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Why Go to Church?, Pt. 1

Scripture: Hebrews 10:25, Luke 4:16, Colossians 1:18
Is church attendance necessary for our Christian life? The Bible speaks of the importance of gathering with others for worship. It was the practice of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Why go to church? Some of the areas discussed are receiving encouragement, growth, and opportunities for service.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw as they open the Bible to deepen our understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hi and welcome to Bible Talk where we talk about the Bible and how the Bible affect you today. I'm John Bradshaw.

Gary Gibbs: And I'm Gary Gibbs. John, I want to tell about a couple of guys I met several years ago. They were best friends I should say. One of them went and become a Christian. He joined a church, got very involved in it.

John: Good move. That's a good idea.

Gary: The other one however, he became a Christian at the same time, decided that he didn't need the church. He lived out in the country, way up in the mountains and that's where he felt the most close to God and he said, "That's where I'm going to stay. I'm going to worship God out here."

John: He made a conscious decision not to become part of a church.

Gary: He didn't like organized religion. Churches had too much stuff going on and who knows what the right church is and all that so he said, "I'll just worship God on my own." Five years after that time, I meet both of these guys.

John: OK, where are they now?

Gary: One who joined the church, he's doing really well, growing really well. He's head elder in his church, he's leading out, his family's' in the Lord, really good Christian family. The other guy told me, he said, "When I look at my friend, I realized I've made a wrong decision because this guy has been involved in the church. He's had all sorts of opportunities and he's grown and I haven't grown". That was the turning point in that guy's life. He decided to join the church then.

John: It leads us to ask a really important question and that is, is church attendance necessary? Is it optional? Should a person be a member of a church, a part of a church, attached to a church or is it better just to do your own thing? Gary, I wonder if the Bible speaks about this clearly or if this is not so clear, a little muddy and murky, what do you think?

Gary: The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:25 that we should not forsake the assembly of ourselves together, that we need to assemble. God all through the Bible, Old and New Testament talks about convocations, gatherings together so that people will grow together.

John: How do we know that that verse is saying do not forsake the idea of being part of a church? It just says don't forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is. How can we be positive that God is endorsing here the idea of church attendance?

Gary: You look at the example of God's people throughout the scriptures. Jesus is a good example. Luke 4:16 says his custom was he went to the synagogue, the church of his day on the Sabbath day. The apostle Paul in Acts 17, in fact numerous places in the book of Acts says is his manner was he went on the Sabbath day to the synagogue. Whenever you find believers who are growing in Christ, they're attending church.

John: Can we say that was what the Jews did and now we're living in the new time, in the new covenant believer, didn't have to bother with any of that?

Gary: It's not a matter of whether it's what the Jews said. It's what believers did. Jesus was an example for all of us. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles so we all need church. And I do believe Hebrews then is written to encourage us to attend church and to gather together.

John: I've had people say to me, "Oh, I want to become part of a church," and they act as though organized religion is somehow an evil and wickedness but I thought about it like this, if you wanted to join the military, let's say the army to defend the country you don't go down to the recruiter's office. They give you a gun and wish you good luck. A hundred guys go down so they each given a hundred weapons and set off, "Go defend us."

Gary: The militia.

John: Yes, where they'll put you in a unit, right, or in a squadron or something first in a boot camp. Maybe that's an idea we can come back to about being trained, but they're put in to some area where they can work, learn to work cohesively together. If you send people out just to say, "Hey, go defend us from the rest of the world," you're going to have chaos and confusion in the same way for Christians to assume that they can exist as independent Adams, not in any way tied to the rest of the body of Christ. Whatever you got really you're going to end up with confusion and no cohesion at all.

Gary: Well, the analogy you just used, you said the body of Christ. That's a biblical term. Colossians 1:18 says, "He, Christ is the head of the body, the Church." The Bible uses this analogy that the church is a body and then in 1 Corinthians 12, it says each of us represent different parts of the body so to speak. Our hand is a great gift, a great service to the body. What would your body be like without a hand?

John: You'd have to go to a second hand shop.

Gary: Right.

John: [chuckle] That was something I couldn't resist there, sorry.

Gary: Something like that.

John: That's right. We're part of a body. You don't want the body to be dismembered so if some guy says to themselves, "Well, I could be part of the church but I'm going to just hang out at my house every week and I'm not going to bother with going to church."

Gary: Well, that's like the body missing the hand, you could be handicapped.

John: It's amputated. Amputating yourself from the body of Christ.

Gary: Yes, that's going to be handicapped without him because he brings certain gifts to the church that aren't going to be there without him and plus, how is he going to survive out there? If you did cut off your hand, it's not going to survive outside of the body. It needs the life flow of the blood through the body to help it live.

John: Yes, that's right. I wonder too, when I'm thinking about this, what's in it for us? Let's say I'm a selfish type of an individual and let's say I'm considering becoming part of a church, as a minister you'd say to me, "John, here are the benefits. Here's what's in it for you." What's in it for me?

Gary: Growth. The growth and the fellowship, the stimulation, the encouragement, this is in Ecclesiastes. If one is in trouble, it's good to have a friend.

John: Sure.

Gary: Because your friend is going to help you out of that and I've seen that so many times in the church that when you're down and the devil is attacking you and you're having spiritual earthly troubles, God will send you somebody within the church to encourage you.

John: Also, something I think that people need to keep in mind is a bit like that army analogy and that service. A lot of the time people act as though the church exists to serve them. What's in it for me? I want to go and have people do, do, do for me, me, me. But I'm reading from Ephesians 4:11: "He gave some to be apostles and some, prophets and some, evangelists and some, pastors and teachers" what for? "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."

