You are Designed to Know God through the Community of Faith

In God’s wise design, each individual child of his is dependent upon other believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Think about it: you were not ‘zapped’ one day from Heaven with the knowledge of Christ. Instead, another human being had to share the Gospel with you, whether preaching from the pulpit, at Vacation Bible School, or across the kitchen table. Even if you were watching a preacher on television, or reading a Gospel tract all by yourself, another person is bringing the truth of Christ to you form that broadcast, and another person had to put that tract together. This also means that none of us will grow in our Christian discipleship apart from other believers. We need the local church: it’s corporate worship services, its Sunday school, its prayer meeting, its informal chats on the front porch after the service is over. This is by God’s design, and if we are seeking to know God in isolation from his people, we are not only in rebellion, but we are completely deluded. We probably think we know God far better than we actually do.

So we are designed by God to know him through the community of faith, the church. This should work a deeper humility in us, and a deeper love for the churches in which God has placed us and the fellow believers he has placed in our lives. Ponder this quote from Augustine:

“Let us not tempt the one in whom we have placed our trust, or we may be deceived by the enemy’s cunning and perversity and become unwilling even to go o church or to hear and learn the gospel, or to read the biblical text or listen to it being read and preached, preferring to wait until ‘we are caught up into the third heaven, whether in the body or out of the body’ (in the words of the apostle) (2 Cor 12:2-4), and there ‘hear words that cannot be expressed, which a human being may not utter’ or see the Lord Jesus Christ in person and hear the gospel from him rather than men.

Let us beware of such arrogant and dangerous temptations, and rather reflect that the apostle Paul, no less, though cast to the ground and then enlightened by the Divine voice from Heaven, was sent to a human being to receive the sacrament of baptism and be joined to the church. (Acts 9:3-8) And Cornelius the centurion, although an angel announced to him that his prayers had been heard and his acts of charity remembered, was nevertheless put under the tuition of Peter . . . All this could certainly have been done through an angel, but the human condition would be wretched indeed if God appeared unwilling to minister his word to human beings through human agency. It has been said, ‘For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are’ (1 Cor 3:17): how could hat be true if God did not make divine utterances from his human temple but broadcast direct from heaven or through angels the learning that he wished to be passed on to mankind? Moreover, there would be no way for love, which ties people together in the bonds of unity, to make souls overflow and as it were intermingle with each other, of human beings learned nothing from other humans.”

Augustine, De Doctrine Christiana, Preface, 5-6. As quoted by Douglas F. Kelly, Systematic Theology Vol 1, 25.

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About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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