I love church. I love going to church. I can’t wait for the next time the church gathers so I can enjoy my church family. In particular I love the church in America. Almost everything I have God has provided me through a local church. For this reason, I have strong opinions about the church. I hear something on a regular basis that is just wrong. I hear almost everyday someone say something like, “Preacher, I don’t have to go to church to be close to God” or “Going to church is really not that important.” On the surface this sounds reasonable. The Catholic Church has made the church the vehicle of salvation. We Protestants bristle at such a thought, so much that we may have allowed a non-Biblical teaching to blossom – the notion that church attendance is not very important. Church attendance is vital to the believer.
1. Scripture is clear God’s people are to come together in worship.
Examine a few passages that make this truth crystal clear: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.'” Psalm 122:1 “I will give Thee thanks in the great congregation; I will praise Thee among a mighty throng.” Psalm 35:18 “Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly.” Psalm 111:1 Acts 2:46 reads, “And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”
You would be hard pressed to find a passage to use as a legitimate reason not to come together with believers to worship.
2. Your church attendance may stir others up for greatness.
Most believers are familiar with Hebrews 11:25 which reads, “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.”
This verse cannot be ripped from context. Look at verse 24, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”
We are challenged in the 24th verse to stir others up to love and to good works. The author of Hebrews then flows into verse 25 by instructing the believer not to skip assembling together. We are to encourage others according to verse 24. When we skip church we often will discourage other believers. Our worship is not to be a selfish matter. We are to join others in worship and in doing so we may stir them up to greatness. Many times I have heard someone tell another person, “Your faithfulness to the church has impacted my life.” I have never heard anyone say, “Your absence from church has made a positive impact on my life.”
3. In the New Testament the emphasis is on the local church and not the universal church.
Many laypeople have some confusion over the local, visible church and the universal, invisible church. When you read the word “church” in the New Testament you are reading the Greek word “ekklesia.” This word is used 150 times in the New Testament and is translated church or assembly each time. Ekklesia means a called out assembly. Today we often speak of a local church as being part of the church of Christ. We see each local congregation being one part of the church of Christ which when added together the sum of the parts make up the church of God. This is a foreign concept to the New Testament. Each local congregation is spoken of as the whole. Examine I Cor. 1:2 as Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians, “To the church of God at Corinth…” Paul is writing as if the entire church of God is found in one place – Corinth. This is significant. To see ourselves as part of the church universal and thus be comfortable with not being part of a “called out assembly” is a departure from New Testament teaching that “church” is a called out local assembly.
4. Finally, there is confusion over general and particular revelation.
I often hear people speak of knowing God through general revelation, that is through nature. People that do not find church that important often speak of knowing and understanding God through His creation. We can learn of God through the sunrise and sunset, by standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or looking at the clear, blue/green waters of the Caribbean. However, that knowledge is limited. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His invisible power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Paul says we can learn enough about God through creation that mankind is without excuse. Everyone can see there is a God. However, that is about all you can learn about God through general revelation.
You can learn so much more about God from particular revelation. Particular revelation is God revealing Himself to certain men in such a way we can learn more about God. The Bible is the record of these particular revelations. Through the Bible we can learn of the crucifixion, resurrection and second coming of Jesus. We can learn of the virgin birth and God destroying the world with a flood. We can learn of sweet forgiveness and coming judgment. None of these can be learned through general revelation. Believers should desire to come together to worship God and hear a God-called man teach on the particular revelation of God. This is so much more exciting/beneficial than simply knowing God as Creator.
Today many in the church are satisfied with being part of the invisible church and knowing of God through general revelation. I believe the Bible teaches being part of a called out assembly and learning of the particular revelation of God is far better. I love church.