Summary: Examing the vital role of the local church in the believer’s life
CH__CH; What is missing? UR!
I saw this humorous quote on a church sign several years ago, and it has always stuck with me. The church is not complete without "U"! Likewise, a Christian’s life can never be complete apart from a healthy, Bible believing, Spirit filled church. It goes hand in hand.
The most frequently asked question among Christians is undoubtedly "How can I know God’s will for my life"? This is certainly good and noble. However, in order to learn the "specific" aspects of God’s will, we must first be faithful in the "general" aspects, i.e. the things that God has already revealed in His word are His will for all Christians. This would include things such as Bible study, prayer, giving, witnessing, and yes, church. If God cannot trust us in these foundational things, He can’t trust us to take us further into His plans for our lives.
Past negative experiences with church often cause people to view the church as a whole in a negative light. This is both tragic and unnecessary. A good church can be one of the greatest joys of your life. It is also absolutely essential to being a faithful and productive Christian.
Can you be a Christian without going to church? A key question here is, why would a truly Born Again person not want to be part of the church that his Lord died for? 1 John 3:14 says that one of the signs of a true believer is love for his Christian brothers. We naturally want to be around those we love. In contrast, one sign of a backslider is withdrawing from Christian fellowship (1 John 2:19). As Augustine once said "He cannot have God for his Father who does not have the church for his mother."
Do you ever watch nature documentaries on TV? When a lion stalks a heard of gazelles, did you ever notice the one he goes after? The one who strays from the herd. There is a covering of protection in Mount Zion (Isaiah 4:4-6), which is a type of the New Testament Church (Hebrews 12:22-24). Lets look at some foundational principals:
The Greek word for church is "ekklesia" meaning "called out ones". That is a very special thing, to be one whom God has called out of the world, to be part of His Family! "Ekklesia" also means "assembly" or "congregation". This is how God has organized His family in the earth, through local congregations which are to be earthly representations of His Heavenly Kingdom.
Jesus Himself was the one who ordained and commissioned the church (Matthew 16:18). One of the Biblical names for the church is the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). This is such a beautiful analogy. Ephesians 4:16 describes the Body as being joined together, with each member supplied. Consequentially, if you are not joined to His Body, you will not be supplied. You will be like a severed limb, or a coal that is removed from a fire, and quickly burns out. In every occasion that the New Testament records a person giving his heart to Jesus, the person’s being added to the church immediately follows. A Christian who is not part of a local church is a totally foreign concept to Scripture. In fact, most of the New Testament Epistles were originally written to local congregations.