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Welcome to the fifth and final episode in our Celebrating God at Church series. We’ve been working through this series for the past year, so if you’re new to the show, I encourage you to use the links in the description of this episode to check out the first part of this series.
Of course, if you’re new to the Celebration of God, I welcome you and encourage you to listen to our introductory episodes. They will help you better understand what the Year Long Celebration of God is and how to do it better.
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And — of course — check out CelebrationOfGod.com to get your free episode notes and transcript of today’s show as well as a ton of other resources for worshipping God every minute of every day.
And — with that — today we finish up the “Celebrating God at Church” series.
It’s been a great study for me. In fact — I need to be transparent with you — I had no idea what this study had in store for me when I started it.
Often times when I get an idea for an episode or a series, it will be just that, a small little idea. It may just be a title.
And that’s exactly how this series started; all I had was a title and a subtitle. I didn’t even have any specific Scriptures notated. Sometimes I’ll have fully realized concepts noted in my ideas, but not for this one.
The idea originally rose because many of the families with whom I worked at Victory Academy didn’t take church very seriously. And I saw the obvious issues that arose from that, and — having graduated from seminary and been a church attender all my life — I knew the Bible had a lot to say on the subject, but I was having a difficult time coming up with anything other than Hebrews 10:25.
But — you know what — I’ve found that the studies I do for this podcast on which I haven’t previously spoken, are the ones that really rock my world.
Like I said, I’ve been attending church since my first week of life. Even in my teens — when I was double-minded — I still enjoyed the assembling of the church.
But this study has given me a new appreciation of some of the specifics regarding God’s purpose for the church. It’s given me clarity that I believe will stay with me the rest of my life.
I pray it will with you as well.
And today is no different. Today we discuss the consequences of neglecting the assembly. It’s not pretty. But we need to see this, and we need to be moved by it.
And we have to start with this very important observation:
1. If you start going to church simply because the consequences of not going frightens you . . . you’re not going for the right reason.
That’s a selfish motivation. It’s self-serving. Even if it’s fear for your spiritual health or your kids, it’s not the motivation we should have.
I pray that your ongoing desire to darken the door of your local assembly is nothing more than realizing that God is awesome and He deserves our obedience. And assembling together is His command to all of His people.
And — if you do that — and if you participate in the purpose of the assembly — I promise that you will receive the blessed consequences God has in store for you, and you won’t need to fear the negative consequences.
Once again, we need to come to grips with our natural propensity to respond to life. We’re generally far too concerned with the Secondary Consequences of our sin and not concerned enough with the Primary Consequences of our sin.
If we go to church because we don’t want the Secondary Consequences, but the Primary Consequence of displeasing our Lord don’t really matter . . . then God won’t be glorified by your attendance.
That’s number one.
2. We will receive the Primary Consequences of our Sin.
Our relationship with the Lord will be strained. The God who purchased our salvation and provided a way to restore our relationship with Him will be ignored as we do our yard work, watch our football, or catch up on some needed rest. And that is desperately sad.
Now, we should be able to end the series right there, but there are other biblical consequences with which we must be familiarized.
3. If we neglect church, then we’re missing out on the purpose of church.
We won’t be equipped by the pastor for the work of the ministry. We won’t be equipped to evangelize, we won’t be equipped to do the one-anothers, and we won’t be involved in the corporate celebration of God.
That alone is an extremely sad reality.
Picture is this way: a woman gets accepted into some prestigious law school. She faithfully pays her tuition, but instead of going to classes, she spends every day touring the local parks and coffee shops fully expecting that at the end of four years, she will automatically pass the bar and become a partner in a firm.
How sad her delusion is, and how excruciating will be her reality.
In fact, she’ll probably be expelled before the four years are up.
How about this: a man meets a smart, talented, God-loving woman who desperately loves him. He marries her, and then promptly moves to Singapore without her.
He won’t be able to enjoy any of the blessings and benefits of being her husband.
Well, we do the same thing when we claim to have a relationship with God and then ignore His body. The greatest gift He ever gave us was the ability to have a relationship with Him. That came through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
But the second greatest gift He’s given us is the church. It’s there that we are built-up and matured into His image. It’s there that we’re given the tools and talents necessary to reach others with the Gospel.
And when we refuse to go to church, or to go to the right one, we’re living in a delusion that we’re going to be able to enjoy the blessings of being a child of God on this earth while actively ignoring one of the greatest blessings He’s given us on this earth.
So, the consequences of neglecting the body of Christ are that we’re sinning against our God and missing out on the maturing process He created for us.
