“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
In Hebrews 10:19-25, the author makes a transition from great doctrinal teaching to applying that doctrine to the life of his hearers and readers. In the first part of this passage, the emphasis has been on the confidence the Christian has in Christ, namely how they can draw near to God through the blood of Jesus by holding on and treasuring the sufficiency of His work. The byproduct of this is found in Hebrews 10:24-25 with the focus being on how they are to stir one another up to love and refrain from neglecting meeting with one another.
These verses do not provide a foundation for us to be judgmental busybodies and make the lives of others a burden, but they do mandate we take a lively interest in the affairs of other believers. The writer states, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Let us consider. In other words, we are to study and implement methods to motivate one another towards godly living.
This means that no Christian can be an individualist.
You and I are our brothers’ keeper. We must give thought to how we can help other believers. We must consider the impact of our actions on the faith of others, often surrendering personal freedoms so as not to offend the weak. This alone provides an excellent reason to gather together so that we may be of benefit to others, encouraging them and taking care that they are standing firm as the day of the Lord approaches. This also provides a mandate for the types of practical ministries that help our churches make a powerful impact on other people’s lives such as men’s group, women’s groups, youth ministries, college ministries, single adult ministries, and marriage retreats, just to name a few.
A study of the verbs in Hebrews 10:24-25 offers a practical primer on how to be a good and helpful member of the church.
First comes the verb “consider” which has to do with your thinking.
We are accustomed to thinking only of ourselves, but our thoughts are better given to others. Ask yourself: Is someone I know doubting? Discouraged? Depressed? Struggling with temptation? We must give thought to the condition of those around us. If we are not doing this, we are nothing more than consumers of religion who are of little use for the eternal destiny of other people.
The next term “stir up”, means to incite or provoke or stimulate.
The way we live should be provocative to other Christians in the best sense of the word. They should be reminded of spiritual truth because of how we live our lives. We should “stir up” and provoke each other toward godliness. The result of our example should be love and good works in the lives of other believers. Ask: does the way you handle yourself provoke others to take seriously what the Bible teaches? Does your counsel cut against the grain of worldly logic and press home the claims and promises of God? Does your behavior set a helpful model for weak or new believers? If not, you are not making the impact you should for Christ’s work in the church.
We are also to “encourage” one another.
This action requires us to come alongside other people in a way that will strengthen them in Christ. Encouragement may mean bearing a load for them. It may mean prayer, companionship, or sharing your own conviction that God is faithful based on your experience of his loving care. The writer of Hebrews made this point in 3:13, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” We often overlook how threatened each of us is by sin and its deceptive character. Like climbers roped together on a steep mountain, like soldiers teamed together on a battlefield, we must keep track of one another.
People have a thousand reasons to stay away from church.
This is not a new problem. The early Jewish church had a fall off in church attendance due to persecution, ostracism, apostasy, and arrogance. Today, persecution and ostracism may not be our experience, but people find many other reasons to avoid church not the least of which is laziness. With that said, there are solid reasons why no one should forgo church.
The first reason we should not forgo church is the presence of Christ in the gathered church.
This is dramatically portrayed in the first chapter of Revelation as Christ, holding seven stars in his right hand, walks among the seven golden lampstands that are emblematic of the church. We meet Christ in a special way in corporate worship. It is true that a person does not have to go to church to be a Christian. He does not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if he does not, he will have very poor relationships.
The second reason we should not forgo church is that not going will hinder your ability to glorify God in worship.
Congregational worship makes possible an intensity of adoration that does not readily occur in solitude. On the tragic level, a mob tends to descend to a much deeper level of cruelty than individuals. It is understood that the appreciation and enjoyment of an informed group of music lovers at a symphony is more intense than that of a single listener at home. This holds true for worship as well.
Corporate worship provides a context where passion is joyously elevated and God’s Word ministers with unique power. Martin Luther spoke of this when he confided, “At home in my own house there is no warmth or vigor in me, but in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through.”
The third reason we should not forgo gathering together is that not going will negatively impact your theology and doctrinal understanding.
Paul, in Ephesians 3:18, prays so that the church in Ephesus “may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Great theological truths are best learned corporately “with all the saints”. Theology is to be done by the assembled church.
The final reason we should not avoid church is practical.
