Revive Our Hearts Podcast

You Need the Church

Leslie Basham: If you love Jesus, do you really need to go to church? Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, "Yes."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You need the body. You cannot function alone without the body. You are not complete without the other members. You need the spiritual gifts that God has given to others that you don't have. You need those gifts working in your life if you're going to become like Christ.

Leslie Basham: It's Thursday, August 4th, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Man: I believe in God but not the church.

Leslie Basham: What do you think? Do you really need the church? Nancy will address that today. We're in the middle of a series called Who Needs the Church?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Many, many, many believers today, so-called professing Christians, are not part of a local body of believers. Maybe they're disgusted or disillusioned by past church experiences. Maybe they just have never plugged in and just don't realize the need. They feel like this person: "Why can't I just worship in the privacy of my own home? Do I really need to go to services? Do I need to be a part of a local church body? Does God care?" Or as the others who are flitting from one church to another: no loyalty to one local body.

Charles Spurgeon had this to say to those who said, "I'm a Christian, but I don't intend to be a part of the church." Spurgeon said, "What is a brick made for? To help build a house. It's of no use for that brick to tell you that it's just as good of a brick as it's kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It's a good for nothing brick."

Then he went on to say in his own way, "So you rolling stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering your purpose. You are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live, and you are much to blame for the injury you do."

Wow. Those are strong words. You're not answering your purpose if you're not in a local church? Is it really that serious? Well, let's go to 1 Corinthians chapter 12. I want us to see how serious it is and why it's so important we be plugged into the church. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 uses this analogy, this word picture of the people of God being a body.

1 Corinthians 12 verse 12, "For just as the body is one (that's the unity of the body), and has many members (that's what we are), and all the members of the body though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greek, slaves or free" (verses 12-13).

Now in the New Testament that was unbelievable that Jews and Greeks, slaves and free should worship together in the same church! Incredible! This was the great mystery of God that He would bring these disparate parties into one new body. "And all were made to drink of one spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many" (verses 13-14). It's not just you and God. You can't be a lone-ranger Christian and be the Christian God intended you to be.

Verse 15: "If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body" (verses 15-16).

I mean, just imagine one part of your body saying, "Because I'm not some other part, therefore I'm not a part of this body." I mean, it's foolishness; it's ludicrous. The body is one. It has many members; they all have their part. They all have their function. They look different. They act differently. They have different gifts, but they're all necessary. You can't separate yourself from the body.

My hand can't just say, "I'm separating from this body" and then go off and do its own thing and have a hand just wandering around there. It's useless without the rest of the body. You can't separate yourself from the body. Let me say it again. You can't separate yourself from the body. Like it or not, if you are in Christ, you are a member of His body. Every part is different, but all belong to the same body.

Verse 17, 1 Corinthians 12: "If the whole body were an eye . . ." Well, just imagine it. One great big eye rolling around, and it considers itself the whole body. ". . . where would be the sense of hearing? Or if the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?" The ear can't function by itself; the eye can't function by itself. The body needs all its members.

It wouldn't work if we were all the same. Remember that. When you start to go crazy over the differences of people in your church and you think, "If they weren't just so weird or so different . . . ." You need them to be different. If they were all like you or all like me; well, I don't even want to think about that. It wouldn't be a body.

Verse 18: "But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose." That's what the Scripture says. God arranged the members; God put those members into your body, each one of them, as He chose. "If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts but one body" (verses 19-20).

If God arranged the members in the body and placed them in different local churches as He has chosen, as He has directed and led, can I suggest that it's not enough to tolerate the other people in your church in the body of Christ? You need to thank God for them. You need to learn to embrace them, to value them, to appreciate them.

Verse 21: "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'" Isn't' that how we often function? I mean, what's that part needed for? Who needs that person? We wouldn't say that, but don't we sometimes feel that? They're just in the way. We need each other. We're strange and flawed and needy as we are. We need each other.

Every member of the body is essential. No part is indispensable. If you aren't there, it makes a difference to the whole. You can't say, "It doesn't need me." It can't say, "We don't need you." If you're not there, if one part is missing, if I didn't have this hand, my whole body would have problems. You don't realize it till you miss a part. Sometimes you just take them for granted, and isn't that the way it often is in the body of Christ? We don't miss each other until we realize there's some function missing here.

