The Local Church

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  1 : 12
Subject: Church, Local
Introduction

“To run from the ministry of the Body of Christ is to run from the One Who incarnates His grace through that ministry.” Paul Tripp
On January 7, 1973, I was born again; the Lord Jesus adopted me into His family. He became my Father and His body, the “church” (the bride of Christ), became my family. I am now a part of His church universal, and I do my sharing of life, ministry, community, and missions through His local assemblies (gathering).The Lord, through His redemptive power, changed me forever. He also has demonstrated His power through the “church” (the body of Christ) to bring major changes in my life. He has used you!

To run from the ministry of the Body of Christ is to run from the One Who incarnates His grace through that ministry.” Paul Tripp

On January 7, 1973, I was born again; the Lord Jesus adopted me into His family. He became my Father and His body, the “church” (the bride of Christ), became my family. I am now a part of His church universal, and I do my sharing of life, ministry, community, and missions through His local assemblies (gathering).

The Lord, through His redemptive power, changed me forever. He also has demonstrated His power through the “church” (the body of Christ) to bring major changes in my life. He has used you!

Webster defines “church” as a building for public worship. Nowhere in the New Testament does “church” in any of its focus refer to a building. In the New Testament, we find “house church” in Romans 16:5; in 1 Cor 1:2, the “church” is an entire city; in Acts 9:31, the “church” in a region is referred to; and, finally, the “church” throughout the entire world in Eph. 5:25. We may conclude that the groups of God’s people considered at any level, from local to universal, may rightly be called a “church.”

The “local church” is a community (sharing life) of regenerated (redeemed) believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord (owner, master, sovereign). In obedience to Scripture, they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and communion, are unified by the Spirit, are discipled for holiness (separated living), and scatter to fulfill the Great Commandment (love God and others) and the Great Commission as missionaries to the world, for God’s glory and their joy.

The “church” is a loving community that devotes itself to fellowship or Koinonia. Fellowship includes God’s people living together in intentional, relational community to seek the well-being of one another in every way, including physical, spiritual, material, and emotional.

The “church” is to have a close association involving mutual interests and sharing, characterized by an attitude of good will that manifests in generosity, altruism (unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others) and sharing one’s possessions because of joint participation in the Spirit and mutual interest in Jesus.

Even when the “church” is not gathered, it is still the “church.” You are the “church!” Therefore, you can’t separate the sacred from the secular.

PROBLEM: Our “churches” have been more identified with church buildings and programs than its genuine community. As a result, we have become so overtly consumer-driven, with a customer-designed approach, that we have deviated from attracting people to the “church.”

TRUTH: We are the “church,” and we are to worship, love, and glorify the Lord Jesus and serve one another, as well as make the gospel known, making disciples.

I. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE LOCAL CHURCH?

David Platt said, “It is biblically impossible to follow Christ apart from joining His church. In fact, anyone who claims to be a Christian yet is not an active member of a church may not actually be a follower of Christ at all.”

To identify your life with the person of Christ is to join your life with the people of Christ. To surrender your life to His commands is to commit your life to His “church.” It is biblically, spiritually, and practically impossible to be a disciple of Christ (and much less make disciples of Christ) apart from total devotion to a family of Christians.

“I’m in love with Jesus,” some say, “but I can’t stand the church.” Really? Isn’t the church the bride of Christ? If you claim to be a Christian and hate the church, you literally hate yourself, for you are the church.

Ephesians 5:29, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”

What if someone said to me, “I love you, but I can’t stand Janet.” It’s impossible to follow Jesus fully without loving His bride selflessly, and it’s impossible to think that we can enjoy Christ apart from His body. Jesus goes as far as to identify the “church” with Himself when He asked Saul on the Road to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4).

Saul had not persecuted Christ Himself, but he had persecuted Christians; so, in essence, Jesus was saying, “When you mess with them, you mess with Me.” To come to Christ is to become part of His “church.” Followers of Jesus have the privilege of being identified with His family.

Recognizing this reality and experiencing the relationship that God has designed for His people specifically in the church are essential to being a disciple and making disciples of all nations.

II. THE CHURCH DEFINED AGAIN

The “church” is a body made up of members and a family made up of brothers and sisters who together have died to themselves and are living in Christ. Christians are joined together by Jesus’ death, His Spirit, His gospel, His suffering, and His life. The “church” is comprised of people who share the life of Christ with each other.

You can see this pattern that Jesus set between Himself and His disciples. He loved them, served them, taught them, encouraged them, corrected them, and journeyed through life with them.

He taught them how to live, showed them how to love, and shared His life with them.

In the same way, the New Testament envisions followers of Jesus living alongside one another, for the sake of one another. In the New Testament, we see the “church” caring for one another, loving one another, hosting one another, receiving one another, forgiving one another, motivating one another, building-up one another, encouraging one another, comforting one another, praying for one another, confessing sins to one another, esteeming one another, teaching one another, showing kindness to one another, giving to one another, hurting with one another, and restoring one another.

This is a picture of the “church” being a people who have decided to lay down their lives to love one another. 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” The “church” is a community of Christians who love one another and longs for each other to know and grow in Christ.

Peter: 2 Peter 3:17-18, “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”

Paul: Colossians 2:6-7, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

Colossians 1:28-29,”Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”

CONCLUSION

All throughout history, God has purposed to raise up a people who, by His grace, are so holy, so pure, and so abandoned in their obedience to Him that they dread the thought of disobedience; a people who are so serious about sin that they help each other avoid it at every turn because they know how dangerous and deadly it is. God has determined to display His character through a distinct people who show a watching world that He is great, holy, powerful, and pure.