Now that we have seen some common excuses for not committing to the church, I would to give you my top twelve reasons why you absolutely need the local church:
- Obedience – The first one is easy, you need the local church because God has commanded you to be a part of the local church. Hebrews 10:25 does not tell us not to forsake the weekly podcast, or the ministry we really enjoy being a part of, or the Sunday pre-game show. It says don’t forsake the assembling together. In other words, GO TO CHURCH! Be a part of the church. Obey God. This isn’t the only place were commitment to the local church is required in order to obey God’s word. There are examples all over the place. Take for instance Hebrews 13. In this passage alone there are by my count six commands that can only be met in the context of the local church(1,7,9,15,16, & 17). In order to obey God’s word you need the local church.
- Your Sanctification – You cannot grow in your Christian walk apart from the church. The church is where you sit under the teaching of God’s word; it is where you are discipled by other believers; it where you are forced to live out God’s word; the church is where sanctification happens. Still not sure that the church is necessary for your sanctification? Here are a few points to think about: a) Sanctification is the process by which we are conformed to the image of Christ, and so if we want to grown in our sanctification we need love the church as Christ loved the church; b) Additionally, Ephesians 5:26 tells us that Christ is working to cleanse (or sanctify) the church; c) Finally, Ephesians 4:11-13 makes it clear that God has ordained the church to be the means by which we are grown into mature Christians. If you want to grow in your sanctification then you need to commit yourself to the local church. John Calvin speaking of the church pointed out that “our weakness does not allow us to be dismissed from her school until we have been pupils all our lives.” Elsewhere he stated, “God… desires [Christians] to grow up into manhood solely under the education of the church.”
- Your Testing – You need to be part of a local church in order to test your own salvation. Or, to put it another way, you need to be a part the church for your own assurance of salvation. I want to be clear that I am not teaching that you earn your salvation by going to church. What I am saying is that you test to see whether or not your salvation is genuine in the context of the church. Mark Dever puts it this way, “Membership in a local church is not an antiquated, outdated, unnecessary add-on to true membership in the universal body of Christ; membership in the local church is intended as a testimony to our membership in the universal church. Church membership does not save, but it is a reflection of salvation. And if there is no reflection of our salvation, how can we be sure that we are truly saved?” The local church a proving ground for our faith in at least three areas: First, John 14:21 says the one who know Jesus will keep his command, and as we have already seen we have been commanded to be a part of the local church. Second, commitment to the local church provide accountability that cannot happen anywhere else. When we are a part of the church we are making ourselves accountable to other believers who can help us identify sin in our lives. Finally, commitment to the local church leaves us open to church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20). The two-fold purpose of discipline is to keep the church pure, and protect true believers from a life pattern of sin. The local church is the only place where this can occur.
- The Ordinances – You need to be a part of the local church in order to take advantage of the ordinances of baptism and communion. God has graciously given us each of these ordinances in order to help us grow and mature, however when we are not a part of the church then we are not taking advantage of these gifts.
- Worship – As we have already seen the church is intended to be a Spiritual House, a Temple, unto the Lord. When the saints are gathered together for corporate worship they are fulfilling this purpose. You cannot worship God by yourself in the same way that you can worship God on Sunday morning with God’s people.
- Gift Use – You need to be a part of the local church so that you can use the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given you. 1 Corinthians 12 teaches us that each individual Christian has been given a gift for the benefit of the church. These varied gifts are intended to work in unison like a body does. However, when you are not a part of the local church then you are not only letting your gifts go to waste, but you are also depriving the church of a gift that the Holy Spirit has intended for her.
 John Calvin, Institutes, 1016.
 Ibid., 1017.