Does your family really have to go to church to please the Lord? Join AMBrewster as he talks about what the church really is and how Christian parents should respond to it.
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On our last episode — which was a miracle, by the way — I mentioned that most of you will likely already have your minds made up about the series we’re starting today.
By the way, if you’re wondering why the last episode was a miracle, you should definitely check it out.
Anyway, this new series is a five part study in why your family needs to go to church.
No doubt, some of you have had some bad experiences with church. My goal for you would be to discover a new perspective — not necessarily a new perspective on the people in your local church, but a new perspective on God’s plan for you.
And for those of you who already attend church regularly, my goal for you is that you put your church to the test.
Yes, it may sound like — on one hand — like I’m encouraging those not going to go, and — on the other hand — discouraging the ones who are already going from going.
And that may be true. That’s why I want you to stick with me for the next five episodes. Every Christian needs to assemble with other believers, but not every body of professing believers is assembling in the right way or for the right reasons.
So, my plan is discuss the purpose of church today. Then over the next four episodes I want to talk about the motivation, the kind, the consequences of participation, and the consequences of neglect.
Of course, we’ll talk about a lot more as well, but I want to remind you of our purpose for Season 7: just like we discussed in episode 172, only Truth can set you and your family free. And as well learned last time, only God’s Word provides that Truth.
So, if God’s Word says anything important about this thing called church, we need to listen.
So, let’s jump right in.
In their article, “Why You Should Go to Church (Even If You’re Not Sure of Your Beliefs),” The Art of Manliness suggests we should go to church for the following twelve reasons:
Sounds pretty good right? Of course, they didn’t included any biblical passages for their conclusions, but there were links to research.
Here’s my problem — though some of those ideas may have a loose hold in biblical Truth, and though many of those things may happen to someone who regularly attends church, those aren’t the reasons God created the church.
But first we need to define what “church" is.
This one is tough.
The Greek word translated church is ekklēsia. Generally speaking, in the Greek that word simply referred to an assembly of people. For example, in Acts 19, we read that many of the Ephesians were ignorantly stirred into an uproar against Paul and his traveling companions. And in verse 32 we read, “Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.”
Now, that may sound like some of your churches, but the word assembly wasn’t referring to a gathering of saints. No, it was a pagan, angry mob.
But, most of the time ekklēsia is used in the Bible it does refer specifically to a group of believers who are assembled together.
In fact, the first usage of the word in the NT comes from Jesus Himself in Matthew 16:18: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
However, the first written usage of the word was probably in the book of James. James was likely the first NT book ever written, and in chapter 5, verse 14 we read, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
Now, I hate to cite that verse and then move on, but this isn’t the time to exegete that particular passage. Needless to say, please understand that the church is not the place we go to be healed from all of our ills.
Anyway, the point is that the word church never referred to a building. It always referred to a group of people who gathered together.
That’s very different from the usage today. You may be driving down the road with your kids, and one of them says, “I think that’s my friend’s church.” You glance out the window, and you’re likely not going to see a throng of people on the side of the road. You’re probably going to see a building — one that is potentially empty during the time you’re driving by it.
The first thing we need to do for us and for our families is to stop using biblical words the wrong way. I keep harping on this because it’s sooooooo important.
Teach your kids that church is the people, not the building. It’s the people, not the service or the programs.
That right there will help some of you overcome some of your issues with the idea of church. To you church was a place were religious rites were performed, services experienced, and standards were expected.
However, others of you are put off even more from the whole idea simply by hearing that church is more about the people than the programs.
So, let’s continue deepening our understanding.
First, just because people walk into a church building or participate in a service or light a candle or preach a message, it does not mean they’re part of the church.
It also doesn’t matter if you’re a member or a charter member for that matter of a local assembly of believers.
What matters is whether or not you truly have a saving relationship with God.
In Acts 2 we learn a lot about the beginning of the church, and in the last verse of the chapter we read, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Earlier in the chapter when the people heard Peter preach during Pentecost, this happened: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Then verse 41 tells us, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
True church membership happens when you’re born again. Whether you like it or not, if you are a born again follower of Christ, than you are a member of the church. And as a member, you have responsibilities.
That’s right. Of course. In fact, it wouldn’t make sense any other way.
God is a God of change. His whole purpose is to redeem lost men and women, and then to joyously engage those individuals in redeeming other lost men and women so that He can have a relationship with them for all eternity.
God doesn’t save us so He can drop us right back where we were. No. He has a plan for us and our kids.
So, let’s discover that right now.
