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In addition to the individual aspect of Christianity, there is a "together" part that is no less a component of God's design. It is important for us to understand and practice the truth of God's word with respect to the local church, the congregational relationship that God has provided for our edification (Hb. 10:24,25). Being a Christian is not merely a status to be enjoyed; it is a work to be done. Some of this work is done individually, but some of it is done collectively. The local church is where Christians worship and work together.
In the familiar words of Mt. 16:18, Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The church in this sense is made up of all the saved and is not limited to any particular place or time. This is the Lord's church in a "universal" sense, and Christ only promised to build one such church. Having built it, He is the head of it (Eph. 1:22,23).
But when we turn to passages like Phil. 1:1, we find Paul the apostle writing to "all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons." Here is a group of Christians meeting for worship and working together in a particular locality. These saints constituted the local church in Philippi. And like all such groups elsewhere, these Christians needed to understand God's will for the "together" aspect of their lives in Christ. As a local church, they needed to understand the nature of their relationship as God intended it -- and then practice the truth about that relationship.
Paul commended the saints who made up the church in Thessalonica for their "work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 1:3). They were Christians devoted not only to the Lord individually; they had a serious commitment to their responsibilities as a local church. Paul said that "the word of the Lord sounded forth" (1 Thess. 1:8) as a result of their work. So it should be with every local congregation today.
This week, as we study God's word, let's remind ourselves of the importance of the church of Jesus Christ, both universally and locally. Let's enjoy working and worshiping together!
Monday: Matthew 16:18
Key Idea: Jesus Christ promised to build just one church.
Questions for Family Growth: Upon what "rock" did Jesus say He would build His church? What did He say would not prevail against His church? What does the word "church" mean? In your own words, what is the church which the Lord built?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:8.
Tuesday: Ephesians 1:22,23
Key Idea: Jesus Christ is the head of the church, which is His body.
Questions for Family Growth: Who is said to have put all things under Christ's feet? What does it mean that Christ is "head over all things to the church"? What is Christ's body? How many bodies does Christ have? See Eph. 4:4.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:9.
Wednesday: Romans 16:16
Key Idea: Groups of faithful saints in various localities are known as "churches of Christ."
Questions for Family Growth: How can we speak of "churches of Christ" when Christ said that He would build only one church (Mt. 16:18)? What are some things involved in truly being a church or congregation that is "of Christ"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:10.
Thursday: Acts 11:26
Key Idea: A local church assembles together.
Questions for Family Growth: With whom did Barnabas and Paul assemble for a whole year? What else does this verse say they did? What results when Christians assemble together as God intends? Consider Hb. 10:24,25.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:11.
Friday: 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Key Idea: A local church does the Lord's work.
Questions for Family Growth: How did Paul describe the "work" and the "labor" of the Thessalonians? Looking down to v.8, what had happened as a result of the Thessalonians doing the Lord's work? In Tit. 3:8,14, what are we to "maintain"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:12.