Monday, June 27, 2011

Why Bother Going To Church?

Why bother, indeed?  Just something parents make their children do?  Something to make one look good?  A place to find a good spouse?  No!  If the parents make their children go to church, it should be because they are aware of the commandment to raise their children to know God's word and to respect and obey Him and all His commandments and statutes as is written in Deut. 4:1-10, but to start with, Christ meant for a formation of a church, and for Christians to attend to it; "And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18)  Christ twice used the word church in the book of Matt., and this is the first place.  The second place is in Matt. 18:15 - 20, Where Christ taught about church discipline; "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

But let me now address one of the main reasons to go to church, the very reason we were born; to glorify God.  For our body is not our own, but God's, and so while we should really glorify God every day, we should especially glorify God in church; "What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Cor. 6:19 - 20)

Church is the best place to have a continual learning process of the word of God, a place for bible study with accurate pastoral leadership.  If a church is not offering a study of the bible wherein one is taught cover to cover, one is in the wrong church!  2 Tim. 2:15 - 16 has this: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."  Another church to run from is one where the bible doesn't even appear, let alone get read from at the pulpit!

Can one understand at this point that participating in a good church is a part of holy living?  It's a way to learn to be holy, to set one's self apart from the world and God-ward.  A place to realize who God is more and more as a result of weekly attendance: "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, 'Be ye holy; for I am holy.'  And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." (1 Pet. 1:13 - 21)

Yes, regular church attendance helps one maintain a holy life, worshipping Him acceptably and giving us a place of repentance and relief from spiritual immorality and materialism that are a part of this world: "For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.  Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.  For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." (Heb. 12:10 - 17)

Church is also a place to pray consistently to our God.  One would argue that they can pray just as easily at home, and that's true, but at church others can pray with you and for you. "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thess. 5:17), " Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)  It's hard to confess your faults to your brothers and sisters if you're not assembled somewhere, isn't it?  The unchurched need to be reminded of this if they used to attend, and if they never attended, this is food for thought to them.

Now many believers know of the great commission of Matt. 28:19 - 20, and church is a great place to go to learn how to witness, and also in going one demonstrates they are a witness because they believe, and there is the place to go for continued education on being a witness to those who don't believe or are agnostic:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8), "And Saul was consenting unto his death.  And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.  As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." (Acts 8:1 - 4)  Note that one is not to expect cheers and hurrahs any time one witnesses, but rather, one may find church the only sure place to be free of persecution for believing!

The unchurched are called to start attending, and to do so faithfully, for we who do attend faithfully know full well that Jesus is coming soon!  "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Heb. 10:25)  We are to gather to edify one another and to worship our God!

As He meant for a church to be built on Peter, He also commanded us to show our love for Him by obeying Him: "
If ye love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15)

For the generous giver at church, God will cause enough to meet His needs and to give for every good work.  "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.  Now He that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)" (2 Cor. 9:8 - 10)

The idea of a church and congregation to worship in it is not new.  The Old Testament starts the idea of worshipping God in Exodus, and it started in a tent, or tabernacle, and this same book of the Old Testament is where the term "congregation" is first used, and the tabernacle was where God met His people the Israelites.  The tabernacle and congregation concept foreshadowed the perfect approach to God through the blood of Christ Jesus who dwelt among men in the New Testament.  "And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.  According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it." (Exod. 25:8 - 9)  There are 50 chapters in the bible that have instructions about the tabernacle: 13 in Exodus and Numbers, 18 in Leviticus, 2 in Deuteronomy, and 4 in Hebrews.

So from all this it is understood God loves us so much, since He released the Israelites from bitter bondage He wanted to be close to us as He was to His people in the days of the tabernacle, and since He was in Christ Jesus dwelling amongst us on earth, and even now, He wants, in His fervent love for us, that we and He be close together, that those who love Him be gathered together in churches giving Him glory in a demonstration of obedience, that He might be pleased in that glory demonstrated to Him!

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