I Will Not Leave Jesus — But I’m Done with the Church


I Will Not Leave Jesus — But I’m Done with the Church

Timothy Neesam (flickr)

Audio Transcript

Today’s clip comes not from a sermon, but from an interview with John Piper led by pastor Norm Funk at Westside Church in Vancouver, BC. We jump into their conversation as they were just talking about the local church, and leaders who have failed in local churches. So what do you say to someone who says, I’ll never leave Jesus, but I’ve seen the failure of a pastor and I’m done with the local church? Here’s a very short clip from the conversation.

Pastor John, what would you say to this? “I’m not walking away from Jesus, but I am done with the church. I can’t trust the leadership. I held a certain leader in high esteem. So I am not going to walk away from Jesus, but I am done with the organized aspect of church life.”

If you do that, you are walking away from Jesus.

Here is the reason: To say, “I love Jesus, but I don’t submit to his word” is a lie. “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word” (John 14:23). Jesus founded the church. I didn’t. Paul didn’t. Jesus founded the church. He established apostles to be — according to Ephesians 2:20 — the foundation of the church. And then he built it with prophets and teachers and pastors and ordained that there be a structure of local churches in the body of Christ called the church.

“There are a lot of young evangelicals who are cool, hip, and leftward-leaning who think they can substitute something for organized church.”

This is not man’s idea. There are a lot of young evangelicals who are cool, hip, and leftward-leaning who think they can substitute something for organized church. Well, I would have to look at what they are substituting and say: Are you really just creating church, trying to create church? If you are trying to create church, just create it biblically. Start a biblical church. And that means listening to your Master and his word and his apostles.

So the choice of Jesus over church implies a choice of your opinion over the Bible, because the Bible is where we meet Jesus. You can’t make Jesus up. You can’t make him up. He is the Jesus of the Bible or he is the Jesus of your imagination. If he is the Jesus of the Bible, you take the whole Jesus. You can’t carve him up in pieces. And the whole Jesus is the Jesus who loves the church. He died for the church.


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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.