John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Jesus said that a disciple (a follower of Jesus) is one who continues in the Word. The word “continue” comes from a word that means to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy); to abide, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, to tarry for something. It is the same word Jesus used in His teaching on the Vine and the Branches in John 15 where it is translated “abide.” You cannot be a good disciple and neglect to continue also in church. Continuing in the Word and continuing in church go together. The local church is what supports and undergirds the truth of God in our life. In 1 Timothy 3:15, the local church is called the pillar or support; and the ground (the stay, bulwark, firm support) of the truth.
Jesus did not die just to give us a personal relationship to Him but have no relationship with one another. If you look at Matthew 16:16-19 after Peter had a revelation of Jesus as the Christ, Jesus started revealing the Church to him, and then the Kingdom. Those three are related to one another; Christ, The Church, and the Kingdom. Upon the revelation of Jesus as the Christ to Peter, the Church and the Kingdom came into his view or was unveiled to him by the Lord Jesus. Every convert needs to know they have been made a part of something greater than themselves they have a responsibility toward.
When we receive Jesus as individuals we receive placement as members into a Body called the Church (1 Corinthians 12:18). Jesus is Head of a Body called the Church and the Church exercises the authority of the Kingdom in the Earth with keys of the Kingdom. It is an authority that the gates of hell cannot prevail against. The Church is not one member but many (1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 20, 27).
Many Christians want salvation in isolation to Christ’s Body which is not Biblical. I always ask people when Jesus was on earth could you separate His head from his body? That’s what many try to do today and if you did that literally you’d have a decapitation. Many claim they have Jesus but live with no connection to His Body, the Church. Sad to say, they are practicing an unbiblical brand of Christianity and it hurts the Church and the exercise of the authority of the Kingdom. The Body needs them and they need the Body. May God grant them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.
Going to Church is not the sum total of what Christianity is about; of course, we have a mission to take the Gospel into all the world and to make disciples. We also are to maintain our personal fellowship with the Lord, walking with Him, and communing with Him every day (1 John 1:3-7). I have observed, though, a new brand of Christian in these perilous times, who seem to think both the Word in their daily life and church attendance are optional. They have customized and constructed their own brand of Christian discipleship, Christian lifestyle, and church connection that conforms to their personal tastes, needs, desires, style, and preferences. Many are self-deceived and should awaken to the fact that:
If the devil can get you out of the Word, he can get you out of church.
If the devil can get you out of church, he can get you out of the Word.