Let's Go to Church - the Pillar and Ground of the Truth!

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
I Timothy 3:15


The church is not the truth, the word of God is.  It is the responsibility and mission of the church to hold up the truth by being the ground and the pillar on which it stands.  Without the local church, the truth falls to the ground and into obscurity.  As a Christian, you need to find a good church and stick with it.
I’ve gone to church my whole life, and I’ve seen the good fruit of it in my life, my wife’s life, and my children’s lives.  For every one bad story that you tell me, I can tell you about fifty good ones, no sweat.  Christians hurt themselves, their families, and their potential for their Saviour and eternal rewards when they fail to find a church to get plugged into. 
Concerning church attendance, there are those that are sick and can’t go to church even though that is what they would like to do, but there are also Christians that don’t go to church on purpose.  There are biblical reasons for everyone to go to church.  If someone is willingly abstaining from church, they are a backslider. 
There are four types of backsliders that do not regularly attend church (all a backslider is is a person that is going backwards).  Please be willing to examine your heart in light of the Bible.  Look at these groups and see if you may find yourself identifying with one of them. 


The Four Backsliders

1. The Struggling.
These are folks that haven’t dropped out of church completely, but unless a change is made in their hearts and minds, they will soon.  Perhaps at one point they were very active in the church, but over time they’ve drifted back into seclusion.  Church has become irrelevant, tedious, and maybe even boring to them.  They find it harder and harder to attend because of work and family commitments, and when they do finally have the free time to go to church, other recreational things take precedence. 


2. The Sanctified.
These folks live extremely separated lives.  Many are trying to live as holy a life as they can.  Regardless, the mindset is the same.  They’ve tried church, after church, after church, and none of them meet their qualifications.  The young people are too worldly, the pastor won’t preach their pet doctrine or hobby horse, and some people in the church don’t dress according to their standards.  In the very end, the only church good enough for them is one in which they are the only members, in other words, a home church.
3. The Slackers.
This isn’t a person who’s looking for a church, or finding it hard to attend the church of which they are a member, or even the person who thinks they’re too good for any of the churches in the area.  This person just chooses not to take the effort to go to church.  They would rather sleep in on Sundays and relax on Wednesdays. 
4. The Stubborn.
These folks are full of excuses.  I’ve heard the same ones for years and years: “I knew this one guy at my old church who…”, “That church doesn’t love…”, “That church is full of hypocrites…”, “They’re just after my money…”, “They’re too judgmental…”, “I worship God in my own way…”
I’ve yet to hear something original.  For some, the excuses might be legitimate in their own minds, for others, they are willfully rebellious and stubborn.  Many times these are good "salt of the earth" people that you would love to have as a neighbor, but they’ve found a reason in their mind to not go to church and they’re holding onto it.

The Purpose of the Church

1. Exalt the Saviour.
Exalting the Saviour is done primarily through the song service and special music.  While the other church ministries do work towards the ultimate goal of glorifying Christ, the music ministry is primarily geared towards glorifying the Lord.
2. Edify the Saint.
The saints receive edification through many ministries of the church.  The preaching is primarily the means of edifying the saint.  The Christian also receives spiritual encouragement through the fellowship of other believers and is encouraged to bear each other's burdens through prayer and counseling. 
3. Evangelize the Sinner.
Sinners are reached and brought to salvation through the ministries of the local church.  The purpose of the alter call is to call sinners unto repentance.  Revivals begin within the efforts of a local church, and missionaries are sent from the local church with the purpose of winning souls to Christ. 

Who’s In a Church?

