Question: Pastor Don, is being part of a local church important?
The Bible definitely, so many Scriptures, “The Lord loved the church and gave Himself for it.” “Christ died for the church.” “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” And when we use the word, “church,” we’re talking about the assembly, the called out body of believers. The church always takes shape in the local body of believers who are in union and fellowship with one another under the teachings of the Word of God; committed to the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as laid down in the New Testament. And this is vital.
In fact, there is no such thing as, 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 by being out here isolated and saying well, it’s wonderful, oh, 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 epistle of 1 John; how can we say we love God, and not be in union and in fellowship and in love with brothers and sisters in Christ in a local body? There will 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. And you have to submit to one another. You have to learn that we’ve been called out from the world and we’ve been put into an assembly on earth, and this is a unique organization. It’s a unique structured, ordained work of God. This is His will for all His children, to be in a local church, submitting themselves to a pastor. Submitting themselves for accountability. To be where you can be admonished and exhorted and to hear the teaching of the Word of God. We’ve got to have that to be saved.
And if we forsake that, 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 ordinances. 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 of the 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 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?” I would say that even if there was assembly – if you were not where there was the best church or a really good altogether sound church, if you were isolated alone, To have fellowship, and to submit… There are certain fundamental things that we could not make any compromise on. That if a local church did not teach certain things, salvation truly by grace, the deity of Jesus Christ, the infallibility of the Word of God, and so on, these fundamental things that you can’t even be in question of and even be a Christian. There’s lots of peripheral issues that we could make concession, in order to go to church. I had a friend one time who wrote a tract, “Go to Church or Go to Hell.” It was a very enlightening little bit of literature. The Lord added to the church they that should be saved.
Why would the Lord have you in a place that there would not be a church? If you’re in a place where you don’t have a place to worship and people to meet with, you better find a place where you can find a church. Let’s not look for a job first, and then look for a church. Let’s look for a church first, and then find a job.