How important is it to join and remain faithful to a good local church?

Pastor Hammond  (Revised October 15, 2016)

In 2011, Harold Camping and his Family Radio network wrongly prophesied that “judgment day” would occur on May 21. He later revised his date to October 2011.   Mr. Camping’s unfulfilled prophesies proved that he spoke “the thing which the LORD hath not spoken,” (Deut. 18:22).    

Mr. Camping’s departure from the truth is explained, in part, by his decision to resign his church membership in 1988.  How does this explain his error?  According the Bible,  local churches are the “pillar and ground of the truth," (1 Timothy 3:15 ).  Without the benefit of correction from fellow church members, Mr. Camping strayed progressively further away from Biblical truth. His understanding became so clouded that he began proclaiming false prophesies.   Perhaps more egregious, however, is his teaching that other believers "should not be part of a local church.”   He’s perpetuating his error by calling others away from the very place where they might be corrected!  

In 2011, the Family Radio web site stated"… we are now compelled to teach the Biblical truth that God has shifted the final task of world evangelism to individual Christians who are outside of a local congregation. In obedience to these Biblical teachings, Family Radio, which is completely outside of any church institution, and which is supported and administered by individual believers, does teach that today, as we are heading for the end of this world’s existence, we should not be a part of a local church,"   (Accessed May 18, 2011).   

Camping wrongly taught believers to depart from the very institutions that God has ordained for our instruction and correction!  In the New Testament, all ministries are carried-out in and through local church.  For example, Paul was sent out by a local church (Acts 13) to plant local churches.  Wherever people were saved, Paul both baptized and discipled those believers.  Paul also taught that men should be ordained to fill the two offices of local churches:  elder/bishop/pastor (Titus 1:5) and deacons (1 Timothy 3).

The conversion of the chief ruler of the synagogue at Corinth, Crispus, demonstrates that membership in a local church is God's plan for New Testament believers.   In Acts 13, Luke records that Paul preached the gospel to Crispus and others at Corinth (18:1-7). As a result of Paul's preaching, Crispus and others believed. (18:8).   Paul then baptized Crispus and the other believers (Acts 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:14) into the “one body” at Corinth (1 Corinthians 12:13).  After baptizing the new believers, Paul remained at Corinth to disciple the new church members for “a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them,"(18:11). Later, Paul also wrote two inspired epistles "...unto the church of God which is at Corinth..." In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul taught the baptized church members to observe the Lord's supper, i.e. he taught the ordidances of the local church.   In all of these facts, it may be observed that Paul had a deep commitment to the Lord’s plan to establish local churches and to edify believers in those churches.

For Harold Camping to have called believers out of local churches was to call them out of God’s plan for His people. Camping called believers away from the place where we “…fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:   In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,”  (Ephesians 2:21-22).  And Camping called believers out of the only institution through which God desires to be served. 

Today, let’s recommit ourselves to serving in and through a local church. If you're not already in a good church, please visit Long Hill Baptist Church in Trumbull this Sunday.

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