Question: Have you forsaken going to church?
Acts 20:7 (YLT) And on the first of the week, the disciples having been gathered together to break bread, Paul was discoursing to them, about to depart on the morrow, he was also continuing the discourse till midnight,
The verse says that on the first day of the week they were gathered together…..
Why did they gather?
This verse says they gathered to break bread, in other words, to eat the Lord’s supper. If we search the New Testament, we can find many other reasons they gathered together. I will list just a few below. But first, be aware that in the letter to the Hebrews, there is a very encouraging verse on this subject.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
So in addition to sharing the Lord’s supper, we should meet together to provoke one another to love and to good works. There have been whole books written on this subject. Pastor Fred Allen did a wonderful sermon series on this subject that lasted about a year, but I will only touch on a few points.
In addition to the Lord’s supper and provoking each other to love and good works, Acts chapter 2 provides several things they did when the first Christians met together.
Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
We gather to learn the apostles’ doctrine. In other words, we get together to read the Scriptures, and to be taught the Scriptures, and to teach the Scriptures to each other. We come together, as Ephesians chapter 4 says, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature.
14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes.
We get together to give, to give to the ministry, to give to each other, to give to the special projects as Paul took up a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.
We come together to pray, to pray for the leaders of our nation, to pray for ourselves and our needs, to intercede for others.
We come together to sing. We give God the sacrifice of our praise. We admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
We come together to have fellowship with one another, to stir one another up, to encourage one another, to sharpen one another.
Why have you stopped going to church?
Oh, I have to work on Sunday.
Well talk to your manager. Possibly he will let you off to go to church on Sunday. Maybe he can rearrange your work schedule. Pray that God will provide you a different shift, or even a different job so you can come together with other believers. Some churches meet on Wednesdays or Saturdays or Sundays. Can you make one of the alternate times?
Oh, I don’t go because of the hypocrites in the church.
All Christians have a bit of hypocrisy. We know what’s right, we want to do what’s right, but many times we do wrong anyway. We are not perfect, but we are only called Saints because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. In His eyes, we are pure only because His righteousness has been imputed to us. However, there are those who may be truly hypocrites. They are going to church for the wrong reasons. Maybe they want to look good, or maybe they are only going to gain business. But don’t let these people keep you from going to church. Don’t let them make you forsake the assembling of yourselves together.
Oh, I don’t need the church and I don’t need those people.
No man is an island. We all need others. And even if you don’t think you need them, have you ever considered that they might need you? Have you ever thought that they may need your wisdom, your experience, your help.
Oh, I don’t need to go because I already have Christian friends at work, at the gym, and in my family.
When was the last time you shared the Lord’s supper at work ? When was the last time you guys at the gym all broke out singing Amazing Grace? Who was the last family member you baptized in your bathtub in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? When did you break out the Scriptures and teach the sermon on the mount at your last family reunion. Come on, you know gathering together in the name of Christ is different than fellowship with believers in your daily routine.
Oh, Sunday is my only day to rest and to have recreation.
There’s nothing wrong with a little rest and recreation. You can miss a week here or there to attend some football game or get some extra sleep. But what about most of the other Sundays when gathering together was forsaken. Are our priorities flipped? Is God really first?
Oh, I can watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio?
For some people who are handicapped, this may be their only option. Or for some people where Christianity is illegal, this may be their only option. But for most of us, TV is not the church, it’s just a lecture. You don’t have any communion with the people on the TV screen or through the radio waves. You’re not helping them, and they are not helping you. You don’t even know them. You can’t pray for each other. You can’t encourage them. You know it’s not the same.
Oh, I’ve got some sin in my life, and I don’t want anybody to know.
This one is the hardest of all the excuses. Remember Adam and Eve sinned and then hid themselves. It’s in our nature to hide ourselves from God because of our sin. Are you living with someone you shouldn’t be? Is your past full of mistakes? Are you doing drugs or addicted to alcohol? Are you overeating and afraid of what people will think when they see you? Are you anorexic and afraid people will find out ? There’s a song they sing at all Billy Graham Crusades, Just as I Am. There’s another song in my hymnal, Come Just as You Are. Come back to church for God. Who cares what others may think. Do it for your Father. The woman who was caught in adultery was brought to Jesus. He didn’t condemn her, but then He said to her, go and sin no more. God will receive you as you are, but He will not keep you as you are. He will gently and patiently change you to be more like Jesus and to be conformed to His image.
I know it’s hard. This message was too preachy. But I know you believe you should go back to church. And I know how hard it is to find a good church, a meaningful church. But don’t give up, keep trying to find it, it’s worth it!
Attending church in the early church could have been a life or death decision due to persecutions. Attending a house church meeting in China today can result in imprisonment. Yet most of us live in free societies, but many of us are forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. Come back, come back. Father, keep us from forsaking our gathering together.
God bless Bob