The Local Church
Living In God’s Family
“So now you … are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.” Ephesians 2:19 NLT
According to the Bible, Christians are “members of God’s household” or “God’s family,” which is called the Church (Eph. 2:19; 1 Tim. 3:15 NIV, NLT). This means that all believers have a close relationship with each other; they are all part of the global Church. The Bible also refers to local groups of believers as a church (Acts 13:1; 18:22).
What these verses are saying is that we are called to belong, as well as believe. Even in the perfect sinless environment of the Garden of Eden, God said, “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). We have been created, not to be orphans, but to live in community, to have fellowship, to be part of God’s family.
A Christian who tries to go it alone and does not fellowship with other believers, will eventually wither and dry up spiritually. We can’t fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves. The Bible says that we are put together, joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, held together and will be caught up together (Eph. 2:21-22; 3:6; 4:16; 1 Th. 4:17). Once we’re Christians we’re not on our own anymore!
While our relationship with Christ is personal, God never intended it to be private. In God’s family we are connected to every other believer and we belong to each other for eternity. Christians are children of God: part of His family.
The local church is a community of people who care about each other. It’s a place where we express our faith together, come to worship together, pray together, and bind together in Christ’s love.
The phrase “one another” or “each other” is used over 50 times in the New Testament. We are commanded to: love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each other, serve, teach and accept each other, honor each other, bear each other’s burdens, forgive each other, submit to each other and be devoted to each other. These are the family responsibilities God expects from us.
God has a unique role for each of us to play in His family. This is called our ministry and God has gifted each of us for this assignment. “A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire Church” (1 Cor. 12:7NLT). The local church is where we can discover, develop and begin to use our gifts.
A healthy church is essential to living a healthy Christian life. God created the local church to help each of us fulfill His purposes for us: a purpose to live for, a people to live with, principles to live by, a profession to live out and the power to live for Jesus. There is no other place on earth where we can find all five of these benefits in one place.
God’s purposes for His Church universal and the local church are identical to his five purposes for you. Worship helps you focus on God. Fellowship helps you face life’s problems. Discipleship helps strengthen your faith. Ministry helps you find your talents. And evangelism helps fulfill your mission.
There is nothing else on earth like God’s Church! And there is nothing else on earth better than being part of God’s family, the Church!
“You will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God … the Church of the living God.” 1 Timothy 3:15
By Peter Beeby
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org