What is the local church? It’s the institution which Jesus created and authorized to pronounce the gospel of the kingdom, to affirm gospel professors, to oversee their discipleship, and to expose impostors.
A local church is a group of Christians who regularly gather in Christ’s name to officially affirm and oversee one another’s membership in Jesus Christ and his kingdom through gospel preaching and gospel ordinances.
Once you choose Christ, you must choose His people, too. It’s a package deal. Choose the Father and the Son and you have to choose the whole family – which you do through a local church.
The local church enables the world to look upon the canvas of God’s people and see an authentic painting of Christ’s love and holiness, not a forgery.
We’re strangers and aliens. Christians must look forward to their homeland… But hold on. There is a place on earth where citizens of heaven can, at this moment, find official recognition and asylum: the local church. Churches represent Christ’s rule now. They affirm and protect his citizens now. They proclaim his laws now. They bow before him as King now and call all peoples to do the same.
Christians possess a special power and corporate identity when formally assembled. Paul writes of when the Corinthians church is “assembled…and the power of our Lord Jesus is present” (1 Cor. 5:4). Later in the letter he refers to when they “come together as a church” (1 Cor. 11:18), as if they are somehow more “a church” when together than apart.
A Christian’s new DNA, which he’s received from the Word and Spirit, knows that it now belongs to something larger. And he’s not content to wait for that heavenly and end-time assembly. His new being longs to be gathered to other believers now – on earth. Like his new appetite to “put on” Christ’s righteousness, so there’s a new appetite to put on Christ’s unity with God’s people in a real assembly on earth.
The word “church” is used one hundred ten times in the New Testament, and it is instructive to note that ninety-three of those are clear references to the local church… We may conclude from this large number of references that the Bible has quite a lot to say about the importance of the local church.
The local church was the womb that warmed our soul until it was ready for birth. The church fed us on the milk of the Word, providing us with many loving fathers and mothers. It stood with us when we presented our children to God, and it now mothers them. The local church has contributed much to our children’s spiritual nurturing (Kent and Barbara Hughes).
Every local church that preaches the true gospel is a part of the most dynamic movement the world will ever know. By the power of God working in the hearts of men, the lowly are great, the weak are mighty, and the mustard seed of faith topples a mountain (Matt. 17:20). The local church is not he B-team – it is ground zero for God’s kingdom work. Join it, serve it, love it, and experience the satisfaction that comes with involvement in the gospel cause that transcends all others.
Local Churches have in their membership people who are professing believers, some of whom are genuinely saved, while others are unsaved and are still lost in their sins. Sometimes it is impossible to clearly distinguish between the two, because often unbelieving members exhibit many of the outward characteristics of believers. But the Lord knows who are His.