Jesse: I can't see how we can read though the Bible and not clearly see the call to a commitment to a local assembly in person.
Mack: It would be like saying, "Well, I want to play football, but I don't want to be on a team." It makes no sense. Christianity is the people of God. Christ has redeemed a people. And it's a family the Bible says. It's a body. It's a building. What good is a brick laying on the grass by itself? It's not functioning any good for any purpose until it's connected to other bricks and it's cemented together as a part having its place.
Jesse: Some people struggle with the word "membership." And if you want to throw out the word membership, I don't care. But the notion, the concept of being a part of a family of faith in person - so much of what we are called to in the Scriptures can not be fulfilled without the understanding of commitment to a local group of believers. Take for instance the call given to pastors. We are told that a pastor's going to give an account for those that they pastor. How do we know who we pastor without the notion of there being a commitment to a specific local group of people? Who am I responsible for? Everyone who logs into the website? You take the notion of church discipline. You can't fulfill church discipline without the understanding that you're a part of a local assembly and being put out of it would have an impact on you and lead you to repentance. So, you can't fulfill it. You can't fulfill the one anothers.
Mack: A Christian can only grow, they can only be rightly related to Christ as they're rightly related to the church. Why? Because He's the head of the church. And so, you can only be related to the Head if you're a part of the body. If my finger's cut off and it's laying over here, (incomplete thought). So we can only grow properly as we're a part of the church and all that that means. The last verse of 2nd Peter says, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." And the New Testament tells us in teaching, in exhortation, and by example, the believers were together, were worshiping together. And so there is no biblical Christianity, there's no living the Christian life or living out biblical Christianity; there's no pleasing God without being a part of a biblical church.
Jesse: When we look at that call Paul gives to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12, regarding the gifts, and he talks about that each one has been gifted for the edification of the body. And I understand that that doesn't mean that you can't use your gifts outside the church. It's not an exclusive thing. But this is what it's written to. It's written to a local church to be used for the building up. Paul speaks about it in Ephesians 4. When each part is doing their role, we're built up to maturity fit for the head of Christ. And so when you have someone out there who is not committed to that, you can't fulfill the one anothers as they're given in Scripture. And so this notion that you can float around or just glean from the Internet and not be committed and accountable to a specific group of believers, it's unfounded in Scripture.
Clint: I would say it's a necessity to be a part of a biblical church. To be isolated is no existence. It's very difficult. It might be for a season. But the desire, the motivation ought to be to either start a biblical church, become a biblical church themselves, or become a part of a biblical church. It's necessary for longevity. You know, we live in a day and age where the Internet supplies us with vast resources of sermons. Sermons at every hand. Video sermons, livestream sermons, and so on. But there's nothing like being a part of a congregation, sitting there, with your mouth open and your Bible open, taking in what's coming to you from the pulpit with the solid belief that what you're hearing right then is God's Word for you on that occasion, on that morning. There's nothing like that. And so the other Internet sermons, CD's, and so on, those can be auxiliary. Those can be additional. Those can be sort of emergency rations if you want to call it that. But we really do need to be a part of a believing church.
Tim: When you have God come down and break into your life - the God who is love - and save your soul, if God is saving men, women, boys, and girls, there's going to be love. He said of course there is. There always is. And any community that does not have love, John tells us in these verses, he tells us in v. 8, "Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love." Brethren, if you find churches where there's no love, it's because it's not a church. It's not one of His churches. It's not a candlestick. That's John's conclusion. That's what we see here. Think about these words again. "Beloved..." I'm going to read verses 7-10. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love."
Don: There is no such thing as lone ranger - I call it being a lone ranger - me being saved out here apart from my fellowship and my participation in the local body. I can't know that I'm a real Christian unless I'm in the local church. You can't know. You can't have any assurance that you're a real Christian by reading books and by listening to sermons and being out here isolated and say, well, it's wonderful. We love God. Listen, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin. By this we know that we have passed from death into life because we love the brethren. We have to have brethren around us to prove that we are Christians. And we have to have brethren to show that we really love the brethren. And how can we love God - this is such a theme in the little epistle of 1 John - how can we say we love God and not be in union and fellowship and in love with brothers and sisters in Christ in a local body? (incomplete thought) There's going to be contention. There will be division at times. There will be misunderstandings. There will be differences of opinion. But these have to be in grace. These have to be worked through. You have to live through these things. You have to walk through these things. You have to submit to one another. You have to learn that we've been called and called out from the world, and we've been put into an assembly upon earth. If we forsake the assembling of ourselves together, we fall out of the realm of teaching. We fall out of the realm of oversight. We fall out of the area of communion and fellowship. We're no longer participating in the ordinance. There's no way in the world you can sit alone by yourself and take the Lord's Supper. There's no way in the world you can baptize yourself. You're baptized by someone else. You take the Lord's Supper with other people. It's a supper and it's for the family. So, I would say again, there's a lot of misguided, misdirected souls that don't want to have any part to do with a local church. They're greatly in error. And I would not go so far as to say that all of them are completely lost, but I'm saying this, they are going to be very stunted and have an accounting - if they're not going to be willing to be accountable here, they're going to have to give an accounting to Him one day. And I sure wouldn't want to be standing before the Lord Jesus Christ when He says, "Why wouldn't you be a part of My church?"