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You need your church

September 10, 2015

scribble churchPaul was not a church planter. The apostle whose ministry was responsible for the formation of dozens of churches across the Roman Empire never defined his ministry as one of church planting. Paul described himself as a preacher of the gospel. He desired to preach the gospel where it had not been preached, and in those areas where the gospel was known, Paul worked to strengthen the church in that community. This is not to imply the church was secondary or that starting churches was unimportant to Paul. Rather, Paul never set out to plant churches because he did not have to. When people believed the gospel, they naturally joined themselves together under the teaching of the apostle and his associates. The church is more than a happy side effect of the gospel. The church is not something created to keep Christians busy after believing the gospel, but is the inevitable and primal fruit of the gospel. The local church is the eternally planned produce of the gospel.

The Bible knows nothing of Christians who are not a part of a church. In Biblical terms, a believer without a church is mythological creature. Though some have somehow managed to argue otherwise the Bible definitively commands believers to be faithful attenders in the church gathering. (Hebrews 10:25) Aside from the clear command of Hebrews, the universal assumption throughout the New Testament is that the Christian will be a part of a church. Refusal to add oneself into the church was strong evidence the professed Christian was not really part of the body of Christ. 1 John 2 speaks of those who left the gathering of believers and describes them as ones who were “not of us”. John’s reasoning was that those truly of the body of Christ- the body of genuine believers- would not forsake the local expression of that body. Church attendance is the natural result of believing the gospel and a distinguishing mark of genuine faith.

For the early Christians, and indeed for most Christians throughout history, the church provided essential support, comfort and assistance to believers. Those who converted to Christ were often ostracized from family and friends. Many new Christians lost jobs, homes and possessions. The church provided for the needs of persecuted brethren. The church was necessary spiritually and physically. For the most part this has not been the case in America. For many decades being a Bible believing Christian was viewed by American culture as a good thing. In recent decades, Biblical Christians have been tolerated though not particularly appreciated. Now the culture is changing. Soon those defending Biblical truth will be shunned by friends, cut off from family and fired from their jobs. Soon the church will once again take on a role of friendship and encouragement that it was intended to fulfill and that it held in the earliest days of church history. When those days come, many will bow before the onslaught of the world because they do not have the support and strength of a church family. When those days come, every believer will desperately need a church family to give aid and comfort. Why wait until troubles surround you? Avail yourself of that vital support now so you will not find yourself lacking a fundamental help in the difficult days ahead.

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