The Local Church
WE AFFIRM that particular Christian churches, which are members of the universal church, are more or less pure, in so far as the true faith is taught, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them. The purest churches are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. We affirm that local churches, the fellowshipping of the saints, the teaching of God’s Word, corporate worship, prayers, songs of the saints, and the discipline of the church are all blessed gifts from God and are normative means of grace given to the universal church for the sanctification and edification of the saints. We further affirm that all believers are called to be accountable to one another, preferably, in the context of a local church.
WE DENY that either formal or informal inclusion in a particular local church justifies a sinner before God. We likewise deny that exclusion from a particular local church condemns a faithful believer in Christ. However, we also deny that voluntary and willful exclusion from a particular local church should be normative for a faithful believer in Christ. We deny that it is normative for the Christian life to be one of isolation apart from the regular fellowship of the saints. We further deny that Christians ought to live a life divorced from accountability and fellowship.
Matthew 18:15-19; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 14:26-40; Galatians 6:1-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25