Saturday, October 04, 2008

Why you need to be in a church tomorrow

No, you're not the church. You're part of the church. The word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) means "assembly," and no, you're not an assembly. Doesn't matter how overweight you are, you still aren't an assembly.

If you're a Christian, you claim Jesus as your Lord.

Where's your Lord today? He depicts Himself as walking among local assemblies (Revelation 1:12-13, 20). Do you know better than He? Which one of you is "Lord," again?

That's the church, that local assembly of believers where pastors lead, the Word is preached, the ordinances are observed, and discipline is carried out. Christ loved it and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). He died for it. But you won't walk into one? Which one of you is "Lord," again?

Before He died, He prayed for the church (John 17). But you won't attach yourself to one, to work in it and pray for it? Which one of you is "Lord," again?

Who is your pastor? Are you fool enough to say "Jesus"? Nonsense. When He ascended, He gave pastors to the church (Ephesians 4:11). Which one is your pastor, your toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball pastor?

Your "Lord" charged pastors with the care of souls. That means Jesus — your Lord, so you say — thinks your soul needs watching over (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Which individual flesh and bones living pastor is watching over your soul, in person, individually?

If "none," how is it that you decided you are smarter than Jesus? You know, Jesus. Your "Lord." Which one of you is "Lord," again?

And if you fall into unrepentant sin, which body will discipline you? Jesus says you need that, too (Matthew 18:13-20). I don't care what complex, high-sounding list of excuses you can slap together. If you say you don't need to be in a local assembly, you say you're smarter than Jesus, and are sufficient.


And remember, that Jesus you say is your "Lord" said that the second most important thing in the world is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39). He moved Paul to tell you your fellow-church-member is your premier neighbor (Galatians 6:10). That's where you take all that rich doctrine (Ephesians 1—3), and live it out in community (Ephesians 4—6). That's where you do all those "one anothers."

And if you tell yourself that your spouse or children are all the "one anothers" you need, you put your judgment over God's.

Meaning you're a fool and a blasphemer, whether you intend to be or not.

And bringing harm on your spouse and children, by preaching a lie to them.

That's for starters.

So, Jesus — your "Lord" — says you need to be in a local church. You say you don't?

Hm. Which one to believe? You? Or Jesus? You? Or Jesus? Hmm.

See you in church.


donsands said...

Good exhortation. I'm sort of inbetween right now, and am attending a fine church, but it's 45 minutes away. I need God to show me where He wants me to settle down.

I was thinking that the Lord has three reasons why we need to assemble and
worship the Father in Spirit and truth. (1)Because He commands it. (2)It's a
privilege. (3)And because we love Him, and must rejoice in His presence with His people, and our brethren & sistren.

JOYce said...

Hmmmmm. No exceptions that say a believer isn't "there" and still righteous in Christ and in God's will? And aren't considered by Him to be a fool and a blasphemer? Because He knows their heart and circumstances 24/7/365, gives them the desires of the heart, and judges that heart perfectly rather than on appearances?

Am not in disagreement with what you wrote. Yet sure have experienced a fair share of folks that would make fine friends of Job. Some proud as peacocks under the authority of pastors that are fools and blasphemers teaching gross error such as insecurity of believers/salvation by works to the most Sunday morning faithful ~ pastors known in the community as exposing themselves to youth and driving under the influence of alcohol.

If folks shun because of their own eye/speck/log issues ~ God knows even that and deals with His workmanship perfectly in His perfect way and time. Thankfully.

Pastor Steve said...

I'm not sure I have seen any plague lately that seems to be more prevalent among Christians then the refusal to join / attend faithfully their local church. Good article.

Anonymous said...

You wrote "And remember, that Jesus you say is your "Lord" said that the second most important thing in the world is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39)."

I have often taught that one can't keep just one side of that dual commandment. I think it all or nothing. No way to love(agape) your neighbor without loving God.

