3 Reasons to Attend Church Regularly

In 2016 it was recorded that 73% of Americans claimed to be Christian. However, when the same group was asked if their faith was very important to them or if they attended church at least once a month the percentage dropped from 73% to 31% (The State of the Church 2016 – Barna). Less than half of the people who claim to be Christians attend church regularly. And regular attendance for them could be just once a month (12 times a year). So, the percentage of those who attend church weekly is less than 31%.

But the Bible commands that Christians are to be faithful to their church. The author of Hebrews tells his readers that they are not to neglect meeting with one another, as is the habit of some (Hebrews 10:25). And then again to his readers he commands, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17). How can a person obey and submit to their leaders if they are not faithful attenders of their local church? It’s not going to happen. The implication here is that we need to be regular church attenders. Then Luke, in the book of Acts, tells us that Christians in the early church met regularly, day by day, to fellowship and attend church together (Acts 2:46). We can see a pattern of believers meeting together often in a church setting. This is what Christians do; they meet regularly to worship the Lord.

But why is this so important? What benefit is it to be at church regularly? Let me give you three reasons why it is so important:

SERVE & BE SERVED

First, it is important to attend church faithfully so that you can both serve and be served. One of the ways the Bible defines the church is as a body (1 Corinthians 12:27). Christ is the head and believers comprise the rest. And each member of the body plays a big part. Just as a human body is not as effective as it could be if it were missing a leg or an arm so a church body is not as effective as it could be if it were missing members. Each member of the church body plays a vital role in the church. It is important that you regularly attend your local church so that others in the body of Christ can serve you in ways that you cannot serve yourself. You need people who will disciple, encourage, admonish, and correct you. You need people who can serve you through the gifts God has given them. You can only get that when you gather together with other Christians. You also need to attend church regularly so that you can serve others. There are those in your church who need your encouragement, discipleship, and correction. God has given you gifts that He wants you to use for the benefit of the body as a whole. You cannot serve others if you are not around them. Therefore, it is of great importance that you strive to faithfully gather together with other Christians weekly at your local church.

HEAR THE WORD

Second, it is important to attend church faithfully to hear the preaching of God’s Word. The book of Acts tells us that the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42) and we are to do the same. We do not have “apostles” today in the Biblical sense, but we do have gifted preachers and teachers who rightly share the Word of God every week from the pulpit (Steve Lawson). These men are sharing the very apostles’ teaching (the Bible) that Acts 2 speaks of and we would do well to devote ourselves to their teaching. We do that by regularly attending the services and Bible studies at our local church.

It is through the teaching and preaching of God’s Word that sinners are saved, sanctified, and equipped for ministry work. We can see this clearly from the teaching of Paul in his epistles. Paul, writing to Timothy, reminds him that it was the Word of God that made him “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). In the same passage Paul also instructs Timothy to continue to learn the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:14) as it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul tells Timothy that the word is profitable and then he tells him to preach that word (2 Timothy 4:2). The preaching of God’s Word is one of the primary ways Christians grow in godliness. It is crucial that Christians regularly attend a Bible-believing church so that they can get a steady dose of Biblical preaching that will help grow them in the faith.

In addition, Paul tells the Ephesian church that God gave “the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). Not only does the preaching of God’s Word bring sinners to salvation and help Christians in their walk with God, but it equips them for ministry. Regularly sitting under the preaching and teaching of your local church will prepare you to do ministry work. You will be able to share the gospel, disciple others, and lead a Bible study, or small group. It is important that Christians are faithful to their local church and regularly sit under their pastor’s preaching so that they might grow in godliness and be equipped to do ministry.

OBEY THE LORD

Third, it is important to attend church faithfully because God commands it (Hebrews 10:25) and that is reason enough! If God commands us to do something it is in our best interest to do it. He is infinitely wise and knows what is best for you and me. The book of Isaiah tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). God is infinitely wiser than us and He knows better than we do what is best for us. Therefore, when God commands us to be regular church attenders we should joyfully comply.  It is in our best interest.