We don't always know what the function is. There are parts of our body that I don't exactly know what they do or how they work or why they're needed. I mean, some of those parts that you can't see and don't talk about a lot--I mean, what's the pancreas, the spleen? Some of you know what all those parts do, but I really don't. But I assume if God put it in the body, there's a reason for it; there's a need for it.

We can't have members or parts of the body saying, "I'm not needed." If you're not there, it makes a difference. Even if it is the weaker parts, the less gifted, the less prominent. The Scripture says to those we give special care, special attention. We need each part.

And so as we think about the church, I want to make two points here. Number one: you need the body. And number two: the rest of the body needs you. First, you need the body. You cannot function alone without the body of Christ. You are not complete without the other members. You need the spiritual gifts that God has given to others that you don't have. You need those gifts working in your life if you're going to become like Christ.

You need the Spiritual nourishment and encouragement and accountability and counsel and insight and practical help and comfort in your life that the rest of the members of the body can supply. You say, "But they don't supply it." You're right. We don't do it the way we should, but that doesn't mean we give up on it.

It means we get in there and we pray and we serve and we ask God to make the body more like what it ought to be. We don't just discard it because it's not working perfectly or it's not always working as it should. You need the body; I need the body.

Revive Our Hearts is not "Nancy Leigh DeMoss Ministries." We have many members, many parts, many people some of whom you will never see; you will never hear their name; you will never know what they do, but we wouldn't have this ministry without them. There are people right now in the engineer room who are working behind the scenes as we're recording this session. They're important; they're valuable; they're essential. We need them. I need them. You need the body. We need each other.

But the rest of the body needs you. Not only do you need them, but they need you. The rest of the body cannot be complete or healthy without you. You may think, "What's the difference if I pull out? What's the difference if I'm not regular in my church? What's the difference if I come and go? Who cares?" Especially in some of these bigger churches you can get so lost through the crowds. Who cares? What does it matter?

It does matter. If you're not plugged in, it cannot be complete without you. It can't be healthy. It needs your spiritual gifts. It needs the function God designed you to have in the body. A friend said to me recently, "One of my concerns is that our parent's generation has retired and pulled out of the church in so many cases." I think some of those older people are thinking, "We're just not needed anymore." Can I say--and you decide if you're older or not--you are needed. We need your wisdom. We need your experience. We need your example. The rest of the body needs you, and you need the body.

Dwight L. Moody was visiting with a prominent Chicago citizen one cold winter night when the subject of church membership and involvement came up. This man said to Moody, "I think I can be just as good of a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it." The story is told that without saying anything, Moody walked over to the fireplace, and he removed one burning piece of wood and just placed it on the hearth all by itself. Then the two men sat together and watched as the fire went out on that piece of wood; the embers died out.

The fact is you cannot survive. You cannot keep a hot heart and a fervent passion all by yourself. I want to finish my race well. I want to get to the end of my life and know that I stayed faithful to Christ and fulfilled what He gave me to do. I'm telling you what; I know that that means I've got to stay connected to the body. I thank God for the women, the couples, the staff, the family members, the people in my church who love and follow Christ and are committed to help me stay in the race and be faithful all the way to the finish line. We can't make it without each other.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been telling us why she needs to be involved in a local church, and you and I do, too. Nancy will be right back to pray. But before she comes, let me ask you a question. Say a young lady's been dating a young man for several years. She's ready to make a commitment, but he just wants to date and stay uncommitted. Does that story frustrate you?

A lot of us approach the church like that young man according to Joshua Harris. He's written a book called Stop Dating the Church. You can find more about it at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow, we'll hear why members of a church should be like giant redwood trees. But now let's pray with Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, how I thank You for Your incredible wisdom in designing this thing called the body of Christ. Thank You for making me a member of the body. And I thank You for the other members and how they contribute to my life and growth and how together we're growing up into Christ who is our head and becoming a temple, a building, a permanent dwelling place for You.

Lord, help us to recognize our need for each other, not just to tolerate each other, but to welcome and receive and embrace and accept each other and to learn from each other and to humble ourselves and to grow through that which others contribute to us and that which we contribute to others. Thank You Lord for the gift of the body of Christ, in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.