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"The Christian life must be lived through the local church"

Jonathan Leeman writes provocatively on Individualism and Community. Leeman says that todays problem isn't individualism but rejection of authority, repentance of which means real belonging to the church:

"The Christian life must be lived through the local church because that's what Christ has made us-members of his body. To claim that I belong to the church without belonging to a church is equivalent to claiming that I have been granted Christ's righteousness without seeking to put on that righteousness in ethical living. The imperative necessarily follows the indicative. We're called to submit to the authority and discipline of a local church because we have submitted to the authority and discipline of Christ. Indeed, to say that Christians should belong to a local church merely because it's advantageous to living the Christian life misses the point that the church body is now part and parcel of a Christian's very identity. An adopted son attends the family dinner table with his new brothers and sisters not just because it's good for him, but because that's what he is-a member of the family... Submitting to a local church on earth, in the language of Christian ethics, is a becoming of what we are in heaven."

This is helpful to remember that we need to have both our out-of-relationshipness dealt with, and the rebellion that brought about that broken relationship dealt with. The gospel does both! This is the fruit of the mercy of God to people! This is the grace of God at work to gather a people in Christ from all nations.

Leeman: "To claim that I belong to the church without belonging to a church is equivalent to claiming that I have been granted Christ's righteousness without seeking to put on that righteousness in ethical living" - absolutely!
  • That's why for any student arriving at University their first priority is to quickly join a local church when they're at University. Belonging works out in the relationships that the gospel creates between the most different of peoples. The grace shines!
  • Likewise - if Christian Union is about partnership of students from local churches in mission that'll not just happen by default but be manifest through the corporate praying, training, and witness of students together. Then grace shines!
More articles on the church at Modern Reformation


  1. That's an interesting and thought-provoking article. I started writing a response here in the comments, but it got rather long, so I posted it on my blog instead.

  2. Great little article. It put into words some thoughts I have been thinking recently but been unable to make come together in my head.

    Thanks for that.


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