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Ask Donnell: If we're the church must we still go to church?

church

Welcome to "Ask Donnell". If you have a difficult question and you need an answer from The Bible, feel free to submit it here. We received the following question from Martin;

"People make the excuse of not attending church or most importantly accepting the Lord Jesus in their lives because they say that I don’t need man to talk to me about God. What shall I say to them?"

Martin, this is a great question. I gave you the short answer a few days ago but today let's invest a little time to develop a more comprehensive response. As I stated then, let's focus on Christians who don't attend church. Church attendance is an issue that needs to be addressed because confusion abounds concerning it. What is the church anyway? Let's start by defining it. That's an important place to start because some people who are Christian yet don't go to church think nothing of it since they don't see why it's necessary. The Holy Ghost lives inside of them and they can access God for themselves so what's the use of joining a church? Do they really have to anyway?

Additionally, when we use the word "church" what do we really mean? We know that according to the scriptures, the church is not just a building even though we call our buildings "churches". It's not just a specific denomination even though we use "church" in some our names. It's not even just an organization, per se with our affiliated church boards and church by-laws. So what is it? Better yet, who is it? Let's see what The Bible has to say. A proper understanding of the definition will shed light on whether or not we need to go to "church"?

Colossians 1:24(NKJV) - I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

Boom! The Church is the Body of Christ. I know, I know I came in a little strong there. Some might be thinking right now, so what? Why is that a big deal and what does that have to do with anything? So The Church is The Body of Christ. That doesn't mean I need to show up on Sunday for services anywhere. It also doesn't mean I need to associate with any other Christians in a formal setting. Why does The Church being The Body of Christ matter at all? Well, I'm glad you asked.

1 Corinthians 12:12-19(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part!

One of the most important points we can glean from this passage is that one part alone does not make a body. In other words, by yourself, you are not The Body of Christ. You are one of the many parts of The Body of Christ. Hence, I am not The Church and you are not The Church. I am only a part of The Church and you are a part. Therefore, when you isolate yourself as a Christian you become a disjointed body part that provides little benefit to the body as a whole.

Pay close attention to the illustration used here. If we think of each Christian as a foot, ear or eye, it would make no sense for any of us to separate ourselves from the rest of The Body. The same way it would be silly for any of these parts to exist separate from a human body so it is with individual Christians. Therefore, in order for us to be The Church, we have to be together. Let's now address the issue of church attendance directly.

Why Join A Local Church Assembly?

1) It's A Biblical Requirement

Hebrews 10:24-25(NLT) - Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Some people miss regular gatherings of The Church and that's not good. When we're together, we have the opportunity to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. We also have the opportunity to encourage one another especially in these last days before the return of Jesus. When you isolate yourself you miss out on the support of your church family.

2) The Power Of Agreement

Matthew 18:19(KJV) - Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

When The Church meets together we can capitalize on the power of agreement. We can worship together with one voice. We can pray together and see more results. We can share each other's burdens. There's nothing like a family of Christians working together for the same goals. Problems arise when people skip church. If we don't see you, we don't know if you're going through anything and we can't help. Show up and talk to someone. We're a family.

3) The Presence of The Lord

Matthew 18:20(KJV) - For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

There's a special manifestation of the presence of The Lord that's reserved for the gathering of Christians. Regardless of what you do or who you are, you cannot experience it alone. This is very important because good things happen in the presence of The Lord. Psalms 16:11 says that in the presence of The Lord there is fulness of joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of The Lord is your strength.

4) Healing

James 5:14-15(KJV) - Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

When you're sick, if you can make it to church for prayer go for it. If not, you can reach out to your church family and let the elders pray for you. That's how it's set up in The Bible and that's how it's supposed to work. Yes, you can pray for yourself but God created The Body of Christ so that you can benefit from the faith of others, especially the elders. God specifically put these people in The Church to provide you with prayer support whenever you need it.

5) Forgiveness

James 5:15-16(KJV) - And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

When some Christians fall in sin the tendency is for them to stay away from church. They're ashamed and feel so condemned that they choose to separate themselves from their church family. Bad idea! That's the direct opposite to what the scripture says. If you've committed sin, God has provided people in The Body of Christ for you to share your struggle with so that you can receive forgiveness and restoration. When you're at fault, your church family is there to pray for you so that your heart can be healed.

6) Community

Acts 2:42-47(NLT) - All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

The local church is a community. That's the model of church that was established at the beginning and it continues to be the gold standard. We study God's Word taught by our leaders together. We fellowship together. We hang out together. We pray together. We help meet each other's needs. God never designed His people to experience life alone so that's why every Christian is supposed to be connected to a local church.

7) Equipping, Edification, Unity, Knowledge and Maturity

Ephesians 4:11-15(NKJV) - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —

This scripture presents several important reasons why every Christian needs to be a part of a local church. We need apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They equip the saints for the work of ministry. They build the body of Christ. They ensure that we're unified in the faith. They help us know more and more about Jesus. They help us to mature so that we're no longer spiritual children who are easily led astray by false doctrine. They help us to become more like Jesus.

What does that mean for people who don't go to church? They miss out on the benefits of the five-fold ministry gifts. They are not equipped to do the work of the ministry. They are not built up as part of The Body of Christ. They are not unified in the faith and they do not have a full knowledge of Christ which is demonstrated by their lack of understanding of The Body of Christ. Last, but not least, isolated Christians are much more vulnerable to false doctrine. They don't have the checks and balances presented by the steady leadership of the five-fold ministry gifts. Therefore, it's much easier for them to stray from the truth.

In sum, even though we can access God as individuals, He wants us to find our place in His Body. Even if you don't have a home church right now, God has put the solitary in families according to Psalms 68:6. Find your church family.

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