Over the years there have been a variety of statements (or mottos) expressing an ideology espoused by those who want Jesus “but not the church.” The newest of these is that one can love Jesus but hate religion.
In my experience those who profess such views are in reality just looking for an easy way out of what they see as an oppressive way of life. They want the grace of God that has been extended unto all men (Titus 2:11) but don’t want to be told what to do.by God or anyone else.
Now, if by religion or “church” one means a denomination or man-made organization or
institution I am in full agreement. The problem is two-fold created by those who have perverted the gospel and religion and those who are tired of the hypocrisy, ignorant of the truth, or just simply rebellious and self-serving (Romans 16:18).
So the question is, “Is the church important?” “Can we hope to go to heaven without the church or religion?” Well let’s not suppose we know what God would say, let’s listen to His Word.
Jesus didn’t come to destroy religion but to build His church and establish a one true religion for all mankind. Read and study Ephesians 2:11-22. In order to accomplish his mission to reconcile all men to himself he promised, “.I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Is the church important? It was important enough for Jesus to die on the cross and purchase it with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
In giving His life for us, and establishing the church, the Father gave Jesus all authority
(Matthew 28:18), placing “all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all
things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:18). For us it means that we must do what He says. In fact He said that if we truly love Him we would do what He says (John 14:15). Is the church important? If we want the head of the church to be the head of our lives it will be.
Jesus is not only the head of the church he is “the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). The church and the body are the same thing. The body is where the blood is and where we are cleansed (1 John 1:7). It was the church to which the Lord added the saved (Acts 2:47). And when one is saved he is translated out of darkness and into the kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Is the church important? If we want to be saved it is!
You cannot go to heaven if your name isn’t written there and if you are not in the kingdom. It is the names of those who are in the church that are written in heaven (Hebrews 12:23). And when Jesus comes again it is those who are in the kingdom that will go to be with Him in His home (John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:24).
Is the church important? The more pertinent question is, “Is the church important to you?” It will be if we want to be reconciled to God, if we are willing for Jesus to be the head of our lives and truly love Him, and if we want to be saved and go to heaven.
If it is important to us we will not forsake the services of the church (Hebrews 10:25). We will put the church first in our lives (Matthew 6:33). We will let our light shine (Matthew 5:14-16). We will practice pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27). If the church is important to us we will be obedient and faithful!