Do I need the church if I have a relationship with Jesus? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. We'd love to hear from you. Here's our phone number. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can always feel free to email us at questionsatcorechristianity.com. And Pastor Adriel, as we kick off a brand new year, I forgot to ask you this the day after New Year's, but are you looking forward to any particular things in your family or at your church this year?
That's a great question, Bill. At our church, we're in the process, Lord willing, of trying to bring on an assistant pastor, so that's pretty exciting for me. Sort of a need we've had for a while. So I'm excited about that coming to fruition and being able to work together with an assistant. And then with our family, just, you know, our kids are growing. We have five kids, and I'm just excited to see how they continue to grow this year. We have so much fun together, and so, yeah, that's what I'm looking forward to.
How about you? You've got some amazing kids, I must say. It's always fun to spend time with them. Now, I have three teenagers at home, and one of them is in college, and the other one graduates from high school in June, so we'll have two kids in college next year, which is just amazing. And then we have a sophomore in high school, and she's already looking forward.
She's saying, God, I want to visit some colleges next year, so they're very college-focused. The house is probably going to be a little quieter, don't you think? Yeah, just my wife and I and our little doggy. But he's like our kid.
He's like our fourth kid, so there you go. Oh, I know. I get the pictures.
I do send Adriel pictures of our dog in various poses, so he's pretty adorable. Well, let's get to the phones. We have Clay on the line calling in from Missouri. Clay, what is your question for Pastor Adriel?
Yes, sir. I have had several professions of faith, and I believe in everything that Jesus did, but I feel like at times that my flesh or even myself tries to add work to it when I know I can't. And it's very depressing, and I just feel like I'm all alone in this situation.
Clay, let me just first say to you that you are not alone. In fact, I think our default is to assume that we can earn our way to God. I mean, as quickly as God gives us His grace, we want to try to earn it. Our own hearts, the temptation to work righteousness is there, and it's how we're programmed, I think, from a very early age.
The Gospel is so different from the way in which the world works. You know, the way the world works is that you work hard, you do, and ordinarily you'll get a good response, a good reward, but the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is for us as sinners. It humbles us because it exposes the fact, it reveals the fact that there's nothing that we could do to merit the grace of God in our lives. In fact, the word grace is demerited favor. It's, I deserve the opposite of what God gives me in His Son, Jesus Christ. I deserve God's wrath and curse.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but God in Christ has given me eternal life. And so it's important for us to rest in that, to receive that, and not to try to add works to the glorious Gospel of our Lord. In fact, Clay, what's so interesting is in the New Testament, the harshest warnings that you get in the New Testament aren't for the churches that are struggling with immorality here or there.
Think of the Corinthian church, for example. The harshest warnings that we see in the New Testament are for those who are adding works to the Gospel. You see this in the book of Galatians, you see this in the book of Hebrews as well, and so it's so important for us, and I think part of the reason why you have those warnings is because it's just, again, our default nature. We want to go back to trying to work our way into God's good graces.
So here's what I would say. One, we need to understand the role of works in the Christian life. Clay, you are called as a believer in Jesus Christ to pursue good works. I think of the book of Titus. When Paul is writing to Titus, he mentions good works some seven times there throughout the book.
He says in Titus 3, verse 1, remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work. Since the end of the book, he says again in verse 14, and let our people learn to devote themselves to good works so as to help cases of urgent need and not to be unfruitful. So you're called to good works as a Christian, and you should pursue them with all of your heart to seek how to be pleasing to the Lord with your life. But you aren't saved by good works. Listen to what he says again in this same book where he emphasizes the importance of good works. Titus, chapter 3, verse 5, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. You are saved, Clay, not by good works, but for good works so that you might pursue the Lord.
And having that distinction, understanding that distinction, I think is key. Rest in the mercy of God, receive the free grace of salvation, and know that you belong to the Lord, that you're justified by faith in Jesus Christ. That the one who is justified, who has received the mercy of God, then serve the Lord out of gratitude and pursue a life that is pleasing to him. Clay, thanks for reaching out, and may the Lord bless you. That is so well said, Adriel.
