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 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. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 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. For 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.
-- Hebrews 10:19-27, ESV
"O Come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O Come ye, O come ye ... " to your local church!
One of the plagues of 21st century Christianity is the low esteem in which professing Christians hold the Lord's church on the Lord's Day. The spirit of the age encourages people to be spiritual but not religious, to have a privatized faith with no public witness, to affirm God but have no affiliation with a gathered church.
But the most spiritual thing a person can do is show love and allegiance to the true and living God. Such love will long to abide by His sacred text, the Bible. God's word includes various and sundry demands to gather together regularly with a congregation of like faith.
This admonition in Hebrews 10 stands out. It contains seven reasons for being faithful to attend one's church, including the feisty warning at the end.
Church is a holy place. There are many in nature, I must admit. I've even given thanks to God at a ballgame, providing my team was ahead at the time. Yet the most holy place to meet with God is a house of people where, the word is preached, the sacraments are observed, and true disciples are chained together by the word and Spirit of God.
Church is a relationship with God. The New Covenant, which perfectly fulfilled the Old Covenant, is a corporate relationship with God. Like a marriage covenant, you cannot be in a right relationship with God all by yourself. God's design has always been a family of faith, not merely a personal relationship with Jesus.
Church is led by the Lord Jesus Christ. In your church, you will find earthly leaders, but they are underlings. The church's supreme leader is the "great high priest over the house of God." You should love and respect your earthly leaders, unless they have made themselves unworthy by moral failure or heretical error. But the true Head of the church bids you to come to the Lord's house on the Lord's Day.
Church contains life's most important lessons. One of the things the true church does when we gather together is "hold fast the confession." Are any lessons in life more important than the doctrines of God? To learn the lessons of Christianity requires time, repetition, effort, beginning with the energy it takes to gather together.
Church gives comfort, motivation, and encouragement. In giving yourself to a congregation you will receive much more than you give. When we gather for worship we literally stir each other up, or motivate one another, then we bring grace and goodness to our community when we depart.
Church prepares us for the second coming of Christ, as we await "the Day drawing near." Day is capitalized in most translations to signify the day the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth. When we take our part in the church, we ready ourselves for the return of Christ. You want to be found worshipping and working when the Great Shepherd comes for the sheep.
Church will keep you out of Hell. "Sinning deliberately" is a scandal before God. But exactly what sin is being referred to here? It is the sin of skipping church, the sin of forsaking the assembly of the saints, the sin of so many who talk the talk of Christianity but do not walk the walk of responsible church membership and worship.
So come, all ye faithful, to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Come and adore the Lord. Come to hear His inspired, inerrant, and infallible word. Come and accept your rightful place among the people of God, who gather with Him now and will do so forever and ever.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]