Susan said...

In-between. Hmm. That's where I am right now. I am attending Sunday services at a church that I am not really a part of yet. Don't get me wrong--it's a good church (if you knew who preaches there, you'd agree), but I don't know if I'm ready to attend a fellowship there. A friend and I have been praying about my church situation for quite a while now. I experienced some hurtful things while at my home church and have since had trouble going back. Looks like I now have trouble moving forward, too. Sigh.

CR said...

You can't really habitually reject fellowship with church and say you love Christ. You can't say you love Christ and not love his church. Christ died for His church, therefore, it's very important for us.

Justin said...

Susan -- I pray that you find the right place in which to gather with believers in Christ's name, submitting together under God's Holy Word, encouraging, exhorting and serving one another in love.

But I'm interested in this line:

Don't get me wrong--it's a good church (if you knew who preaches there, you'd agree)

Do you think that a church can be known to be good, simply for who preaches there?

Preaching is one part of making a church good. According to Ephesians 4, it is basic in setting the foundation. But it is possible for a church to have a good preacher, and it still not be a good church, right?

This is a common mistake in our church culture.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

There is a growing trend among pastors, elders, and lay Christians that formal church membership is a man-made doctrine and unbiblical.

DJP said...

Whatever. As long as you're in an actual specific church enough that you can be kicked out of it for unrepentant sin.

Along with everything else I set out, from Scripture, in the post.

jk said...

You's interesting that more people have commented on this one Dan. It was good - and some of the comments take me back to "Why Being in IT support is more fun than pastoring days." Ahhh...the life! It's interesting: the church is a might my hand feel cut off? And the membership thing: those saved in Ephesus in the 1st century were defacto choice. Hmmm - well Dan: you are one gifted dude!

Annette said...

Dan... Can I put this into my church newsletter? I would give you proper credit and all that.


Anonymous said...

Bravo! And, I'm not ashamed to say that I'm in love with my pastor and my a purely good way. It's an amazing thing to belong to the body of Christ.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Whatever. As long as you're in an actual specific church enough that you can be kicked out of it for unrepentant sin.

If only that were the case.

Look at the other side of the equation. Many pastors are eschewing formal church membership so they don't have to confront unrepentant sin, let alone kick someone out of a church. Inclusive, tolerant, diverse, pluralistic, welcoming, and loving are the driving aspects of the No-Formal-Membership ecclesiastical movement.

JackW said...

Nice post at Pulpit on Elders.

DJP said...

Sure, Annette; thanks for asking.

LeeC said...

Church discipline, what a wonderful loving and comforting concept that so many churches either deny, or pay lip service to.

Of all the people that have had to be brought up to follow through with the latter phases of biblical church discipline by the elders at our church so far 50% have repented.


And I have hope for more someday.

Tell me ity doesn't work, or isn't loving.

I praise God that He has given me a local church body that loves me enough to find me when I am straying and to bring me back as best they can.

Our pastor just did a sermon on the necessity for church discipline on 9-28. I highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

You pull too many puches Dan...

Great post. I'm blessed to belong to a local church that loves me and my family and is shepherded by probably the best shepherd I've ever been shepherded by in any of the cities I've lived in.

Flame Turns Blue said...

What do you do when you are a member of a Lutheran church (WELS) and the church is disciplining you and your family by the withholding of communion for believing in the Perserverance of the Saints? Should I submit to the discipline and agree with the pastor that the elect can lose their salvation or should I go without communion forever? I was in good standing until I let the pastor know my beliefs. I also told him that I don't believe in free-will. He yelled at my wife and I and told us that we use "cut-and- paste theology" and that as long as we held to the L, I, or P in TULIP, we couldn't be Lutherans. This is the church I baptized my children in. I consider myself to be a Lutheran because I agree with Martin Luther's views on the Bible. I do not feel that I could belong to another church because they may not accept infant baptism or real presence in the communal elements.