By Hank Hanegraaff

Church is far more than an organization. It is a life. It is the reincarnation of Eden. The place in which you and I may access the Tree of Life replete with its eucharistic bounty. A bounty by which our nature is unified with Christ and with other Christ-ians. As such, it is axiomatic that Christians attend church.

From first to last, the Scriptures teach us that the Christian life is to be lived in the context of the family of faith (Ephesians 3:4–15; Acts 2). Indeed, the Bible knows nothing of Lone Ranger Christians! Far from being born again as rugged individuals, we are born into a body of believers of which Christ is the head. Thus, as Saint Paul commands, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25).

Furthermore, while church is principally a eucharistic assembly, it is not exclusively so. The church is simultaneously a spiritual gymnasium wherein which we are called to “gymnasize” ourselves unto godliness. To paraphrase Saint Paul, “Gymnasize yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4: 7-8). Those who wish to emulate Jesus Christ do not become Christlike by simply taking on the trappings of Christianity, nor do they win the good fight by merely mouthing Christian slogans. Instead, they become Christlike by offering themselves to God as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). Prayer, study, and fasting characterized the life of Christ. In like fashion, such spiritual disciplines honed in the spiritual gymnasium—the church—must characterize the lives of those who sincerely desire to become Christlike. Spiritual disciplines are, in effect, spiritual exercises. As the physical disciplines of weightlifting and running promote strength and stamina, so the spiritual disciplines promote righteousness.

Finally, it is crucial to be a vital reproducing member of a healthy well-balanced church in that it is through the church that Christ’s Great Commission is to be fulfilled (Matthew 28:18-20). As such, there is a direct link between the oneness of Christians after the image of the holy Trinity and the missionary dimension of the church. As ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew so aptly put it, “the church looks not inward but outward. It exists not for the sake of itself but for the sake of the world’s salvation. The church as a mystery of mutual Trinitarian love is true to itself only if the circle of love is being constantly enlarged, only if new persons are continually being brought within it. Faith in the Triune God signifies that we are each of us missionaries, dedicated to the preaching of the Gospel.”

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 NKJV

***Note the preceding text is adapted from The Complete Bible Answer Book: Collector’s Edition: Revised and Expanded (2024). To receive for your partnering gift please click here. ***