|Volume 17 Number 11 November 2015||
Is Organized Religion True?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone inquires, “Is organized religion true?” Over the years, it has been popular to disavow organized religion in any form, instead preferring often to resort to some supposed spiritual [subjective inner emotions] feelings without stipulated outward manifestations. The appeal of such is obvious – a lack of requirements and specified actions.
It is true, though, that much of what represents itself as religion today – portraying Christianity or some other world religion – is foreign to the God-given religion of the New Testament. For instance, denominationalism typically structures itself in accordance with manmade hierarchies that are not found in the Bible. Often, some human heads and rules a church from some earthly headquarters through descending branches of organization.
The church of the New Testament qualifies as organized religion, and it is true. However, it differs greatly from the churches that have originated from the efforts of mere mortals. Jesus Christ alone rules His church (Matthew 16:18) from heaven (Acts 7:55). Each congregation is autonomous or self-ruling instead of being chained to an ecclesiastical hierarchy. Furthermore, each fully organized congregation is led by elders (Acts 14:23) who are selected according to biblical qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9); elders are also called bishops.
Every congregation is bound to one another as well as directed by Jesus Christ through the Word of God – the Bible. Particularly the New Testament is the sole creed for the Lord’s church (Galatians 1:6-9; Jude 3). In it, one discovers how God wants to be worshipped, the divine plan of salvation, Christian living, Christian service and Christian doctrine.
Fully organized churches also have biblically qualified deacons to serve the congregation (1 Timothy 3:8-13). In addition, a congregation is served by preachers (Romans 10:14) and teachers (Hebrews 5:12). All of the members, including preachers, teachers and individual elders submit to the elders (eldership), for they watch for the souls of the spiritual flock and must give an answer to God for them (Hebrews 13:17).
Is organized religion true? That depends upon whether the organization is manmade or whether it is the organization of the one true church of the Bible over which Jesus alone is the Head. Only Jesus Christ has authority “in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).
Can a Person Worship Alone?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
“Can one person worship alone if there are no others to worship with?” There are five acts of worship in Christianity about which one can read in Scripture. They are in no particular order: prayer, Lord’s Supper, giving, preaching and singing hymns (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Ephesians 5:19). Ideally, Christians in a community assemble together for worship; especially the preaching and the singing are instructive toward the group gathered together for worship. Obviously, preaching touches those present, but singing involves “teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16). Whenever Christian brethren have the opportunity, they need to worship together.
However, the question supposes that there are no other Christians with whom one can worship. Can one, then, worship God without other Christians present with whom he or she can participate in worship? Though it may be more uplifting for several Christians to worship together, there is neither logical nor biblical reason why a single Christian cannot worship God. “Yes,” one person can worship alone if there are no others with whom to worship.
Edification can occur upon studying God’s Word or perhaps by auditing a recorded sermon or watching a video sermon. One can sing alone, too; the lyrics of hymns are instructive to the one singing as well as constituting praise to God. Giving can occur whereby some aspect of Christian service can occur. Certainly, a group is unnecessary for prayer to be effective. One person can commune with Jesus Christ in the Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:25).
Doubtless, some souls have no recourse but to worship alone due to circumstances that they cannot alter. Given the choice to worship God or not to worship God, surely any Christian would choose to worship – even if he or she must do it alone.
Was Herod’s Temple
Authorized by God?
Someone poses the question, “Was Herod’s Temple authorized by God?” Herod the Great spent decades building the Temple to ingratiate the Jews to him. The Temple in existence at the time of Herod was enlarged and aggrandized in a building project that began in 20 B.C. and was not completed until A.D. 64 – a mere six years before it was destroyed in the war between Rome and the Jews. During the ministry of Jesus, the Temple had been under construction for 46 years (John 2:20).
Jesus in Mark 11:15-17 acknowledged that Herod’s Temple was the house of God. Hence, that Temple was authorized through our Lord’s acknowledgement of it as belonging to God. This is so despite the lack of any divine mandate for Herod’s construction project relating to the Temple.
The first Temple was authorized specifically by God (1 Chronicles 22:8-10). Later, though, the Temple was plundered several times before finally being destroyed by the Babylonians. Following the Persian conquest of the Babylonians, subsequently the Temple was rebuilt at the instigation of God (2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:1-4).
Herod the Great was rebuilding or adding to the Temple that was previously authorized by God. By reason of the fact that the first two constructions of the Temple were authorized by God and the fact that the second Temple was still standing when Herod remodeled it, as well as our Lord’s acknowledgement of it being the house of God, attests to Herod’s Temple being authorized by God. In addition, Jesus during His life and ministry as well as the early apostles-led church frequented the Temple without distinguishing it from God’s ownership.
In conclusion, Herod’s Temple was authorized not because Herod had anything to do with it, but because God authorized the construction especially of the second Temple, which was still standing in Herod’s day. Herod the Great remodeled the standing, authorized Temple. Finally, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit-led early church recognized Herod’s Temple as belonging to God, hence authorized by Him.