For example, the second half of the 10 Commandments require relationship with others. You cannot love your neighbor and have holy relationships without being around people. Considering the famous triad in 1 Corinthians 13, one theoretically may be able to develop faith and hope while alone though even that is questionable), but not love! Developing love is a communal activity for the church. So for all these reasons, ontological, doxological, theological, psychological, it is impossible to be a mature Christian while voluntarily avoiding the corporate body of believers.
So how may we spur one another?
The author of Hebrews is pleading with his people not to make such a mistake because he knows they would not survive and neither can we: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
This idea of spurring one another on is an exciting concept because the word translated spur is extremely strong in its application. The phrase stir up is the Greek word paroxysmos from which we get paroxysm, a sudden convulsion or violent emotion. Normally, as in the rest of the New Testament, this is not a pleasant word. For example a sharp disagreement (paroxysmos) came between Paul and Barnabas. As used in Hebrews 9:24, the meaning connotes encouragement, encouraging a pleasant sense of prodding our brothers and sisters toward love and good deeds.
Here are some ways we can do this.
First, we must provoke each other by praying for each other by name for the development of volitional selfless agape love and for specific good deeds. If we do this, it will happen! It is as simple as that. Do you think your pastor or spouse or boss or others you come in contact with are grouchy? Pray that he or she will have an attack of niceness!
Second, we are to provoke each other by example. Oswald Chambers said, “It is a most disturbing thin to be smitten in the ribs by some provoker from God, by someone who is full of spiritual activity.” Jim Elliot wrote, “Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth. I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him.” It is a fact that loving God and man and doing good deeds are more readily caught than taught. To provoke others upward by example is the high road indeed, one we must travel.
Third, it is necessary to provoke each other through God’s Word. God’s Word is the primer for love and good deeds. The more we internalize it, allowing God’s Word to flow through us, the more we will become conduits of its virtues and gentle examples and provokers of grace.
Finally, we have to take responsibility to verbally spur each other on through words of encouragement. You and I can change a life with a kind word. Encouragement is a Christian duty. Lives of provocation through prayer, example, scripture, and encouragement are gifts the church needs desperately.
And do it all the more as you see the Day of the Lord approaching.
Hebrews 10:19-25 is no insignificant text. The author wisely moves from instruction to application. So let us boldly draw near in prayer to God with a wholehearted sincerity. Our entire human spirit must be engaged in prayer and worship. Let us hold onto to the anchor of hope we possess in Christ. Our hope is in Jesus and is anchored in heaven, where he intercedes for us. This is no blind optimism but rather a tremendous reality. Finally, let us devote ourselves to the corporate church and do everything we can to provoke each other to love and good deeds.
If we do this, the church will ride high on every storm that comes and be bold before the throne of God’s grace and bold witnesses for King Jesus. As the body of Christ, we must do this more and more as we see the Day of the Lord approaching.
“Why become a member of church, I attend the service isn’t that enough?” This is an actual question that I have heard. I want to explain how, as a Pastor, I respond to such a claim. Let me break this down into four apparent areas of confusion. I should also mention that this thinking is based mostly from the American/Western culture and without backing that up with firm data, it may be more conjecture and observation; however, it is a mindset in churches that I have been involved with and comments heard among other pastors. One should also know that this article is not intended to be exhaustive, but to address some elementary thoughts pertaining to church membership. And so, what is the importance; I mean, why join?
It’s Not All About Me
The letters which Paul wrote to the Christian churches all had an underlying thought—unity in Christ. Basically, the people were to be unified together as a whole and think less of themselves than others. It was also evident that these churches, some more than others, had dysfunction to some degree or questions regarding either doctrine or theology. Some churches even had dissension among the members. It seems today that we’re in the same boat—meaning, things haven’t changed much. However, instead of looking at the body of Christ as an imperfect bunch of hypocrites, we need to view it as a growing, breathing, living Body of individuals that also are growing. What does that mean? It means that while the Body grows, so does the spiritual walk of the individual—they are simultaneously developing. To think that infants remain infants is absurd thinking; of course they will grow—they will grow in stages: first the infant, then the toddler, the adolescent, and on and on until adulthood and even until the golden years of maturity.
