Apart from the primary benefit of being obedient to the command of Jesus Christ, there are many gifts that God lavishes upon us through belonging to a local church. Here are three of them.
1. God gives us grace through his church.
God uses his church to make us into disciples of Jesus. It is through the regular preaching of the gospel, the administration of the sacraments (baptism and the Lord's Supper), the prayers, and the fellowship of the church that we continue to grow as Christians (Matt. 28; Acts 2:42).
Without these ordinary means that God has provided for us, our faith in Christ will wither and die. We cannot live apart from these means, just like a plant cannot live and grow apart from regular water and proper sunlight. God gives us his grace when we attend his church each week in public worship and in the life of the church throughout the week.
2. God gives us spiritual care through the leaders of a local church.
When we are part of a local community that worships Christ, we are part of something that is bigger than ourselves. Our pastors, elders, and deacons are there to provide us with everything we need in both body and soul—spiritually and physically. We are also placed within a context for us to learn from others the habits and language of the Christian life, and to share our own experiences and struggles with others.
We have much to learn, and we have much to teach. As we are part of a local body of Christ, we live in a community in which our sinfulness can be exposed, and our faithfulness to Christ can be rightly commended. We receive instruction, reproof, encouragement, and we experience community by belonging to a localized body in this way.
3. God gives us the blessing of one another.
God has poured out gifts upon his people, and he has given each Christian a unique gift to serve the whole body (Eph. 4:15–16; Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Cor. 12). Not every member is a hand, and not every member is a foot. We each have been given different abilities, skills, and desires to serve Christ's church in unique ways that mutually build all of us up in love.
It's interesting to note that whenever a Christian avoids the local church or refuses to be involved, they are unwittingly harming the body of Christ by making it weaker than it should be. You need the local church just as much as the local church needs you! You have unique gifts to offer, and God has special gifts that he wants to give you through his church.
God’s desire for all of us, as he has made plain in his Word, is that we each would belong to a local church as long as we are living on this earth. In short, local church membership does not come down to personal preference, but it is a matter of being biblically faithful and obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ who died for his bride—us—the church.
Read these ancient hymn lines as you meditate upon the birth of Christ and what it meant for the world.
Episode 314 | Dr. Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez answer questions about his hope for the church, Leviticus 18 and homosexuality, the Trinity, and Jesus’ return at...