God created and implemented the church for His glory and our good. It is His desire that we meet regularly as Christians to sing, pray, study the Bible, and encourage each other in the faith. Make it a priority to regularly attend your local church for your good and God’s glory.

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It Never Gets Old

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of attending the Ligonier National Conference. One of the great truths I was reminded of at the conference was the fact that it does not matter how many times you have read through the Bible or how many times you have heard a certain passage preached there is still so much to learn about Scripture and God. The pastor who made this point, mentioned how he loves to see 85 year-old saints who walk up to him with a big smile on their faces because they just learned something new about the Lord or had been reminded of something encouraging. We are never too old to learn something new. Nor can we ever hear the Bible preached enough. There is always something new to glean from Scripture. In fact, we will never know everything there is to know about God or the Scriptures. Therefore, we will always be learning.

It is so easy to come to a passage of Scripture that is very familiar to us and say, ‘I have already read that’ or ‘I have already heard that preached, so what could I possibly learn? I am just going to skip it.’ This is the complete opposite attitude that we are to have. Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” The more we learn the Bible the more we realize how little we know and how much more we need to learn. The Bible is full of wisdom and truth. It reveals to us who we are (sinners in need of a Savior), it reveals who that Savior is (Christ Jesus), and it guides us in how to live. It is sufficient for faith and practice.

There is much for us to learn still from the pages of Scripture and much to be reminded of. We can never know it enough. We are told that All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. It is so profitable to us that we are to learn it and relearn it and know it well. One of the best ways to do that (in addition to your own personal reading) is in church where you can hear the teaching and preaching of God’s Word on a regular basis.

Therefore, let us not forsake the assembling together’ but rather let us be eager to meet together to grow in our knowledge of God.

Don’t Be a Muddle-Headed Fool

Do you know how people got saved in the Old Testament?  Did they do it by works?  Did they do it by faith in the law?  How about a combination of law-keeping and belief in God’s promises?  Or we’re they saved the way we are today – faith in the Christ?  John Calvin answers this question for us clearly below:

Our forefathers had no other way of obtaining salvation than that which is preached to us today.  This is a very important point, for some muddle-headed fools believe that no-one had heard the gospel in those (Old Testament) days.  Indeed, there are even some profane mockers of God who seek to limit the authority of God and His gospel by saying that the gospel has only existed for these sixteen hundred years and that previously it was unknown.  What! (Sermons on Galatians, John Calvin, page 304)

Don’t be a muddle-headed fool, believe the Word of God:

These all (Old Testament saints) died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar… (Hebrews 11:13)

Having seen the things promised from afar?  Dying in faith of what’s to come?  It would appear then, that Old Testament saints were saved the way we are.  Believing in Christ (who was promised), greeting Him from afar (yearning to see Him).  They looked ahead and had faith that Christ would come and were saved because they saw Him and greeted Him in faith.  We look back at Christ who came, see Him, and greet Him in faith as well.

Holiness is Family Resemblance

You ever seen a kid who looks just like their Mom or Dad?  Upon seeing them together with their parents it is clear who they belong too.  The same is true of us as Christians?  How so?  Holiness.

Hebrews 12:14 says without holiness no one will see the Lord.  When people think of “holiness” they often think of monks crammed up into tiny little cloisters and uncomfortably scratchy robes, devoting themselves to the monastic lifestyle.  Is that what is really going on?  I don’t think so, and I hope you don’t either.

Holiness is not an ancient archaic form of godliness where one denies all the creature comforts and worldly pleasures, holiness is nothing more than family resemblance.  What do I mean?  Read 1 John 3:

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10)

Notice that those who sin will resemble the devil?  Notice those who practice righteousness resemble their Father, God?  God is holy (Isa. 6:1-4) and in His holiness He is making His family resemble Himself by creating children (1 John 3:1) who are holy as He is.  Why talk of this during our 8th Mark on discipleship?  Because holiness is the aim of discipleship, and without it, no one will see the Lord.

The question then comes to us: does our own life reveal sight of the Lord?  Or hide Him?

