We can change the outside appearance of our house anytime we want. That is, of course, if and when we can afford to do so. We can paint the exterior a different color. We can change the shutters. We can have shingles installed that are a different color and texture than those that were on it. If we really want to, we can make so much change to it that no one would even recognize it as being the same house. It’s our house, and we can do with it what we want.
If we want, we can have the house gutted and replaced with an entirely new interior. We can move an interior wall to change the appearance, size, and functionality of a room. Don’t forget that we can paint the inside of the house any color we want even if everyone else thinks it’s ugly. If it is our desire we can completely change the inside. It’s our house, and we can do what we want.
Next, once we have changed the house from what it once was into the house we like, we then have the right as a home owner to decide who gets to enter in and how they get to enter. That’s right, we can decide the terms of entrance into our house. There may be a relative we don’t particularly like who we can refuse to allow into our house. We do not have to let door-to-door salesmen enter our house, in fact I strongly suggest that we don’t. For those privileged folks we do let in, we can dictate which door they come through and even whether they take off their shoes when they do. It’s our house after all.
If we so desire, we can establish our own rules for our house. We can decide the criteria that allow someone to enter into our house. We have the right to remove someone from our house if they come under our rules, but then refuse to follow the rest of our rules. There are elements that we will not allow in our homes and we can and should keep those elements out. Besides, we can do what we want because it’s our house.
Many well-intentioned people have completely changed the appearance of the church. It is not meant that they painted the outside of the building. No, they have decided that it no longer matters what others see when looking at Christians. Modesty is a forgotten ideal. Being seen in places we should not be does not even register with many “Christians” anymore. They are known by a name that does not give honor to the owner of the house. It’s their version of God’s house, and they can do what they want.
On the inside, when all of the family is gathered together in the church building, a little change here is made. And then a little change there. Next thing you know, worshipping the Creator has turned into worship of the creature. Men and women have decided that concert orchestras, rock bands, country or bluegrass bands, praise groups, etc., are a good thing because they like it. Puppet shows, plays, cantatas, and “contemporary” as opposed to “traditional” worship services are welcome in their houses. Again though, it’s their house. They like it. They can do what they want.
Various ways have been concocted to allow entrance into their “houses”. Repeating a prayer of some sort, “accepting Jesus” into their hearts, presentation before the congregation for a vote, and confirmation are some of these ideas that come to mind. It is of course their house and they can do what they want.
The problem with these changes is that the church is God’s house, not theirs. He alone has the authority to determine what our standard of appearance is to be. He alone has the right to decide how He is to be worshipped. Only He has set forth the pattern we must follow to be allowed entrance into His house and who can stay.
Jesus said “I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:18). He then gave Peter and the other Apostles the authority to open His kingdom, His church, His house, to the world. It only seems right that it should wear His name and Romans 16:16 shows that the early Christians recognized this. The New Testament clearly shows us that God authorized singing, praying, teaching, giving, and observation of the memorial feast in our corporate worship of Him.
We have tremendous evidence and examples of men and women who believed in Jesus as the Son of God, who confessed that before others, who then repented of their sins, and were immersed in water in order to have their sins forgiven. After they did these things, God added them to the church. They were allowed into His house, by His rules. They stayed only by following His rules. They worshipped Him, by His rules. They wore His name, as part of His household. Then men decided they could change all of this and God would be okay with it. I’m not sure where they found that authorization. I’m not sure they cared either. One day they will. ~B.W.P.