Thank you for that. And for Clay and for any of our listeners who are struggling with this whole issue of assurance of salvation, we actually have a great core question on this topic. It's called, Can I Lose My Salvation?
The answer is no, that's a short answer. You can find that by going to corechristianity.com forward slash core questions. We have some great core questions, by the way, that are absolutely free. You can download them and they might help you as you have discussions with your friends and relatives, those who are Christians and those who aren't. So check it out at corechristianity.com forward slash core questions.
Let's go back to the phones. Paul is on the line from Tucson, Arizona. And Paul, what's your question for Pastor Adriel? Hi, Pastor Adriel.
I wanted to get your advice on a situation. I've been teaching a Bible study for some time with some local friends, and these people I've known for some time. And over the last year or so, I've realized, I didn't know this at first, but I realized that over the last year or so, several of the people in the Bible study are not attending church anymore.
Some of them are, but there's several of them that are not. They seem to be disillusioned with church, but yet they're still attending my Bible study. And I tried in different ways to encourage them to go to church. And they kind of just smile and nod, and they don't really seem to be interested in going to church. And I don't feel like, of course, our Bible study is a church. You know, I feel it's an extension of the church, obviously, like a parachurch group, and I'm not a pastor. And so I just wanted to get your advice, how you might address this, and if you think that if this continues, do I need to, in some sense, step away hoping that they will return to church? Because it does seem to be almost like a disciplinary type thing in the sense that they don't want to go to church. So I just wanted to get your advice as a pastor about how you might address that.
Yeah. Paul, thank you for that question. And what an opportunity you have to get to share with these individuals and to bring God's Word to bear with gentleness and with respect, calling them, I think, to be a part of a solid local church where they're going to be encouraged in their relationship with the Lord, and where they're going to get the church accountability that we all need.
I mean, what you describe here is something that I'm seeing more and more. You know, I don't have a relationship to any local church. I'm not a member of a church.
I just sort of do my own thing. Sometimes I visit churches here and there. I got a lot of Christian friends. We're in a Bible study studying the Bible together. But the problem with that is it doesn't reflect the model that we see in the New Testament that Jesus gave to the apostles and the apostles instituted in the churches that they planted for the spiritual growth of believers. We should be, we need to be, in local churches governed by elders who are caring for us, watching over our souls. This is what the author of the Hebrews said in Hebrews chapter 13 verse 17. Obey your leaders and submit to them for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account.
Let them do this with joy and not with groaning for that would be of no advantage to you. And so, you know, I wrestled with this back when I was in college and I wasn't really a member of a local church. I was struggling through the Christian life and somebody asked me the question, who is keeping watch over your soul? Who are the elders that you're accountable to in the church? Because you read the New Testament, it seems like this is just something that's assumed.
And I remember at the time thinking, well, nobody. I mean, I have some Christian friends and, you know, we'll talk about things together, but there's really no church that I'm accountable to. Well, that's not the New Testament model. That's not what we see in the Bible.
And it's not just a good idea. It's what God gave to us because he knows that we need the body of Christ. We are not, you are not as an individual, the body of Christ. You are, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, a member of the body.
And this is something that I think so many people have missed or forgotten. And so I think, you know, insofar as you have opportunity, Paul, asking questions, trying to get, you know, an understanding of what is it that keeps you away from the church? And then maybe bringing up some of these passages like Hebrews chapter 13, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Hebrews chapter 10, also where the author of the Hebrews talks about not neglecting to meet together, verse 25 of Hebrews chapter 10, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day drawing near. And that's what you're doing, Paul, is you're encouraging these individuals. Now, let me just, let me just say, I know that there are many people who have had bad experiences, sometimes horrific experiences in local churches, that there are deep wounds that for some people, you know, the thought of going to a church is, is traumatic.
It brings about fear. And so I think that you want to be sensitive, you want to be compassionate, and you want to highlight the fact, right, that there's a difference between, I mean, there are some churches where, you know, it's false teaching or abusive leadership. And obviously, you wouldn't want to call an individual to go to a church where they're going to be abused or taught something heretical.
