The Christian Life Apart from The Church?

Sermons on Ephesians Calvin, John cover image

Scripture is quite clear that God’s people are part of his household (Eph. 2:19). Those who trust in Christ are family. They are an essential part of his body. God has gifted them in various ways to serve one another in love (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12, etc.). They are called to love each other deeply and actively (John 13:34, 1 John 4:7-12, etc). However, sometimes Christians refuse to be a living part of a local church fellowship. Or sometimes Christians think it’s not a big deal so they don’t become involved in the life of a church. This type of thinking is unbiblical to say the least.

Speaking of this, John Calvin had some helpful remarks in his sermon on Ephesians 4:6-8. Notice his mention of pride (self-conceit) and rottenness:

…See what reciprocal communication there is among the members of a body. And now God has so called us to himself that he will have us to become one in Christ Jesus…. Does it then follow that each of us should be a whole body by himself? No, for we see on the contrary how God has so dealt to every man his portion, and to all in general, that it is like a bond to hold us together in concord, in order that we should not be puffed up with such foolish self-conceit as to say, ‘I have enough of my own, I do not trouble myself about anyone else.’

God’s will, then, is not that every man should be a whole and perfect body by himself, but that one should be a hand, another a finger, another as an arm, another as a leg, another as a shoulder, and another as a foot.  In short, God has so dealt out His gifts among us that we must perceive that, if each of us withdraws into his own solitude, he will soon be like a rotten member, for he can have no firm continuance in the whole body if he insists on being separate from the rest of the members.  And what will follow from it?  It is bound to perish.  Even so it is with us.  That, therefore, is Paul’s meaning when he says that God’s grace is given to each one of us [Eph. 4:7].

John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, p. 337.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015