Is it Through the Blood of Our Redeemer Jesus Christ or the Lifeblood of a Local Church That We Have Spiritual Life?

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by T. Hartzell (author of In the Name of Purpose)   

In Churchianity, commitment to a local church is imperative.

“The Bible says a Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, or a child without a family. It is an unnatural state. The Bible says, ‘You belong in God’s household with every other Christian.’ [endnote: Ephesians 2:19b (LB)]” (Purpose Driven Life; p. 132)

Actually, Rick Warren’s first instance of “the Bible says” has no endnote because this is not what God’s Word says! Going ahead and claiming “the Bible says” when it does not say so is scriptural malpractice. His second instance of “the Bible says” is from one of the versions that has changed God’s Word.

“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:18-19)

Because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us and makes us a part of the household of God, the true Body of Christ, which is not the local church. Fellowship with other believers, which is important, does not require a local church for it to take place. Yes, fellowship in a local church is ideal, when there is one available that isn’t trading in the Word of God for popular false doctrines sweeping Christianity today. But man-centered, purpose-driven Churchianity takes committing to a local church to a whole new level in its replacement of Christ with community.

“You must be connected to a church fellowship to survive spiritually.” –Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community Workbook (Emphasis added)7

“Any organ that is detached from the body will not only miss what it was created to be, it will also shrivel and die quickly. The same is true for Christians that are uncommitted to any specific congregation.”–Rick Warren8

“If an organ is somehow severed from its body, it will shrivel and die. It cannot exist on its own, and neither can you. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local body, your spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist. [endnote: Ephesians 4:16 (no version listed)]” (PDL; p. 131)

The local churches are not the source of “lifeblood” that gives life to our spirit! Ephesians 4:16 says absolutely nothing of these outlandish claims. If our spiritual life ceased to exist because we didn’t attend a local church, then the local church would be God’s redeeming agent in salvation.

Contrarily, true spiritual life is the eternal life we are given when our spirit is born again. True spiritual life is the life that Jesus Christ lives in us through His indwelling Holy Spirit, when we receive God’s free gift of salvation by believing the Gospel of Christ. This true spiritual life is sustained by the Lord God, not by the local church! And if this life ever ceased to exist, that person would have no salvation. It is through the blood of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, not the lifeblood of a local church, that we have spiritual life and are delivered from death. But “the message hasn’t changed”!

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:2-4, 10)

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:20-21)

In addition, rather than the pure and sinless life and blood of Jesus Christ, look at the “lifeblood” that Rick Warren would have us depend on for our spiritual life:

“There will never be a perfect church this side of heaven, because every church is filled with pagans, carnal Christians, and immature believers.”–Rick Warren9

“Can you see God’s wisdom in creating the church, a family full of mentors and models for our benefit? This is why being connected to a small group is so crucial to spiritual growth. It’s a regular opportunity to learn from each other.”–Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community Workbook10

Thank God that our spiritual life and growth do not depend on the local church, as Rick Warren claims, but on our faith in the pure and holy, Almighty Lord God and His eternal truth. He is the One Who sustains us.

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)

But the gross Scripture twisting and replacing God with community continues:

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being …” (Acts 17:28)

“God challenges us to create a community where we love like our lives depend upon it (1 Peter 1:22, Msg), and where we can each ‘live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28, NIV).”–Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community Workbook (Parentheses in the original)11

Rick Warren is engaging in scriptural malpractice to support his unscriptural Shepherding-Discipleship beliefs.

“A related benefit of a local church is that it also provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives shepherd leaders the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock….”

“Satan loves detached believers, unplugged from the life of the Body, isolated from God’s family, and unaccountable to spiritual leaders, because he knows they are defenseless and powerless against his tactics.” (PDL; pp. 135-136)

According to God’s Word, the armor of God is given to us to stand against Satan and defend against “all the fiery darts of the wicked” (see Ephesians 6:11-17). Furthermore, the armor of God only includes truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Nowhere is the armor of God said to include “the life of the Body” or the “spiritual protection” of “shepherd leaders.” This is because God is about Christianity, not Churchianity.

On the other hand, Shepherding-Discipleship advocates, who very much want control over Christians, would love to have us believe that if we don’t attend a local church we are not genuinely “following Christ.” They would love to have us believe that apart from local churches we “are defenseless and powerless” and won’t “survive spiritually.” In order for them to gain control over the masses, the masses need to be coerced or intimidated into replacing Christianity with Churchianity. Incidentally, immediately following the previous quote regarding being “unplugged” is the heading, “It’s All in the Church.” From Chapter 5 of In the Name of Purpose by Tamara Hartzell

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