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WHY IS THERE NO ALTAR IN THE CENTURY CHURCH OF CHRIST BUILDING?


  There are two words for "Altar" in the Greek New Testament. One is
"Thusiasterion" and means "a place of sacrifice". Most of the times 
this is the word used and often it is used in reference to the Altars
of the Temple used for animal sacrifices and the golden altar used for
the burning of incense in the holy place. Sometimes the Greek word is
"Bomos" and means "a raised place". In Acts 17:23 Paul said, "For as 
I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found and altar with this 
inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship,
him declare I unto you." (Acts 17:23). From the best we can determine
this was a small marble altar with that inscription on it. So the word
"Altar" is sometimes used of a monument. The Century church of Christ
has no altar in the building for the following reasons:

    1.The altar as a place of sacrifice is not needed because we do 
      not offer animal sacrifices. In the Patriarchal Age and in the
      Mosaic age they had altars and offered animal sacrifices for 
      temporary atonement for their sins. We are not under either of
      these dispensations but are part of the Christian Age where
      Christ is our sacrifice. He died on the cross to atone our sins.
      In reference to the dispensation in which we live hear what the
      Hebrew writer has to say: "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy 
      will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the
      second, by the which will we are sanctified through the offering
      of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest 
      standeth daily ministering and offering often times the same 
      sacrifices which can never take away sins: But this man, after
      he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the
      right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies
      be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected 
      forever them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10:9-13). This does 
      away for the need of an altar in the Christian age. We can come
      to Jesus for the cleansing power and do not need an altar to 
      offer any sacrifices. Christ is our atonement.

    2.Jesus made it clear that our worship is to be a spiritual worship
      in the Christian age. We do not need monuments to remind us of
      God. In John 4:23 we read, "But the hour cometh, and now is, 
      when true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in
      truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him." (John 4:23).
      To worship in spirit is to attune our spirits to the Father who
      is Spirit. To worship in truth is to include only those items 
      which the Lord has commanded to be done. There are five divine 
      items of worship which are singing, praying, partaking of the
      Lord's Supper, studying the Bible (Apostles doctrine), and giving.
      Singing and praying are to be done with the spirit and with the
      understanding (I Cor. 14:15). The Lord's Supper requires a table 
      to put the items on but not an altar. Partaking of the "Lord's 
      table" is used of the supper in I Corinthians 10:21. In Verse 16 
      of that same chapter he spoke of it as "Communion" of the body
      and blood of Christ. The word "communion" is the Greek word 
      rendered "fellowship" in many places in the New Testament 
      denoting that in partaking of the supper we are fellowshipping 
      with Christ in memory of his body being given and his blood 
      being shed for our sins. All of this has to with our minds and 
      actions toward God and Christ. We do not need a physical altar 
      to partake of the Lord's Supper but we do need to "discern" the
      Lord's body, thus partaking thereof worthily (I Cor. 11:29). It
      is a matter of our spirits directing this worship to God who is 
      a Spirit. Giving is to be done on the first day of the week but 
      all we need to collect the money is a place to put it or a 
      collection basket. Each individual determines their own giving 
      as they have purposed in their hearts (2 Cor. 9:7). We need 
      readers, exhorters, teachers and preachers to engage in the item 
      of Bible study. Since the worship is a spiritual worship we do
      not have to have a special building nor special altars in order
      to carry it out. We are not saying it is wrong to build church 
      buildings but special altars in them are not needed. 

    3.Hebrews 13:10 states "We have an altar" which refers to Jesus 
      Christ  as our offering and to New Testament worship - but not 
      to a physical altar in our church buildings. Modern altars arose
      out of the doctrine that men should pray through but we need to
      obey the gospel to be saved.  (Mk. 16:15, 16; Acts 2:38). We need
      to worship in the proper spirit and in truth (John 4:24). 



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