Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”
When Jesus walked the earth there was no Church. There was Judaism but the children of Israel were not really observing the Law of Moses because their leaders had embellished and fabricated the Law into their own version and liking. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus attempted to explain that the law was a matter of the heart and not merely a set of rules to follow.
There was no Church but there was the Temple. Nonetheless, Jesus explained that the Temple would be destroyed and raised up in a new form: He would be the New Temple. We are members of His Temple when we participate in the new birth through confession, repentance, embracing Jesus as Savior and Lord, and receiving the Holy Spirit.
What about baptism? Jesus confers baptism. John the Baptist stated:
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)
The Church merely confirms and gives witness to His baptism. If any church supplants the ministry of Jesus with its own embellished and fabricated traditions, it no longer serves as part of the Body of Christ. Let us be clear: any Evangelical church, Pentecostal church, or Liturgical church may be quite legitimate. It may truly represent the Body of Christ. But it may not. It certainly will not based on its own traditions and definitions. We the institution to administer a church, but ministry is not an institution.
Our debate and discussion about the Church often centers around the question of which church is the true one. Jesus has already settled that issue. The Samaritan woman at the well tried to distract Him with a discussion about religion:
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:19-24)