I have heard many Christians make this and similar statements through the years. One song years ago became popular singing about such an idea.
I have often heard ministers make the statement that there was no need for denominations, church governmental structures or any accountability to other men since they had Jesus as their Head and that was enough. In summary, “I am called by the Lord, not by man”, is their position.
Perhaps such thinking is why the modern Church is ever splitting into new independent groups. Perhaps this is why long term loyalty to a local congregation is rare as Christians move from congregation to congregation according to their taste at the moment.
Perhaps this is the thinking behind those who claim Christianity, speak “christianese”, but never attend church at all. After all, as long as they have Jesus, they don’t need man-made religion. Right?
Is it biblical to make the statement, “He is ALL I need”?
Such thinking is a result of a woeful lack of teaching concerning the doctrine of the “the Church”. It is a severe lack of understanding of what Jesus came to build: His Church.
When we understand the doctrine of the “Church” then we can dismiss as unbiblical the thought that we don’t need anyone else, any governmental structure, or any connectivity and accountability besides the person of Jesus.
On the contrary, the Bible is clear that we need each other in a very real and integrated way. This is the will and plan of Jesus.
- He came to build a “church”:
…and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
- He prayed for believers to be united:
I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, John 17:23
Jesus’ use of the word church in the Greek, “Ecclesia” means “assembly”. By very nature, an assembling together of the called out is a true definition of the church.
This is what Jesus said He came to build. Allow me to quote as such, “Upon this rock (confession) I will build my assembly of called out people”…
To be born again is to be born again into His Church. To assume that it is ok to follow Christ and not assemble with other believers is to directly go against the very intent and purpose of Christ. After all HE prayed that believers would be ONE.
Three images of the Church make it very plain how absurd it is to think we only need Jesus, but not each other.
- The Vine and the branches
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5
The vine itself is a reference to a connected and integrated structure that exists for the purpose of producing fruit.
It is ONE structure. Christ being the Vine is the life source and common connection between all the branches. Yet, even each branch has its parts that play a role: stem, leaf, fruit. There is no “lone ranger” working alone in the Vine system!
- The Body and all its’ parts
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. I Corinthians 12:12
A clear reading of the entire passage in I Corinthians 12 makes it impossible for anyone to biblically justify not being integrated into an assembled church or under the structure of church leadership.
Paul’s description of the Church as a human body is amazing. He naturally concludes that an eye CAN NOT SAY TO THE REST OF THE BODY, “I don’t need you”. Dependency on one another is demonstrated as clearly as the body as a whole is dependent on the Head. He even concludes in verse 28 reminding the assembled body that God Himself appointed various leaders, gifts and administrations in the Church, everyone being a particular part.
- A building made up of living stones
5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, I Peter 2:5
While Peter describes Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone, a cornerstone by itself serves no purpose. A cornerstone gets its’ definition from the connection it has with a building.
Peter calls each of us a “living stone”, stacked together we create a spiritual house. Alone…we are not only NOT part of the structured house, but we also are not connected with the Chief Cornerstone!
THE AUTHORITY STATEMENTS OF CHRIST:
Let’s consider all the popular authority statements of Christ.
Three of them we quote often as a singular verse, but the reality is each of the following three are connected to a “Church” passage:
18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:11
We often apply this to prayer, but Jesus attaches it to a scenario in which the called out and gathered (the Church) are called upon to make judgment calls regarding inter-church relationships.
So verse 11 is about Church authority to allow and disallow.
19 “Again I say[c] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19
This verse also is connected with the gathered church. While we often use it for agreement in prayer, which definitely is applicable, the greater use is for the gathered Church to come together and exercise authority in prayer.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
This final verse, still attached to the authority of the gathered Church would have been recognized in Jewish thought. Jews in the time of Christ taught that whenever two or more gathered to study the Torah, the Divine presence was with them.
Jesus is putting the cherry on top in his teaching about the authority of the gathered Church. Such authority is due to His real presence in the gathered body of believers, (the Church).
So, one cannot take advantage of these powerful verses while separated from the called out assembled Church. They are CHURCH passages.
The truth is:
You cannot be the Body of Christ without being interconnected.
You cannot be a branch on the Vine without interdependency.
You cannot be the “ecclesia” or “called out assembled” unless you gather.
You cannot be one of His “sheep” without being in a fold.
You cannot have the Chief Cornerstone as your foundation if you are not joined with the living stones that make up the whole building.
You need to be part of the Church, His Body which He loved enough to purchase with His own blood.
You need to be interconnected, with fellow believers, with deacons, elders, pastors, bishops, overseers, prophets, teachers and evangelist…and all the other gifts that God placed IN THE CHURCH so that it can grow and prosper.
If He loved the church….so let us love what He loves.