“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Tim. 3:15)
If you are a Christian, church is an important part of your life. You spend several hours each week attending church services and considerable time during the week involved in ministry that is related to your church. Jesus Christ, the Captain of our Salvation, founded the Church, and there is no higher honor than to be actively involved in what He calls His Body.
With that in mind, I once received through the mail a paper which included an article that caught my eye entitled “Why Do We Need the Church?” I want to share, with permission, some of that article with you. It was written by Matt Shrader and appeared in the May 2012 issue of Altheia. Answering the question “Why Do We Need the Church?” here are some of the reasons Mr. Shrader gave: (1) Because of where the church fits into God’s plan with a distinct place within God’s overall historical plan. It is not Israel, nor is it to be equated with the Kingdom of God. God has a place for the church in this age which is distinct from any other entity; (2) The church is important because of whom the church is made up. Followers of the God-Man Jesus Christ enjoy a special bond centered on the common head, Jesus Christ. The church is both universal (all who have been saved in this age of grace) and local, a specific group of believers at a specific historical time in a specific geographical place who join together for specific reasons, namely to perpetuate the teaching of the Apostles doctrine. (3) The church is important because of what the Church does. It carries out the Great Commission, promotes fellowship and prayer, and remembers Christ’s death through the Lord’s Table.” (Acts 2:42) The local church obeys Christ’s great commission through the sending of missionaries to the world’s field to plant churches; it serves as a venue of worship to God; it exercises spiritual discipline when needed; it systematically teaches the faith and it serves as the “pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Tim. 3:15)
In the above -mentioned article, Matt Shrader goes on to offer some reasons why we may not need the church. They can be instructive also, so here are some of them: (1) We don’t need the church if it functions as a social club. “Social Club Christianity uses the church for purely social means and thereby neglects the biblical reasons for the church;” (2) We don’t need the church if it falters in its purpose. This could be a neglect, a confusion or a change of its purpose. “A confusion or change of purpose is when the church tries to see itself as some of the things which it is not. The church is not the family, nor a family of families, though a church needs and is the place for families. Neither is the church the kingdom or Israel. The Church has its definition and purposes presented in the New Testament. Other problems here could be letting social causes inhabit an improper place in church activity, or letting the church be defined and determined by ‘seekers.’ We do well to let the church be the church.”
Shrader concludes, “Why do we need the church? The answer is found when we understand that the church is part of God’s plan for the present age. As we have seen in I Tim. 3:15 it is ‘the pillar and ground of truth.’ If we are followers of Christ and if we see the church as God’s current program; then we can readily see the reason why we need the church. For the sake of obedience and love toward Christ, let us understand what we are, what the church is, what the church is to be doing, and then seek to embody that truth.”
I appreciate Mr. Shrader’s article. We take for granted what we have in the local church. We often do not appreciate who we are and what we are here for. Our calling is the highest calling given to men. Our mission is His mission, His commands are our orders. We need to have a much higher view of the church, its place and purpose in God’s program today. A proper view of the church would cause us to prioritize its place in our lives. We would love its people, live its purpose and strive to forward its plan. How’s your view of your church? Of His Church?
“And I say also unto thee, That…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18)