There is an epidemic happening in this country today of people that are leaving the Church. Many are led astray by some false teaching or just choose to follow their own beliefs about what is right and wrong instead of what God’s unchanging word says. Others just don’t have time to worship because they have given other things priority in their life above God and made and idol out of those things. Some say they can be saved and get to Heaven without going to church.
I believe that there is no substitute for attending Church. Not counting the times that you might miss for vacation or sickness or a work commitment, you should be in Church. God understands the circumstances of shut-ins or invalids who aren’t able to go to Church, but it is a different matter for those who could attend Church but are too lazy, or put other things like entertainment and amusements before God, or who have bitterness or indifference toward other believers not allowing them to even sit in same building.
My purpose is not to scold, brow beat, shame or guilt anyone into coming to Church, but to show from God’s word the importance of the local Church in the life of the believer. I want to encourage you to want to be in the Lords house and to say as the Psalmist in Psalms 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me let us go to the house of the lord. “
When we come to Church some great things happen. Worship happens! Believers go to Church to worship God. Not go to get, but to give worship, honor and praise to Almighty God. To offer thanksgiving to Him for salvation and the blessings of life. To hear the Word of God taught and be instructed in paths of righteousness.
Jesus shows up when we gather! Whenever two or more gather in the name of Jesus, there is promise of a special visitation of the Lord’s presence. Even though Jesus resides within the heart of every believer, he honors a gathering in his name by coming in the “midst,” with his power, awareness, and anointing. When gathered together, Christ is able to do things in hearts that He may not at any other time.
We are following the example of Jesus. Jesus went to church as a regular practice. Luke 4:16 says, “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” It was his custom—his regular practice—to go to Church. If Jesus made it a priority to meet together with other believers, shouldn’t we, as His followers, do the same and go to Church regularly?
It is true that you don’t need the Church to be saved, but the saved need the Church! You can be saved anywhere and anytime simply by deciding to put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, believing that He died and rose again to pay for your sins, confessing your sins and repenting of them and giving your life to Him. But not worshipping with other believers has negative effects on your life. Hebrews 10:24-25 says,” and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
What happens when we get into the habit of not assembling together? As an ember removed from the fire we get lukewarm and eventually grow cold. Jesus said to the lukewarm Church at Laodicea, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
As the branch removed from the vine we bear no fruit. Jesus said,” As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” The fruit of the Spirit we are called to bear is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Separated from Church these things die.
As the sheep separated from the flock we are weak and easy prey for ravenous wolves (false prophets) and the roaring lion (Satan) that looks to devour us. The Bible says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Outside the protection of the Church we are as an animal separated from the protection of the herd; weak and easy prey for the lion.
As the limb that is amputated from the body we decay and die! We are the body of Christ, made up of different parts working together for the good of the whole body. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says,” And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” Separated from the life giving blood of the body each member decays and eventually dies.
Friends our Salvation is dependent on Christ alone and not on Church attendance. While it is true you don’t need Church to be saved it is also true that the saved need the Church. Church should be a priority in our lives. If you want to live the life of purpose you were created for then you need to be in Church. The Church needs you and you need it. If you do not regularly attend Church I pray that you will seek out a Bible believing Church and commit yourself to worshipping regularly.
Ted Turner Jr. is pastor at Shelton Church of the Brethren