One thing the Baptist churches in my life have had in common is the personal relationship Christians have with our Lord. That came to mind after reading the National Catholic Reporter’s article where the Pope says the Church is essential for faith.
I do agree with the Pope’s comment:
Every Christian, he said, can trace his or her faith back to parents, grandparents, teachers or friends.
Yes, we heard it first from another. That does not mean I could possibly agree with another comment:
Pope Francis described as "dangerous" the temptation to believe that one can have "a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the church."
Now I do recall my Lord’s words:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 KJV)
I also recall words I used just yesterday:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:13-15 KJV)
Yes, we do need to hear about Him before we can call upon Him, but we really don’t need the mediation of a church:
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1 Timothy 2:5 KJV)
Hebrews tells us more:
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; (Hebrews 8:1 KJV)
Thus, the mediation of a church is not necessary – Christians have a mediating high priest at God’s right hand.
Let me take the discussion a bit further, though, because I believe fellowship in an active, Bible-teaching, Jesus-preaching, spirit-breathing church is a good place to grow in faith:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)
I first heard about Jesus, then understood what faith in Him offered. I read the same methodology in the Bible. While I do not expect to be perfect in my actions on this earth, that’s still what the Bible tells me to strive to be:
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14 KJV)
I would not know this without studying the Bible. Through my life my preachers have not only encouraged Bible study, but they have given direction to Bible study aids – commentaries, dictionaries, maps, interlineal translations, study Bibles. There are so many different ways to be Bereans:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)
Enjoy your personal relationship with Jesus, Christ, as your savior.