Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Significance of the Church

John MacArthurFrom the desk of John MacArthur

Dear Friend,

When you hear the word church, what comes to mind? How you answer that question says more about you than you might realize. It speaks volumes about your relationship to the Lord, your understanding of and obedience to Scripture, and how likely you are to effectively fight temptation, grow spiritually, and thrive in the ministry God has given you.

Yes, all Christians have a love for the Bible and a desire to grow. They need pastoral care and counsel. They want biblical support and encouragement. Every true Christian has a God-given love, hunger, and need for divine truth—and a desire to be useful to the Lord.

It’s just that many people do not connect all that to either the church universal or their own local congregation. They don’t adequately associate their relationship with the Lord, the meeting of their spiritual needs, or the use of their spiritual gifts, with the church.

Yet the church is the one institution the Lord promised to build and to bless. An abiding love for His church is a hallmark of true conversion; indifference to the church is tantamount to indifference to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. What’s more, membership and involvement in a local church is inseparable from a Christian’s spiritual health and growth. Scripture knows nothing of a Christian who is not connected to a local congregation, even if the only one available is struggling and weak.

Whatever misconceptions there are in this world about the church, and whatever weaknesses exist within the true body, that doesn’t diminish the Savior’s commitment to His bride, nor does it derail His promises. There is no plan B and there are no substitutes.

By God’s design, the church is the center of every believer’s spiritual life. It is where we study, feed, grow, train, correct, comfort, partake in the ordinances, and minister the “one anothers.” The church was given for our protection, instruction, discipline, and equipping. It is lighthouse, greenhouse, hospital, classroom, and crucible. It is not an optional path among many, nor is it merely an aid to our spiritual life—it is central.

As a ministry, Grace to You has no delusions about its place in God’s economy. It is not somehow doing what the church cannot, it is not a competitor, and it is not a viable alternative. Grace to You is part of the church, serving you as a way of supporting the church.

A commitment to the church runs deep in our ministry. Decades ago, Grace to You wrote a purpose statement that spells out our long-term goals and priorities. We refer to it often; we filter decisions through it; we live by it. Every staff member reads the document every year and affirms it by signature. It puts in black and white our relationship to the church.

Our role is not to supplant the local church’s ministry, but to support it by providing additional resources for those hungering for the truth of God’s Word. Media ministries can never substitute for involvement in a biblical church, group Bible study, or interaction with a teacher. Yet we sense the need for more in-depth resources, evidenced by the many Christians and Christian leaders worldwide who depend on our ministry to supplement their own study.

That brings me to your part in the ministry we fulfill. I hope you’re taking full advantage of all we have to offer you: the sermon library, the “Grace to You” broadcasts on radio and television, the GTY blog, the daily devotionals and articles on our website, and all our other resources that exist to strengthen your faith and stimulate your spiritual growth. And know that when you support this ministry, you’re helping extend those same resources to others in your area and beyond.

It’s a joy and privilege to serve you, and to serve God’s people with you. His richest blessings to you.

Love in the Truth,

John MacArthur

 “This article originally appeared here at Grace to You.”

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