Is it important for you to attend church? What does God want us to do?
Why did God give us the Church? Why do you have a Church anyway? And what does it mean to have a Church? Is it a building? We know it is not a building. We know it’s the people. What does God expect of us regarding the Church? I remember in Canada I was talking to our main lawyer who is not in the Church and I was talking with him across the table with a couple of other ministers during a national council meeting a couple of years ago. And we were lamenting that there are so many people that are just sitting out there not going anywhere - not attaching themselves to any body — just sitting out there not doing anything. He lamented to me and he said, "You know, it’s so awful that in this day and age people have forgotten how much community means." How much it means to belong to something, to be with someone "because" he said, "everywhere you go in this world people are out doing their own thing." Individualism seems to be dominating and people want to do their thing. He said it’s different now in this day and age everything is made for the individual. Everything is made to pander and cater to individual needs, not to community needs.
And I had to think back when I was a little boy growing up we used to all gather around the radio to listen to the Lone Ranger or Superman or The Shadow or something like that. And all of us would, you know, shhhh — it’s coming on. We would all get near our radio and tune it and we’d lie down and listen or sit on the floor and listen or sit in our chairs and listen because we only had one radio. And we all had to listen to it. The same way with television, we all had one television. We all had one record player. But now, in this day and age, everybody has a Walkman, they take their Walkman and go to their room — the young guys and gals, teenagers — hey, I’m going to go up to my room. Close the door. I have all my own things. They probably have their own computer, their own TV, their own stereo, their own everything.
So the idea of community, of being together, of joining together is something that our world is trying to undo. And he lamented, not even attending our services at all, he lamented that as well, just as he sees a trend in society.
What do we do? How are we regarding it? And I can tell you for years when I used to attend Pasadena, one thing you never asked anybody was ‘where were you last week?’ You just never asked. You could not even share concern. You would not go there. You didn’t go there and say, ‘Oh, sorry, I didn’t see you last week.’ You didn’t ask that question because people came when they wanted to and didn’t come, because they did not understand the value of being together. And I’m not for one thinking that the body of Christ is only those in a building, but it is being joined together with people and it does mean to come together. The very word for church, EKKLESIA, means called out, assembly. Called out. Assembly. You know what the Church is called? The body of Jesus Christ. Is the body of Jesus Christ together or is the body of Jesus Christ scattered all over the place? The body of Jesus Christ has to be together, needs to be together in heart and mind and soul. Jesus Christ promised He would build His Church. He said, I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. So, somewhere on this earth is God’s Church. Now I am not likening a church to an organization only, because we know that the broader body of Christ can include people who are not in our organization. But do those people come together — and I believe the scattering of God’s people, people have got to come back together again some way. I was talking with Mr. Webber. He was saying, I hope it doesn’t have to just wait until the time when we are driven together by circumstances. But the people who have God’s Spirit can say, I want to be with others who have God’s Spirit. Why do we, with God’s Spirit, meet over here and you meet over there and we are all supposed to have God’s Spirit, believe the same things. What’s going on here? What’s the problem? The Body of Jesus Christ, it’s important for us to assemble together. Part of my kneecap doesn’t go somewhere else while my ankle goes over here. They’re together, aren’t they? As the Body of Jesus Christ, we must be together.
Now, can you be a Christian and not go to church? Yes. Yes, you can. Romans 8 verse 9 tells you what a Christian is. If you have the Spirit of God, you are a Christian. But being a Christian and not being at Church is like a soldier not having an army. It’s like a hockey player not having a team. What would you think, I come out here all dressed up in my hockey outfit — I don’t play hockey but I lived in Canada for a long time — I have all my pads, my skates, my stick and I’m ready and you say, well where is your team? Well, I don’t have one. You can be a hockey player and not have a team? You can be a Christian and not have a church? Does that make sense? Can you be a bee and not have a hive? Can you be a student and not go to school? Can you be a teacher and not have a class? Can you be a citizen and not have a nation? You see, Christian, by the very name, demands you be together. Sabbath, by the very name, demands you be together. Now people tend to forget that. So I’d like to share with you seven reasons - seven scriptural reasons — by the way, I was going to go eight to trump Dr. Levy, but I figured I’ll just keep it at seven - seven scriptural reasons why you need to go to Church. And let me say, Jesus Christ is not happy with people going off and doing their own thing. I know He’s not happy. Why? Because John 17 — let’s turn there before we get to these seven scriptural points. John chapter 17 and verse 11. This is the true Lord’s Prayer. We heard the Lord’s Prayer as He gave the model.
