Even though it's technically possible to live the Christian life in isolation, it's certainly not the norm nor should it be. There has always been Christians who have been hurt by an abusive institution or pastor and they run away from fellowship. The healing process for such family members differs according to their level of maturity and how much they abide in Christ.
By God's Grace and to His Glory there are many beautiful and healthy churches out there doing the Lord's work, so is really inexcusable not to obey God's design for us in this topic.
I do not ignore that there are times when it's recommended to depart from an unhealthy Church. God may lead us out due to the abuse or false doctrine that is being done and taught, but this and the cases of people who are in a hospital bed, or working in an isolated area where no church exists, are among the exceptions.
When you become a Christian, you are called into a relationship with God (1 Corinthians 1:9. But I John 1:3 makes it clear that we enter a fellowship that goes two ways: with God and with other Christians.
Many others have exchange the local church for the "Church on the TV or internet" there are legitimate reasons for this options God has blessed us with, but most don't want to deal with the challenges belonging to the church brings up. Dying to self, practicing sacrificial love etc...
Talents are best nurtured in solitude, but character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world. Quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Luke 10:1-3 Jesus sends the seventy-two in pairs
"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20, NKJV)
"Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." (1Corinthians 14:29)
1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
Family how do you justify not fellowshipping in a local church. Let’s talk about it in love. :)
Hi David & others,
Interesting conversation going on here. If I may add my two cents worth.
Do you need to belong to a church? If you are talking about a bricks & mortar building only, then no you don't. If you are talking about the fellowship of people gathered to worship, then yes you do. Hebrews 10:25 tells us we should not neglect to meet together, but it doesn't say we have to go to a building. It's the fellowship and the meeting together that is the key.
Interesting when you look at the word that is translated as "church" in the original Greek. The word is "ekklesia" and actually translates out as a gathering or an assembly of people. It doesn't say anything about buildings. When Jesus said to Peter, "On this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18) he was talking about the assembly of his people not a bricks and mortar building.
As for some churches teaching false teachings, well that will happen too. It doesn't mean they are all false, wrong or insincere. Yes they may have differing viewpoints and may argue about points of doctrine and scripture. Let's face it, we do just a little bit of that here from time to time. But all it shows is differing levels of maturity in the body and sometimes if we are prepared to listen we can learn...I know I have.
Even within that devilish false church that is called Babylon in Revelation the Lord says, "Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues..." (Rev 18:4) So even in that despicable place there are the people of God. So we must not condemn the churches or put a blanket condemnation across the churches because of the failure of a few. God has his people everywhere, even in that worst of so-called churches.
It is important to fellowship with other Christains so it is important to find a place of assembly. Whether it be in a taditional church, local hall, home group or whatever, we need to come together to worship from time to time. While the internet and TV churches exist and do some tremendous things, unless there is interaction I don't believe they can take the place of fellowship. If a person can't find a place of fellowship they need to commit their needs to the Lord. In time He will point them in the right direction to a place where you will find like minded people.
I think my two cents just ran out....
All the best.
Your brother in Christ,
Good word, brother.
A food for thought:
If your church body that you belong to is on the net and not in person how would you go about obeying the command in James 5:14 if the need arose in your life? Who are the elders over you and how can they anoint you with oil over the internet?
You make some really good points and ask some solid questions. I am pretty literal most of the time in my approach to Scripture. I do see this as a principle to be followed at the local level by a congregation that we belong to. It is true that it is getting harder to find "Biblical Elders" and God just may open up another avenue, for surely He will not leave His children without when they are in need.
I will pray about this and look into it to see if my view may be to narrow regarding church, elder and the anointing of oil. Thanks for giving me something to ponder :-)
Dear Penny -
This is really not a hard decision once you know a little back ground on the JW. I studied with them for about 3 years so I am very familiar with their doctrines that change the primary doctrines in Christianity, hence making them a cult and not a Christian church. Check out this discussion in one of my groups:
Thank you for your response. I would start with that I see the context a little different than you. I see in these verses several principles to be followed in various situations by believers and especially in the local body of believers:
* In trouble - pray.
* Happy - sing a song.
* Sick - call the elders of the church to pray and anoint with oil in the name fo the Lord.
* Prayer offered in faith - faith is essential and if the church is operating as God designed, the elders are men of faith. Today, some churches simply fill positions without concern for biblical qualifications.
* Confess your sins and pray for each other.
For me the reading is straight forward, and as related to verse 14, calling the elders and literally anointing with oil.
Regarding the whole body and the building. I agree the building is nothing more than a meeting place and thus is never considered the church, but simply a place. The whole body is called to build one another up, and yet we see Scripturally that God has established various postions within the body and elder is one of those positions. Thus, for me the literal reading of James 5:14 in context is the calling of the elders (others can pray too, but the elders are the spiritual leaders of the local community) and anoint with literal oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit). Is this the only way God heals? No, but is a principle laid out in Scripture.
In the church I pastor when one is ill I call the elders and ask any in the congregation who feel led to come forward and lay on hands and pray with us as we anoint with oil. We do this in what we see as obedience to James 5 and,I trust, in faith.
Michael's comments give me a reason to ponder if this means something other than the literal meaning, or at least how I see it as literal.
Thanks for the input as I will ponder what you have said as well.
Great video with an important message. Thanks for posting.