On the day of Pentecost, on the day when the Holy Ghost came down; they were all with one accord and in one place. In this one verse of scripture we see a testimony to the importance of the local church. The local church is a body of baptized believers in the Lord Jesus who live in the same community and have come together in community as one family for the purpose of being salt and light to the world. All throughout the New Testament we see significance placed on the local church. The early church seen in the book of Acts was used mightily by God as they met daily in the temple and from house to house. The local church is further emphasized in the epistles as personal letters are written to provide encouragement and instructions to specific local churches. We cannot deny the fact that God carries out His purposes in the world today through the local church. We also cannot deny the fact that God has command us to assemble together in one place. As Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (HCSB). Faithful church attendance is Biblical. It is a command given to every believer. The principle in scripture of obedience brings blessings also applies to the command to be faithfully active in a local church. You cannot expect God to bless you and use you if you are not faithful to the meeting times of the local church you attend. If you are habitually staying away from church, you are living in direct disobedience to scripture and you are living in sin. As a believer in Christ, you should make it a top priority in the life of your family to be in church as much as possible. Nothing should take the place of faithfully and actively being involved in the local church where you attend. Disobedience to this command to gather together in one place may be detrimental to the spiritual growth of you and your family. The power of God did not fall, the promise of the Holy Spirit was not fulfilled until they were together in one place. There is something special about being together in one place. When God’s people gather in the local church and worship Jesus together, there is something powerful about it. God works through a people who are united and who gather in one place to receive what God has for them.
As we think of this gathering in one place, I would like to reference the church where I pastor, First Baptist Church of Decherd, Tennessee. Consider with me a few things concerning this particular local church.
A Special Place. FBC Decherd is certainly a special place. There is something unique and special about what God is doing here. This special place, first of all, has a special past. The other day I sat down and watched a video showing the history of FBC Decherd from 1907 to 2007. It was amazing to see all that God did during that first 100 years. Part of that history included my family. This church has always held a special place in my heart. Just think about the number of souls that have been saved through this ministry! Think about the hundreds of lives that have been impacted by this church. We do have a special past. Proverbs 22:28 says to not remove the landmarks. We must never forget the past. We should not hold on to the past or live in the past, however, we should never forget the past. Considering our special past reminds us of God’s steady hand upon this place. It reminds us that God is not done with us. He desires to do something great in this special place. Not only do we have a special past, but we also have a special present. We are living in the midst of some good days here at FBC Decherd. God is at work. We have seen many people come to know Jesus as their Savior and we have seen tremendous growth both spiritual, in our ministry, and numerically. It is good for us to look and see what God is doing today. He is doing something special here. This special present brings many challenges. That is why we must be united. We must pray. We must seek the Lord for a vision. We cannot slow down. We cannot slumber. We cannot be satisfied with recent successes. We must move forward. This brings us to another point. We also have a special future. FBC Decherd has seen some of the most rapid growth in its over 110-year history over the past few months. It is clear that God desires to do something beyond anything we could ever imagine. I really believe that we will continue to see such growth as we move forward. The question is, will we be good stewards of the growth God is giving us? Will we make the right decisions that will help the church to continue to grow? The future is bright. The potential is more than we realize. That future is here. It is upon us. May we embrace what God is doing and prepare ourselves to embrace whatever God leads us in the future.
A Safe Place. The slogan for FBC Decherd is: A Place of Grace. We believe in the wonderful and marvelous grace of Jesus. Grace is unmerited favor. It is God giving to us what we do not deserve. None of us deserve salvation. None of us deserve a home in Heaven. None of us deserve forgiveness. Yet out of God’s great love for us, He has given those things to us. As a church, we must show the same kind of love and grace to others as Christ has given to us. This is a safe place where you can come and experience the love of Jesus. It does not matter what you have done or where you come from, there is hope for you. As you come to FBC Decherd, you are welcome to come with all of your baggage and as the Word of God is preached and you are convicted by the Holy Spirit, you can lay that baggage on the altar and you can walk out of this place a brand-new person.
A Sanctified Place. The word sanctified means to be set-apart. Every person that places his or her faith in the Lord Jesus is sanctified. You are set-apart. You are taken out of the bondage of sin and you are set free. You are set-apart to be used by God for His glory. This church is a sanctified place. It is a place that has been set-apart for worship. It is a place that has been set-apart for spiritual growth. It is a place that has been set-apart for the purpose of reaching the world with the Gospel. It is a place that has been set-apart for fellowship.
We cannot neglect the importance of the local church. The local church is a special place, a safe place, and a sanctified place. Being an active part of the local church is vital to the Christian experience. May we be together in one place.