No doubt you have heard preachers close their sermons with something like, “Come to the altar and be saved. You don’t need to be a member of any church to be saved. Being a part of a church has nothing to do with being saved!”
That’s a frightening statement to make, because the Scriptures tell us that Jesus is the Savior of His Body, and His Body is His Church! (Eph. 5:23 – Col. 1:18).
1. Acts 20:28 tells us that the Lord’s church was purchased with His BLOOD. Can something that was purchased with the Blood of Christ actually be unimportant?
2. In Acts 2:47, we are told that all the saved were added to the church (KJV). Should people believe preachers that are saying that the institution to which all the saved belong has nothing to do with salvation?
3. Christ gave Himself for His church (Eph. 5:25). What kind of spiritual insanity would teach people that the church for which Christ “gave Himself” is unnecessary?
4. Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18). Why would Jesus build something unimportant?
5. Should something that was the specific subject of thousands of years of prophecy be considered “unimportant?”
Why is the church important? Why did Jesus build His church? There are two main reasons, but first and foremost is for the FELLOWSHIP OF BELIEVERS. People are by nature social beings. They want to be a part of a group. Even God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18). Man was not created to live alone, he was created to live in fellowship, and the church partially fulfills this need.
The NT speaks much concerning the fellowship of believers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the FELLOWSHIP, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:32). “If we walk in the light…we have FELLOWSHIP with one another…” (1Jn 1:7).
This Christian fellowship is vital for our spiritual lives. Part of this fellowship involves encouraging one another to live right before God. “Exhort one another every day…that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). How many times do we feel like throwing up our hands and quitting? How many times do we think “I just can’t live like God expects me to live anymore?” Encouragement through fellowship can help to alleviate this attitude. Paul writes, “Brethren, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…” (Gal. 6:1-2). It’s sad, but it seems when we need help “spiritually” the last place we go is to our brethren! Yet this is one of the reasons for the establishment of the church.
The church must be a place of love. “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God…” (1Jn 4:7). This world is a cold place, and the church must be a place where people can “escape the cold.” The church must be a place where people are loved, where one’s concerns and fears can be expressed, and where one doesn’t have to pretend to be something he isn’t.
This type of fellowship will attract unbelievers. So many in this world care only for themselves; they will trample upon anyone who gets in their way. But Christians are to look at one another differently. They are to put the needs of others in front of themselves, and for many in this world, that would be a welcome change. Where are we going to turn when difficult times come? If we cannot turn to those whom we know genuinely love us and are concerned about us, where do we go?
The church serves a valuable service to its members – – the FELLOWSHIP of believers. If you view the church simply as a “necessary inconvience” then it’s apparent that you do not understand what the Lord’s church is, and that is reason for concern. You can provide a valuable service to the church simply by fellowshipping with your brethren, both in and out of the assembly. The church IS important!