Here in verse 11, He says, And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one... not two, three, four, fifteen, twenty-five, seventy-five, a hundred-and-five ...but that they may be one as we are.
And skip down to verse 18, and notice His prayer, As you have sent me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world.
Isn’t it nice to be together? And what a nice group we have here and I know it is a blending of several different congregations right now together, but what a nice sized congregation there is right here meeting today. And that’s a blessing. You feel a sense of strength. I was sitting analyzing the seats, you don’t have the individual seats, you sit next together, you could feel each other a little bit and, you know, you could feel if a person is energetic, you could feel kind of the energy going through the rest of the row. It’s because, when you are here and you are together there is something that you feel and we will talk about. Can you study the Bible at home? Yes, of course. Can you sing at home? Of course. Can you fellowship if you have a husband or wife or children or invite one person over? Of course. What do you lack? You lack that togetherness, you lack that commonality, you lack that belonging to something bigger than you. And each one of us, if we ever get to the point where we are critics, so critical that we will never find a church that will agree with us, the only way is to have your own church. And you’d be the only one in it. Nobody else would want to be there because they’d have their own ideas. And pretty soon, all you’d have is a bunch of individuals, each one having his own church, nobody to preach to except themselves. And that’s not the way God intended it. That’s not the way He wants it. Jesus Christ prayed to be together. ...I sent them into the world.
Verse 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified... set apart ...through the truth.
Verse 20 Neither do I pray for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
He prayed for us, too.
Verse 21 That they all may be one... I want you to be together, He says, ...That they may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Verse 22 And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are...
Verse 23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you hast loved me.
I have been in small congregations, Toronto, Canada had twenty to twenty-five when I started — I would have loved to have just seen fifty. I served those people just as vigorously as I serve fifty or a hundred — and when we left, there was over a hundred. God was able to bless and be with those people. The same way with Buffalo — twenty and twenty. And they ended up being like seventy-five, almost a hundred — and a hundred and fifteen or whatever before I left. And the congregations — it’s great to have people together. The excitement when new people come in. The excitement of having brethren gathering together is so awesome and wonderful for each other. Not only is God delighted, we can be too.
Ephesians 4 verses 1-6. Here is Paul’s comment and then I’ll get to the seven points in a moment.
Eph 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you... I beg you ... that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called.
Paul called being a Christian our main job in life, not our avocation. It isn’t just a sidelight. It isn’t just something we do, oh well, I’ve got a hobby. What do I do? I go to church. It’s our main job. It’s being a Christian. And part of being a Christian is learning about Christianity, being motivated about Christianity, being inspired. I know, I’m not talking to new people in general, I’m talking to veterans. You are all veterans of the Bible. You know what I’m not going to do today? I can’t bring you one new scripture unless I brought the Koran or unless I brought the Book of Mormon. Maybe I could bring you something — the Analects and Tao te Ching (pronounced like Dao day Ging)- maybe I could throw in one — ‘you’ve never heard this one before, brethren, here’s a scripture.’ But if you’ve read the Bible through once, you know what I’m not going to do today? I will not give you one scripture that you have not already read. But you see, you come here to be motivated. You come here to hear a sermon where the scriptures are woven together in such a way that motivates you to understand better, to do something better, to motivate your life, to live better, to walk with God better, to know Jesus Christ better. That’s what it’s about! And you miss that if you are out there on your own. When you get out there on your own, you get your own ideas because there is nobody there to purify you. Nobody there to say, ‘you know what? You said that. Uhhhh, it doesn’t sound right. Look at this scripture.’ ‘Oh, yeah. I never saw that.’ But when you’re by yourself, you never see it. Nobody’s there to help.
