November 1, 2017
The Communion of Saints
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. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not 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. Hebrews 10:22–25
The passage above tells how we got to be saints: “with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Because of our baptism into Christ, we can come with full assurance, holding to our faith without wavering. We can come bold to praise, pray for our needs, and confess our sins, knowing that God in Christ readily forgives them.
However, the passage continues by pointing out other salutary effects of worship. We “stir up one another to love and good works.” We “encourage one another” to remain faithful to God’s will and word. While we are encouraging others, we too are being encouraged by others.
Having said that, here are some truths that others have written over the years about why it is not good to get in the habit of staying away from the fellowship of God’s people in worship. Though some of the writers may be unknown to you, their words are worthy of serious thought.
S. Lewis: “We don’t come to church, to be a church. We come to Christ, and then we are built up as a church. If we come to church just to be with one another, one another is all we’ll get. And it isn’t enough. Inevitably, our hearts will grow empty, and then angry. If we put community first, we will destroy community. But if we come to Christ first and submit ourselves to Him and draw life from Him, community gets traction.
Gene Getz: “Though true Christianity uniquely involves a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is also a corporate experience…Christians cannot grow spiritually as they ought to in isolation from one another.”
John Wesley: The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.
Kent Hughes: On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.
Kevin DeYoung: The man who attempts Christianity without the church shoots himself in the foot, shoots his children in the leg, and shoots his grandchildren in the heart.
Mark Dever: Nonattendance, in the early years of our church, was considered one of the most sinister of sins, because it usually veiled all the other sins. When someone began to be in sin, you would expect them to stop attending.
Mark Dever and Paul Alexander: “If a member shows prolonged negligence in gathering with God’s people, how can he say he loves them? And if he doesn’t love them, how can he say he loves God (cf. 1 John 4:20-21)?”
Martin Luther: “To gather with God’s people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer.”
Unknown Author “An empty tomb proves Christianity; an empty church denies it.”
I pray these spurred you on to more consistent worship, or encouraged you to continue in it.