But I want to get a little more specific. Let’s consider Hebrews 10:24 again. The verse starts with “And let us consider.”
The author is obviously continuing an idea that was started earlier, so let’s do a fly over.
In chapter 9 we learn about the earthly Holy Place in the old temple, and then we learn that the blood of Christ has made it possible for us to enter the Holy of Holies.
And then chapter 10 expounds even more on the glorious sacrifice of Christ on our behalf.
Then we get to Hebrews 10:19, and we encounter a “therefore.” And — as you have already, no-doubt heard many times — any time you see a “therefore,” you need to see what it’s there for.
Well, it’s there because the author of Hebrews is going to say that because of everything we just learned, there are some extremely important implications it’s going to have on our lives.
So, let’s read starting in verse 19: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God . . . .”
Let’s stop here for a moment. It’s really nice that the author is recapping this for us. He says, since you can enter the Holy of Holies because of the blood of Christ, and since Christ is our great High Priest, there are three things you need to do.
We see the first on one in verse 22: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
So, because of all that Christ has done for us, we need to draw near to God in full assurance of faith, and we need to purify our hearts from our evil conscience and our bodies from our sins. You see, God meets us where we are, but He doesn’t leave us where we are.
God expects that entering into a relationship with Him is going to change us.
And then the author continues with the second therefore: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
Because of everything that God has done for us, we need to have confident hope in the promises of God. And we can do this because God Himself is completely trustworthy.
And then comes the third requirement of being a child of God: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
Because you have been born again, God expects you to put off your old sin habits, have faith in God’s Truth, and actively go to work helping your fellow believers grow in love and good works.
How do we do that? He continues: “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.”
How do we stir each other up to love and good works? Obviously, it can only happen as we meet together and actively encourage one another. And that’s just one of the one-anothers we’re called to do with each other.
And the last part of the verse says that the closer we get to the return of Christ, the more we should be seeking to assemble and build each other up. Why? Because we’re running out of time.
Now, normally that’s about where people stop. And that’s all really important, but the author doesn’t stop there. He continues with another important transition.
Verse 19 started with a “Therefore,” and verse 26 stars with a “For.” This “for” can be read very much like “because.”
So, we need to assemble together because “if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
And then he gives us a comparative example. He says: “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”
The idea is that the Old Covenant had some high expectations, but the New Covenant through Christ’s blood has come to fulfill that Old Covenant. So if we ignore the New Covenant we’re sinning more than we would had we ignored the Old Covenant alone. Listen again to the verbiage: we’ve trampled underfoot the Son of God. We’ve profaned the blood of the covenant. We’ve outraged the Spirit of grace.
And then the author ties this warning to the same concept to which he tied our obedient confidence. Before, we would have hope in God because He’s trustworthy. Well, if we nullify His great gift, “we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”’And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Therefore . . .
4. The fourth consequence of neglecting to fulfill God’s plan for the church is that we seriously and significantly offend Him and will find ourselves not merely at odds with God, but in the fearful position of being in the hands of a living God.
Now, you may be wondering if I’m suggesting that God will squash you flat for not going to church. No, I’m saying that. But the reality is that any time we tell God no and do what we want to do, we are in a very dangerous place.
The gift of God in salvation should lead us to drawing near to God in purity, faith, and love that shows itself by collecting with the believers.
But if we don’t do those three things, the reality is that we probably don’t have a relationship with Him in the first place, which means we’re still in danger of spending an eternity in the Lake of Fire.
And that’s a scary thing.
But, as always, there’s hope.
Perhaps you have made a habit of neglecting the body of Christ. You can change that. You can start the glorious process of corporate sanctification for which God created the church.
And, allow me to end on a high note and a word of caution.
Everything I’m about to read should be a glorious joy as you consider how God wants you to interact with your local body of believers. But if you’re not planning to invest in church, then you can mark it down that you will likely experience the opposite experience that God is promising here as you live in defiance to God’s will.
Ephesians 4:11-16, “And he gave Pastor/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. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 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.”
Have you considered that by sharing this episode, you’re contributing to the building up of the body of Christ?
The more born again believers who pack local Christ-Honoring assemblies, the stronger and more mature the body of Christ will become on this earth, and the more dynamic impact it can have.
But more than that. God deserves it.
So, please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets and join us next time as we start another series that we will revisit as we discuss the final holidays of our celebratory year.
Since celebration is identical to worship, we’re going to look at the concept of worship more closely, but our focus may surprise you. We’re going to compare our modern worship of God to the worship of the Old Testament kings of Israel.
I’ll see next time for the first episode of that series.
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The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.