He says in verse 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Verse 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Notice, it takes endeavoring. It takes work. It takes effort to be together. It takes effort to stay together.
Verse 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling;
Verse 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Verse 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
So God wants us to be together. That’s Paul’s message. That’s Christ’s message. How do we feel about that? Here are seven scriptural reasons why we need to go to church.
Point #1) We need to go to church to worship God together. There’s something about worshipping God. See, people have it so mixed up and backward and they make assignments to you: Well you believe in the Sabbath, you think the Sabbath’s the only time you worship God. NO! I’ve never believed that! We worship God every day of the week and if you don’t, you’re missing something! We worship God every day of the week, but the Sabbath is God’s day He designated for us to come before Him and worship Him together. Now, we worship Him individually, too, but it’s His day for us to come together and worship Him. And there’s something about coming together that the very name of the Feast — I’ll come to that at the very end. Notice Psalms 95 verses 1 to 7. I’ll just give you one or two scriptures on each of these — most of them, just one. You can put more flesh on this because there are many other scriptures that you can add as you study this topic yourself so that you can be assured of what you need to do on the Sabbath day.
Psalms 95:1 Notice this togetherness: O come, let us sing to the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let’s us sing together. Let us join together. Let us worship God together.
Verse 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms..., which we are doing today.
Verse 3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. He wants us to join together and worship Him as a community of people
Verse 4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
Verse 5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
Verse 6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
Let us. Our God. We are even told to call God not ‘my Father who art in heaven’ — ‘our Father who art in heaven’.
And verse 7 For He is our God... not just my God, He is your God. He’s our God. ...and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if you will hear his voice...
He calls us His flock. What happens to a sheep when it wanders off by itself out on the range? It can easily be picked off. But when it’s together with the flock — those wolves stay away — too many — too many sheep together with the shepherd watching over them — the pastor watching over them - too many of them to be hurt. But wander off by itself, what can happen to that sheep? We come to services to worship God together. That’s reason number one.
Point #2 We come to church to be fed. We come to church to be fed and to grow. Now you might say, well wait a minute, I’ve heard about going to church before, I’ve heard about this before. I’m sure you have. I hope I motivate you more to be diligent, to stay diligent, to stay faithful for your sakes, not for my sake. You know what? Mr. Webber doesn’t get any more income because he has a larger congregation than someone who has a small one. So why does he try to work with and to serve you, have you come? For his own ego? For his salary boost? No salary boost! He is there for you. That’s what we are out for — you. That’s what we want — you. You where? In the kingdom of God at the very end. And we know what it takes. It takes you being taught, fed, nurtured, encouraged, inspired, led in that direction to the kingdom of God. You know what one girl said to me when I spoke about the kingdom of God at the Feast in Australia? She said, "I haven’t heard about the kingdom of God..." — because she hadn’t been going to our church — "I haven’t heard about the kingdom of God in so long." She almost lost touch with the topic itself. We come to church to be fed.
John 21: 15-16. Interesting what Jesus Christ felt about the church of God. Following His resurrection notice what He said after He had gone through severe circumstances. His parting words to His disciples after He had been risen from the dead — notice what He said in John 21 and verse 15.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these? And he said unto him, Yea, Lord; you know that I love you. And he said unto him, Feed My lambs... Then he repeated. He said in verse 16,
Verse 16 ...Feed my sheep.
He said, If you love Me, feed My lambs. He didn’t say, feed a lamb. He didn’t say, feed one lamb. He said, feed My lambs. Feed My sheep. Feed My sheep! What Jesus Christ was interested in was God’s people being fed. Why? So you can grow.
