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Salvation is a personal event and process. When one believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth, they are saved. Young and old with the intellectual ability are invited to accept the authority and leading of Jesus in their lives. This salvation experience, however, is only the starting point of becoming a true Jesus follower, a disciple. We’ve learned that a disciple not only believes but acts like their teacher or coach. In this case, we must become and act like Jesus. As we mature, we are called to disciple others. The authors of our Study Guide reiterate the point that while salvation is personal, church is a team effort. As members of one body, we all need to participate in the kingdom work of building the Church and winning souls.
However, occasionally we run into people who 1) say that churches/congregations are imperfect, have too many issues, and therefore would rather stay and do church on their own or 2) feel they have what it takes and therefore choose to go it alone.These two stances are not Biblical. Do you agree or not and why? [Come to the Bible Study for a full discussion].
Let’s address the first group. A common saying is that if a person says this or that congregation is not perfect, then the minute they find that “perfect church,” and join it, that church becomes imperfect! That should be a humbling thought. Human beings indeed constitute the Church but as parts of a congregation, there are going to be varying levels of maturity and growth. That’s the point. Church members sharpen as well as encourage, support, and collaborate with one another. Until Jesus returns, building and preparing His Church is an ongoing work. Afterall, Jesus is the Master Builder.
Matthew 16:18: And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Of course, there is a place to critique, evaluate and assess local assemblies that make up the Church Universal. There is a place to challenge doctrinal errors, false prophets, and unbiblical practices. I remember telling someone on a mission to find a perfect church that Jesus, perhaps, needs them to remain in that “difficult church” to be a loving witness for Him. Additionally, God may be teaching them humility, patience, and wisdom. Quite often, when we are placed in challenging circumstances, it just could be God is asking us to lay on that altar and die to self, as part of our reasonable service. Therefore, if you ever encounter someone who is looking for a perfect church, please advise them to seek the Lord’s will and then obey. Afterall, the act of obedience is better than any sacrifice of trying to help God.
Let’s look at the second group of people who refuse to be churched. Nowhere in Scripture is church a one man or one woman show. The Holy Spirit gives out gifts to individuals in the church, so they can use them in collaboration and in coordination with the other members to further the mission of winning souls.
This is our reasonable service that pleases God: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” [Romans 12:3-6].
Moreover, the structure and model Christ left us with is that members must be under a head, thereby providing accountability to a corporate head and members [Ps 133]. The fact is there are signs, wonders, and works the Lord will only do within the Church framework. Therefore, Paul states: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” [Ephesians 4: 11-13]
Therefore, as we go about our daily lives and share our testimonies and faith, we may run into people who feel they can go it alone. Please lovingly show them that the Word of God wants us to be churched.
Finally, belonging to a congregation of believers means we are humbling ourselves to be teachable and then be able to teach others. As members of a church family, we learn to serve and be served, we give and use our gifts and we learn to receive and appreciate other people’s gifts. Afterall, it is all the Lord’s doing and He alone gets the glory for what He is doing in and with His Church.
February 13. 2022 – Pastor Rosaire Ifedi