1. Sheep.
Sheep give wool which help meet the needs of others and keep them warm.  For those hurting, the warmth of a church family means the world to them.   
Before being processed, the greasy substance, lanolin, is extracted from the wool.  Lanolin is used in most every cosmetic product available.  In other words, it helps to make the ladies look good.  Good sheep in a church make the Bride of Christ look good, or present a good public testimony to the world, and in turn glorify the Saviour.
1.3% of all dairy products come from Sheep.  Without having to die, sheep can still feed people!  Good Christians seek to teach each other the word through Sunday school classes and other various ministries that the Pastor may not actually be involved in.
Sheep eat weeds like nobody’s business.  When you have a large body of Bible believers, you’ll find that false doctrine and spooky-weird and extra-biblical ideas have a hard time taking root.  Heresy finds its most fertile ground in small and clandestine groups of people who profess a certain form of elitism and superiority over the lowly and faithful church member. 
2. Sinners.
According to the Bible, church isn’t for perfect people, and we all know Christians certainly aren’t perfect people.  It’s one thing to separate yourself from a church because the leadership is worldly and completly "out there" doctrinally, but to demand a perfect church is unbiblical.  The closest thing we have in the Bible to a perfect church was the Philadelphian church, and it’s only briefly mentioned in the book of Revelation.  Every other church in the Bible had its share of problems and sinners.
The Corinthian church was carnal and had infighting, lacked church discipline, had problems with idols, and had big doctrinal problems.  Paul did not tell the Christians in Corinth who were holy to bail out on the church.  When reading II Corinthians you see that the church also had many good saints there as well, and the church had made a lot of progress since Paul’s first letter. (I Cor. 1-3, 5-6, 10, 15:12) 
As you read about the seven churches in Revelation to which John wrote, they all had problems except for the Philadelphian church.  If you are expecting your church to be perfect, you are expecting more than what God expects.  God expects church to be a place where people get saved, learn and grow in grace, encourage each other, and over time become weaned off the world and its philosophy.  If you have a church that is full of nothing but other super spiritual holy people, chances are that church is not a growing church and is failing in obligation to evangelize the sinner.   
3. Sleepers.
In Acts 20, you read about a young man names Eutychus, who fell asleep during Paul’s message.  If you’re a pastor, don’t get too worried about a person here and there falling asleep during your message; if they did it to Paul they’ll do it to you!  There always have been and always will be sleepers in the church, people who come to church over and over again but never seem to get it.  Thank God these people come to church, but unfortunately it typically takes something dramatic in their lives before they take action for the Lord.
4.  Soldiers.

A soldier’s primary job is to break things and kill people.  That’s why you want to have the best soldiers fighting on your side.  The only form of Christianity is militant Christianity.  God expects his people to directly uphold a standard of righteousness before the world, and to go out into the highways and the byways and try to win them to Christ. 
The soldiers in the church are the ones on the front lines.  Those who take to word of God out to the lost and try to make a dent.  This can be a number of ministries, but the main thing that they all have in common is mustering up the courage to go to someone who is not saved and trying to get them to accept Christ.  This is not “lifestyle evangelism.” We are called to this duty; it is very clear in the Bible that God expects his people to endure hardness and to be aggressive, evangelistic soul winners.
A church is a military unit placed within a specific location by the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  Its responsibility is to maintain a stronghold and a place of rest for the soldier, and then from there to go out into the world and win more to Christ.  It is to be constantly striving to be growing and advancing into enemy territory, all the while not compromising the word of God.  The newly saved are to be discipled, encouraged, trained, and sent out to win others to Christ so that the lost in that area do not have to spend all eternity burning in a lake of fire.  If there was ever a good cause, that is it.  II Tim. 2

What Is a Church?

