In the last installment on our series, we took a look at some reasons why we should gather to church as believers in Hebrews 10:24 and 25. This is the foundational verse. In this installment, I want to focus on to other reasons that Christians don’t normally think about when it comes to the church.
The main reason why we should go to church—or better said, gather with the saints in regular fellowship—is because God said so. Again, that should be enough.
In Hebrews 10:24, it tells us that we should stir up one another to love. There are different ways in the church that other believers express love to one another. One of those is the use of spiritual gifts.
In Romans 12, the word of God tells us to give ourselves up as living sacrifices:
I beseech you
Notice that we present ourselves for service. We don’t present ourselves simply to be blessed but to be a blessing. We are a blessing to others in the body of Christ when we use the gifts that God has given us in the body to minister to other members. It is understanding that we are all interconnected and that we don’t exist outside of the body of Christ. No one is a Lone Ranger here.
Senior pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Nate Shurden, says in his article Joining and Being a Member of a Church:
Nowhere does Scripture describe, much less prescribe, the Christian life is something that can be lived alone. In Christ, each Christian is related to every of the Christian and together we are the family of God.
The reason why they are non-negotiable is
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ…That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. (1 Corinthians 12:12, 25)
So in the context of the church, that is where we can love one another with the gifts that God has given us and support for one another.
We must also understand that it is a command to love one another.
These things I command you, that ye love one another. (John 15:17)
Therefore, those things which facilitate helping us fulfill that command to love other brothers and sisters are things that we should do as a duty to God. It’s as it says in Romans 12:1— this is our reasonable service.
This also shows that we have the heart of Christ because we are seeking to love what Christ loves. Shurden says:
Here’s the thing: if we truly love Christ, we will grow more and more in love with the things Christ loves — and chief among Christ loves his the church.
By abstaining from fellowship with other believers in a church, we are saying by our actions that we really don’t love the things that Jesus loves, or in the very least, we’re saying we don’t love this particular thing — the church — as Jesus loves. And that becomes a big problem because again, Jesus says to love as He loved. This is a commandment.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12)
Another reason why we should go to church as believers is because this gives us the opportunity to join in the only commanded festival which is communion. Abstaining from communion is another visible sign of your disconnection from Christ.
In the Corinthian church, there was already a regular expectation of meeting together as the church. Paul says this in first Corinthians 11:18:
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. (1 Corinthians 11:18-19)
Even though there were problems, they still met as a church. Having problems in the church does not excuse one from gathering with the church. If anything, it means that just like any family, there were issues and problems because we are still prone to do sinful things. Therefore, we need to work those things out as the saints of God. When we disconnect ourselves from the body, we are really disconnecting ourselves from Christ because Christ is the Head of the body.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (Ephesians 5:23)
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that if you’re not connected to the church then you not connected to Christ at all. What I’m saying is that when you disconnect yourself from the church, you are disconnecting yourself from the fullness of being in unity with Christ because there is no distinction between Christ and His people. Christ himself says this when He is talking to Paul on the road to Damascus.
And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. (Acts 9:4-5).
The Lord said this when Paul went around persecuting the church. The Lord Jesus made no distinction between himself and the church. He said this earlier before he left as well.
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
Communion is is an ordinance of the church that the Lord Jesus expected us to keep regularly.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:26)
Therefore, to take communion disconnected from the body is to take it in a way not intended. It is intended to be taken in the corporate fellowship of the body of Christ. As the Lord Jesus took it in corporate fellowship with his disciples, we should be taking it in corporate fellowship with other disciples, reflecting the biblical example. It is meant to be a love feast among believers to the Lord Jesus Christ.
So let’s lay down all the reasons we have listed so far to gather with the church:
Because God said so (Hebrews 10:25).
• To stir up one another to love (Hebrews 10:24a)
• To stir up one another for good works (Hebrews 10:24b)
• To use our spiritual gifts to love on the brethren. (1 Corinthians 12:25)
• To join in the commanded love feast of communion. (1 Corinthians 11:26)
In the next installment, we’ll look at some additional reasons why we should gather with the church as believers. God bless you and keep you.