So, to think that the Church does not need members of spiritual wisdom—assuming you are not showing up because you are wiser than the others, is assuming incorrectly. The Church needs all stages of believers to continue thriving. Think about it, if the Church were filled with all mature believers, would they have the zeal and passion of the new believer? Probably not. However, if the Church were filled with all new believers, would it have the wisdom and maturity to shield from false doctrines and theology? No, it would not. Therefore, all are required not only attend, but become “koinonia” with the Church. The abiding presence of Christ is recognized in the Greek term, koinonia, to be intimately a part of Christ’s fellowship. Fellowship is membership; otherwise we’re talking about being an acquaintance, and abiding.
It’s a Living Body
All of the body parts equal the whole. Each person is uniquely gifted. Paul expresses this thought to the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 12), that each believer plays an important role within the Body. The Body of Christ is not some institution or organization, but a living breathing organism, glued together by the Holy Spirit of God (Eph 1:13). Besides the command to “not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:25), is the understanding that if the hand decided not to become part of the body, we would say that’s absurd too. Well, it is. What we do not find in Scripture are people from the Antioch Church saying, “I’m going to worship with the Church at Stephen’s house today and next week the Church at Priscilla and Aquilla’s?” We don’t see the Church in Jerusalem having people go to Antioch to worship either, and while that may seem like an argument from silence, we do have many writings regarding the early church and their fervor to worship with one another and die for one another. I’m not saying that we don’t have more choices today, we do, but my point is that each person became a member of their local Church and served it, as serving Christ.
Pastoring the Flock
As an under-shepherd, Christ is the true Shepherd, how can a pastor pray and watch over a sheep, which has no intention of resting with the flock? He cannot. Of course, the inevitable phone call will come in, “Miss Sheep’s sister’s friend’s cousin was just admitted into the hospital, are you going to make a visit?” To which the Pastor scratches his head and thinks, “Who is Miss Sheep?” Forget about the actual person in the hospital for a second, the pastor doesn’t even know Miss Sheep because she has not taken the time to enter the fellowship as a member, but visits from time to time. This takes advantage of the pastor, making him no more than a sheep and a goat herder; not that visitation isn’t a gift, and edifying to all, it is. But don’t miss the point, a pastor cannot possibly know who is in the flock if they are not a member and more than likely, no one in leadership is praying for them. They’re merely a drifter, a church shopper, or a Lone Ranger, and do not understand the importance of having Biblical leadership watch over their very souls for protection. As disciples of Christ, believers are expected to be under the leadership and mentoring of a pastor/elder. The pastor’s position is one which is to be taken seriously, if he acknowledges God’s call in his life. But a pastor is not a watchman of a sheep that is not of his fold, nor wants to be corralled.
While I placed covenant last, it should be first. The underpinning of our relationship with Christ is based upon covenant. It should not surprise you then that our relationship, to love and be one with another and in Christ, is about covenant. The fact that we are baptized into one Body and also partake of communion with one another, leads us to understand that the Church is in covenant with one another and with Christ. A covenant is an oath, a bond. When a believer becomes a member, he or she pledges to have the same bond into the mystical union with God and one another—we become one as a living Body. To stand outside of this covenant is merely to be an observer, which people can do prior to joining. For this reason, the early church had membership services on Easter, to welcome in the newly baptized and those who went through teaching about the Church—this is why some churches have membership classes. But why is this important or necessary you may ask? If a person never becomes a covenant member of the family of God it does not jeopardize their salvation; true, but it does jeopardize their well-being, spiritual growth, development, and ability to intrinsically unite with Christ, through Christian brotherhood (i.e. bonding).
May the God of all peace give you understanding and wisdom and bring you into the fellowship of believers, where you are. God’s blessings!
Okay, so maybe that title is a bit melodramatic. But I wanted to get your attention, because I think faithful, weekly attendance at your local gospel-preaching Church is important. It’s important for all the reasons we know, right? To hear the Word preached. To develop community in the Body of Christ. To exercise your spiritual gifts. To support the gospel proclamation both local and international. To obey the Scriptures.
Yes to all of these reasons for going to church. And also yes to the well-worn clique, “You can go to Church every week for your whole life and still be far from the Kingdom of God.” Yes, I’m still preaching that because it’s still true. Going to Church won’t get you one yard closer to the pearly gates.
