Covid especially, and other competing activities have kept and can continue to keep us from being together in our local church, the local body of fellowshipping believers and seekers, our church community.  How often lately in these unique times have we noticed the obvious positive reactions as brothers and sisters, as well as boys and girls, have caught up again after such necessary imposed absences? Most encouraging have been the affirmations expressed and received of missing our dear friends, but now, thankfully, we are able to once more sit together under the preached Word of God as a community, a fellowship at HBC.  Yes, we have certainly been blessed by the technology that has allowed us to be together, so to speak, online, as the Word was and is preached during recent restrictive times.  And we continue to be challenged, uplifted, blessed and encouraged, again meeting together in person.  There have been blessings too as believers and seekers in other places, constrained to their computer without access to fellowship, have been able to be fed by online preached messages.  It was quite apparent, that, at our recent newcomer’s luncheon, our HBC fellowship has been added to by the call of the faithfully preached Word of God, heard and seen online that fulfilled many a thirst for the preached Word of God; and we certainly should continually give thanks and pray for the preaching, and its ongoing protection.

God’s Word has much to say, to encourage, prod and admonish in this area. The word in the Bible most often translated as “church” means “the gathering of people”. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus was actually saying He would build His gathering of people. Ephesians 1:22-23 “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”  Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Romans 12:5 “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Acts 2:41-42, 44 “So those who received his word were baptised, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (The Church was born). And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.”

 Another important reason for Christian community is the impact this has on unbelievers in our midst, within our family, neighbourhood, workplace, school etc.  Jesus told His disciples in John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  This love is sacrificial and unconditional. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  This shows that in the church family, the Body of Christ, the local church community, a believer receives teaching and is equipped, challenged and stimulated to do the good works God calls them to do for God’s witness and His saving of unbelievers to eternal life. Externally, the purpose of the church community is to fulfill the Great Commission as Jesus has commanded in Matthew 28:18-20.  There is no nobler purpose for the church, than to introduce others to Christ.

The local church community is a separate body that meets in a designated place (we meet at MST in Wantirna South) and is comprised of believers and attending non-believers.  Our duties to our local church include regular attendance, sitting under Biblical preaching and teaching, financial support for God’s work and witness, respect for the leadership, serving, and more.

In the church family, we also have children’s Sunday School, Equip classes, Youth Group, Young Adults’ fellowship, men’s and women’s ministries and fellowships, many serving opportunities and needs, life groups, prayer groups, helps and caring groups and so on. All these are a blessing from the Lord and unite and witness to His work.

As believers, we are all joined with all Christians down through the ages, from Peter to the young believing child in the body of Christ.  The local church community is where members of God’s universal church can and should apply the words of 1 Corinthians 12, encouraging, teaching, and building up one another in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It will be a blessing for us all to read again today the full chapter of 1 Corinthians 12.

A hymn that is also helpful to consider in this discussion is “Blest be the tie that binds.”   The first verse of this hymn is:

“Blest be the tie that binds
our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above”



1 Blest be the tie that binds
our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above.

2 Before our Father’s throne
we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
our comforts and our cares.

3 We share our mutual woes,
our mutual burdens bear,
and often for each other flows
the sympathizing tear.

4 When we are called to part,
it gives us inward pain;
but we shall still be joined in heart,
and hope to meet again.

5 This glorious hope revives
our courage by the way;
while each in expectation lives
and waits to see the day.

6 From sorrow, toil, and pain,
and sin, we shall be free;
and perfect love and friendship reign
through all eternity.


Elder Ian Bawden


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