We are living in an age of lawlessness and a time period described in the Bible as perilous times. There are some professing Christians who have even gone so far as to say that there is no need to be involved in the local church, there is no need for pastor’s anymore, and all we need is a personal relationship with Jesus. They say things like, “We do not go to church; we are the church, so it does not matter if I attend church services.” Yes, the church is a spiritual body of believers called the Body of Christ and we are the Body of Christ. Yes, we are to be the church wherever we go. Yes, the church is the assembling of the “called out ones” which can be in any place not just a building but 1Timothy 3:15 ALSO calls the house of God (or meeting place) the Church. It also distinguishes the house of God (the meeting place) from individual believers and their behavior in it.
1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
The local church was not a man’s idea that will fade away or be replaced by some so called “new thing” God is now doing. It is a part of the requirements found in Scripture for every person who calls Jesus their Lord and Savior. Aside from the command not to forsake the assembling of ourselves from Hebrews 10:25, consider the following verses that would indicate the church is also a location and place we go to. Notice the phrase, “in the church” in these verses:
1 Corinthians 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together IN THE CHURCH, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
1 Corinthians 14:19 Yet IN THE CHURCH I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence IN THE CHURCH; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
1 Corinthians 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak IN THE CHURCH.
Colossians 4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also IN THE CHURCH of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
That is a very interesting phrase to those that excuse themselves from going to church because they say they are the church. Sorry, but we are the church and we go to church. In over 35 years of pastoring, I’ve found it is always the local church that takes the hit for the little excusing phrases people use. The late Dr. Lester Sumrall said, “If you want to find what God is into, find out what the devil is fighting the most.” I believe the local church would qualify for that.