The book of Hebrews instructs Christians not to neglect gathering together, but why is this so important? Today, John Tweeddale explains the role of the local church in the life of Christ’s followers.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: I'm on the campus of Reformation Bible College, joined by their academic dean and professor of theology, Dr. John Tweeddale. Dr. Tweeddale, why does it matter if I attend a local church?
DR. JOHN TWEEDDALE: The writer to the book of Hebrews in chapter 10 explicitly tells us that we are not to forsake the gathering together of ourselves as Christians. We might even go a step further and say in the New Testament, there is no such thing as a churchless Christian. There's no lone ranger Christian in the New Testament, because we understand all who are united to Christ are also united to one another. And so, as Christians, we're to delight to gather together; we want to be together as Christians. And so, a local church represents a local gathering of Christians, a particular people, in a particular place, at a particular time, celebrating the work of King Jesus. And so, in the New Testament, you'll have the church in Thessalonica, the church in Ephesus, the church in Rome. Christ calls His disciples to gather in local congregations to do His work. And so, we have an explicit command to gather together.
But we also understand that Jesus gives gifts to His people for the building up of the body of Christ. One of the most important passages along this line is in Ephesians 4, where we have the ascended Lord Jesus Christ, who rules and reigns over His church by His Holy Spirit, giving gifts to His people. Those gifts are not given to be hoarded, right? They're given to His people for the building up of the body of Christ. And so, the Lord Jesus has given you, Nathan, gifts that He's not given me. And if I'm not gathering together on the Lord's Day with you, I'm going to be deprived of something that Jesus has given you for the betterment of the people of God. And so, we have to realize that Jesus gives gifts for the building of His people.
But then the last part I want to say here is if we don't gather together as Christians, we have no way of fulfilling the commands in the New Testament"to make disciples, to evangelize, to worship, and to fellowship. Think of all the "one another" passages. We're to love one another; we're to pray for one another; we're to endure hardships with one another. How can we do these things if we're not gathering together? And so, the answer to the question, Why does it matter if I attend a local church? It matters because attending a local church is an expression of your love for Jesus. If you love Jesus, you also love those for whom He died, and that compels you to go to your local church.
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