They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
At the church I pastor, we have a growing number of visitors who say, “We love everything about the church. We are going to participate and give, but we are not going to join.” People want to be spectators, not joiners.
Do you have to join the church to be a good Christian? I could answer that question by pointing out that the New Testament church had membership rolls and requirements. But the question should not be “Do you have to join a church to be a good Christian?” but “Do you need to join a church to be a good Christian?” And the answer is yes. Bad grace says you do not need to join a church, but good grace says God has lovingly provided a church for you to join.
There are benefits to being a vital part of a local body of believers. In Acts 2:42, we find this summary of what the early church did: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Notice the first thing on the list is the apostles’ teaching. They were the ones who had been given the divine revelation that the church needed to hear. Today, their teaching has been deposited in the Bible. We can read the Bible, and the Holy Spirit is our teacher–but He is not our only teacher. God still works through teachers at the local church to provide instruction for our spiritual growth.
Look at Ephesians 4:11-12: “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” There is no conjunction between “pastors” and “teachers” in the Greek text; it is one word: “pastor-teacher.” The designated teacher in any local church is the pastor. In fact, when you look at the qualifications for a pastor in 1 Timothy 3:2-3, every one of the qualifications has to do with his character except one: the ability to teach. His primary role in the church is teaching. In many churches, there are designated people who teach classes, but they do so under the leadership of the pastor.
We need gifted people who will teach us the truth of God’s Word, and that is something you get in a local church. Without the teaching of those whom God has appointed to teach His Word, you are prone to scriptural and doctrinal error that will lead you into the wrong kind of living.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Churches” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org