Jesus Came to Learn Obedience

Let me say before I begin this post that I believe God never changes, He never makes mistakes, He never says oops, and He certainly does not grow in knowledge, as if anything ever came into His mind that did not originate there in the first place.  God is God.  But let me also make clear that I do believe Jesus, the Son of God, learned obedience throughout His earthly life.  Do these two ideas contradict each other?  Not at all.

“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.”  (Hebrews 5:8) Crystal clear in this verse we have it.  Jesus, the 100% God and 100% Man Person, learned.  He grew in knowledge, He learned obedience.  Two questions come to me at this point: First is how this happened.  Second is why this happened.

First, how did Jesus learn obedience?  Doesn’t He already know everything there is know?  If He is God is there something He can learn?  Clearly Jesus, as God, knows all things, and cannot learn something because all things came from Him.  But, in Jesus’ human nature, there were things He did not know.  He did not know who touched Him when He felt power leave out of Him (Mark 5:30), He did not know the time of His second coming (Mark 13:32), and He did not know such great faith existed in Israel (Matthew 8:10).  Jesus did know the woman at the well was hopping around from man to man (John 4), He did know Judas had to leave and do his deed (Luke 22:21-23), and He knew all things (John 16:30).  In his divine nature Jesus knew all that God knew, and in His human nature Jesus was limited in His knowledge, learned things, and grew in stature and understanding (Luke 2:52).

Now for the question of why.  Why did Jesus come to earth to learn obedience through suffering.  The question is posed to us from Hebrews 5:8 (above) and the answer is given to us from Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”  This means that with each new trial and temptation (Hebrews 4:15, Jesus was tempted as we are) Jesus learned what it meant to obey the will of the Father.  When this verse says Jesus was made “perfect through suffering” it does not mean that God was ridding His Son of defects or sin through suffering.  He was perfect, sinless, and needed no such “ridding.”  Rather it means that Jesus was gradually fulfilling the perfect righteousness required to save us (Matthew 3:15).

The point is that if the Son of God entered into the world, and went straight to the cross without having lived a life of trial and temptation at all, He would not be a qualified Savior for fallen men/women like us.  He not only died the death we deserved, in His life Jesus lived the life we never could have.  Thus, we have in one Man, both the sin-bearer, and the giver of perfect righteousness.  He came to do both.

Inside Abraham’s Head: DO YOU KNOW?

The other week I was listening to a radio/podcast program called Radiolab.  I’m sure many of you have heard about it, its quite a good program.  The program for that particular day was called “In Silence”.  One of the main guys that talks everyday on the show was re-telling the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac from Genesis 22, and MAN was it it good!  He is Jewish of course, so he really did a good job bringing out all the things he thought were in the story but not really out front for us to see.  He really tried to press inside Abraham’s head during the journey to Moriah and as he was about to kill Isaac to find out what he could have been thinking.  But after doing such a marvelous job of re-telling the story, the speaker simply did not know what the story meant, or what it was supposed to be telling us or teaching us.  He is Jewish after all, so he would not see the connections to Jesus being our sacrifice, the Lamb that God provided for us.  This made me think, what does the NT further reveal about what Abraham was thinking on the journey and as he was about to kill his son?  We can go to two places:

Romans 4:19-21, “Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” This of course is referring to the time when God told Abraham and Sarah that Isaac would be born one day.  ”The promised child would come” Abraham thought, even though he and his wife were “as good as dead”.  Imagine Abraham journeying to kill this promised son of his.  ”Why?” was probably the biggest word on his mind that day.  But there’s more than why.

Hebrews 11:17-19, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.”  He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.” There was more than asking “why?” that day.  Abraham knew that God’s promise was bigger than death itself, so he knew that if God had to raise Isaac from the dead, He would do it to keep His promise.

Death cannot stop God’s promise, that is one of the lessons we learn from Genesis 22.  I think God did this to show us that when He killed His own begotten Son one day, that death could not even hold the promise down.  The Radiolab guy didn’t know this, do you know it?