Paul in Ephesians 1:23 describes the church as the body of Christ. And in Ephesians 2:20 Paul goes on to explain that Jesus Christ himself is the cornerstone of the church. As if this were not enough, Paul further insists in Ephesians 3:10 that the manifold wisdom of God is being made known, through the church, to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. In 1 Timothy 3:15 the church is said to be “a pillar and buttress of the truth.”
Jesus makes the striking statement that he himself is the one building his church, and it will therefore overcome every enemy (Matthew 16:18). Amazingly and beautifully, the church is described as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 3:25). In Matthew 28:20, Jesus Christ promises the apostles, as representatives and officers of the early church, that he will be with them always.
Now we must ask ourselves this question: are these things important to us? Do we want to be found in the body of Christ? Do we want to be set on the cornerstone of Christ? Do we want to find the place where the wisdom of God is made manifest? Do we want to learn and perpetuate the truth?
You cannot attend an assembly of the invisible church this Sunday. But you can commit yourself to be part of a local body of believers.
Just how important these things are to you is made apparent by how much effort you are willing to put into finding and fully engaging yourself in a truth-proclaiming, hell’s-gates-storming local body of believers. Doubtless this is why the writer of Hebrews so urgently called the believers into the edifying accountability and stability of local church commitments. He writes:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:23-25).
For those of us who might want to squirm out of commitment to an actual local church by saying we are members of the “invisible church” of believers everywhere, the writer of Hebrews addresses that objection directly here. One cannot be encouraged to good works by an invisible church. You cannot attend an assembly of the invisible church this Sunday. But you can commit yourself to be part of a local body of believers, accountable to them and engaged with them in kingdom service.
Clearly, this is what the New Testament is everywhere calling us to do.