The Local Church

I am afraid many professed Christians do not understand the importance of the local church. As a result of this attitude there are far too many who do not really see the need to be part of a local church. My conviction and burden in writing this brochure is for believers everywhere to understand that being part of a Bible believing Church is not an option. It is an absolute necessity that is clearly taught in the New Testament. Although there are many more reasons than this, I list four reasons why Christians should be part of a Bible believing local church.

I. The Local Church is God’s Plan

For lack of space, I am not going into all of the details of what constitutes a church. However, I will give you some basic principles laid out in the scriptures. A local church is made up of believers who meet on the first day of the week or Sunday (Acts 2:47; 20:7). They meet in a certain locality each week and declare themselves to be a church (Rev 2-3). They also recognize that they either have a Shepherd (Elder or Pastor ) or are pursuing a Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4).God’s plan in the New Testament is to establish and build churches. The Lord makes this clear in Matt 16:19, “…and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

We see this pattern of building churches throughout the book of Acts. Acts 8:1-2 tells us that the believers of the early church were persecuted and were “…and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.” We can see the reason God allowed this persecution in Acts 8:4 as it states, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.”

Acts 11:19-21 tells us that a number of people were converted as a result of the gospel being shared. These saved individuals eventually formed a church. We read in Acts 11:25-26 “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they  assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

Now we see the prophecy of Christ being fulfilled. The Lord stated He would build His church in Matthew and in the book of Acts He is doing just that. The scattered church of Jerusalem preaches the gospel and as a result, the church in Antioch is formed. This model of preaching the gospel and starting churches with the converts continues throughout the book of Acts. In Acts 13:1-3 we see the Holy Spirit calling Paul and Barnabas out of the church of Antioch for some other spiritual endeavor. This endeavor is commonly known as Paul’s three missionary journeys.

This endeavor more easily could be called Paul’s church planting efforts as that is exactly what he does. For example, if we look at Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-18:22) we see that he goes into the cities of Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and Philippi (among other cities). In these cities churches are established. It is also worth noting that Paul would later write epistles or letters to these churches which are part of the New Testament (I & II Corinthians, Ephesians etc.).

Therefore you cannot miss God’s clear plan and pattern in the book of Acts. The gospel was preached, people were saved, and churches were established.

II. It is Where We are Taught the Word of God Acts 6:1-4 states,

“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”

I want you to picture the scene. There were widows in the church at Jerusalem whose physical needs of having food were not being met. The twelve Apostles apparently were not involved in the ministry of distributing food because they were spending time studying God’s word and praying.
A natural reaction might be to tell the Apostles to stop studying, praying, and teaching God’s word because they needed to be of some practical help. However, notice what they say in verse 2 “It is not reason (or something that was wise for them to do) that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.”

Why did they say that? Wasn’t it important to help out in meeting the physical needs of people? Of course! However, there were others who could do that task. God in His sovereignty set aside the Apostles for the important task of ministering His word (Vs 4).

We see throughout the New Testament that God has called certain men to teach their congregations the Word of God. In fact these individuals are a gift from Christ to the church as Eph 4:11-12 states “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

The office of Apostles and Prophets no longer exist as they were a gift to the early church (Ephesians 2:20). As far as the evangelist is concerned, his primary ministry is soul winning. This leaves the ministry of teaching on the Pastor (the original language indicates that the words Pastor and teacher refer to the same person and could be rendered Pastor/Teacher).

Now get the picture. God desires for you to be spiritually strong. Therefore He gives a Pastor to the church that is to teach the word of God to his congregation. However, if a believer forsakes the local church, then he will not benefit from this important ministry. If the person forsakes the church for a substantial period of time, or attends sporadically, then he will be a weak and vulnerable Christian (Eph 4:14).

III. It is a Commandment

Yes, that is right; going to church is a commandment. Heb 10:25 tells us, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” The book of Hebrews is primarily written to Jewish believers. These believers would have faced great persecution from their fellow countrymen for turning to Christianity and forsaking Judaism.

As a result of this persecution, some began to forsake the church services on Sunday (As the manner of some is). However, the author of Hebrews does not excuse these circumstances as a reason for forsaking or abandoning church as he commands (not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together). If the Lord did not want those who faced severe persecution to forsake or abandon church, He certainly would not accept the excuses of some believers today for abandoning the local church.

Notice, I did not write that God never wants us to miss church. There are occasions when we simply can not make it out to church. However, to forsake or abandon going to church is simply not excused in the word of God.

IV. It Gives Us a Chance to Minister to Others

One of the reasons the author of Hebrews gives for the people not to forsake church is to be a blessing to others … “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” ( Hebrews 10:24). Have you ever considered that one of the reasons you should be plugged into a local church is for the sake of others? Perhaps you might use your spiritual gifts, personal struggles, and experiences to reach others.

The words ‘stir up’ come from one Greek word which literally means to sharpen beside. Therefore, the idea that the author is trying to convey in verse 24 is that believers are to stimulate or incite other believers to love one another and do good to one another. Obviously, when a believer forsakes the local church they are not as likely to be a blessing to other needy Christians.

As you can see being part of a local church is God’s plan for the life of each believer. It is a command given by God to help the Christian. To abandon this command is not without consequences as it not only stunts the growth of the disobedient believer, but hurts the local church in general.

Tullamore Bible Church
Sunday Service 11 AM
Tuesday Bible Study 7:45 PM
21 Axis Business Park Unit 2 Tullamore
For information contact:
Chris Stoll