. Https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/781-what-about-local-church-membership

Johnson. Ben. The Romans in England. Historic UK: The History and Heritage Accommodation Guide. London. http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/The-Romans-in-England/ (accessed January 28, 2014)

Illustrated Davis Dictionary Of The Bible.Virginia: Old Time Victory Hour. 1973

Lea. Thomas. D. and David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message. Tennessee: B&H Academic. 2003

Lightfoot. John. “Sanctuary” Christian Classics Ethereal Library (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/lightfoot/fathers.i.v.viii.html?highlight=sanctuary#highlight

Litfin. Bryan M. Getting To Know The Church Fathers: An Evanglical Introduction. Michigan: Brazos Press. 2007

Morgan. R. W. Did The Apostle Paul Visit Britain? California: Dolores Press. Inc. 1984

_____. St. Paul in Britain. Oklahoma: Hoffman Publishers. 2001

Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1986

Smith. William, L.L.D., Smiths Bible Dictionary.Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1986

Strong. James. The Tabernacle of Israel: Its Structure and Symbolism. illustrated. Michigan: Kregel Publications. 1888, 1987

Strong. James. The Tabernacle of Israel: Its Structures and Symbolisms. Michigan: Kregel Publications. 1987

Whiston. William. A.M. Trans. Josephus: The Complete Works. Tennessee: Nelson Publishers. 1998

Picture description: A spiritual spa gathering sponsored by Tim and Belinda Dickerson at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.

Belinda singing under a tent social in Alberta, Virginia.

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