Why should we come to worship services on a regular basis? Why should we join ourselves to a church? These are some of the questions we will answer in this lesson. We have entered a new time in Christianity due to technology. There has been a great push to the popular internet churches. People are now able to stay at home at watch worship through the internet where a live feed is streamed. Even if we were not for the technology, there have been many people throughout the years who have argued that we should not meet together as a collective of Christians. Rather, every family should stay home and study the Bible together. So why not simply do one of these things? Why go to church?
The Commands of the Lord Require a Regular Gathering Together
What has been repeatedly missed in the religious world is the fact that the scriptures instruct us to come together and there are a number of examples of the Christians in the first century regularly meeting together (James 2:2; 1 Corinthians 14:26). While there are some of God’s commands that we might be able to fulfill by remaining at home, there are many of God’s commands which cannot be fulfilled by staying home.
The Lord’s Supper. We spent time in our last lesson examining the Lord’s Supper. One of the points we noted is that the scriptures show that Christians came together to partake of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17,18,20-21,33,34). Paul emphasizes that the act of taking the Lord’s Supper was to be done “when you come together.” There is nothing in the scriptures commanding or exemplifying people partaking at home. As we also noted last week, the Lord’s Supper was performed on the first day of every week. Immediately we should see that we need to come together at least once a week to partake of the Lord’s Supper so that we can remember the Lord’s sacrifice, suffering, and shame as well as remember the forgiveness of sins we receive from the new covenant established through our Lord’s blood. But there are other things that we are commanded that require us coming together.
Teaching. We are commanded to have the word of Christ dwell in us richly. How were we to go about fulfilling this command? Paul says by teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). We are supposed to be teaching each other. We cannot teach each other if we do not come together. I can teach you through the internet, but you cannot teach me. This command speaks to why we have Bible studies on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. We need to be able to teach each other. We need some sort of forum through which we can discuss the scriptures and teach each other what we have learned. If you are not coming to the Bible classes then you are not participating in this command to teach one another.
Singing. We are also commanded to sing to each other. “…Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). How can we sing to one another if we all stay at home? We cannot speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs if we are simply plugging into an internet feed. We are commanded to singing to one another. Therefore, we must come together to partake of the Lord’s Supper, teach one another, and sing to one another.
Expectations of Christ’s Disciples
But there is more that God expects of us that is often overlooked. We cannot simply check off a few points of worship and think that we are Christ’s disciples. God gave many more reasons why we need to come together on a regular basis.
Encouragement. The scriptures also tell us that we come together because we need to be encouraging one another.
24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We need to come together on a regular basis to promote love and good works within one another. We need to be encouraging one another to live righteously. We cannot do this by staying home. In fact, even in the first century we are able to see by this passage that the problem of people staying away from the gathering of the Christians was taking place. The writer of Hebrews says not to stay away because you need it. You need to be encouraged to continue living righteously. But, not only this, you need to encourage others to live righteously. There is no encouragement when only a few Christians come together when we know many are staying home. You and I have a responsibility given to us by God to encourage the other Christians and be concerned about them by attending.
Knowledge. God also commands us to grow in knowledge.
5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)
God commands us to support our faith with a number of things. We are supposed to support and add to our faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. One of the things to support our faith with is knowledge. This means we need to be studying the scriptures so that we can know God’s word. But how many times have you had a question about the scriptures? We all have had questions where teaching one another and talking to one another helped clarify our question. We need to come together to build our knowledge. This is why we do not have only one hour a week and why you should come more than one hour a week. We meet again tonight, not to do the exact same thing this morning, but to support our faith with knowledge. Look how regularly the first century Christians were engaged in this:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, (Acts 2:42,46)
The first century Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship. The picture is that they were coming together and learning together. They needed to know the word of God also.
Depth. Another requirement of God is that we grow deeper in our faith and in our knowledge of God.