But Jesus is still at work in and through the local church. And so we ought to pursue solid local churches where there's accountability, where the Word of God is faithfully taught, and where we can grow together with the saints in the gifts that God has given to us under the ministry of the Word. And so I just want to encourage you, you know, to be compassionate, to be sensitive, but also, again, as you have opportunity to bring some of these texts to bear, really for their own good. Because having that accountability and consistency with the body of Christ is for our own growth and grace and nourishment.
This is, I mean, as you talk about this with them, I think it's something where you want to say, look, this is, this is for our, this is something we need, this is something you need. And so it's something that we ought to pursue prayerfully with humility as well. May the Lord bless you in the Bible study that you have as you have these conversations, Paul, and appreciate the work that you're doing and the way you're serving the Lord. Paul, thanks so much for your call and for listening to Core Christianity. And as Adriel said, we really appreciate the fact that you feel called to lead this Bible study, maybe a study on the church. The purpose of the church would be a great thing to consider with your folks in your study there. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.
We'd love to hear from you. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, our phone lines will be open for the next 10 minutes or so. So now is the time to call. The number is 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673.
So jump on the phone right now. We also want to tell you about a free resource that we are offering that explores six important topics that are often overlooked in the church today. Yeah, the topics are things like natural and special revelation, law and gospel, faith and works. We've already talked a little bit about the relationship between faith and works earlier on the broadcast. I mean, this is stuff that people are curious about, and it's so important for us to understand these things if we're going to have a healthy walk with the Lord, not be confused about some of these vital topics. And so the resource that we're offering for free is called Six Categories You Should Know, and that's six categories you should know, and it's free over at corechristianity.com. This is really a clear and concise resource about some of the key doctrines that unfortunately many Christians and even some churches desperately need to recover. A great resource for you to use at the beginning of the year. To find it, head over to corechristianity.com forward slash offers. That's corechristianity.com forward slash offers and look for six categories you should know. Well, let's go to the phones. We have a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners a couple days ago.
This is Maria. My question is, I've been inviting people to attend church with me for the past year. It's great when they say yes, and it's okay to when they say no. However, the ones that say no. These are their concerns and I wanted to get clarification on how to address this one friend says I don't need the church because I already have a direct relationship with God.
Also, I had a girlfriend who I invited. She doesn't have a positive experience in the past with the church. She's had bad experiences where the congregation would judge her.
So how do I address these issues to be more a listener and caring for my brothers and sisters? God bless. Wow, I mean really right in line with Paul's question that we just received. So you're inviting people to church and the two responses are... The second response, you know, I've been hurt by the church.
I've had a bad experience. The first response, I don't need the community of faith because I have a personal relationship with Jesus. We've made this distinction before. We do have a personal relationship with Jesus, but we're not called to have a private, isolated relationship with Jesus. We are called again to be a part of the body of Christ and when we isolate ourselves from the body of Christ, we cut ourselves off from the many gifts and blessings that God gives to his people in the community of faith.
We're called. You are called, brothers and sisters, to be a part of the local church, the body of Christ. You sometimes hear people say things like, well, I love Jesus. I just can't stand the church. And again, I understand. I've already said there are people who've had really, really painful experiences in church and I don't want to minimize that.
But here's the thing. God calls you to worship him. He doesn't call you to be in an abusive church, but he calls you to submit yourself to the ministry of the word, to faithful pastors and elders who, while they're, you know, we're all sinful, are seeking to honor the Lord through the proclamation of the word of God and growing together in the grace of God. And so that's something that God calls and commands us to. It's what you see everywhere in the scriptures. And so we cannot live the Christian life apart from the body of Christ, the local church. If you're united to Jesus Christ as the head of the church, you are also united to his body, his bride, his people. You can't neglect that and you can't brush that aside. And so that's the first thing.
