Five reasons not to abandon church
In recent days, some have begun to call for believers to abandon the worship of God in local churches, declaring that ‘the era of the church age has come to an end’.
Throughout the history of the church, people seeking to promote their own cause and name rather than the cause and the name of Christ have made such baseless statements.
Be assured, God has not yet finished using his church. He says, Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen’ (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Without question, those who worship God must abandon all synagogues of Satan where men and women are made drunk with the wine of Babylon (Revelation 18:4). Those who follow Christ cannot and must not give any credence to will worship (Colossians 2:16-23).
Let us not abandon the worship of God in the assembly of his saints so long as the world stands. Here are five reasons not to.
First, this is the place where God meets sinners in saving mercy. It is true that God uses personal witnessing, tracts, tapes, books and other instruments of gospel instruction to call his elect to life and faith in Christ, but generally God saves his sheep in the congregations of his saints, when they are gathered for worship (Acts 2:1,37-41).
Sinners in need of mercy should seek mercy where mercy is always found in great, overflowing abundance; and mercy is always found in the house of God. God’s saints know themselves to be sinners in need of mercy; so they come, with all their needs, to the house of mercy seeking the Lord.
Second, this is the place where our ‘family’ gathers. Every true local church is a family of believers. When the church gathers for worship, it is the gathering of our family for sweet and blessed fellowship in the gospel. Family members need each other, comfort each other and help each other, because they love each other.
Third, this is the place where the Lord Jesus Christ meets with his people. Our Saviour has promised that, wherever his people gather in his name, he will be with them (Matthew 18:20).
To gather in Christ’s name is to gather by faith in his name, for the honour of his name and to worship in his name. If only two or three gather to worship the Son of God, he will meet with them.
The old man, Simeon, found God’s salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the temple, the appointed place of public worship (Luke 2:25-32); and if we would see Christ, we must come with his saints when they gather in the place of public worship.
Fourth, this is the place where God deals with people. Each local congregation of believers is the house and temple of the living God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Timothy 3:15). When redeemed sinners gather in Christ’s name, God the Holy Spirit makes the assembly his house.
Such an assembly is ‘a habitation of God through the Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22). God reveals his glory, gives out his law, makes known his will, bestows his blessings and instructs his people in his temple, his church.
It is in this place that God speaks to men by his Spirit through his Word. In all ages the people of God have been known and identified by their public gatherings for worship. Wherever God has had a people in this world, he has had a congregation to worship him. Sheep are always found in flocks.
The only sheep who are alone are either lost or sick. And God’s elect are sheep. No matter how few, they have always gathered together in public worship.
In the public assembly his people bear public, united testimony to the world of their Saviour’s grace and glory. As an assembled body of believers, they strengthen, cheer, comfort, encourage, edify and help one another by prayer, praise, and the preaching of the gospel.
From the beginning of the Bible to the end, there is a clear line of succession in this matter of public worship. Cain and Abel came to worship God in a public assembly. Noah’s first act after the flood was an act of public worship to celebrate God’s saving grace.
Wherever the patriarchs pitched their tents in days of old, they erected an altar for worship.
Throughout the Mosaic economy, the Jew who did not worship God in the tabernacle or temple was cut off from the congregation.
Throughout the book of Acts, wherever God’s children were scattered by persecution, they soon gathered in public assemblies for the worship of God.
Public worship is one identifying mark of true believers. With David, every saved sinner is resolved to worship God, saying, ‘As for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple’.
By this let everyone examine himself or herself. Those who willingly and habitually absent themselves from the worship of God do not know God. A person may be outwardly faithful to the church of God who does not know God; but no one is faithful to Christ who is not faithful in the public assembly of his church for worship.
Finally, the neglect of public worship may prove to be a first step towards total apostasy (Hebrews 10:23-31). Seldom do men and women turn away from Christ and the gospel of his grace suddenly.
Usually the charms of the world take men by degrees, gradually. Apostasy is usually so gradual that those who forsake Christ do not even realise they have forsaken him. How many there are who never attend, or seldom attend, the worship of God, who yet foolishly presume they are children of God!
So, dear brothers and sisters, let us ‘not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhort one another: and so much the more, as we see the day approaching’ (Hebrews 10:25).