A church is more than a few people getting together to hold a Bible study.  God has promised to be in the midst of two or more getting together in His name, but that is not a church. 
1. A Church Has a Pastor.
Every local New Testament church has a pastor, or is actively seeking to have a pastor.  That is the New Testament model.  There is no such thing in the Bible as a group of people who regularly meet, with a different man standing up to preach every week, and where there is no pastor who is in charge of the church.  The head of the church is Jesus Christ, and the only New Testament model is to have an under-shepherd who is placed in authority over that same local independent church.  In every case where there is no pastor of a local church that church is expected, as Paul instructed Titus, “to set things in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city” - in other words, to get a pastor.  When you have a church being run by committees, deacons, women, and the Christian form of “special interest groups” - you have an unbiblical mess.  The church is supposed to be run by a pastor.  Titus 1:5-16, Acts 14:23
2. A Church Is to Have a Biblical Pastor.
Not everyone can up and call themselves a pastor.  A pastor has to meet several qualifications which are listed clearly in the New Testament.  These qualifications run quite the gamut, from being knowledgeable in the scriptures and being able to teach, to being kind and hospitable, to being blameless, and plenty of other things.
A pastor must not only meet the biblical qualifications, but he must also be called of God, and he must be confirmed and ordained by another local New Testament church.  God set it up this way on purpose, a man sent from God to start a church must have the stamp of approval from another church.  This helps to weed out the weirdos, the rebels, and the rogues.  This isn’t some form of apostolic succession of one true church as the Catholics like to teach, this is the biblical model found in the book of Acts.  In every instance in the New Testament, a man is sent out from a local church in order to start another local church.  You will not find a single example in the Bible where someone gets mad at their local church, and then starts his own church in his house with Mamma and their two kids. I Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-11, Acts 14:23
3. A Church Is an Organization with Authority.
The local church is to have authority over its members.  This is one of the biggest reasons why people do not want to join a church.  In the Bible the Christian is commanded to put themselves in submission to a pastor and a body of believers.  It is not a loose knit gathering of folks without a head and without structure just there to have a good time and enjoy the Bible.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s called a Bible study and it is a wonderful thing for Christians to do should always be accompanied with snacks and coffee.  But that’s not a church.  A church has structure and authority.

God expects church to be a big deal to us.  Just as a military commander doesn’t expect his soldiers to be casual about war, God does not want His people to be casual about church.  God wants you get plugged into a church, submit to the authority of the pastor, and do everything you can from there to promote the cause of Christ.  A Christian is supposed to serve the Lord through the ministries of his local church as much as possible.  In the Bible, God clearly states that the leaders of the church are to “rule over” the members of the church.  You may balk at the idea, but this is the biblical method and a pastor who is qualified to lead a church understands the responsibility and does not abuse it. Heb. 13:17, I Peter 5:1-4

Why Go to Church?

1. Somebody Really Important Thinks It’s Important.
So why bother going to church?  How about the fact that Jesus Christ Himself established the idea of the local church?  You’re a Christian, right?  That means you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, right?  Then why aren’t you following His orders?  When coming up with an excuse for not going to church, people talk all the time about “worshiping God in their own way”, but Jesus told us specifically to worship Him in church. 
God commanded his disciples to go out into all the world and preach, teach, and baptize.  Throughout the book of Acts, Jesus Christ worked directly with the apostle Paul and the others to start local New Testament soul-winning churches.  In Revelation, Jesus speaks directly to the local churches in Asia Minor and commends and rebukes them accordingly.  Never once is there ever a hint of the idea that Jesus expected people to stay home on Sunday or truck off into the mountains to worship God.  According to the Bible, your Saviour who died for you expects you to find a church and go to it.  If you live somewhere that there is no good church, move to an area where there is a church. Or as the man from Macedonia did, call the closest good church there is and ask for help.  There is no allowance given for able bodied people not going to church, given in the Bible.  Matthew 28:18-20, Acts, Revelation 1-3

2. The Christian Is Specifically Commanded to Go to Church.
As if the example of God working to and through the local church given in the entire New Testament isn’t good enough, God specifically told us to not forsake meeting together in Hebrews 10:25.  In that verse we are commanded to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and throughout the rest of the New Testament that assembling is done in a local church setting where there is a qualified pastor or the assembly is seeking a qualified pastor.  That is the biblical method given, anything outside of it is unbiblical and out of the will of God.  Heb. 10:25, Acts 2:42

