Why do you go to church? Or, why do you NOT go to church? Relationships make a big difference.
1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
Article six of the Baptist Faith & Message is about:
VI. The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.
The two ordinances listed are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both of which will be covered in tomorrow’s post. The biggest challenge for the local church is unity, not so much in every specific belief, but in fellowship and spirit. Christ is our center, then establishing core beliefs (dogma) as the inner ring, doctrine as the next ring, and opinion as the outer ring is essential in order to maintain fellowship and unity.
The local church is where we come together for fellowship, worship, service, Bible study, and ministry. It’s also where Christians get to practice their Christianity on each other. Verses like Romans 12:10. Philippians 2:3, and Ephesians 4:2 come to mind, and especially,
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
Let us not give up on each other. Relationships come first.
Abba, if our churches could reflect Your love by showing love to one another, it would change our world. I know it did in the first two and a half centuries. Guide us as we meet together in Your name. May the world take notice and say of us, “See how they love one another!” Amen.