Why Go to Church?
Bible Reading: Hebrews 10:19-25
Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not 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.”
Why go to church? It’s a good question. In these days of declining church attendance, too many have decided it’s simply not that important. Others go, yet only out of a sense of obligation. Parents, friends, or relatives exercise some influence and a person is led to dutifully attend. That was my situation when I was an adolescent and my mom took me and my siblings to the Catholic Church. I had no desire to be there—I would have rather been fishing with my dad—but I went because she made me.
Some go to church because they believe their attendance will somehow contribute to their salvation. Mistakenly, they have been led to believe salvation is the result of being a good person, or doing good works. “Good people go to heaven,” they assume, and going to church is a part of what makes a person a “good person.” Religious cults operate according to this way of thinking. Sadly, there are also many professing Christians who think this way about church attendance as well. Yet—as has been said—going to church doesn’t make a person a Christian any more than going into a garage would make them a car.
The classic text on the matter of fellowshiping together is Hebrews 10:25, which reminds us to not be “forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.” A part of the answer to the question, “Why go to church?” is answered by the context of this verse. The “assembling together” is for those who have made a “confession of hope” (Hebrews 10:23). Of what confession is the verse speaking? The obvious answer is the confession of hope, which accompanies one’s faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. The text is addressed to those who have already trusted in Christ for salvation.
It has long been said the church gathers for edification, then scatters for evangelism. This statement represents a biblical perspective on the ministry of the local church. The gathering of the believers on Sundays (or any other occasion) is primarily for the edification (building up) of the church. Though the church is commissioned to share the gospel, the primary purpose of assembling together is not evangelistic. That’s not to say it can’t, or won’t, happen. It is a good thing when an unsaved person finds his way to the assembly of believers. It is a wonderful thing if he is saved! But the focus of the evangelistic outreach of the church is to be outside its walls. Born-again believers who make up a local church make up a team of missionaries, ambassadors for Christ, sent out to reach their community with the gospel. Every believer in Christ lives amidst a unique group of family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and/or classmates. To the extent that the believer is growing and walking with Christ—and his understanding of and ability to share the gospel—he is sovereignly and strategically enabled and equipped to reach people who church pastors, or leaders, could never reach.
All that being said—the question remains,“Why go to church?” The question is not difficult to answer. The worshiping church appeals to those who are born-again through faith in Christ—for those who have been loved by Jesus and who love Him in return (1 John 4:19)! It is His church (Matthew 16:18). He paid a high price for it and deems it beautiful (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25-29). Jesus loves His church—the Spirit-led believer is led to do the same. The new believer is instinctively driven in love to fellowship with other like-minded believers (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Though it is true, the church is not perfect (many professing believers excuse their non-attendance by finding fault with the church and/or its members) —the discerning believer sees things from God’s perspective. He understands God is at work, by His grace, to work a miraculous transformation in His people (Ephesians 5:25-27; Philippians 1:6)—which is to the praise of the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6). The faults and idiosyncrasies of others, represent God-given opportunities to learn to love others as Christ loves. “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). The believer is Spirit-led to serve and use his gifts towards this end (Galatians 5:13; Romans 12:4-8).
Jesus, in His person and work, is the attraction in His church! He was what drew you, when you first trusted in Him for salvation (2 Corinthians 4:6) and He is to be so today (1 Peter 1:8). He will be the attraction when you depart one day to the heavenlies, where you will marvel at Him and praise Him, with all the redeemed, forever and ever (2 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 5:9-10). Why go to church? Because you love Jesus and you want to worship HIM (Philippians 3:3), hear HIS Word (Colossians 3:16), love HIS people (1 Peter 1:22), and be better equipped to share HIS gospel (Philippians 1:27, 2:16).
The gospel has power to save church-avoiding, rebel-sinners and transform them into Christ-adoring, worship-loving saints (Romans 1:16; Colossians 1:13). If you, as a believer, are not now driven to maintain regular fellowship with His saints by love for HIM, He has offered a remedy for that too: “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). Going to church should not be a “have-to,” but a “want-to,” a “get-to” (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3). It is not good enough to go to church simply because it is expected of you. God-pleasing worship of Christ demands more.
Why go to church? Because you love Jesus! There are other good reasons, but no other single reason is sufficient to stand on its own. Spirit-led devotion to Christ will endure, where other motivations falter and fail (2 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 6:24). Love for Jesus is the same reason why you should do all that you do (John 14:15). It is the right reason to WANT TO GO to church.
THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION
The church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is his new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven he came and sought her
To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her,
And for her life he died.
Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.
Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great church victorious
Shall be the church at rest.
Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with thee.