Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
The Bible teaching about the Christian and church makes sense. Here, I want to pinpoint my focus to the importance of Christian fellowship and spiritual growth.
Our Company Matters
I began to notice the difference. For about four years or so I was an educational counseling facilitator or co-facilitator of about three to five groups a week.
The group members had been convicted or charged with domestic violence, or had anger problems. They were mostly men, who had very definite opinions of women.
At the same time, I was teaching a variety of college psychology and sociology courses at a community college. The environment between the two places was as different as night and day. Terrified, bitter, angry men were in one venue, and eager, focused college students in the other location.
The thing I noticed is that over time when I was with the DV group, I would begin to talk and think like they did. But, when I was lecturing and discussing issues in the classroom, I would talk and think like the
students. My language and vocabulary would change. The subject matter would change. My emotions would change in nature and intensity. My attitude was bouncing all over.
The point is that we tend to become like the people we hang out with. Paul wrote of this principle when he wrote, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
The principle is also repeated in motivational literature, “If you want to be a winner, hang out with winners.”
The same is true with our Christian life: we need to hang out with Christians to grow in our spiritual life. The best place to find Christians is in a local church, which is God’s grass roots organization to propagate Christianity. This is certainly not to discount Christian fellowship and Bible study groups.
For example, my wife, Esmie, belongs to a Filipina women’s Bible study. They fellowship, pray, encourage each other, and Esmie usually teaches a Bible lesson. They all belong to different churches.
On occasion, they conduct evangelistic events, or have spiritual retreats. Recently, the group organized a group of about 70 singles and couples, and Esmie and I conducted a seminar on conflict management.
There are also many fine Christian service works such as hospitals, schools, evangelistic teams, missions organizations, publishing houses, and rescue missions. But, at the core is the local church.
The Church's Influence in the Christian's Life
The writer of Hebrews instructed, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24,25).
The Greek word, “assembling” is translated from the word, “synagogue.” The latter was the physical gathering place for the Jews, and the core location of their religious activities. The point: Christians are to physically and regularly gather together. That place is the local church. The Greek word “stimulate” can be translated, “convulsion,” but in this context indicates the powerful influence believers have on one another.
Note: the Greek language is the language the New Testament was originally written in.
The local church is not a building, denomination, or religion.
It is a place where believers in Christ gather together and organize themselves…
• for fellowship
• to corporately worship God
• to find support when in trouble
• to preach the gospel
• to teach the Bible and its application to Christian life
• to conduct the ordinances
• to enjoy prayer support
• to find Christian friends
• to discover avenues for Christian service
• to find Christian mentors.
My Own Personal Experience
Over my some 45 years of being a Christian, I have personally experienced some very dark days.
Sometimes I wanted to drop out of church. Following the admonition of the man who led me to Christ,
however, I discovered that dropping out of church is the LAST thing to do when it seems like life is crumbling.
I found that just being in the presence of other Christians, listening to the hymns, and hearing the preacher preach reminded me that better days were ahead, and that God was still there for me.
I found mature Christian men who walked with me, gave counsel, and supported me through those difficult times.
The Church and Evangelism
Church is especially important for new Christians. Converts are completely new to the Christian way of life. They need examples to follow. Being around other Christians will strengthen their faith, because they see that others besides themselves believe in Christ. They are probably being made fun of by their non-Christian friends.
Church is also a good place to bring unsaved family and friends. Over time, God can work in their hearts as they experience the sermons and Christian relationships.
Picking a Good Church
The question arises, “How can I pick a good church?” This can be hard, especially in rural areas
(or many countries) where the selection is limited or absent. Here are a few guidelines.
• No church is perfect. Christians are just sinners saved by grace.<br>
• The atmosphere should be accepting and nurturing. Love and positive relationships should be present and promoted.
People need to be friendly toward you.<br>
• The Bible should be taken seriously, and preached faithfully. They need to live by faith.<br>
• The people should believe and practice prayer, and genuine worship.
• The primary focus needs to be on spiritual things, with Christ at the center.
• The church needs to have a reputation of helping the community – of being good neighbors.
• The church should be serious about evangelism and missions.<br>
• The church must be geared to meet the needs of the people.<br>
• The church should believe and teach the traditional, essential doctrine and morality of the Christian church.
• The church should be organized to provide avenues of Christian service. As the old adage goes regarding people coming into church, “Use ‘em or lose ‘em.”
These are just a few guidelines, but again to stress, you will never find a perfect church.
But, it is still the Church of Jesus Christ that was bought by Him by His blood, is loved by Him, and of which He is the head (cf. Ephesians 1:22, 23). If we are to love Christ, then we must love His church. The Bible teaching about the church, indeed, makes sense.
I will conclude with this analogy. You can even try the experiment. Take one single wooden match and try to break it. Easy. Now, take 12 wooden matches together and try to break them. Much harder.
Likewise with Christians: by themselves, one Christian may not stay strong in the Faith. However, many Christians supporting each other will remain strong in the Christian Faith.
BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS
1. Who does the church belong to? (Matthew 16:18).
2. List as many benefits as you can for regular church attendance and involvement.
3. What are some ways Christians can stimulate each other to love and good works?
4. How seriously should Christians take good works? (Titus 2:14)
5. When looking for a local church to be involved in, what is the most important thing you would look for? Explain.
6. Do you think “bad company corrupts good morals?” Explain your answer in your own words.
7. If you lived in a country that forbids Christianity, how would you go about finding Christian fellowship?
8. In what ways is your faith strengthened when you are with other Christians?
9. If you don’t attend church, will you lose your salvation? Explain in your own words.
10. According to 1 Timothy 3:15, describe in your own words what the church is, and what it function has.
11. What stood out to you the most in this study? Explain.
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