Actually I meant to emphasize the previous comma where it says for the perfecting of the saints, comma. That first comma shouldn't be there. "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry." People ought to be doing the work of the ministry and bringing Jesus into their daily life as part of their daily witness.

When you're part of a church, this is when all of these gifts can work together and you can be trained and you can be prepared and you can be of use in taking the gospel to people who need to hear the gospel. We must have an offer that we need to make known some time about now.

Gary: We do. Friend, if you are looking for a church, you're looking to learn more about what Gods' church should be doing at this hour, we've got an excellent Bible study resource to give you today. It's called Angel Messages from Outer Space. It talks about God's church in the last days. If you want to write or call for that, we'll give you the address and phone number here at the end of the program.

John: The church, is it really necessary to be part of a church? OK, we're just discussing this idea that you get into a church and here is where you can be trained and really be made useful to go and share your faith and be a blessing to others.

Gary: You do, but here's a problem John. A lot of people don't want to get involved in church because of the relationships. You get in and you don't like somebody there. If somebody doesn't treat you like you expect. There's just plenty of too much trouble to deal with those relationships. It makes you say, "Hey, I'm better off by myself. It doesn't illicit some of these negative emotions." What would you tell that person that may be listening?

John: Well, on the one hand you'd want to sympathize a little bit and maybe they're just in a difficult situation with a bunch of prickly people in their church. But experiences taught me that the vast majority of churches are not like that. Perhaps, you'd have to be careful what words you choose in talking to a person like that but perhaps you'd say to that person, "Try to look past that. No church on this earth is going to be perfect. Depending on the size of your church, maybe you can avoid the people that give you a bit of grief. Pray for them and always go looking to be blessed."

Have you ever noticed that there are some people who go to church looking for a blessing and they usually get it? But the critics would go looking to pass judgment on the preacher or pastor's wife or the choir direct or something. Usually come away with a lot to be critical about as well. Perhaps some of this has to do with the attitude with which a person approaches it.

Gary: I think it has a lot to do with the attitude. Listen, we're not going to solve every problem in the church and it may even be Pollyanna to say, "Well, I'm going to avoid the troubled people and I'm going to pray for them and I'm going to for something positive." Some churches are just negative. They got a lot of sick stuff going on and maybe you'd need to look for another church if that's how bad it is. But ideally, you're going to stay there and one of the reasons you're going to stay there is for your own growth.

We live in a society I think where we run from problems. You got a problem in your marriage, you run from the marriage. You got a problem at work, you run from the work. That's not what God intends. The Bible says that the trying of our faith works patience, James 1:3.

Then verse four says, "Let patience have a perfect worth that you may be perfect, an entire wanting nothing." John, one of the main characteristics, Christian characteristics God is trying to work in our life is patience.

John: Yes, true enough.

Gary: You know where you're going to learn that? You're going to learn that within the body in the family. In my own family, I'm very patient with some idiosyncrasies that some of my family members have. I expect them to be patient with me as well.

John: Yes, that's what I was thinking.

Gary: That's what they do in the family. But once we get outside our own biological family, we tend to say, "I don't have to have this. I don't have to work with these people. I don't have to worship with these people." We go off somewhere else. But with the church, we need to stay and we need to learn patience with one another just like we have in our own family. It's a key characteristic God is developing in his people. In face in Revelation 14, the hallmark characteristic of God's last day people is, "Here's the patience of the saints."

John: I think it's important when you're thinking about church and should a person be a member of a church, is church attendance necessary. Hebrews 10:25 that we talked earlier, that's a very important verse. And you look through the Bible particularly the New Testament, or consider the Old Testament where Israel was called the Church in the Wilderness. Jesus said, speaking of himself upon this rock, "I will build my church. I will have a church." Paul wrote too in 1 Corinthians 1:2, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth." The book of Galatians begins where he says, "I'm riding with all the brethren that are with me rather, we are riding unto the churches of Galatia."

They had churches back then and these were organized church, deacons and bishops or elders. They sent out missionaries, apostles. It wasn't just a nebulous group of like-minded individuals scattered from alpha to omega. These were people who banded together, joined together, worked together, prayed together, worshiped together. They had churches then and that is the biblical model for us today.

Gary: Undoubtedly. The Letters of Paul were written to individuals and the churches to give them the instruction on how to live, how to operate as a church. Read Revelation Chapters 1, 2 and 3. Those were Jesus' letters to the churches. He commends them for the positive aspects of missionary outreach, their love, their faith, but then he also corrects them for where they're not right on target. We shouldn't expect the church to be perfect here today either but we do need to be a part of the church.

John, I'd like in our last few moments to talk to our viewers, that they need to think about their own life. If they're not involved in a church, they need to find a church that's contributing to their growth or if their in a church that's not helping them grow, they need to look for a biblically based church that will help them grow in the Lord.

John: That's the biblical model. Christ said he would establish a church. The Bible urges us to join together and when you read in Revelation in Chapter 1, where do you find Jesus? [music]

He's in the midst of the candlesticks. What does that mean? For all the problems and he makes them clear, Jesus is in the midst of the churches. And my friend, I want to be right where Jesus is. We'll pick this issue up again just a little bit later on. We're glad you cared to join with us today. Be sure and call or write. Get our offer. It's a great one and we'll look for you again next time at Bible Talk.

Announcer 2: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed and expands on the subject including information you'll want to know. To receive this free informative Bible Study Guide, simply call, write or email and ask for Angel Messages from Outer Space. The toll free number is 866-BIBLE-SAYS. That's 866-242-5372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, PO Box 1058 Roseville, CA, 95678, that's PO Box 1058 Roseville, California, 95678 or email us at bibletalk@amazingfacts.org, bibletalk@amazingfacts.org.

Bible Talk is being produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of LifeTalk Radio.

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