The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
January 26, 2014


1) Is Church Attendance Necessary? (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Is Church Attendance Necessary?
by Tom Edwards

In becoming a Christian, it is God Himself who adds that person to the universal church (cf. Acts 2:47).  But it is in the local church (a congregation) where saints meet to take of the Lord's supper, give of their means, sing spiritual songs, pray together, and hear God's word proclaimed.  This is what God has designed.  And each Christian, therefore, has the responsibility toward becoming a part of a local church in order to serve and worship together with other saints, as the Lord has instructed.   

Therefore, because there are various activities that are to be carried out when Christians assemble, to neglect church attendance (when we could be there) would then be not just one violation of which we would be guilty; but, rather, several things we would be failing to do.  And sins of omission are just as much sin as sins of commission.   

We have seen how important it is to take of the Lord's Supper.  It is commanded by Jesus Himself as a way in which we are to remember His death every first day of the week (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7).  For a person to eat of the bread and drink of the fruit of the vine without giving proper thought to the Lord's death (for which the supper is all about) and, instead, thinking of a football game that will be playing that afternoon and what snacks to pick up on the way home, that person can actually become "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:27) and be eating and drinking "judgment" ("damnation," KJV) unto himself (v. 28), which has also resulted in weakness, sickness, and even death (v. 30).  So this shows how serious the proper observance of the Lord's Supper is.  

Since that is the case, wouldn't it be just as wrong (if not more so) to totally neglect such an important memorial feast by forsaking the assemblies and living as if partaking of the communion would not even be worth the "sacrifice" of our time to do so?  And, as mentioned, the Lord's Supper is just one of several acts of worship that each Christian is to do on the first day of the week.  None of them is to be disregarded or neglected. 

In addition, the Lord knows what is best for us, since He is our Creator.  Submitting to His commands, therefore, which includes our striving to be faithful in church attendance, will truly help us to become better people who are living more fulfilling lives.  For it is in our compliance with God's word that we grow spiritually and become more like Jesus who viewed doing the will of His Father as being "food" for the soul (Jn. 4:32), which He also implies when declaring that "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4).  Job also had that kind of regard for God's word, as inferred from Job 23:12, where he says, "I have not departed from the command of his lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."  And not only did Job treasure those words, but He was also faithful in keeping them.  For the Lord speaks of him as having been at that time the most righteous and godly man in all the world (Job 1:8).

Even during that period when the early church was often persecuted for simply living as Christians, the Lord wanted His people to continue assembling for worship.  Notice, for example, what the Hebrew writer declares:  

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 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.  For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES" (Heb. 10:23-27).  

Notice the implication that those who were habitually neglecting to assemble with the saints can also be categorized as those who are "sinning willfully."  And in doing so, while remaining in that state and not repenting of it, one loses the benefits of Christ's sacrifice -- and without the cleansing power of His atonement, there is no other source to whom the backslidden Christian or alien sinner can turn for the forgiveness of sins.  

And not only that, but note, too, how this strong warning continues: "Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, 'VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.'  And again, 'THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.'  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (vv. 28-31).  

How contrasting that last sentence is when compared to John 10:29.  For rather than it being a terrifying thing to be in God's hand (for the disobedient), Jesus shows it to be just the opposite for those "sheep" (the Christians) who "hear" and "follow" the Lord (v. 28).  For by their doing so, they are safe in God's hand and "no one is able to snatch them out" (v. 29).  To them, therefore, being in God's hand is a place of refuge, protection, and security, along with assurance, comfort, and other blessings.

We who are Christians should each make church attendance an important part of our lives and realize that it is also one of the ways in which we can do our part in striving to build up one another in the faith, such as through the singing of spiritual songs, observing the Lord's supper together, going to God in prayer, participating in the Bible classes, etc.  And just our very presence is also an encouragement to all the others who are there.  

Of all the things that God has commanded us to do, being faithful in church attendance should be one of those easier duties to fulfill.  And what Jesus told His apostles in John 14:15 is also applicable to each of us as well.  He points out, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."  So our love for God is more than merely an emotional thing.  It also involves our obedience toward His will.  

As Christians, we should be concerned with putting God first in our lives.  In the context wherein Jesus was urging others not to be worried or anxious for even the necessities of life, such as food and clothing, He then goes on to show what our chief concern should be, by saying, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matt. 6:33).  

Though the word "kingdom" is often used interchangeably (or synonymously) for "church" in the New Testament, "kingdom" primarily refers to God's rule.  So in putting His kingdom first, we are then looking to His rules and striving to live by them.  Those who do that and submit to the "rules" for God's plan of salvation are those who, therefore, have become a part of His "kingdom" (in its secondary meaning), which pertains to the "church."

In answer to many of the world who have wondered what life is all about and why they are here, God's word has something to say regarding this matter and sums it up in one verse: Ecclesiastes 12:13 declares, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."  So that should be our main purpose for being here on earth -- to deeply reverence and obey the Lord.  And to do that, we then need to also look to His word ("seek first His kingdom and His righteousness") so we can see exactly how God is to be reverenced and served.  

Imagine what it would be like to live in a world in which you were the only Christian.  There would then be no saints with whom you could assemble.  Nowhere on earth would there be others to support you in the gospel or help you grow in the Lord; and some folks would probably ridicule you for being a Christian and try to steer you from that.  We should, therefore, never take the church and its importance for granted.  

We can also be thankful that we can assemble without having the threat of persecution as had been experienced by many in the early church.  And our modern conveniences also make it so much easier for us to meet together to worship and serve God.  We shouldn't take these things for granted neither.  

I have long viewed the church as not only a place where I can receive good in being built up in the faith, but also as a place of opportunity where I can do my part, as well, toward the upbuilding of others.  And we should each have that same perspective in realizing that the church is not like a mere spectator activity, but one in which we are each to be involved in various ways to promote spiritual development in one another.

If you are a Christian who has been forsaking the church, I hope that this message will be an encouragement to you to want to make things right in your life with God and your brethren and resume your service and worship as a faithful member in the congregation.  And know, too, that just your being there will also be an encouragement to the others as well!

We are each to continue striving to make heaven our home; and may our striving also include helping one another to make it there, too!  For each one is important and to be concerned about (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-27).  

May we each also have the attitude of David who states, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord'" (Psa. 122:1).  In Old Testament times, the Lord's "house" was the temple in Jerusalem, made by men; but today the Lord's "house" or "temple" is the "church" that Jesus Himself has built (1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:5; 1 Cor. 3:16,17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Matt. 16:18).  

The thought of assembling with our brethren of like precious faith should gladden our hearts and truly be want we want to do -- and not taken for granted.  How thankful we can be that Jesus did build His church, and we who are Christians are a part of it.  In serving and worshiping together in a local congregation is one of the ways in which we show our love, dedication, and reverence toward God and also help one another to grow in the Lord and continue on that narrow road that leads to eternal life in heaven above (cf. Matt. 7:13,14).  May pleasing God always be our chief concern!


News & Notes

Bill Colston's surgery went well.  His gall bladder was removed, and he is now healing from that.

Let those of us who are Christians also continue to remember the following people in prayer for their health: Virginia Fontenot, Shirley Young, Cheryl Crews, and Terry and Pam MacDonald.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)