1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. (Hebrews 6:1-3)
God commands to leave the basics behind and not continue repeating what we already know. We are to challenge ourselves to grow deeper in our faith and knowledge. This is one of the big reasons why we meet more often than one hour a week. It is simply not possible to grow deeper in only one hour each week. Further, Sunday morning is not an appropriate time to go into the deeper and more difficult teachings of the Bible when we have a number of unbelievers in our midst. It is not the time to confuse them with concepts about the Holy Spirit, the book of Revelation, and the like when they need to hearing about how they need to change their lives and come to God. So we save those teachings for our Bible classes and our Sunday evening gathering.
Able to use the word of God. This knowledge and depth is to get us to a point so that we can use the word of God to encourage others and teach others. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Handling the word of God takes practice and effort. So we spend time learning how to use the word and practicing using the word of God when we come together. This is the very reason why I want you to speak in Bible class. You need to learn to articulate what you are reading and learning so that you can tell others. We all know that it is one thing to hear something, but another thing to explain it. That is why you should volunteer to teach because you will learn how to handle the word of truth.
But Do You Want To?
But let us put our finger on the problem. I can tell you all of the reasons why you should be here for both our Bible studies. I can give you the reasons why you should be here not only on Sunday morning and also on Sunday night. But this is merely telling you want your benefits will be by coming and help you understand what we are doing here on a regular basis. The problem is that many of us here simply do not want to have to do this. If we feel like “we have to go” to services, then we are not in good shape spiritually. The study of God’s word is something that we should be very desirous to do. To be around other Christians in fellowship and encouragement is something we should desire.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)
11 Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, 12 so that you won’t become lazy, but imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance. (Hebrews 6:11-12)
One hour on Sunday morning is not enough time to accomplish all that God has commanded us. Further, we should want to be together more often than one mere hour each week. Why can’t we come to the 9:30am Bible class? Why can’t we come back tonight at 6:30pm for another lesson and singing? Why can’t we come back on Wednesday night at 7pm for one hour?
Our usual excuses are not very good and they are not excuses I would want to use before God as to why I stayed away and did not grow deeper with my fellow Christians. One reason we do not give more than one hour a week is because we are too tired. We are just too tired and do not want to come. Another reason is that we do not want to have to get out of bed. “You know what it would take for us to get here at 9:30am?” Yes, I do. I get up at 6:30am and my wife gets up at 5:30am so that we can be here with our three children ready. Don’t be lazy but be zealous for God. Another reason we miss is because we have a dinner conflict. Sunday night and Wednesday night are at times when I eat dinner. Eat in the car or eat after. You can make it. Another excuse is our children. It is hard on them and hard on their schedules with school to come like that. There have been many times that we woke our children up at 8:50am on Sunday morning, through them in the car and changed them once we got to church. They can eat some breakfast in the car. Our children have to be in bed by 8:30pm for school. So when services are over on Sunday night and Wednesday night you do not see us hanging out very long because we do need to get them to bed. But you can work the schedule around. But listen, if you miss services because it is hard on your children, do you know what you are teaching your child? You are teaching him or her that when it is too hard to come, you don’t come. Another excuse is that it is inconvenient. This is another way of saying that just do not want to. We need to simply admit the truth, which is, we just don’t want to come. Once we stop blaming everyone else, we might simply accept the fact that we just do not want to come. Hey, be honest with yourself and with your family. The reason we are late is because we do not want to be one time. The reason we are not here is because we do not want to be here. It is that simple. Then you will at least understand that you are not spiritually healthy and need to be concerned for your soul in eternity.
But if you will put your heart into it, you will see the benefits of coming regularly. If you have been missing the 9:30am class. Start coming and you will see the benefit. If you have been missing on Sunday night, start coming and you will see the benefit. If you have been missing on Wednesday night, start coming and you will experience the benefit. You will have more spiritual strength. You will learn more about God’s word. You will be encouraged by being around one another again. We can talk about each other’s week and about how we are doing. You will have the opportunity to ask Bible questions by coming to the Bible studies. You will listen to deeper lessons on more difficult topics on Sunday nights. Put your heart into it and do more. You will be glad you did if you will put your effort into it.