Why We Need the Local Church
There are all types of ways to “go to church” in today’s society. We can “go” via TV. We can “go” via the radio. We can “go” via CD’s or DVD’s. We can even visit church on the internet from anywhere in the world, just by clicking a mouse. But there is one important thing missing in these types of church services….interaction with people.
The Word of God admonishes us in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together and especially as we approach the days of the Lord’s return. Could the trend toward this 21st century “techno” church be a ploy of the enemy? Could the enemy know something about the gathering of the saints that we do not know or understand? I think so.
First, God is very intentional and does everything with purpose, so when the Holy Spirit tells us through the writing of the Scripture not to forsake the assembling of ourselves, there is a purpose in our coming together as a body of believers. The Greek word for church is ekklesia and it carries a basic definition of a group of people called out of their homes for public assembly together. This word was well used long before the Christian church was formed and it referred to an assembly of persons constituted by well-defined and interacting membership. (Louw Nida 11:32)
So the church is more than a building and more than just coming together for 2 hours a week on Sunday. The church is the assembly of like-minded believers who come together with unity of purpose and interact with each other in a defined and organized manner. So, the “loosey-goosey” approach we may often see today contradicts the true meaning of the church’s DNA of purpose, dignity, unity and order.
The enemy knows that when we come together in unity the blessing of God will be released upon the body. I believe there are things that we experience in a corporate church setting that cannot be experienced on an individual, solitary basis. Psalm 133 gives us the heart of God for unity among believers.
Psalm 133:1–3 (ESV) — 1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
The place of unity is where the Lord commands the blessing of life upon the people. Throughout the OT, the meaning of life carries a sense of intrinsic good qualities (TWOT). In other words, it pleases the Lord when we dwell together in unity and it is at this place that the Lord commands the blessing of the goodness of life.
Could this be why the enemy does not want the people of God coming together? Could this be why there seems to be so many “distractions” in the lives of believers when it comes time to come together in assembly?
I have witnessed many get set free from the power of the enemy in the corporate group setting. I have seen God supernaturally move in the lives of people as the church gathered around in prayer and support for those who were bound by addiction, sickness, and the emotional and mental bondage of the devil. The enemy wants to keep us bound to destruction rather than enjoy the life of Jesus.
A second reason that we must not forsake the assembling of ourselves is for the sake of transformation. The Scriptures tell us in Romans 8:29 (NIV) For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
It is not possible to be transformed into the image of Christ outside of the community environment. It is as we interact with others that character and/or character flaws are revealed. It is in this place of community that we work out those attitudes of the flesh that are inconsistent with the person of Christ. We are taught by the Scriptures to be patient and long suffering with each other and as we strive to become like Him, we will see the fruit of the Holy Spirit develop in our lives.
A third reason that we must not forsake the assembling of ourselves is that others need us. Each of us has been given gifts. The mistake we make is in thinking that these gifts are for us. Actually, any gift the Lord has given us is for others and is to be given away. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT) A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other and also in 1 Corinthians 14:12 (NLT) … Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.
So, if I have a prophetic gift, it is to be used to build and strengthen others. If I have a gift for teaching, it is to edify others. Our gifts are given to bless others. A tree does not consume its own fruit, but produces fruit for the benefit of those who come by and need the nourishment of that fruit. The same is true of our spiritual fruit. Let’s let our light and our gifts shine so that our Father is glorified.
Another reason the local church is important is so we can share the love of Christ among believers. In the early church, the people had all things in common and in times of need, believers would sell their own possessions to meet the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ. The government has taken over the welfare of people and in the process created a huge financial burden in the life of our nation. The church is the place where provision should be found and distributed. God meets the needs of His people and the church has the solution to the needs of this world.
Finally the church is the representation of Jesus Christ in the earth today. We are the ones the Lord will use to spread His kingdom message. We are to re-present to the world Jesus and, the church is a place where we can be equipped to do this. Jesus gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors-teachers to equip the church to do the work of ministry. He has taught us to do the same works He did, to bring glory to God and to bring deliverance to people. We are His body in the world.
So, the local church is of critical importance. The “techno” church is valuable for those who are home bound or who want to supplement their local church experience, but it should not be a replacement for experiencing the family of God on a regular basis. How would you feel if you only saw your wife, children, or relatives through a TV camera, or if you just heard their voice on a CD? We need each other and we are created by our God to be relational—with Him and with each other.