Considering Church history and the moving of God’s Spirit in many groups that stood for the truth, a house Church or small gathering of believers is not so radical. Rather, gathering in this way is a preferred Biblical approach, especially when the Church is under persecution. If it was important to have specific church buildings to represent God and spread the Gospel, would God not have commanded them in Scripture? Although we find detailed instructions for the tabernacle in the Old Testament122 we find quite a different emphasis in the New Testament.123 We see this truth prophetically spoken by Stephen just before he was martyred: “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house will you build for Me? Says the Lord. Or where will My resting place be? Has not My hand made all these things?’ You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”124
He spoke those words in the Sanhedrin which met inside the temple. God was doing a new thing where He lived in the hearts of His people and not in temples.125 Thus wherever the Lord’s people would meet did not matter, for the presence of the Lord was with His people.
Contrary to the Biblical pattern, to this day God’s people put emphasis on the buildings which they call “the church,” but they fail to realize that they themselves—not a building—are the body of Christ.
It can also be noted that some house Church movements lack vision and direction where the Headship of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are disregarded. Some house Churches in non-persecuted countries are formed by disgruntled people who did not submit to authority or correction in their previous church experiences. Other emotions such as pride and recognition also play a part where individuals are seeking acceptance for a doctrine or teaching they themselves have developed. These attitudes are also evident in main-line denominations. Such misguided doctrines and people must be opposed and dealt with in love. In some cases, these are doctrines of devils126 seeking to destroy and divide the body of Christ which are diversions from the truth of the Word of God.
While we present a case for meeting in smaller groups without a physical building, it is of course true that the body of Christ can function in church buildings. We see this in some godly churches where the leaders continue to preach the Word of God without wavering and where they emphasize that the people of God are the Church, the temple of the living God. The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and God has moved His holy temple inside true believers, for it says in Scripture: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”127 Scripture tells us also that God the Father inhabits this temple inside of us, as it says in 2 Corinthians: “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.’”128 The Holy Spirit and God the Father dwell in us,129 and Scripture tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ inhabits us also: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”130
Stephen stated that God’s throne is in heaven. Other passages describe God in His heavenly throne room with the Lord Jesus Christ at His right hand. The Scriptures quoted above are also correct because God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are omnipresent. They are able to be present everywhere at the same time. They are present in the heavenly throne room and they are present in the temple of God, not made of hands, inside the inner man of every true believer. We can now worship Him in Spirit and in truth131 without any physical buildings, for we have become the temple of the living God.
In the end times there will be great pressure from antichrist spirits to have people assemble in places called churches which are not Churches at all.132 The true body of Christ—who are able to discern between truth and error133—will not worship and gather in such an unholy atmosphere. Thus home meetings, even worldwide, will be outlawed. For anyone to meet as a religious group outside of “some” government allowed churches will be illegal. So in light of this and the examples in the Book of Acts134 there is a healthy, historical and Biblical precedent for the meeting of God’s people in homes as the primary meeting place rather than buildings called churches.
122 Exodus 36
123 2 Corinthians 3:6
124 Acts 7:48-51
125 1 Corinthians 3:16
126 1 Timothy 4:1
127 1 Corinthians 3:16
128 2 Corinthians 6:16
129 John 14:23, Ephesians 3:16-19
130 Galatians 2:20
131 John 4:23-24
132 Revelation 2:9, Revelation 3:9
133 1 John 4:1
134 Acts 20:20, Romans 16:3-5, Colossians 4:15
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon