When some people say “I am spiritual but I don’t need to go to church,” they may be influenced by Gnosticism. Gnostics say the way to God is by gaining knowledge of God apart from needing Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. They say Jesus came to earth to bring secret knowledge, not to pay our sin debt. To them sin is just a lack of spiritual knowledge and you don’t need church for that. The Apostle John wrote to refute Gnostic teaching. In 1 John CH 4, he wrote, “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God.” Gnosticism stresses the pursuit of secret knowledge—not truth from gifted teachers within the Body of Christ. Now, of course, not every person who fails to attend a local church can be labeled a Gnostic, but those who decide they can grow isolated from God’s people are, in our view, making a serious mistake.
Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr. is the founder and chairman of UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.). Under his direction, UMI has grown to be a leading publisher of Christian education resources for churches in the African American community. Read More