1 TIMOTHY 3:15 – I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
THEME OF THE DAY. CHRISTIANS AND THE LOCAL CHURCH. Today’s nugget is going to contain two “in your face” statements. However, let me preface them with the word “lovingly.” I do so not as a cruel, finger-shaking preacher with heightened emotion beating down God’s sheep. I am not out to hurt us, but help us. I share these uncomfortable statements out of pastoral concern based on observations of Christians in my own church as well as the stark reality that the church of Jesus Christ is having little, if any impact, on our children, culture and society. For the most part, the church is irrelevant in America and I believe this grieves the Lord very much. And it boils down to how Christians see, and participate in local churches. Now the “in your face” statements . . .
First, if you are not attending a local, visible church committed to the Bible, you are in a bad spiritual condition and may not even think so. Now, please. If this describes any of you, don’t get defensive or attempt to justify your position. I have been in that camp and heard people’s arguments that are in that camp. I was saved on a United States Navy warship, did not see the need of a local church for a few years, nor participated in one, and I thought I was fine. I wasn’t. And if you are not faithfully attending a local church, you are not fine either. Here are some Biblical truths to consider, and hopefully change your mind. Of the thirteen New Testament letters the Apostle Paul wrote, nine went to visible local churches and three others to pastors of visible local churches. The inspired Word of God through the penmanship of the Apostle Paul places the highest regard for the local church in the lives of believers. And in the book of the Revelation, our Lord Jesus Himself sent seven real letters to real local churches (Revelation 2-3). If Jesus, the Head of the Church, would do this, then the local church must be a significant issue for Him which should make it so for us. Before you throw out the local church or say, “I don’t need it” to be spiritually healthy, let God speak into your life from His Word without any presuppositions on your part. The local church is God’s plan and the primary way He reaches the lost, spiritually grows His children, and shows the world the reality of Himself, His Son, and His love. Be careful, very careful, when you say, “I don’t need the church.” God disagrees with you.
Now, the second “in your face” statement . . . if you are faithfully attending a local, visible church committed to the Bible, but that is all you are doing – attending and not participating in serving God’s people, active in its ministries of some kind, faithfully giving of your money, engaging in prayer with other members of the body, and extending yourself in the body life with other believers, you are not contributing to the spiritual health of your church. You are a consumer, not a contributor and your church is weaker because of it. The Apostle Paul wrote, For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . . (Romans 12:4-6a). The Bible knows nothing of a passive “attend only” Christian in a local church. We are saved to serve and that primarily God’s people. Many Christians never mature because they remain on the fringe of church life. Get involved. God expects and equips us to do so in a visible, local church.
Well, a fitting application of today’s nugget is to take these “in your face” statements and do some self-evaluation. There is a lot at stake – our children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors and nation at large need to see the church of Jesus Christ alive as God intends her to be. And she will, if we, His people, start being what the Bible says we should be in visible, local churches.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to see Your expectation of me in Your Son’s Church and that of sacrificial contribution.”
QUOTE: “The Bible never teaches that mere attendance in a church, fellowship, or study is enough for a Christian to do.”