“I Don’t Need Church!”

Frequently, when speaking to people about the Lord, I encounter arguments based on an anti-church sentiment.

“I don’t need a church to worship – I can worship God in nature by watching a beautiful sunset.” Or, “I’m opposed to organised religion – I don’t need a church to tell me how to experience God.”

You’ve undoubtedly heard similar sentiments. Laying aside the possibility they are merely smoke-screens, they likely reflect a person’s fairly low view, if not low esteem, of the role ‘church’ plays in ones faith.  This may reflect a previous bad church experience, or perhaps simply a prejudice learned from cultural exposure.

Perhaps even more alarming are similar sentiments expressed by —people who identify themselves as Christians. This idea reflects an ignorance concerning what the Bible has to teach about church. Unfortunately, this ignorance is due to poor biblical teaching, or a complete absence of teaching concerning church.

John Stott writes:

One of our chief evangelical blind spots has been to overlook the central importance of the church. We tend to proclaim individual salvation without moving on to the saved community. We emphasize that Christ died for us ‘to redeem us from all iniquity’ rather than ‘to purify for himself a people of his own’. We think of ourselves more as ‘Christians’ than as ‘churchmen’, and our message is more good news of a new life than of a new society.

Nobody can emerge from a careful reading of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with a privatized gospel. For Ephesians is the gospel of the church. It sets forth God’s eternal purpose to create through Jesus Christ a new society which stands out in bright relief against the sombre background of the old world. For God’s new society is characterized by life in place of death, by unity and reconciliation in place of division and alienation, by the wholesome standards of righteousness in place of the corruption of wickedness, by love and peace in place of hatred and strife, and by unremitting conflict with evil in place of a flabby compromise with it.

This vision of a renewed human community has stirred me deeply. At the same time the realities of lovelessness, and sin in so many contemporary churches are enough to make one weep, for they dishonour Christ, contradict the nature of the church and deprive the Christian witness of integrity.

The Message of Ephesians
Author’s Preface, page 9-10


“To suggest that Christians can live a healthy Christian lifestyle without regular church attendance would be seemingly contrary to the practice of the early church.”

—Steve Pye “Should Christians Skip Church?


“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.”

—Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?


“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.”

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876)


“Tradition is the fruit of the Spirit’s teaching activity from the ages as God’s people have sought understanding of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.”

—J.I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today,” JETS 25 (1982): 414

Yahoo Buzz

Advertisements

6 responses to ““I Don’t Need Church!”

  1. I am a Christian and I don’t believe that I have to go to any church house to worship. If it says this in the bible, please let me know where.

  2. Thanks you for your comment and the opportunity to answer your question – I hope my answer is not too long winded.

    I agree with you that an individual can worship God on his own and that it is not necessary to meet with other believers to worship. However, regularly getting together with other Christians for the purpose of worship is the Biblical norm.

    I’m uncertain what you mean by “church house”. If your comment reflects your understanding that a church is not a building, we are in agreement on this.

    But if it is your position that believers do not need to gather together regularly for worship, this is where we differ.

    There are a number of Scriptures that directly state or imply that believers are to gather together. The word “church” occurs over 100 times in the New Testament. It was the head of the church himself, Jesus Christ, who first applied the word to a Christian society. “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).

    The word most frequently translated into the English word church in the New Testament is the term ‘Ecclesia’. It is also used in the Old Testament to refer to a congregation of certain people selected from among others for a particular purpose (not necessarily religious). The gathering of rioters in Ephesians is referred to as the ‘Ecclesia’ (Acts 19:32).

    Ecclesia is never used in the New Testament of the building or house of assembly for church buildings, for church buildings never appeared until long after the apostolic age. It is often used in a universal sense and means an organised body, whose unity does not depend on its being met together in one place; but members in their several places united to One Head, Christ, and forming one organic whole.

    Used in a local sense ‘Ecclesia’ denoted a body of believers meeting in a particular place – at Jerusalem (Acts 5:11; 8:1) – Antioch (Acts 13:1; 15:22) – Caesarea (Acts 18:22) – Thessalonica (1Thessalonians 1:1) – Corinth (1Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1) – See Revelation 2 and 3 for seven other spheres. Paul localised the word to represent a single household, or small group assembling in private homes for worship and fellowship (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:5; Philemon 3).

    It is in this latter sense of the word that I posted above; a gathering of redeemed believers who gather together as the body of Christ in a locale. This is the physical earthly expression of the universal church to which I referred earlier. Clearly, it was the practice during the formation of the church for believers to identify with and gather together with other believers to form a local assembly.

    Even the biblical term, ‘body of Christ’, has implied in its meaning a whole made up of many parts. The teaching concerning spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 concerns the Holy Spirit apportioning gifts to individual members of the ‘body of Christ’ to be used in service for the whole body. Clearly, it is Paul’s teaching that the church functioned as a body made up of individual believers. And it is implicate in this teaching that the individual believer benefits greatly from the ministry of other members of the body – in fact, one would conclude that depriving oneself of this mutual ministry would be to cut oneself off from God’s intended  purposes derived from being a part of a local assembly of believers.

    Perhaps the most direct instruction to individuals concerning church involvement is contained in this verse –

    Hebrews 1:24,25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”.

    • Don… great points. Not only do we need the grace of God every day to be conformed into His image, but we need the grace of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Without God reaching into our lives and saving us, we would have no hope. Also without the help and encouragement of others we have little chance. Also it’s only through relationships that we can exercise and refine what God teaches us, and therefore glorify all Christ in our lives.

      A verse which is a good reminder of us – Galatians 6:10 “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially those who are of the household of faith.”

      Let us make sure we draw close to our church family and ensure we do all we can to build them up.

  3. Soli deo gloria

    Don,
    The contemporary understanding of foundational truths at this time appears to be very weak. In my view this is because the church is very weak (and by church I mean all those who are qualified by God to belong to it). There is a definite individualism expressed vigorously by those who name Christ, and this brings the perception of the church in the eyes of believers to a very low point. A good antidote to this I found to be R.B. Kuipers “The Glorious Body of Christ”. He brings us back to the foundations, and lifts our eyes to an entirely higher view. It is good medicine.
    On another note, it needs to be pointed out that individualism does not end with the individuals who may or may not engage with a local congregation. What about the fellowship that must surely exist between likeminded churches. I am not thinking here of denominations. It is a problem for independent churches, and it is a danger to them too, that they are not in fellowship, or even the prayerful interest and admonition of other congregations. This is not an argument for presbyterianism, but it is something that independency needs to address.

  4. As always, SDG, I appreciate your comments.

    Your very natural segway to the topics of denominationalism, independence and fellowship between like-minded congregations is an aspect of church life that every churchman must consider and understand.

    I will place it on my list of things to blog about, but before I do, will read R.B.Kuiper’s book.

  5. Hi Don, I completely agree with you on the importance of regular corporate worship and on being part of a community of believers. I also agree with you that people’s low view of church is often a direct result of a bad church experience or the acceptance of negative cultural view of church.

    In promoting a healthy, biblical view of what the church is meant to be we have to recognise the many, many dark pages of the church’s history and then teach people what the true picture of church is and help them recognise that it will never be perfect as it we are all gradually being sanctified.

    Love the quotes.

    James

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s