Do I have to Go to Church?
Post date: May 1, 2013 12:25:04 PM
I've heard the notion that church is for the birds. There was a guy who approached me and said that he had everything worked out with God. There was no reason for him to come to church except for the music and worship. He said everything he needed to know was already inside him.
So many people have made the point that you don't need to be part of a church in order to experience God. They've even argued that the Bible says nothing about the church and that the church was a construct of humans. So, before we get into an argument over what should and shouldn't be, lets look to the Bible as our standard.
The Problem with Isolation
The problem I see with isolating yourself from the church is that you are vulnerable to the devil. Ecclesiastes 4:12 states that a three strand cord is not easily broken. In the preceding verses, it speaks of the benefits of having support. If one person falls, his friend will pick him up. When you're alone, should you stumble in your walk with God, who's there to help you?
The New Testament sets up church discipline (Matthew 18:15). The goal here isn't just behavior moderation, but also theology correction. Spreading a false doctrine is sin because you are leading people away from Christ. If a person preaches that Christ was not crucified, that's an extreme example, but never-the-less sin to preach.
Acts 18:24-28 talks about Apollos. All Apollos knew was the baptism of John. He preached boldly on this, but his theology was very off. Aquila and Prescilla heard Apollos preach and they took him aside and explained to Apollos where he was wrong. Within this same passage, Apollos convinced many Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. Aquila and Prescilla helped empower Apollos to do greater for the Kingdom of God through this correction. If Apollos had been alone or considered himself too good to learn from a church, this never would have happened. Many Jews might not have been reached.
The Bible and Church Attendance
The author of Hebrews is the most notable voice in this subject. Hebrews 10:25 commands that we never stop assembling together. The Greek word used is episunagōgē. The traditional use of this word was specific to gatherings of Christians.
We're told in Acts 2:46 that the Christians assembled daily in the temple. It furthers to say that they were unified (with one accord in King James Version). The following verse indicates that the result of their gathering was the church growing daily. Many were lead to salvation as a result of this. This fulfilled the great commission to go forth and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).
Jesus on Church
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus is talking to Peter. He says, "Upon this rock I will build my church." The word Church is a Greek word meaning "out calling" (ekklēsia).This term was associated with the Jewish synagogues in that time. When Jesus spoke these words, the understanding would've been a customary gathering of believers.
Luke 4:16 tells when Jesus was in the synagogue for a reading from Isaiah. The Bible makes it clear that it was Jesus's custom to be in the synagogue. Jewish traditions, handed down from generations, show that worship is to be held in the synagogue on Saturdays. They did this in remembrance of God resting on the Sabbath after creating the universe.
This leads me to believe that Jesus was a strong believer in regular church attendance. If we're to be like our Lord and Savior, we should follow in His footsteps with regular church attendance.
My Closing Thoughts
In this day and age, we have easy access to so many things that will derail a Christian walk. It is so easy to use televangelists, radio programs, and even YouTube videos as your source for church. These may be convenient, but where's your sense of community? If you're having trouble in an area of your life, who is there to help set you straight?
Who will be there to point our your sin so that you can grow deeper in relationship with God? The focus here should not be you, but what is pleasing to God. With verses specifically telling you to faithfully attend church, you'll have to invent a non-communal god to worship. One who did not author the Bible nor die for your sins. One who will tell you what you want to hear. One, who'll allow you to develop your own morality on the road to hell.