What’s so important about your local church? At a time when there’s more Bible teaching than you could ever consume available through radio, television, and the Internet, why should it matter where and how you’re taking in God’s truth?
Your local church plays a significant role in your spiritual life. In most cases, the local church is the primary source of Bible teaching, worship, discipleship, accountability, admonishment, encouragement, and fellowship.
I love the church. It’s the center of my life and has been since childhood. My father was the pastor of a church when I was born, and I grew up in the church. It’s the place where I was led to the knowledge of God, where I learned about the Person and work of Christ, and where I gained the knowledge of saving and sanctifying truth. It’s where I learned how to pray, how to sing, how to worship, how to love, and how to serve. And it was in the church that I experienced the leading of the Spirit of God directing me to a life of ministry…
Church Membership in the New Testament
It’s obvious that the early church knew its flock well. In Acts 20, Paul exhorted the elders of the Ephesian church to faithfully watch over and shepherd their people. But it’s very difficult to shepherd if you don’t know who your flock is. And sheep don’t survive well just roaming around on their own.
The genuine spiritual unity of saved souls is evident throughout the New Testament. And back then, just as today, that unity was manifest in the local gathering of believers.
We hope you’re enjoying and benefiting from John MacArthur’s ongoing blog series on the local church. His next post will be up first thing Monday morning. In the meantime however, we want to address a trend we’ve noticed in the comments. Some readers—perhaps many—are struggling to find a faithful, Bible-teaching church in their area.
As a pastor, I know I will have to give an account for the people under my leadership (Hebrews 13:17). Every pastor faces the same burden for the men and women under his care. But what good is a shepherd if the sheep won’t submit to his authority? In an age of unprecedented ecclesiastical consumerism, how can a pastor lead, serve, or even know an inconsistent, fluctuating flock?
Our society is suffering from an identity crisis. Collectively and individually, people today don’t have a strong sense of who they are, what they want, or how to achieve it. They drift anchorless through life, following the whims and fads of the world instead of accepting responsibility and pursuing maturity.
Church membership is not optional. Admittedly, there is no verse in the Bible that specifically commands us to sign on the dotted line and join a church. But the clear teaching of Scripture is that we are to be members in the local fellowship of believers, in every sense of the word.
Faithful participation in a local body of believers is a vital part of the Christian life. It brings us into fellowship with other believers, submits us to the authority of the Lord through His church, makes us useful to God and His people, and shapes our identity in Christ and our testimony to the outside world.
John MacArthur on the Importance of Baptism
Over the last two Sunday nights, Grace Community Church enjoyed an extended, intimate, interview-style Q&A with John MacArthur. These informal sessions, led by associate pastor Austin Duncan, focused on the early days of John’s career at Grace Church and the importance of the local church in every believer’s life.
Many unbaptized Christians are simply ignorant when it comes to baptism. They’ve never been taught about baptism—what it signifies and why it matters. And what little teaching there is on the subject—you might find a random book chapter here or there, but little else—usually just further confuses the issue.
At the time of Christ’s death, Passover was the oldest of the Jewish festivals—in fact, it was older than any other celebration of the Lord’s covenant with Moses and Israel. It was established before the priesthood, the Tabernacle, and even before the law. It was ordained by God while Israel was still enslaved in Egypt, and it had been celebrated by His people for more than 1,500 years. Why does that matter in a discussion about communion?
What is the single greatest contributor to the impact, growth, success, and stability of a church? Some people might tell you it’s having a gifted pastor—someone who can rightly divide the Word of God, and do it in an engaging, enlightening, and entertaining way. Other people might tell you the most important thing is the music—you’ve got to engage people’s emotions through song and sound to keep them coming back for more.
In describing the purpose statement of the church, many people point to Christ’s instruction in the Great Commission to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19)…
When you think about coming to church, what aspect do you look forward to the most?
For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume your answer is something spiritually noble—nothing vain or selfish like wanting people to see you dressed in your finest clothes, showing off a new car, or trying to sell goods or services to friends at church. Instead, let’s assume the best—that whatever it is you look forward to most is somehow related to ministry.
By now we hope you’ve had the opportunity to read John MacArthur’s blog post from yesterday on The Abundance of Giving. It highlights a vital aspect of life in the church, and it will be a powerful encouragement as you seek to serve the Lord in your local congregation.
We’re pleased to announce a valuable new outlet for John MacArthur’s teaching. The Master’s Seminary has created a new online hub for John’s various ministries, called the Theological Resource Center.
In the last several years, the proliferation of specialized ministries and parachurch organizations has been astounding. Today there’s a separate ministry for every biblical viewpoint, theological perspective, or practical interest, not to mention all the pseudo-Christian groups focused on social and political activism.