And of course we have to start with the verses you were all expecting. Hebrews 10:24-25 read, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Here we see the ever important injunction to not neglect the ekklēsia. This is pretty impossible to get around.
The whole purpose of the church is to gather, to assemble, to meet. If we neglect that assembling of believers, then we’re ignoring the command of God.
It doesn’t really matter if we don’t like it. I mean, seriously, that argument holds as much water as your child’s impassioned plea that they not have to eat their vegetables simply because they don’t like it.
The reality is that we must meet. Why?
Well, here are just a few reasons:
No, there are just two of what are commonly called the “One Anothers.” Most people agree that there are about 30 One Anothers listed in the Scriptures.
It’s been my plan for a while to dedicate 30 TLP Snippets to highlighting each of the One Anothers because — if you and any of your family members are born again — the One Anothers should be a daily part of your family life.
And perhaps now would be a good time to start that endeavor. We’ll see.
But the point is we can’t minister to each other by doing the One Anothers to and for other believers if we’re not together.
And — we’ll talk about this more later — you can’t fulfill the One Anothers when you tune in to an online church either.
This is another reason that Paul, under the inspiration of God, refers to us a building and as a body. Each of these similes are a picture of the fact that each believer in the assembly has a special and necessary role to play. If for some reason your appendix decided to neglect the assembling of your body parts, there would be a problem.
And — let me say — there are a lot of churches out there suffering from an appendicitis. There are a lot of amputated local bodies out there.
And some of that may have to do with the fact that you and your family don’t assemble.
Okay, so the first reason we need to assemble is solely because God commands it.
The second reason is so that we can fulfill our responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“But,” you may say, “I don’t know how to do the One Anothers. I wouldn’t be any help to my brothers and sister.”
Well, that’s another reason we need to go to church.
In Ephesians 4 we learn that God gave the church certain people with a very important job. Starting in verse 11 we read, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
Now, this passage should sound very familiar. We’ve discussed it before back when we talked about TLP’s theme verse . . . which just so happens to be the next verse in the passage: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” But let’s continue reading, “from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Are you starting to see the grand and glorious plan?
God gave the church men whose sole responsibility was to equip the saints — that’s those of us in the church — to do the work of the ministry and building up the body of Christ so that we can introduce more people into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God so that we can all become mature just like Jesus Christ and not easily lead astray by failure philosophies. Instead, the church is to be filled with people who speak to each other in Truth and love so that they can all grow together into the head, Jesus Christ. And the passage says it once again, it ends by saying the whole purpose of this is to grow and build itself up in love.
The church exists to magnify Christ, unify us together in His Truth, and subsequently be built up, strengthened, matured, and equipped to introduce others to the body.
That is the purpose of the assembling of believers.
Yes, there is so much more that could be said, and next time we’re going to discuss why The Art of Manliness’s list is no good.
But let me review and put a finer familial point on today’s discussion.
1. Born again believers are to assemble together because they love God and He commands it.
2. God commands it so that we may play a vital part in the process of teaching and being taught, ministering and being ministered unto, loving and being loved, reaching and being reached.
3. And lastly, we do this so that the church may grow, not only quantitatively as new people are added, but also qualitatively as we are matured into the image of Christ.
Aren’t those three things you want for your family?
Don’t you want your kids to know God and submit to Him?
Don’t you want your children to be built up in Him?
Don’t you want your kids to be used by God to spread His Truth and love to this dark and dying world?
Then you all need to get to church.
Still, you may be asking, “But, we have the Bible, can’t we do all that without the pomp and circumstance of ‘going to church?’” Not only that, but you may be thinking, “You haven’t seen my church. I wish it were full of people who spoke Truth in love and were dedicated to equipping my family and helping us mature in Christ, but it’s not. It’s full of a bunch of dead hypocrites.”
First, I’m very sorry to hear that.
Second, we’re going to talk about that in a couple episodes.
And third, all I can say is that isn’t how God created it to work. He’s a communal, relational God. It makes all the sense in the world that following Him would lead us into redemptive, communal, relationships.
Perhaps, the closest local church isn’t the right one for your family, but not assembling with believers is not a sustainable or Christ-honoring option.
You need to give serious thought to what we’re read from God’s Word. Our episode notes are linked below if you’d like to go back and review the verses and points.
If this episode really resonated with you, please share it on social media. And while you’re there I encourage you to like and follow us so you can receive other valuable parenting resources.
I’m going to say that outside of a relationship with God and a sincere understanding of His Word, the church is the next best tool for the Ambassador Parent.
But more importantly than the benefits your family may receive, the best reason to gather with believers is that pleases the Lord.
I’ll see you next time.
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