Is it in the Bible that we must attend church? Can a Christian go to church without being required to? Can the Internet and TV evangelists replace the local church? Are the local churches irrelevant in today’s world? Is church membership necessary for one’s walk with Christ and salvation?
What the Bible Has to Say About Church Membership
Hebrews 10:25: regarding the assembly of ourselves, the writer clearly states that we should not abandon it. Hebrews 13:7 makes it impossible for a Christian to not gather with saints to follow. It says to “Remember Your Leaders, Who spoke the word of God” Take into account their lives and try to imitate them.
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Paul’s Teaching On the Body of Christ (Church).
Ephesians 4:11-12 says that Christ gave the apostles and prophets to the evangelists, pastors, and teachers. You will not find a single Christian lone-ranger in the New Testament. The apostles will mention the church in every instance. The epistles do not address single Christians.
Paul refers to the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians chapter 12. This includes a spirit of wisdom and knowledge, as well as service. These gifts are meant for many members of the church. If no one attends church, they cannot use their gifts or those of other Christians ministering to them.
Safety for Sheep in Sheepfold
John 10:11-18 refers to the Parable of the Good Shepherd. This refers to Jesus Christ, who said He would willingly give His life for His sheep (v 17). This was done at Calvary. Jesus’ time, the shepherds would lay down at the gate and keep the sheep in a pen. There were hungry wolves outside that could kill them. The sheepfold is the only place that provides protection.
Sheep aren’t very intelligent. They are helpless on their own. If one of them falls on their back, they cannot get back up and will starve to death. It is also easy to do anything if it is lying on its back. Sheep can walk off the edge of cliffs. Sheep are almost defenseless. Sheep cannot defend themselves. They don’t run very fast. They can recognize the name of a shepherd if they are faithful. They will listen to the shepherd’s voice and stay close to him. Jesus Christ is the Head, but He has designated shepherds to shepherd the local flocks. They remain subject to the Good Shepherd, to whom the sheep belong. A sheep that is not in the sheepfold is helpless and vulnerable. The same applies to the renegade Christian, who abandons church attendance.
Peter reiterates his instructions to pastors (under-shepherds) in I Peter 5:2-4. He says, “Be shepherds for God’s flock, not because you have to, but because God has called you to do so. Not pursuing dishonest gain but serving the flock; not lording over the people entrusted to your care; not imposing your will on them, but being an example to them. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown that will never fade away.” Many Christians claim they love God but cannot be with other Christians. However, John 13:34-35 tells us to gather together and love each other. Members of the church are God’s children. So you’re saying, “God, I love You, but I can’t bear to be around Your children.”
The Church has Many Members, but One Body
Romans 12:4-5 demonstrates that the church is made up of many members. Paul said, “Just as each one of us has one body with multiple members, and these members don’t all have the same function,” and that in Christ, we, even though we are many, make one body, and each member belongs to the other. This proves that we all belong to each other. I Corinthians 12:14-16 shows that each member of the body of Christ, or the church, is composed of multiple members. “Even so, the body isn’t made up only one part, but many.” If the foot said, “Because my hand is not a body, I don’t belong to it,” it would still be part of the body. If the ear said, “Because my eye is not a part of the body, I don’t belong to it,” it would also not cease being part of it.
A body with no arm, foot, hand, or eye would be strange. It would make a very dysfunctional body. Each member is endowed with gifts from the Spirit. Each of these gifts has a different purpose, but together they create a healthy functioning body that can be more effective in being Christ’s hands and feet on the earth. Each member of a body can be effective in its own right. Although it is ineffective by itself, when the whole body is united, it can serve, pray and build up, edify and exhort other members of Christ’s body. The eye cannot say it doesn’t require the hand or the foot, but neither can the ear. I Corinthians 12:27 explains that we all are part of Christ’s body, “Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part thereof.” However, no one body part can make a body.
John 15:1-8 is where Jesus gives us the perfect example. He speaks about the vines and branches and says: “I am truly the vine, and my father is the gardener. He takes out every branch from me that bears no fruits and prunes every branch that bears fruit, so it is even more fruitful. Because of the word that I have spoken, you are already clean. As I remain in you, so do not leave me. A branch cannot bear fruit on its own; it must be part of the vine. You cannot bear fruit on your own if you don’t remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. You will bear many fruits if you stay in me and I in yours. Without me, you cannot do anything. You are like a branch that has been thrown away. These branches are picked up and thrown into the fire to burn. If you are steadfast in me, and my words remain within you, you can ask for anything you want. You bear much fruit to my Father’s glory and show yourself to be my disciples.
A branch removed from the vine dies quickly and can only be used for burning. It can be attached to the vine to continue to be fed, nourished, and thrive. But it cannot bear fruit if it isn’t. The branch cannot ever bear fruit except for the vine. An analogy would be that a branch not connected to the vine, the church built by Jesus Christ, cannot grow and bear fruit. A part of the body is also affected. The foot not connected to the body will become gang green and die. It cannot walk independently for long, weakening the whole body.
Under the authority of the Church
Romans chapter 12, the most authoritative chapter, explains how a church should live between its members and be under the control of the shepherds. Paul also addressed those in authority within the church in I Thessalonians 5.12-13. He said, “Now, brothers and sisters. We ask you to recognize those who work hard amongst you, who care about you in Christ, and who admonish.” Their work deserves to be held in the most loving regard. “Live in peace with one another.”
You cannot admonish church leaders if you’re sitting on your couch listening to an evangelist on TV or the radio. These leaders include the pastors and elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and the deacons. It’s hard to believe that these leaders would be in your home to teach you how to respect and admonish them.
God placed us all in the body of Christ according to His will and not ours. God speaks through Paul in I Corinthians 12;18, “But in truth, God has placed all the parts in the Body, every one of them as he desired them to be.” God didn’t intend for these members to live in separate homes. They can’t function well apart.
The Church Christ Built
Jesus stated that He would build His church (Matt. 16:18), and the gates to hell will not oppose it. Jesus’ Church was founded upon the Apostles Peter, John, Paul, and the other apostles. He wouldn’t build a church to see its members scattered to their homes.
You don’t understand scripture if you think church membership is mandatory. Jesus will one day come and take away the church. A great feast has been prepared for the church, which is described as a wedding. The great marriage feast of God’s church will take place. He doesn’t marry one single member. Christ’s bride is the whole church. The Lord marries the church, and they celebrate the wedding feast for all eternity.
If you don’t attend a Bible-believing church, and you are a born-again Christian (Heb. 12:6). If you aren’t, you should find a Bible-believing church that teaches the Word of God, places Christ at the center of worship, or where you can be a part of the body Christ. Then, you will be with Him forever at Christ’s return in eternal happiness and fellowship. I hope you will. If you’re a Christian, this is a lesson from the Bible. You should never abandon the assembly of yourself. God wants you to be in a church. He commands it. Find one!
In conclusion, the Bible is very clear about the importance of church membership. It is a vital part of the Christian life, and it is something that every believer should be involved in. Church membership is not just a matter of going to church on Sunday; it is a commitment to being part of a community of believers and living out your faith together.
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