Do we really need to go to church?

Pastor Doug Batchelor

Q. If a person accepts Jesus, do they need to attend church to be saved?

A. First, it’s important to note that there will be many people in heaven who were not affiliated with any particular church or denomination—or for some reason could not attend church regularly. But one of the foremost principles of Christianity is that we are saved into the body of Christ, which is another name for the church (Ephesians 1:22, 23). In Acts 2, the Bible says, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” When you are baptized, you become part of Christ’s body and enter into the church (1 Corinthians 12:20).

Perhaps we should also ask this question in another way: Why would a person say he or she loves God but doesn’t wish to fellowship with His people? One of the reasons God wants us in church is because it has people with similar beliefs. It helps bolster our faith and makes us accountable to one another. Even in churches where there are some difficult people, it is the best environment to increase our capacity to learn to love one another.

A person saying, “I believe in God and want to be baptized, but I don’t want to go to church,” sounds to me like a man saying to his bride, “I love you; I want to marry you—but I don’t want to live with you.” It’s saying you want the benefits of marriage but not the relationship that goes with it. Part of the Christian experience is having a relationship with a fellowship of believers.

When someone lives as a hermit from society, he or she tends to become eccentric. Isolating oneself from others begins to affect the mind; the brain atrophies. You become socially inept. (Take it from a recovering hermit.) In the same way, it’s important for Christians to be social with fellow believers in corporate worship and gatherings to avoid becoming spiritually eccentric and inept. Church is part of God’s gift, so Christians should do their very best to find a biblical church in which they can grow into mature members of God’s family. See also 1 Corinthians 12:12–14.

In John 13:35 Jesus says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” He knew that the love and unity of the church could be a powerful part of our witness to the world in the last days. Conversely, the devil surely realizes that the world would disbelieve by our division. He has been working toward that goal since the beginning.

Think of the devil as a wolf stalking a lamb. He knows that as long as the lamb is with the flock or close to the shepherd, the lamb is safe. But if the wolf can chase and scatter the flock from the shepherd and from one another, he can easily bring down a lamb that has strayed. The devil wants to separate from the flock the lambs (baby Christians who are more vulnerable) so he can destroy them.

As it says in Hebrews 10:25, we need to be firmly committed to corporate worship and assembly-especially “so much more, as ye see the day approaching.” Do you see the day of the Lord approaching?

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