Paul talked about, in the book of Hebrews at a time when we needed teachers, we still had someone to teach us the very rudiments. We almost lost all that, brethren, a few years back. We almost lost it all. We took it for granted. We sat and we didn’t study. We didn’t check. We didn’t prove. We didn’t keep studying the scriptures. We didn’t verify. We began to get lazy. I did. Oh well, it’s what the minister said, it must be right. Ah, that’s the way it’s going. We need to make sure we’re diligent in our study and in our prayer life. We come to church that we might be fed, that we might grow. Grow into what? Is Mr. Webber trying to make you grow into the stature of Robin Webber? Gary Antion trying to make you grow into the stature of Gary Antion — portly Gary Antion? No! I’m not trying to make you grow into that stature! He is trying to make you grow into the stature of what? The fullness of Jesus Christ! That’s what a minister’s about — to feed you, lead you — not to be like him, but to be like Christ. Use his personality; use his strength, his talents to lead you to be like Jesus Christ. And that’s what we have to measure up to at the end. So, you come to church to be fed.
You also come to church to grow in knowledge. The knowledge of Jesus Christ. The knowledge of how He was and how He did things. But also the knowledge of God’s way of life. You come to church to hear about character development and growth. No minister should try to make you develop character. No minister should put out tests to cause you to develop character. That’s not our business. What is our business is to stress the need to grow and change as the sermonette brought out. You come to church that you might learn leadership. You know, there are wonderful opportunities for leadership at church — whether it’s helping out in ushering, whether it’s helping supervise a certain area, whether it’s working with young people with the youth programs that you have. Whatever it might be, there are opportunities for leadership.
You know what, brethren, there is something very special about the people of God. You’re special. People recognize it. You know what they said at Staples — Staples the office supply store back East, I don’t know if you have them out in the West, but back East, kind of like an Office Depot. They said, "We will hire anybody from ABC" after we had four students work there the first year. When they left there they said, "When your students come tell them to come and apply." So last year some of the students came and they applied. In fact, seventeen of our students applied there. They couldn’t use all seventeen. They said there are other stores in the area. You can apply to those. The guy said, "I don’t know why we’re hiring this person, but it says on here to hire anybody that comes from ABC."
See brethren, there is something special about God’s Holy Spirit and what it does in the lives of people. And it makes you special and makes you different. And you come to church to learn how to be different: not different, odd, not different, weird, but different, holy. That’s why we come to church — to be fed, to grow.
Reason #3 We come to church to be nurtured and to nurture. We come to church to be cared for. You come to services, if you don’t feel cared for it won’t be long and you won’t be there any more. You come to church to be cared for.
Notice in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 verses 7 and 8 how Paul thought of the church.
1 Thes 2:7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse... or a nursing mother... cherishes her children:
How does a nursing mother cherish her children? Very gently, especially when they are little babes. Very gently. Did you ever notice how a first-time father tries to handle a newborn baby? They always wonder, why is this baby crying all the time when I pick it up because he doesn’t quite know how to make it feel secure — sometimes will hold it out here — the baby feels like it is going to fall off or whatever. You have to know how. And you see a grandmother who has had children; she takes it in her arms and holds it to her bosom, holds it and the crying stops. Why? It senses that nurture and that care. At God’s church you should expect to be nurtured and cared for. When you are sick you should expect to be called, visited. When you are hurting, discouraged, you should expect — if the pastor knows about it — to be helped, to be encouraged. And you know what else? We come to church that we can help others, too. It isn’t just a one-way street. Oh, help me because I come to church because I am needy. Help me. Help me. Help me. You have to help others too, because God says, with the same comfort you have been comforted with He expects you and me to help others. And that’s found in 2 Corinthians — I won’t turn there — chapter 1 verses 3 and 4. The comfort that you have been given, God expects you to return to others. So we come to church that we might be nurtured, that we might feel loved and cared about in a world that’s cruel and hard. We come to church that we might be cared for by one another, by our pastor. We come to church to be helped and we come to church to give help. That’s reason #3.
