Church Matters

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NOTE: This is Day Three of the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship (FCCF) for the “Significance” series (a verse-by-verse study of the book of Ephesians). 

“Such wrong ideas of the church often encourage wrong ideas of the gospel.” [1]

When we fail to understand the church, we tend to fail to understand the Good News of salvation. For example, it is wrong to think that joining a church (even if it’s a Christian church) would give us eternal life. In the Bible, salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone. 
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV)
Church membership does not save us. When we put our faith in Christ, we become part of His church as a result. We don't have to become a member of His church in order to be saved. We become a member of His church when we got saved, that is, when we put our trust in the Lord as our Savior. 

"Wordle of the most-common words in church names, excluding denominations." Image credit

Those who teach that we need to become a member of their church in order to enter are in error. It’s like putting the cart before the horse. The cart is not supposed to pull the horse. The horse is the one pulling the cart. Faith is the horse. Church membership is the cart.

Don't put the cart before the horse. The cart is not supposed to pull the horse. The horse is the one pulling the cart. Faith is the horse. Church membership is the cart. Image credit 

However, church membership is still important. Don’t ever think that, just because joining a church does not save, it is no longer necessary for us to become a member. It is still a priority for us. In fact, since it is a result of our faith in the Lord Jesus, commitment to a church is one of the evidences that we indeed trusted Him for salvation. (Read 1 John 3:10.)
According to the Bible, our participation in the local congregation normally validates or falsifies our claim that we are savingly trusting in Christ and his gospel. What gospel allows you to think you have accepted it, if you don’t, in a committed and Christlike way, love your brother? What does saving faith look like? Does the gospel merely save me and lead me to God? Or does it normally bring me to God through the fellowship of the local church? … Such a church is intended to be an integral part of a Christian’s life and discipleship. It’s not an optional extra. [2]
Since "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25b), we should love our church, too. Image credit

Significant Step
If you are just regularly attending FCCF, what’s keeping you from committing to become one of its members? Reflect on your reasons why. If you are already a member, think of how you can express commitment to the Lord and to the church other than attendance.

[1] Mark Dever, Improving the Gospel: Exercises in Unbiblical Theology (or) Questioning Five Common Deceits, Proclaiming A Cross-Centered Theology (IL: Crossway, 2009), 115.

[2] Ibid, 113, 116.

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