1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house (building; home; dwelling; temple; sanctuary) of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
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 the assembling of the “called out ones” which can be in any place not just a building but 1 Timothy 3:15 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.
Jesus revealed He came to build more than a personal relationship with individuals when He said, “…I will build my church…,” Matthew 16:18. Jesus mission was not just to establish individuals in a personal relationship to Him (like Peter had a revelation of) but also build them together into a relationship with each other (the church, the called out ones). That Church exists on two levels and in two realms: The Universal Church and the Local Church; A Spiritual Body of Believers and a Physical Body of Believers. The Universal Church is revealed here in Matthew 16. The Universal Church is a spiritual body in heavenly places of all born again believers everywhere.
In Matthew 18:15-20 the Local Church is revealed where it is said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them Matthew 18:20. This is obviously a gathering place or place of assembling together. It is also a place of Church discipline a person can be confronted. We’re told it can escalate to a point that is described in Matthew 18:17, “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. How could you tell it to the church (leaders) or remove from your midst an offending person if the church was only the Universal Church?
The Local Church is a physical expression of that Universal Church and spiritual body that meets or assembles in a given locality. Neither one was to be viewed separately from the other because what God did spiritually was intended to have impact physically in the Earth. 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.
Jesus did not die just to give us a personal relationship to Him but have no relationship with one another. We are a part of the Church, His Body, and the Kingdom Matthew 16:15-19. Some Christians practice salvation in isolation to Christ’s Body which is not Biblical.