And yet, the simple act of going to church–I’m assuming here a Church who preaches the gospel and declares that Jesus Christ is King–is in and of itself a declaration of war. When your weary legs rise for another verse of the chorus and you offer praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, you are saying, in effect, that the reigning prince of the power of the air, Satan (Ephesians 2:2) is really not the king he thinks he is. There is another King, another Kingdom and it’s coming one day in it’s fullness and power. When you gather with your fellow believers and worship Christ, you are saying to the rest of the world that man is not ultimate. You are saying that the great movements of this world may have some power, but ultimately they are part of God’s gathering of history to Himself and for His kingdom. When you worship the risen Christ every Sunday at your church, you are telling the world that in your life, for this moment, Christ is ultimate. He is to be worshipped above all else. You’re making a statement that there is Someone deserving of more adulation and worship than the lesser things to which we pledge allegiance. You’re inviting them to ask you, “Why do you think the Kingdom of God is better than the Kingdom of man? What is it about Christ that gets you to roll out of bed, get dressed, get your family dressed, hop in the car, and go to church every single Sunday?”
Now I know you don’t feel like this on most Sundays. I don’t even feel like this and I’m a pastor. But that doesn’t make it less true. So go to Church for all the reasons you should go to Church, the ones we mentioned above. But also go to church so you can tell the world, by your actions, by your praise, by your not being somewhere else, that there is another King. And He’s worthy of your worship together with other citizens of His kingdom.
Going to a Bible-believing church, in a largely Christian culture, may not seem so courageous. It still may even seem to be the good and right thing to do (though it has less cultural cache than it once had). But that doesn’t make it less significant.
So this week as you prepare for Sunday, think about that as you scrape yourself up and make the decision to go to church.
Church history is perhaps one of the most overlooked areas of study in contemporary evangelical theology. One of the main reasons for the neglect of Church history is its association with tradition. Instead of wanting to know the old paths traveled over and over again by godly saints of previous eras, Christians today want something “deeper” and more meaningful. While the pursuit of knowledge is commendable, such a pursuit should not be divorced from the need to see that tradition in its biblical and historical place is helpful and necessary for the Christian. It is my intention in this article to help you understand the importance of Church history by coming to see that it is a necessary area of study, not only because it helps one understand the history of the Church, but also how the people of God have defended and contended for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
Christians have a Word from God in the Bible. God’s Word from the front (Genesis) to the back (Revelation) testifies to the work of Jesus in and through His covenant relationship with His redeemed people. Christians should look back at the life and example of men in the Old Testament such as Abraham and David. In the New Testament Christians can study the life and teachings of Paul, John, and Peter. The history of the Church is rich with teaching of men and woman who have held to biblical orthodoxy and defended the faith against attacks from within and without.
Calvin and Luther did not engage in doctrinal novelty but appropriated the teaching of Augustine who received his doctrine and teaching from the early church fathers who were taught from the Apostles themselves. In the process, the Reformers brought biblical doctrine to the masses to bring reform to the Church for the purpose of her health and growth in the Gospel. In fact, the Church has always had an impulse to reformation around biblical doctrine. Church history records the teaching of men and women who held to the truth of the Word and sought to teach the Word faithfully to people.
Church history also helps God’s people understand the movements and mistakes that Christians have made throughout history. These truths may be stated in fresh ways; however believers must remain faithful to the old paths of biblical orthodoxy. Abandoning the old paths of biblical orthodoxy for doctrinal novelty leads to false teaching. When Christians abandon the old paths of biblical orthodoxy for so-called doctrinal novelty, what occurs is false teaching. The Church has should respond to false teaching by confronting errant doctrine with the Word of God, resulting in the opportunity to clarify and expound on biblical orthodoxy for the benefit and spiritual growth of the Body of Christ.
Church history helps aid the people of God to have a context for a biblical-theological approach to the Christian life and ministry. This enables Christians to see that biblical truth is rooted in the Word of God. God’s people have a message to proclaim. Christians need to learn from those who have gone before us as such an approach will keep them from falling for doctrinal errors which are not new, but rather old errors stated in fresh ways. The biblically orthodox Christian is motivated by a desire to state old truths in fresh ways with a view to being faithful to the truth of God’s Word. False teachers throughout the history of the Church think their teaching is the latest and greatest thing, but in reality are repeating old errors already confronted and dealt with by the Church. The biblical-orthodox Christian knows there is nothing new under the sun as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes. In short, false teaching promotes pride while biblical orthodoxy honors God and brings Him glory.
