Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't Abandon Ship

Adriane Heins has shared a post that caught my attention, because I have read of multiple people who contemplate or have forsaken assembling with fellow Christians.  Here is the body of the post:
If you are one of the multitude that calls yourself “Christian” but believes that attending the services of God is not necessary, that it’s optional, that’s its only for those who want to go to church or like church or get something out of church; if you’re one of the multitude that thinks church is nice for women and children, for youth groups and potlucks, but not for men or for those with common sense and American morals; if you’re one who thinks the Church is little more than a comfort center to give spiritual hugs, then the Church owes you a big apology.

The Church needs to heed the Word of the Lord spoken to the prophet Ezekiel: “If you do not warn the wicked in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his guilt, but his blood I will require from your hand” (Ez. 3:18).

So, as a servant of the Church of Christ, and in holy fear of the Lord, I hereby apologize to you who have been so misled.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that the Church allowed you to believe that attending the service of God in His House is optional; that going to church is not a matter of salvation but one of personal choice and preference.   I’m sorry the preachers of God have let you believe that you can love God, even please Him, and not gather to His Son.  I’m sorry the Church failed to impress upon you the words of Jesus, “Whoever does not gather to Me scatters” (Matt. 12:30).  I’m sorry that the Church has not paid as much attention to your salvation as she has to your sensitivities and personal tastes.

I’m sorry that the Church has let you believe that as long as you’re a good person, as long as you don’t intentionally hurt others or are otherwise uncouth, that you have nothing to fear from the Lord.

I’m sorry that those who are to preach the Word of the Lord seem to have failed to preach the whole council of God that not only says, “God loves you,” but also says, “The Lord rebuke you,” and “Come unto me.”  I’m sorry that we have let you believe that you can gather to Christ in your heart, even though that is not written anywhere in the Scriptures that we are supposed to be preaching.  I’m sorry that the Church has let you believe that your faith is nothing but a spiritual matter; that it means little else than how you feel about God and yourself.

Repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:14).  Turn from the path that leads to death and follow Christ into eternal life. Be gathered to Christ, holding fast to the promise of God in Christ that for His sake you are reconciled to God.  Do not turn a deaf ear to the Lord but hear the Word of the Lord.

The Son of God suffered and died and was buried that you would be reconciled to God.  God is not at enmity with you.  He does not hate you.   He does not want you to be separated from Him.

He sent His Son to redeem you, to buy you back from sin and death.  Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, has purchased you with His precious blood and with His holy and innocent suffering and death.  He has purchased you that you may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom.  He has earned eternal life for you.

Gather, therefore, at the House of the Lord for He gathers those whom He has chosen, gathering them out of the world that they would not be destroyed with the world.  For the Christ will appear again, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him (Heb. 9:20).
My final thoughts
The gathering of believers is not an option that can be added or removed.  The local assembly is difficult work with a high cost of maintenance—and I do not refer to the structure in which the group meets.  Every person that attends will sin, especially against you.  Feelings will be hurt.  Factions will form.  The answer is not to abandon ship but to understand that I am as much a part of the problem as “those people” are.  We should follow Peter's admonition:
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.   Amen.  (1 Pet 4:7-11)


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I’m sorry that the Church allowed you to believe that attending the service of God in His House is optional; that going to church is not a matter of salvation but one of personal choice and preference.

I totally disagree. The idea that salvation is in peril if one doesn't attend church is very Catholic - and even Calvinist.

The Scripture says not to give up meeting together, but that doesn't have to be in a church building with leadership, etc. It can be with a group of fellow believers.

Finding an assembly which holds to the Word of God is getting more and more difficult. As the church continues its spiral into total apostasy, there will be no place left with pastors, pulpits and pews, but the church will continue meeting together nevertheless.

Steve Bricker said...

When I first read the post, I did not think of salvation in the sense of justification. Proper growth in sanctification requires regular gathering as an assembly as much as daily walk in newness of life in this world. Prolonged neglect can place a person in danger of making shipwreck of the faith.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

BUT, we can still meet with other believers of edification and sanctification without meeting at a local assembly. That's my point.

Let me give an example; my job had me working Sundays for years, so I could never attend a church meeting. However, I still got together with fellow believers, still studied the Bible, and still read lots of theological material, including about proper Christian living. I was never in danger of ship-wrecking my faith.

Steve Bricker said...

I completely agree. Negligence is not an excuse, but you give a good example from necessity. Thanks for mentioning it.