Point #4 We come to church to fellowship. Mr. Webber was talking about how, you know, you missed your fellowship time. Fellowship. What does fellowship mean? ‘Hi. How you doing?’ ‘Hi. How you doing?’ Is that fellowship? That is not fellowship. Fellowship is sharing your life with someone else; sharing your hopes and dreams; sharing what’s going on with you so that you know. I would ten time rather meet with three or four people and spend some time with them — and I know when you are out on a visit like this that it’s not possible — but I’d much rather meet with two or three people and spend some time with them than try to do the, you know: ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’, ‘Hi!’. Did I fellowship? No! I greeted, but I didn’t fellowship. Fellowship is sharing what’s going on in your life with someone. And, of course, it carries with it that that person you have fellowshipped with is going to keep confidential those things that are private to you unless they ask you if they could share them. We come to church that we might have that fellowship one with another and it’s a wonderful fellowship and made possible through Jesus Christ. 1 John 1, notice verses 3 through 7.
1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you may also have fellowship with us...
What brings us together is that we are all on the same road to eternal life. What brings us together is that we all have the same Savior. What brings us together — we all have the same set of rules. What brings us together — we all have the same Heavenly Father. Hey! It’s like discovering somebody: you mean, He’s your Father? Well, He’s my Father, too. It’s like, hey, I found a long lost brother or sister. I’ve discovered I have another sister. I’ve discovered I have another brother. And that’s what it’s about. We come to fellowship and that fellowship is made possible because we are on the same road. We don’t all come from the same backgrounds. I mean, here I’m an Arab and there’s a Jew. How about that! Two services back to back — split sermons there — an Arab and a Jew giving it and all the trouble over in the Middle East and Dr. Levy and I have offices side by side. Of course, I’ve got my machine gun aimed at his and he’s got his jet planes aimed at mine. But other than that, we get along great.
But see, in a world that’s cruel and hard and harsh, we need each other. We wouldn’t all be walking together. We don’t have as much in common from what we do, from where we’ve been, to where we’re going. And that’s what it’s all about — that we can share that with one another at church. What happened to the days when we used to talk and discuss what the sermon was about, what we’ve been studying this past week, where we edify and uplift one another instead of saying. ‘Well, I’m fine.’ And that’s it. We need to really consider: what are we accomplishing in our fellowship as we fellowship one with anther.
But we can do it because that fellowship as he says in the last part of verse 3 ...truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. That’s who makes it possible.
Verse 4 And these things we write to you, that your joy may be full.
Verse 5 This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and we declare it to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
Verse 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
If I say, ‘Oh I know God’, and I don’t walk with Him, I am a liar.
Verse 7 And if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another...
See, we are all walking in the light. If I go over in the darkness, I don’t have fellowship with you. People who are walking in the darkness have a very difficult time relating to those walking in the light. It’s too hard for them. It’s too condemning to them.
Verse 7 ...and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
So we come to church to fellowship.
Point #5 We come to church to be prepared to do a work. We come to church to be prepared to do a work both individually and collectively. Matthew chapter 5 and verses 14 to 16. We have a responsibility to let that light shine that is in us, the light that we walk in, the light that we absorb from Jesus Christ, our Savior, and God the Father who gives us the Holy Spirit that enables that light to glow and shine.
Matthew 5:14 says, You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill... Jesus Christ’s banner teaching... a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Verse 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house.
Verse 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
That’s our own individual responsibilities. As we go out, we have an individual responsibility. So you come to church to be prepared, to be honed, how you can be a better light. Why? By being a better Christian you are a better light. We also come to church that we might learn to do a work together - 2 Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 1 - that’s our involvement in something broader and bigger than us.
2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together... You see, we have a job to do together. Each one of us trying to go out and do our own thing, how much can we accomplish. But when we pool our resources together. We pool our tithes and our offerings together, and we can send out a banner Good News Magazine. We can send out things on the Internet - which the Internet is doing tremendously - we can begin to do something together that is representative of the whole church in addition to what we do as individuals. So we come to church to learn how we can be better at being a light doing the work of God. Because when Jesus Christ left he left a commission to His disciples to do the work, to carry on that which He began.
