Church may be similar to religion in the sense that the church is a religion, but they are indeed different for a religion is not a church. What is religion? It is simply any form of belief and service or devotion unto the Divine Being. It may or may not be organized as long as there is a belief and devotion to God, to whomever is that god they are rendering such devotion or service.
Now, what is a church? This word came from the Greek term EKKLESIA meaning, EKK (taken out) and KALEO (called). This term has a spiritual meaning that believers are taken out from the sinful world and they were called through the gospel preached by God’s sent ones. Therefore, the church is a group of people whom God has called through the evangelism of the Apostles.
II Thessalonians 2:14
“To which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As God is calling through the gospel preached by the apostles, people are being taken out from the worldly and sinful life. The Romans, through the teachings of the apostles, have experienced positive changes in their lives and attitudes.
Romans 6:17 “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.”
Through the preaching of Apostle Paul, the brethren in Rome were freed or delivered from being slaves of sin, slaves of the world. The church pertains to the people who are called by God through the gospel and delivered from the sinful world so now they are holy that’s why in the letters of Apostle Paul, he addressed the believers as holy brethren or were made holy. That is the church but it has a belief and practice of worship and devotion; thus, church is also a religion, but religion by itself is different. Religion is a gathering of people with one belief, one practice; their works are offered to God – that is religion.
Thus, religion is man’s effort to seek God. Man has an inherent knowledge that God exists. It is in man’s nature to have theistic belief. It wasn’t taught, a knowledge which is not even from outside of man while atheism, the belief that there’s no God is learned. Atheists may have read books or heard talks stating that there is no God, and since they didn’t have the proper foundation, they have just agreed on such idea. The belief may also have been caused by a negative experience. A person may have witnessed or undertaken an incomprehensible occurrence, probably the problem of evil. Why does it happen when God is the most powerful of all, omniscient and most compassionate? Why are there oppressors? Why are there oppressed? Why does God allow these to happen? And because these have taken place, man may really think that there’s no God. Perhaps his loved one who was so kind eventually met an accident. He may have asked God: Of all the people who were likely to encounter such circumstance like the drunk or the addict, why did God choose it to be his loved one? That’s why he has thought that God doesn’t exist at all. That is atheism – gained knowledge, learned or result of an experience.
Primarily, man believes that there is God though he can’t at once identify who the real God is, but he has this innate belief of God’s existence. There must be a superior will that is called God. So in the study of religion, people have concluded that the first religion is universal. What does it mean? The belief of God’s existence is universal, but others have believed in the wrong God. Sometimes, they worship trees, mountains, rivers, men, even the moon and the sun. People have knowledge that there is one Supreme Being called God. Inherent in man is the belief that God exists, that’s why there is religion.
The term religion came from a French word religi: RE – to do again, LIGI – to tie. Religion is actually man’s effort to connect again with God. A man be tied with God or in Latin, RELIGARI: RE – again and LIGARI – tie, so religion is man’s determination to find God, to once more be joined with the Divine Being. Church is different. It is God-made. Through His calling by the preaching of His sent ones, people were called and delivered from the sinful world. From the word EKKLESIA, EKK and KALEO mean called and delivered out. Sometimes, the word “church” is used to mean the structure in which people do their worship to God, but it is misleading at its best. Why? The structure is seen, so when we think of the church, we sometimes pertain to a chapel, cathedral or any of the same type, but it must be clarified that the real meaning of church is that: It is a group of people called and taken by God out of the sinful world through the preaching of the gospel by His sent ones. Israel was also considered church; the Israelites make up the church in the wilderness for they were called by God and delivered out of Egypt, the sinful realm.
What’s the difference between church and religion? At first, it’s like there’s none, but if we’re to examine their meanings as to how they are constructed, we’ll realize the there’s a huge difference between them. Church is made by God. It became the body of Christ here on earth that’s why the members of the church became part of Christ’s body. It also became the temple of the Holy Spirit, temple of God through the Holy Spirit: thus, God is now on earth dwelling in the church.
“In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.”
God dwells in the church through the Holy Spirit. The church is in Christ for it is His body that’s why whenever the believers come together in the church, the Lord says, “I am in the midst of them.” If the church is made by God, built through the gospel preached by the apostles, then the believers have been changed, made holy. Find the people led by the living apostles, people who live with holiness. God bless you.