The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
I have a friend who says we shouldn't need accountability in the church because it means we aren't trusting in Christ alone to set us free from sin. What would you say to that?
I would probably quote the Bible where God says in many ways, "Exhort one another. Admonish one another. Teach one another. Confess your sins to one another."
These are all means of grace appointed by God to help us be Godward. So it's a superficial logic to say, "Real trust in Jesus needs nobody!"
In fact, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12, "Don't say to the hand, 'I have no need of you.'" And a superficial logic would say, "Oh. If the eye says to the hand, 'I need you,' then you don't need Jesus as much." That's superficial.
God has ordained that his grace come directly through reading the Bible and prayer, and come indirectly through Ask Pastor John. If the person asked me that question, why are they doing that? Just go to God. You don't need me.
But you do need me. You do need your pastor. You do need your friends.
Everybody needs people, because God has set it up—here's the key—to get more glory through a church and its interaction than through solitary little isolated individuals all over the world sending up their little prayers of praise in solitary closets and never getting anything from anybody, never giving anything to anybody. "Just me and God, totally satisfied, and you don't exist. I've just got God, and that's all I need."
God looked at that possible world and said, "No, not a good idea. I will create an organic thing called, first of all, humanity, rooted in Adam as a covenant head. And then within that I will create a new people, rooted in Jesus Christ. And it will have many members. And these members are members one of another. And they all are channeling grace." (1 Peter 4:9-10 defines spiritual gifts as the stewarding of the grace of God.)
So, I have a gift that my church wants me to give them. It's called preaching. Every Sunday what I'm doing—I pray and hope—is going to God, studying his word, learning things about him, delighting in him, and then sharing everything I've seen with my people.
And they are receiving it through me. Grace is flowing through me. If they ever elevate me to the origin of that grace, then they're compromising their allegiance to Jesus. But if they're thanking God and saying, "Here's another person who is channeling grace to me, word to me, love to me, help to me," and it's all coming from God, then God gets more glory, not less glory.
So I would say, start with just looking at biblical texts where it says, "Admonish one another." Accountability is implied in the word "admonish." Then go out from there to the principle that, ultimately, God has set up a world, a church, in such a way that diverse organic unity gets him more glory than individual solitary relationships with Jesus.