Church history is relevant because of the Word of God. Faithful men and women have sought to take what they have studied in the Word, apply it to their lives, and to the lives of those who hear their teaching and preaching all with the focus of bringing glory to God. The relevancy and importance of Church history cannot be stated enough and thus for Christians to grow in their understanding of Church history will be to grow in their understanding of how God has worked in and through ordinary people in extraordinary ways. I can think of no greater subject for Christians to study outside of their Bibles than studying the history of the Christian Church. In a culture that mostly rejects tradition and minimizes truth, Christians have truth in the Word of God along with a rich and rigorous intellectual and spiritual heritage that has sought to explain, elaborate, contend, and defend biblical orthodoxy for over two thousand years.
I encourage you to start your studies in Church history by reading Dr. Justo Gonzalez’s Church history text, The Story of Christianity. I also recommend the volumes written by noted Church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette. In addition to the above recommendations, I encourage you to check out Jonathan Hill, an excellent church historian who’s written extensively on the history of the Christian Church and Christian thought. Wherever you begin your studies of Church history, grow in your understanding of this topic in order to explain, elaborate, contend, and defend the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
If you’re a Christian, whether you realize it or not, you are called, by God, to be on mission in the world.
This is the essence of the Gospel call, that you were not simply saved from death but also saved for a purpose (Eph. 2:10). That purpose is to make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20).
And the way God has called you to make disciples is through the local Church, His expression of His body in your community.
So how do you help your disciple-making, evangelistic, Bible-preaching church with its mission?
You might think I’m going to say something really cool like, “Go to another conference with a well-known speaker,” or “Read and then pass along to your pastor that best-selling book” or “Get your pastor to do this or that new, innovative church ministry model.”
Those are all good efforts. And if you are in a position of influence, please use that to move your Church forward.
But there is one very uncool thing you can do to help your church be all that God desires it to be in the community.
If you were to give your pastor a shot of truth serum, he’d probably say his biggest frustration is to find dependable people. Of course he won’t say this publicly, because he’s very grateful for the few in his church who are dependable.
There is a verse, 1 Cor. 4:2, that I memorized while in Christian grade school. It’s simple: “It is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”
In other words, what God is most looking for from His people are not necessarily spectacular gifts, stunning talent or amazing personality. Those are wonderful traits that can be leveraged for God’s kingdom, to be sure. But what God is mostly looking for is faithfulness.
Faithfulness is really not a sexy term. You don’t see too many big conferences on faithfulness. Faithfulness is a subject that is not going to wow your Twitter and Facebook followers. But, wow, is it valuable in a church. One faithful person or a faithful family can really move a Church forward.
And by faithfulness I mean:
Attending the services and functions whenever possible.
Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you’d rather be watching football. Not simply because you may get something out of it, but because your presence says something about what you value. Doesn’t mean you don’t go on vacation. Doesn’t mean you don’t ever get sick. Doesn’t mean you don’t travel for business. But all in all, are you someone who is in church whenever you can be?
Signing up for jobs nobody wants.
Like the nursery. Believe it or not, if you want your Church to be a family-friendly Church, somebody has to volunteer to supervise the children.
Even if it’s not “your thing.”
I’m pretty sure nursery is not anyone’s thing, really. Neither is setting up for an event, mowing the grass or other such mundane stuff. But these faithful tasks are what makes a Church function. And they are acts of worship and sacrifice that please the Lord.
Being on time.
And being someone your pastor and the Church leadership can count on.
There are two kinds of Church members, in my view. Those who we all know will be there and those whom we wonder if they will show up.
Don’t make your attendance and/or participating in a ministry commitment a game-time decision. Don’t make it depend on your faulty alarm-clock or whether or not you spent Saturday night playing Halo. Be there. Be faithful. Be committed. Be consistent.
Committing to a regular pattern of giving.
Yes, I know you are tired of hearing this from pastors. Yes, we often ask for money in ham-handed ways. But there is hardly a better measure of your heart than your wallet. (I didn’t say that, Jesus did.)
