A friend asked me to give them some input (I’m always humbled when I’m asked for input) on why we as Christians should commit or belong to a local church. I know there a number of people, who think, “Well I’m saved, that’s the important part, so I can worship God whenever and wherever I want.” Those statements are true, however, it is not the intent or desire of God that we should start and end there.
There are four scriptures (and there are more, but I will use these) that I believe build a solid case for being part of a strong, bible teaching fellowship.
First Jesus says:
Matthew 16:18-19 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus is saying that in the “church” there is protection and inheritance of the power of God. Additionally we see that the concept of “My church” is not man’s idea, rather it is Jesus’ (God’s) idea. Finally, I believe that when we say “I don’t need to fellowship with other believers”, we are walking contrary to God’s plan.
Secondly, the writer of Hebrews (which I believe to be Paul) says:
Hebrews 3:12-15 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.””
What we see here is that there is support in numbers. We are called to exhort (to urge and advises) one another. You can’t do that if you’re talking to yourself. We have tendency to be either to hard on ourselves or not hard enough. I believe we are being told here to take preventative action to insure we don’t fall into sin.
Thirdly, Paul tells us:
Colossians 2:8-10 “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
He is telling us that we need to stay grounded in Christ. It keeps us from deceit and false doctrine of the world. Christ dwells fully in the body of Christ.
Lastly, Paul tells us this:
Ephesians 4:11-16 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
There is a body, it is diverse, it needs to work in concert with the other parts so that we are trained and equipped for THE WORK of THE MINISTRY (emphasis mine). I believe that Jesus summed up the work of the ministry in Matthew:
Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
Jesus is saying that the work of the ministry is this; disciples making disciples. We are to go, make disciples, baptize, teach to obey Jesus, repeat. Pretty hard to do if you are a loner…….
Grace and Peace , John Shaw