“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15,16).
THE MOMENT A PERSON PASSES FROM SPIRITUAL DEATH TO LIFE IS A GREAT MOMENT. No small part of the new Christian’s rejoicing is a sense of relief. He has escaped, by God’s grace, the greatest of enemies, and it is right to celebrate, just as it was right for Israel to celebrate when God brought them through the Red Sea and destroyed the armies of Pharaoh (Exodus 15:1–21). But after the singing died down, Israel’s question would have been, “What happens now?” It was great to be alive, but there was work to be done and a wilderness to be crossed before Canaan could be their possession. And so it is with the new Christian. The joy of deliverance is appropriately followed by the question, “What do I do now?”
The new Christian needs to understand that he has embarked on a process of spiritual growth. Yes, baptism marks the end of a person’s old life, but it is the beginning of the work God intends to do to remake that person’s character and restore it to the perfect image of His Son. Many texts speak of this, but none more clearly than Ephesians 4:15,16 where Paul says that “we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
But Paul also emphasizes the importance of the church in the Christian’s life and growth. The body of Christ needs — and is needed by — every Christian. It is “joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
So to the new Christian, I say this: your relationship to God is your primary concern, and your relationship to the church is secondary. But don’t underestimate either of these parts of God’s plan. (1) Your contribution to the church won’t be what it ought to be if your individual, private walk with God isn’t rich and vibrant, but (2) your relationship to God won’t be what it ought to be if you don’t participate in the mutual strengthening that takes place in the church. There is no way around it: congregations are given for our good. They are part of God’s means of producing mature, heaven-ready individuals.
“Churches: Soulariums” (P. K. Thomajan).