I was the first individual. And again, depending on where they're coming from, their background, you know, I just want to be sensitive, but also, you know, have that conviction about what the word of God teaches. Now, with regard to the person who says, well, I've just had such terrible experiences in the church. I've been hurt by the church, so I don't want to go back. I wrote an article years ago over at corechristianity.com called Why You Still Need the Church, Even If You Have Been Hurt By It.
And I give just three points there. One, Jesus is still with the church, and I've already said that here. Christ is still working in and through the ministry of the church.
This quick story, I was at a coffee shop years ago studying. I don't think I was even ordained at the time. I was studying the word probably for a seminary class or something like that. And a man came up to me and said, oh, you're reading the Bible. And, you know, I used to go to church for many years. I could tell that he knew the scriptures, that he had been through Sunday school and could talk about Jesus and so on. And he said, but I don't go to church anymore because none of the churches that I see around look like Jesus to me. In other words, they don't seem to follow the teachings of Jesus in my book. And then he started to describe, you know, give a number of examples. They don't do this, they don't do that, they don't care for the poor.
Like this individual in particular was at the time had been on the streets. And so he said, you know, I just I don't go to any of these churches because they don't care for the poor like they shouldn't. And as I was listening to him, I thought to myself, OK. And I actually agreed with a lot of what he was saying. And I said, you know, I don't discount what you're saying.
I agree that, boy, many churches fall short of what Christ calls them to, what Christ calls us to. I think he was shocked that I agreed with him. And then I said, but you know what I find so beautiful about Jesus is that he sees all of the things that you see. He sees the brokenness, our failures, the hypocrisy even in the church at times. He sees all of that.
The things that we often point to and say, that's why I don't need the church and I'm going to cut myself off from the church. Jesus sees all of that. He knows it better than we do.
He sees all of that. And yet he still has not abandoned his church. And he still, I mean, he promised, right, I am going to build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. There is no perfect church. And again, I'm not trying to make a justification for just go to a church where it's abusive and the leadership is all messed up and you're being taught things that are false.
No, not at all. I mean, we reject those churches. Don't go to those kinds of churches. But where sinners are gathering to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ and to hear the pure preaching of the word of God, we should want to be there because Christ is working there. So Jesus is still in his church, working in and through the church.
And here's the other thing. If you've been hurt by the church, let me just say Jesus understands your struggle like no one else can and does. He can relate to the horrible experiences you've had. Jesus is the one who was mocked by religious authorities, accused by them of performing miracles by the power of Satan, ridiculed for the company that he kept. They lied about him. When he was in his most vulnerable point, at the most vulnerable point, shamefully crucified, the religious leaders continued mocking him. He saved others.
He can't save himself. No person has endured more violent abuse at the hands of quote unquote church leaders than Jesus did. And because of that, he can comfort you like no one else can. And so he's faithful to you and he's faithful to keep building his church, brothers and sisters. And so I would say, look, instead of turning away from the church, instead of turning away from the body of Christ, let's turn to Christ in and through healthy churches where the word of God is preached. And let's share that information, that news with our friends and loved ones who have left the church as well. Thank you, Maria, for that question. Really well said, Adriel.
Thanks for that. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We have time for one more call. Christina from Indiana.
Christina, we just got about a minute left. What's your question for Adriel? OK. If you're dealing with a resistance and something that you struggle with and keep failing with, how do you deal with the guilt and the shame that also seems to keep you from praying to God?
Yeah. This is an excellent question. You know, we get into a pattern, this struggle with a habitual sin, and then we feel like, well, I just can't even pray. Here's what God wants. God wants us, even after we've fallen for the tenth time with the same thing, he wants us to turn to him, not to wallow in guilt and shame and self-condemnation, but to turn to him and say, God, you know this struggle.
You know how many times I've failed in this area. You know that in and of myself, in my own strength, I have no hope, but I am hoping in your mercy, and I'm casting myself at your feet. Sometimes I don't even feel like following you, Lord, but help me to follow you, and when you do, God extends his grace and mercy to you, so call on the name of the Lord even after you've fallen. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar, or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-The-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program, and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
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