Some people ask: "If I read the
Bible and pray, why do I have to join a local church?" Well, to receive
forgiveness of sins (salvation), one does not have to join a
congregation. However, there are many reasons why one should. Here are a
1. Yeshua's Intention - right after Simon Kefa''s (Peter) statement of faith, Yeshua responded by saying, "On this rock I will build my kehila (ecclesia, church)" (Matthew 16:18). How can one say he is committed to follow Yeshua, but not cooperate with Yeshua's intention to build His church?
2. Spiritual Warfare - in the same passage Yeshua says that
"the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).
Within a godly community of faith, there should be spiritual authority to
protect us from attacks of the devil. If one is not part of a godly faith
community, he is needlessly exposed to demonic attacks.
3. Response to the Gospel - In Peter's first message, he
encouraged the people to repent, be immersed in water, and receive the
Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Those who were saved immediately joined the
community of faith - "were added to them" (Acts 2:41 and 47).
Their response to the gospel was a deep commitment to the Lord and His
community on earth (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35).
4. United Prayer - Peter was arrested and put in prison, but was
supernaturally set free by direct angelic intervention (Acts 12:3). One
of the reasons for that miracle was "at the time Peter was in jail,
the church offered strong prayer for him to God" (Acts 12:5). United
rayer is stronger than individual prayer. United prayer happens within
the community of faith (Matthew 18:19).
5. Moral Accountability - As followers of Yeshua, we are to live
according to principles of faithfulness and integrity. When we sin, our
brothers and sisters are to help us out by counsel and confrontation.
This is supposed to happen within the congregation (Matthew 18:15-19). If
there is no commitment to a community of faith, there is no framework of
relationships to hold one another to moral accountability.
6. Elders in Every City - Throughout the travels and ministry of
Paul (Saul), we see a recurrent pattern: prayer, evangelistic preaching,
gathering the new believers into a congregation, appointing elders.
"In every church they appointed elders ..." (Acts 14:23). In every
place and every city, the believers joined a community with leaders
having spiritual authority. There is no other pattern in Scripture.
7. Pauline Epistles - It is ironic that some justify not joining
a congregation by quoting verses from the epistles of Paul. Yet most of
Paul's epistles - Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians,
Philippians, Colossians - were addressed to local churches. We are to
read the epistles as members of a local congregation.
8. Gifts of the Spirit - Others refer to their being led
personally and independently by the Holy Spirit. Certainly the Holy
Spirit leads each of us individually. However the primary explanation of
the gifts of the Holy Spirit is found in I Corinthians 12-14. There we
find that ALL of the gifts are ALWAYS for strengthening a local
congregation of faith (I Corinthians 12:4, 14, 26, 14:4, 5, 12, 26).
9. Yeshua's Epistles - Not only did Paul write letters to
local congregations, so did Yeshua! In Revelation 2-3, we find
Yeshua's epistles to 7 different churches. It was obviously His
expectation that ALL of His followers would be members of local
10. Universal Ecclesia - A local congregation is a cell or body
part of the greater Body of Messiah. In that way, we participate in
Yeshua's headship (Ephesians 1:22), displaying the wisdom of God
(Ephesians 3:10), receiving the glory of God (Ephesians 3:21), revealing
the mystery of the "bride" (Ephesians 5:25), and maintaining the pillar
of truth in the world (I Timothy 3:15).
A local church congregation may meet in its own building, or in
someone's home, or secretly in the middle of a forest! But the basic
principles don't change. May we all find a good "family home" as
part of a local community of faith in Yeshua.
This article was previously published on 04Feb16
on the Revive Israel website and on 09Feb16
on Kehila News Israel