A Christian Without a Church?

Q. Can a person find favor with God by living biblically but not going to church?

A. First, it’s important to note that there will be many people in heaven who were not affiliated with a church, either because they did not have that opportunity or another reason that prevents them from that privilege. But one of the most important principles of Christianity is that we are saved into the body of Christ, which is another name for the church. When you are baptized, you become part of Christ’s body and enter into the church.

So I would ask in return: Why would a person say they love God and His truth, but not wish to fellowship in love with His people? That’s one reason God wants us in church—because it has people with similar faith and likeminded beliefs. It actually helps to bolster our faith and makes us accountable.

It is also an excellent environment to increase our capacity to love one another. People learn their most important lessons of love in the context of their biological families. Church families follow the same dynamic, especially with new believers. If a person says, “I believe in God and the Bible and want to be saved and baptized, but I don’t want to go to church,” it 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 the church, the fellowship of believers.

I lived as a hermit once—up in a cave and away from society. In that kind of solitude, you have a tendency to become eccentric. Isolating oneself from society and lacking social contact begin to affect your mind; your brain sort of atrophies. You become socially inept. 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.

It’s part of God’s gift, so I encourage each Christian to find a biblical church in which they can grow into mature members of God’s family. “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

For Further Study: Ephesians 2:20-22; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 3:6

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