This received in an e-mail from a most valued Veteran:
As his statement shows, it is not good to be apart from the body; the jobs I’ve had unfortunately have kept me from being part of the gathering of believers. I have many regrets having read this. “X”
Faith in Jesus Christ brings into a believer’s life the unsearchable richness that Christ gives us. He is our Master and King and Christians want to become perfect as our Savior even though it is an impossible task as long as we remain in this sinful body. Throughout the Bible God has taught His people the importance of worshiping and gathering together as a body – “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do…“ (Hebrews 10:24-25). The primary reason a Christian should join a church is because they have accepted Christ as their Savior and want to be identified with him. He died for the church and wants us to live for it.
Exactly what is a church? It was established by God – Deuteronomy 4:5-14; 26:18; Acts 7:35, 38. The word church is derived probably from the Greek “kuriakon” (I.e., “the Lord’s house”) which was used by ancient authors for the place of worship. It is translated “assembly” in the ordinary classical sense (Acts 19:32, 39, 41). It denotes the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom the Father has given to Christ (Ephesians 5:23, 25, 27, 29; Hebrews 12:23). All the disciples in Antioch, forming several congregations, were one church (Acts 13:1); we also read of the “church of God at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2), “the church at Jerusalem” (Acts 8:1), “the church of Ephesus” (Revelation 2:1), etc. The whole body of professing Christians throughout the world (1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Matthew 16:18) are the church of Christ. The day of Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian church. Before they had been individual followers of Jesus; now they became his mystical body, animated by his spirit. On the evening of the day of Pentecost, the 3,140 members of which the Church consisted were — (1) Apostles; (2) previous Disciples; (3) Converts.
People often think church as merely the building in which people meet to worship or study. However, the church is not a building, but the people who make up its membership. The real Church consists of all who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ as his disciples, and are one in love, in character, in hope, in Christ as the head of all though as the body of Christ it consists of many parts. Even when they are scattered throughout the community or the world, they are still the church. In the New Testament the church is defined as a local body of baptized believers who are associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel. The New Testament speaks also of the church as the body of Christ – “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18); “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians 12:27), and “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle (the tent of Jehovah or sanctuary) of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Rev 21:3)
God has commanded his people to organize themselves into distinct visible communities, with constitutions, laws, and officers, ordinances, and discipline, for the great purpose of giving visibility to his kingdom, of making known the gospel of that kingdom, and of gathering in all its elect subjects. Each one of these distinct organized communities which is faithful to the great King is an integral part of the church. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, at the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, announces the same great principle. “The promise [just as to Abraham and his seed the promises were made] is unto you, and to your children” (Acts 2:38, 39). The entirety of the Bible is a primer on how to organize religion, to worship God. He began by teaching us the ritual of sacrifice and gathering in His Synagogues (literally “an assembly“). God established in Deuteronomy 4:5-14 that we should obey all commandments. “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Sabbath [Sabbath meaning “to rest from labor,” the day of rest] of rest to the LORD…’ (Exodus 25:2). It is first mentioned as having been instituted in Paradise, when man was in innocence (Genesis 2:2) “The Sabbath was made for man,” as a day of rest and refreshment for the body and of blessing to the soul.
In the New Testament the word translated “church” is used 115 times. Some feel the church has very little meaning for their lives. Still others see the church as conflicting with the way they want to live – the church is not to be despised, 1 Corinthians 11:22. Every Christian should feel as Paul did while in chains in a Roman prison, “I thank God upon every remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3). Every Christian should feel that way about church and should have a feeling of joy about joining a church. Local church members join together because of their common belief and mission. Sadly, at one of the most critical junctions of life, the transition into adulthood, people are separating faith and church. One of the most staggering findings is how unimportant the church has become with the younger generation. Membership in a church matters; faith is not disconnected from the church. Faith does not have a do-it-yourself option. People do not make solid spiritual journeys apart from a local body of believers. We do not mosey in a spiritual forest alone. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
The church and Christ are eternally tied. The two cannot be separated. The two are married to each other. Christ is the groom. The church is His bride. Trying to be a Christian without a connection to the local church is like trying to have a marriage without interacting and communicating with your spouse. The church is a critical piece of a relationship with God. In fact, a relationship with God is seriously compromised apart from the local church. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31–32)
Why organized religion? It is necessary to fulfill God’s word. In a nutshell the following verses tells us the importance of it: Eph. 2:19, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints (Christians), and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
God warns us of trying to defeat his words He has given us in the Bible and expects us to fulfill his will not ours. Some may be looking on organized religion as some do because of the actions of a few fools that mock God. God is not a respecter of persons and those fools are not a representation of true religion. Satan delights in using such people to turn others against God’s desire for worship. One day God will call each of us home to Heaven. What will people say to Jesus Christ as they look into His eyes and He asks why they did not obey His Father’s Word?