I have been enjoying the meetings of the local church for the past eleven to twelve years, and, like the man in First Corinthians 14:25, I have to declare (in reference to the local church) “Indeed God is among you.” I was first met the Christians meeting as the local church in 1987 when I was a graduate student. At that time in my life I was a Catholic with a fresh seeking to know the Bible. The brothers warmly received me into their fellowship as I attended and participated in their weekly Bible study. Although I received much help in understanding the Bible, my testimony of the church here is regarding the guileless and faithful care that led me to the living Person of Christ time and time again. I discovered that it is one thing to “search the Scriptures,” but it is quite a different thing to “come to the Lord in the Scriptures that you may have life (John 5:40).” And life, Christ Himself as the divine life, is what I got!
Since I began meeting with the local church, my knowledge of and my love for the Lord and His heart's desire have soared. As the Psalmist (Psalms 119:147-148) I anticipate the dawn each day to touch the Lord in prayer to give the first part, the best part, of the day to Him. Moreover, my experience in the church has given me not only a love for the gospel but also much boldness to participate in the gospel. It is the greatest privilege in the universe to have a share in the dispensing of God into people for the building up of the Body of Christ.
It has been said that once a person has seen Christ he can never take the same way, but must take a different way. My experience of Christ in the local church has certainly caused me to take a different way. After spending time with the Lord, the attraction of the world has faded and so have my worldly pursuits. I have received a kind of soberness in my living that only can come from the inward knowledge that Christ is coming again soon for us to behold face to face and to render an account. Having received the free gift of God (eternal life) perhaps 30 years ago, I now stretch forward to gain the prize that is the overcomer's reward at the Lord's return. Certainly this was the apostle Paul's aspiration. He wrote, “Brothers, I do not account of myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do: forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize... (Philippians 3:13-14).” The local church provides what I have found to be the best environment on earth to foster the growth of the Christian life.