PMT 2013-026b by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
The following study is part two of a two-part study on “The Importance of Church Attendance.” I will conclude that brief study in this article. Four more reasons we should attend church are:
5. God Emphasizes the Church by Giving Her Officers
In the early apostolic church we learn that God reveals much detail regarding church order and government: Acts 6:1-7; 13:1-2; 15:1-4; 20:17-38; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:17-22; Titus 1:5-9; and other passages. God ordains officers to govern His people. There is a real, judicial sense in which when church officers act, Christ acts (Matthew 18:18-20). How can they govern the Church if the people do not attend? How can a true believer opt out of the very institution which provides him with Christ’s government? Is he the “head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18) which only exists theoretically?
6. God Gives the Church Disciplinary Power
In Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; and elsewhere, the Lord authorizes His Church officers to bar the rebellious and immoral from the church assembly. In Matthew 18 the one removed from the church is to be reckoned as “a heathen man and a publican” (Matt. 18:20). He did not say, “Reckon the one removed as a Christian who doesn’t go to church much.”
How can some who profess the name of Christ opt themselves out of the Church voluntarily and without providential cause? Ironically, they choose to be where the officers of the church remove the rebellious to (Matt. 18:20)! “They went out from us, because they were not of us” (1 John 2:19). When the church at Corinth removes one of its members, that member is being turned over to Satan, since he was by that ecclesiastical action outside the church (1 Cor. 5:4-5).
7. God Gives the Sacraments Only to the Church
In Matthew 28:19 Christ commands the first officers of the Church to baptize his people. In 1 Corinthians 11:23ff Paul speaks of the Lord’s Supper service at church as a “communion” service, which implies a real communing among God’s people (1 Cor. 10:16-17). He commands us to keep the Lord’s Supper until Christ returns (1 Cor. 11:26).
With such a command before us, may we say, “I prefer to not go to church and take the Lord’s Supper?” By absenting ourselves from church we are doing just that. We are effectively excommunicating ourselves from the church. We are refusing to hear Christ who commands: “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matt. 26:26). By not attending church we are refusing to obey the command of the Savior.
Godly Worship (7 CDs)
Seven sermons by Ken Gentry
8. God Clearly Commands Us to Attend Church
Hebrews 10:24,25 says: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” Here the author of Hebrews is rebuking Jewish Christians who are beginning to apostatize back into Judaism. Their sin is deemed a “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Then he derisively notes: “as the manner of some is.” Shall we follow the Jews who professed Christ in the first century, then apostatized back into their former lifestyle and commitment?
May we tell God, “No, I will not assemble with other believers”? Does not God expect us to hear and obey His commands? The full passage warns of God’s judgment upon those who refuse His worship in and among his community, the church (Heb. 10:24-31).
Friend, there are many who say they are believers, but who do not publically and corporately live like believers. We must recognize that even though salvation comes “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9), a mere empty professing faith is not the same as a genuine possessing faith in Christ. Think of those who claimed to believe in Christ because they saw some benefits in such belief: Christ rejected them — despite their alleged belief(John 2:23-25).
Professing faith is not always a true sign of salvation, as we see also in John 8. In John 8:31 we read that though many “believed Him,” Jesus urged them to “continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” He saw through their profession and warned them of the need of a deeper commitment (John 8:34-37). After all, does not James say: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder (Jms. 2:19)?
For all the reasons given above, a true believer is one who believes from the heart and who follow Christ’s instruction. Jesus teaches that “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). Those who proclaim the gospel must not only baptize converts to Christ but, according to Christ himself, “teach them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). We are to “observe all things” He commanded us — not in order to gain salvation, but because we are saved. For upon the basis of God’s grace — and his grace alone — are we saved (Eph. 2:8-9). But those who are truly saved are “created in Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). And, as is obvious from the above eight biblical observations, one aspect of living the true Christian life it to live it within the fellowship of and under the governance of the local church.
Tagged: church attendance
Of course, items 6 (Discipline) and 7 (Sacraments) imply that believers should not only “attend” church worship regularly, but should also enter into covenant with Jesus Christ through “membership” in His church body. Non-members are not under the governing discipline of Jesus Christ through His church. And non-members are not permitted to partake of the covenant sign and seal of the Lord’s Supper. As the WCF:XXV:II so eloquently puts it, “The visible Church…consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” [The WCF footnotes Acts 2:47 to that last phrase: “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”]
You are absolutely right! I plan on posting an article on the obligation to come under the formal, covenantal oversight of a local church. Unless you have something you would like me to post on my site!