There are many who are ignorant of the danger that they’ve placed themselves in by trying to make their heavenly pilgrimage apart from the local church. We face a far greater threat than a rattlesnake; we stand against the smooth-talking serpent of Genesis 3, one who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Surely, Satan lies in wait for those Christians who think they can go through this life on their own resolve. As George Swinnock once said, “Satan watches for those vessels that sail without a convoy.”
There’s a reason that the writer to the Hebrews sounds the alarm to warn those who are struggling not to forsake “assembling together, as is the habit of some …” (Heb. 10:25). Why? Because neglect of the gathering is a step down the slippery slope to apostasy. A Christian who is purposefully isolated from the context of a local church is foreign concept to the New Testament. To do so is to place yourself outside the safety of God’s ark of salvation.
This world, perhaps now more than ever, can break you down and bring you grief and exhaustion. With so much difficulty and strife around us, not to mention a slew of well-known Christians leaving the faith, it becomes tempting to give up.
We need the local church, because it is there that we find the consistent means of grace that nourish our souls. The local church is the place where God lifts up and strengthens weary pilgrims. We need the work of the Holy Spirit in the preaching of the word to build us up in our most holy faith; we need baptism to remind us that we have been “washed with the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5) having been purified from our former sins (2 Pt. 1:9); we need the Lord’s Supper, through which we share in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16)—what Saint Ignatius once called the “medicine of immortality”. Read the full article by Derrick Brite.