An Exhortation to the Four Backsliders

You who are struggling, does this help to remind you how important your church is?  Without people, there is no church.  There’s no higher purpose in life than to seek to bring pleasure to God (Rev. 4:11).  Yes, there are always other things to do besides church, but none of those things are going to be used of God to bring you the message He has for you like the local church will.  If everyone quits going to church, everyone will stop supporting missions, and then how will the lost hear the gospel?  Do you want to be part of the problem, or do you want to do your part to see people get saved from going to Hell?  Your church needs you, and you need your church. 
For the sanctified, is your home church following all of the Bible?  Yes, many churches do start in the home, but they must be done biblically.  It’s very clear that you are not exalting the Saviour if you are not out evangelizing the lost - is your home church actively doing that?  Have you brought any lost sinners to your home church, or is there no room but for you and your family and perhaps one or two other families?  Are you proselytizing the sheep of other pastures, or are you obeying the biblical command to go out and preach the gospel to every creature?  Is there a pastor of your home church?  Is he qualified, ordained, and sent out by another church, as is the clear cut and only method given in the Bible for starting a church?  Are you “at peace amongst yourselves” with the other churches in the area, or did your home church start out of rebellion?  Are there sinners in your home church that are there to grow and learn, or do you unscripturally expect everyone in your assembly to be as holy as you? 
To the slacker, what would happen if everyone was like you?  Do you want to be ashamed before Jesus Christ when you reach Heaven?  One day you will stand before Him and give account for how you served Him.  It’s very clear in the scriptures that He expects you to use your life for His glory.  How does your attitude affect others, your other saved friends and family members?  Are you an encouragement to them to follow Jesus? 
For the stubborn one, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you some hard questions.  This isn’t meant to attack you or accuse you of anything, but rather to point out the benefits of going to church and how it will help you as a Christian, and how you in turn can help other people. 
In fact, these questions will apply to anyone who isn’t faithfully attending church: 
1. If you like to worship God in your own way, are you regularly performing any of the above responsibilities laid down upon you by God as a Christian?    
2. When was the last time you did anything in the form of evangelism, be it organized or not?  A New Testament church will constantly remind its members of the necessity of personal evangelism.
3. What other Christians do you pray for on a regular basis?  You may very well pray for other believers, and I commend you if you do, but going to church will help to remind you to do this more often. Also consider that there are other Christians that could use your prayers, but you won’t know about them if you don’t go to church looking to be a blessing and a help to someone else.
4. Where does your encouragement to live a holy life come from?  We’re all human, and much of the time we study, listen, and read the things we only want to read.  God may have something special for you that you never thought of.  God uses the preaching over the pulpit to help us in areas that many times we didn’t even know where to look.
5. Are you living a life that is glorifying to the Savour, and would all of your friends and enemies agree that you are a Christian living for Jesus instead of self?  It’s hard for any Christian to maintain a good testimony in front of lost friends and to be faithful in witnessing to them.  If you find yourself lacking in this area, a local church can be an encouragement to you.
6. Lastly, if you refuse to go to any church at all for any reason, how do you justify that particular reason with the fact that Jesus specifically set up and used the church as the model for worshipping and serving Him throughout the entire New Testament?

Conclusion

There really is no legitimate reason to not go to church.  God’s plan is for Christians to serve Him within the sphere and authority of a local New Testament church.  Just as there is no perfect Christian, there is no perfect church, be it in doctrine or practice.  They all had problems with some doctrine and practice in the New Testament; the ones that didn’t, well, we probably just didn’t know everything about them. 
Do the best you can to find a church where you can be a blessing to other people.  Go to church with a humble spirit, looking to learn and to be a help where you can.  Become a member and jump in with both feet.  Be willing to submit yourself to good Bible preaching.  When you go to church, you never know what’s going to come across the pulpit and many times it’s exactly what God had special for you.  Don’t hurt and deny yourself the blessing of living a life in accordance to God’s will. 

3 comments:

JTR said...

LOL, fun read - written with humor and wit, but all true, too. Great post and timely. Even more as the day approaches!

Grammy Blick said...

I think you've pretty well covered all the bases. I particularly liked the perspective on sheep. Too often the blind follower connotation is seen. Being providers is good!

Rick Schworer said...

Thanks folks, I'm glad you enjoyed it and got something from it!