Why is church important?

My previous post on the importance of the church was meant to support the proposition that unless a person is a faithful member of local church, he cannot be saved. Each of the patristic quotations indicated this sentiment: if a person is not connected to the church, he is not saved. This post, and following ones, will discuss the biblical basis for such an opinion. Why is active, faithful, membership in a local church so important? It is so important because of what the church is.

The church is the body of Christ. The church as the body of Christ is Paul’s favorite metaphor to describe the nature of the church (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 12:12-13, 18, 20, 27; Eph. 1:22-23; 2:16; 3:6; 4:4, 12, 16; 5:29-30; Col. 1:18, 24; 2:19; 3:15). The metaphor is so important to Paul because of the wonderful picture it provides to the truth that is often identified as central to Paul’s theology: union with Christ. A body is one. Though it is one, its strength and ability come from its diversity. If the whole body was an ear, it would only be good for hearing; and even then not for very long since there would be no hand with fingers to keep it clean! Yet the body can only work properly, when it works orderly. The body needs a head to provide organization, structure, leadership. That Head is Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18; 2:19).

So while Paul uses the analogy of the body to teach truths concerning unity, diversity, and authority; the presupposition of the metaphor is life. Individual body parts do not live when they are severed from the body. Individual “Christians” do not live when they are separated from the Body of Christ.

Jesus does not use the body metaphor, but He teaches the same truth in John 15:5-6: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” If there is no union with Christ, there is no life.

But some might say, “Jesus says I must abide in Him, not in His church.” It completely misses the point to assert that one can be united to Christ and not be united to His church because the Church is His body. Can Paul be any more provocative when he writes in Ephesians 1:23 that the church is the very fullness of Christ? A body without a head is as useless as a head without a body is abhorrent.

But some might say, “Paul is speaking of the church as people, not an institution. Since I am a person I can be a part of Christ’s body without being part of a church.” But that misses the entire point of the analogy. Paul never says “I am” Christ’s body, but “we are” members of Christ’s body. A body needs members. A finger connected to the base of the neck is not a body, it is a monstrosity.

Why is the church important? Because the church is Christ’s body and things not connected to a body have no life.



5 thoughts on “Why is church important?

  1. Does going to church make a person a Christian? Did the Thief on the cross go to church? Do the elderly that don’t feel like getting out become unsaved? I would say there are probably a lot of every sunday church goers that fit the mold of being unsaved. I agree that everyone needs to go to church but going to church does not make a person saved. Our president in washington recently stated that just by opening the door and walking into church could make a person a christian. Got a problem here!!!
    I could say a lot more since my “Theology” class started 4 days ago.

  2. Did Jesus become Lord and Savior because he died on the cross? Or did He die on the cross because He was Lord and Savior?

    Does going to church make someone a Christian? Or do Christians go to church?

    The thief on the cross is a poor example for at least two reasons. First, the church did not exist yet so of course he did not go to church. He was saved in the same way all OT saints were, believing in the promise of God. Second, he is an obvious “exception to the rule.” Citing this account, the Puritans said there is one example of a “death-bed” conversion so that we might hope. But there is only one example so that we might not presume.

    Do we live by norms or exceptions? The book of Proverbs is just that-a book of proverbs. You could go through almost every single verse and provide exceptions. So what? Does that mean the Bible is not true?

    So what is the norm of the NT? If you are a believer you are faithful to your church. If you are not faithful to your church you are either an unbeliever, apostate, or a false teacher. What does the NT expect from us? Don’t tell me what you think is true, Or what you hope is true. Or what you wish was true. What does the Bible say?

    If your theological studies are not instilling within you a greater love for Christ and HIS CHURCH they are defective. Christ loved the church enough to die for it. I am not sure what more can be said. And we are going to call it optional?

    The person who has the ability to go to church and choses not to has no biblical basis to assert that he is right with God.

  3. Bob,

    In reviewing things I feel I need to ask your forgiveness for this statement in my above reply,

    “Don’t tell me what you think is true, Or what you hope is true. Or what you wish was true. What does the Bible say?”

    I believe in the three transcendentals of goodness, truth, and beauty. But if goodness, truth, and beauty, each exist they exist together. For truth to be presented in a way that is not good or beautiful detracts from the truth.

    Those statements were and are an accurate representation of my sentiments. In this, as in many other matters, personal opinion, whether yours or mine, is irrelevant. Sola Scriptura. The Bible is our only authoritative rule for life and practice. However true that is- and I believe it is very true- it can be stated in a way that neither brings glory to God nor demonstrates the goodness and beauty of the truth.

    I was guilty of that. I was harsh and made the truth into an unattractive thing. Please forgive me. I pray that you would truly seek to know, understand, and live the Scripture. That is our only security.

    Grace & Peace

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