Posted On June 29, 2017

The Need for Biblical Community in the Local Church

by | Jun 29, 2017 | The Gospel and the Church, Featured

Recently Mark Zuckerberg the founder and CEO of Facebook said that he views Facebook as a church. The problem with Mark’s statement is that there is no way Facebook could ever be a New Testament church. The Bible prescribes that the local church is to preach the Word, care for the people of God, perform the sacraments and much more. There is no way this can be done on a social media site like Facebook. And so, there is no way that Facebook could ever be a local church. What this reveals; instead, is the need people have for community and also for the local church to be, act, and function as the Bible prescribes.

Zuckerberg is right that people need and desire community. Hardwired within every single person is the need for community. After all, the Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One God existing eternally in community with one another. The God of the Bible hardwired us this way because He created us for community with one another.

In the Garden of Eden, we see man in community with a woman Eve. In marriage between one man and one woman, we are called to community with our spouse. In the local church, we are to do life with one another. The epistles fifty times also teach us how we are to do life with one another.

Zuckerberg is onto something that many have picked up on in our culture. Local church membership has many benefits, including people doing life with one another. What Zuckerberg’s doing is something our culture has been doing now for a long time. Zuckerberg is trying to take the word “church” much like Apple has taken the Christian term “evangelism” and “evangelist” and give it another meaning other than what it means according to the Bible. By “church” Mark would be the shepherd setting the tone and vision for what “church on Facebook looks like.” He wants a community where all people can be accepted and valued, where people can strip aside their lack of unity and instead embrace others regardless of what they believe and so on. This is nothing more and nothing less than the false gospel and narrative of multiculturalism and globalism with its gospel of “tolerance” that has infected our modern world.

And to be clear Zuckerberg’s desire is partly right. It’s right that we highly esteem and respect one another because every human being is created in the image of God. Thus every person is to be treated with dignity and respect. But let’s be honest with one another, Facebook is not a New Testament church. It cannot truly bring us together as the gospel of the Lord Jesus does. What separates us is the screen in front of us; in fact, the ironic thing is this article is being written before a screen on a laptop and will be posted on Facebook the very place that proclaims it should be a church.

What does Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement show us? It tells us that even secular progressive types like Zuckerberg who like many of his Silicon Valley friends desire nothing more than a progressive paradise. The local church exists because of Jesus and for the glory of His name alone. The church was established by Jesus Christ when He died in the place of sinners and for their sin. The death of Christ provides the ground for why the Church exists, which also is why Paul says in Ephesians 5, the Church is blameless before Him.

There will always be a need for the local church. The gates of hell cannot overcome the local church because her Head and Cornerstone is Christ alone. Jesus also promised that the gates of hell would never overcome the Church.

Secularists can proclaim all they like a utopian vision of a community like already exists in the local church. They will never be able to accomplish it because they have a false gospel. Since secularists begin with how the world should be, they cannot see the world as it presently is. And make no mistake about it; that’s the separating line between biblical Christianity and secularists. As Christians, we believe that man is a sinner by nature and by choice. Secularists believe that man is capable of good and all should be included, even as they refuse to tolerate Christians who believe and live from a conviction about the truthfulness of God’s Word and all it teaches.

The local church is needed now more than ever. The biblical gospel will not falter or fail to accomplish all that it seeks to do to make, mature, and multiply disciples that make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus. With that said, as Christians, we are saints and sinners. And that means we will often fail and falter in our lives, including in our faithfulness to the good news of the gospel. It also means when we do, we have one in Jesus that we can turn to in repentance who will forgive us because He has secured our pardon and guaranteed our hope.

The local church is the hope of the world. Facebook can never replace that. It can try with all of its might as will governments and other companies, but they will all fail. Biblical Christianity begins with the bad news of man’s sin; while secularists begin with the assumption that man is good and is moving towards a utopian vision of paradise. And the two worldviews could not be on more of a collision course than they already are with devasting results.

Secularists want what biblical Christians already have, but they don’t want to believe in the foundation for our hope in the gospel of grace. Instead, they want all the trappings of the Bible but not the authority of the Word that provides the only ground for why the local church exists and does all it does in the world. And at the end of the day, pronouncements like that from Zuckerberg should not lead biblical and thoughtful Christians to laugh at Zuckerberg or those who agree with him. No, it should lead us to compassion and concern for our neighbors because we say we love God. It should also compel us to pray for and share the glorious news of God’s grace with our neighbors and others.

And at the end of the day, the news of Zuckerberg’s pronouncement should not surprise biblically informed Christians. Instead, it should motivate and fuel our passion for the Lord all the more. It should also increase our desire to engage people with the gospel. We live in a world of great need where many people are hurting. And as the Church, we have the only news in the gospel of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection that can bring them hope.

No, Zuckerberg, Facebook is not a church. It’s a social media website where people can interact, and be in community with one another for sure. Only the local church with biblical qualified male leadership can be a New Testament church. Local churches exist because Jesus bled, died, rose for, and now empowers the local church to be on His mission through the work of the Holy Spirit. The local church is the hope of the world because at it’s center is the death of Jesus in place of sinners and for their sin. Only the gospel of Jesus can transfer sinners from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. The gospel of Zuckerberg will never be able to do any of that.

At the end of the day what this shows us is what the world wants the most is hope. And we have that hope to share with them because God has taken our hearts of stone and replaced it with a new heart, with new desires and affections for Himself. He has also placed us in the Body of Christ and now commands us to place ourselves under godly qualified male pastors who are to faithfully preach, teach, and shepherd God’s people according to the authoritative Word of God.

The local church needs to set its sights clearly on its mission of making, maturing, and multiplying disciples that make, mature, and multiply disciples. The need to be in a local church has never been greater. People are longing for real hope and real community. What they are longing for is the hope only the gospel offers and for what a New Testament church is as described in the Scriptures. So Church let’s arise, and be the church by heeding and obeying the Word of God by His grace. And as we do, not only will we minister to sinners and the needy, but also we will carry the glory of God to the nations for the joy of all people’s.

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