Why be a part of a local church that’s healthy? A third metaphor the Bible uses to describe the Church is a “building”, which points to another benefit I receive if I’m active in a church – it helps my knowledge of God grow through teaching.
Paul writes that Christians are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ…as the chief cornerstone” (Eph.2:20). The foundation which the apostles and prophets laid was their teaching. Acts 2:42 says the early Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching”.
So I why do I need the local church for this? Can’t I read the Bible on my own? Can’t I just listen to teaching podcasts? Yes, but in the local church, you get this and so much more that will help you reach maturity. We could summarize those benefits of being in a local church with the acronym BIBLE.
B – Belief is strengthened.
Romans 10:17 – “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” There is something about hearing God’s word taught publicly that builds faith and strengthens belief. How many times have we experienced this after a particular sermon, or a small group Bible study, or a Sunday School class that my resolve to follow Jesus is toughened up?
I – Integrity is modeled.
1 Timothy 4:12-13 tells us, “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” If you’re part of a church, not only will you hear God’s Word taught, but you’ll see it lived out. You’ll meet believers who have been following Jesus longer than you. They’ve won more battles and slain more dragons. Their marriages are stronger. Their finances are in order. They know how to pray. Their very lives model what following Jesus is all about.
B – Balance is maintained.
Have you ever met anyone who has a pet area of theology and that’s all they think about? All they can talk about is the endtimes, or the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or numerology, or prophecy. Well people like this are out of balance. They’re so much more to the Bible’s teaching than a few esoteric subjects. But if you’re part of a church where the whole Bible is taught, you’ll be protected from doctrinal imbalances and dangerous errors.
L – Learning deepened.
Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another.” I’ve known people who have read the Bible for years, and still do not understand how it all fits together. They get in the Old Testament and they’re like a child lost in the woods. But by being a part of a church, and sharing in a class or a LIFE group, we receive the benefit of trail markers, and rescue rangers who challenge us to go deeper than we’ve ever been.
E – Encouragement received.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” says Hebrews 10:25. And who of us doesn’t need more of this in our lives? A three-fold cord is not easily broken Scripture tells us. But if you’re a lonely, little, solitary cord dangling by yourself in life, it won’t take much to cut you, break you or tear you down.
C.S. Lewis says, “Our real journey to God involves…passing from dawn-lit fields into some poky little church.” I’d listen to Clive Staples if I were you.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.