Why is faithfulness so important?
Because it tells yourself, the world and your Lord what and whom you value. God loves His Church, His Bride. And he calls us to love Her too. I dare say your faithful participating in a local, Gospel-preaching church for a long-lifetime will do more for the Kingdom than that winsome blog post, witty tweet or Facebook rant.
So, to those who faithfully attend, do nursery, hand out bulletins, volunteer, cook meals, tithe and other church things, I salute you as Christian heros.
To those who are not as faithful, here’s your chance: Commit this week to being faithful to the local Church where you are called.
Editors note: This is a brand new series on the Church designed to help people think through what the local Church is, and why it is important. The first post in this series was by Dan Darling on 5 Ways You Can Help Your Church. Mike Leake wrote the second post in this series on 7 Ways to Create a Reading Culture in your Church. Today Dave Jenkins writes on the 5 Reasons We should Gather in Local Churches.
The belief that professing Christians should gather together as members of a local Church is waning in many sectors of Christianity today. Some feel that faith should not be “institutionalized” and should be a private matter between individuals, not something to be experienced in community.
Here are five reasons why I feel Christians should be members of a local Church. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these reasons give Christians a biblical framework to think through why they should be members of a local church.
First, The Bible clearly teaches that God made a distinction between His people and the world (Lev 13:46; Number 5:3; Deut. 7:3). Christ says that entering the Kingdom of God means being bound to the Church “on earth” (Matthew 16:16-19; 18:17-19). The New Testament refers to some people being inside the Church and some people being outside the Church (1 Cor. 5:12-13). The church in Corinth consisted of a definite number of believers, such that Paul could speak of a punishment inflicted by the majority (2 Cor. 2:6). Not only does the New Testament speak of the reality of church membership, but its dozens of “one another” passages are written to local churches. The “one another” passages in the New Testament fill out our understanding of what church members should look like practically. Biblical church membership is important, because the Church presents God’s witness to Himself in the world, and displays His glory. In fact, non-Christians should see in the lives of God’s changed people that God is holy and gracious and that His gospel is powerful for saving and transforming sinners.
Second, the Epistles were all written to local churches. A brief sampling of Paul’s epistles make this abundantly clear:
1 Corinthians 1:1-2,
“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:”
2 Corinthians 1:1-2,
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia.”
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.”
“Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:”
1 Thessalonians 1:1-2,
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.”
Third, Christ saves Christians to live in community with other believers. Christ calls believers to local church membership not just for our spiritual growth, but also so that they may use their spiritual gifts in the context of the local Church.
Fourth, it was the model of the early Church. Some people think that meeting together with other Christians is not important because the early Church only gathered in small groups in Acts 2:42-48. However, this view ignores history. As the Church continued to grow, they gathered together in large gatherings. There were small group meetings, but there were also large gatherings. Regardless if the local church meets in a building or in a home it doesn’t matter. The Church is comprised of people who have been regenerated by the work of the Spirit. The people of God are to gather to worship together in Spirit and Truth, to hear the preached Word, participate in communion, baptism, and then scatter to spread the Great Commission in their families, neighborhoods, cities, and to the nations.
While many people have a problem with the “local Church” the Bible clearly teaches that professing Christians are to be members of local Churches. While local churches may have many issues, the Church itself is purchased by Christ to be counted blameless. The members inside the Church are justified sinners, meaning they are made right with God through the blood of Jesus but still growing in Christ-like character.
Finally, there is no lone-ranger version of Christianity; we are called to Christian community. Those who object the loudest to this often think that they can be Christians and not be in the Church. From even a cursory examination of the Scriptures, the lone-ranger view of being a Christian is not biblical. Christ saves Christians to live in community with other believers. Christ calls believers to membership in the local Church not only for their own spiritual growth but to use our spiritual gifts in the context of the local church.
Why does Christ call Christians to live in community with other Christians?
Because it provides accountability and spiritual growth!
Because it is used to grow us in likeness to Jesus Christ!
Because it empowers believers to minister in and through their local churches in order to reach one’s community, city, nation and the world with the Gospel!
Christ doesn’t save sinners so they will live in isolation or be lone-rangers—He saves them so that they will be in community with one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, “one anothering” each other, and displaying forth His character and glory to a watching world.