Here at Living Stones, there is one question that we as a Pastoral Team, staff, and leaders have to address frequently: Do we as Christians need the church? Or more simply put, can we have a relationship with Jesus by praying, reading our Bible, but not participating within a local community.
"The Gospel of Jesus necessitates connection to the community of faith."
The answer is simple: No. The Scriptures have no concept of an isolated relationship with God. This is an American idea and not a Christian one. The Gospel of Jesus necessitates connection to the community of faith. God has always communicated himself to communities of individuals, but never individuals apart from communities.
In the Old Testament, it was the nation of Israel - communities of people with whom God made a covenant. In the New Testament, it is the Church, which in Greek is the word “ecclesia,” which literally means “gathering.” In the New Testament, to be outside the church (God’s people) is to be outside of salvation.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul makes a clear distinction between those inside the church (or gathering) and those outside the church (or gathering) (1 Cor. 5:12;6:4; 11:22). Jesus is the head of the Church (Eph. 5:23), Jesus’ bride is the church and he died for the church (Eph 5:23-32), and His body is the church (Col. 1:18).Can you have salvation without Jesus as your head, and without being part of His Body? Can you love Jesus without loving His bride? That would be like saying to me “Harvey, I love you but I don’t like your wife.” If you are a dude I would punch you in the mouth. Most importantly, can you have a relationship with God without the death of Christ on your behalf? Christ died for His Church.
Individualistic American Christianity is foreign to the Gospel.