Reason #6 We come to church to prepare for eternal life. We come to church to prepare for eternal life in the kingdom of God. God’s ministers want to see you in God’s kingdom better than anything else — more than anything else. There’s no guile in me, anyway. There’s no guile in our ministry to want to have anything from you except to see you be in the family of God — be in the kingdom of God. As Paul said, that’s my joy. What crown do I have? Seeing you in God’s kingdom. You come to church that God’s ministry may help you, point you in that direction, remind you of it, keep reminding you of it. You have the holy days. Every Sabbath is a reminder of the millennium. The holy days remind us of the plan of God that we can be in that millennium as a people.
2 Timothy 4:1-8 I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Verse 2 Preach the word... see, we come to church. ‘Preach the word,’ He says to Timothy... be instant in season, out of season... during the holy days, be instant when it’s not the holy days, be aware of what’s going on... reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Verse 3 Why? For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine... people won’t care — it doesn’t matter — doctrine doesn’t matter. We can make whatever doctrine we want. We’re as good as Paul. We’re as good as them. We have God’s Spirit. They had God’s Spirit. We can decide what’s good for us. That was the line people were being sold. ...but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears... Our ears are itching to hear different. Our ears are itching to be like peoples outside.
Verse 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.
Verse 5 But you watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry.
Verse 6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
Verse 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course... see, you come to church to be taught, to be fed, to be nurtured that you might finish your course. Notice what he could say: I have kept the faith:
Verse 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness... we come to church to be fed, to be nurtured that you might receive that crown of righteousness... which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.
That’s what it’s about: to point you to the kingdom of God; to lift you; to help you see that vision of the kingdom of God that is going to come.
We saw Mr. Waterhouse in Florida and he’s not doing well. He had a cane. He did come over to the council, was able to sit and visit with us for a little while, but he’s not doing great. I told him I pray for him every day and he said, ‘Thank you, please keep it up.’ But his bladder has collapsed, he has a hard time being able to get rid of the waste material in his system — he’s not able to manage so well. But he was one who used try to enlighten and enliven people about the kingdom of God — to give them a hope and to give them a vision of what was going to come.
Point #7 is the last point. We come to church because God has issued us a summons. And I looked up the word — it’s MIQRA — it means convocation. Vine’s Dictionary — this is from Leviticus 23 verses 1 to 3 — Vine’s Dictionary of Old Testament Words says this: "It is an official summons to worship." An official summons to worship! Did you ever receive a summons in the mail? You are summoned to come down here — you know, it’s like this legal thing. You’d better appear at this time or else! What do you do? "I don’t care about that — I’ll go if I want to." No, you are there, aren’t you? Or you take care of it legally if there’s a reason to postpone it. God issues us a summons: Lev 23:1-3. And it’s interesting, the word ‘Sabbath’ has to do with coming together. It’s a holy convocation. It’s a holy gathering. It’s a time of rest. But it’s a time of coming together according to Leviticus 23. Notice verses 1-3.
Lev 23:1 The LORD spake to Moses, saying,
Verse 2 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations... there is that word, MIQRA, which means an official summons to worship, holy summons, holy convocation... even these are My feasts.
Verse 3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest... notice what the Sabbath of rest is... an holy convocation... a divine summons. So every Friday before sunset somebody shows up at your door and gives you a summons and it says, ‘Be at church’. You say, ‘Ah, I’ll tear that up. I don’t care to go. I don’t feel like I want to go. I’m having problems. I’m staying home. You know, when you have problems, you need to be at church. You don’t need to be at home. You need to be with God’s people. You need to be with people who can encourage you, not at home where you dwell on your problems. But how diligent are we? How serious do we take that? You know, in the Catholic Church if you don’t go to church on Sunday — mortal sin which means that if you don’t repent, you go straight to Hell. A mortal sin! That’s how they understand the seriousness of going to church. God’s people need to realize Jesus Christ and God Almighty give us a summons to attend. That’s reason #7. God has issued you and me a summons. Jesus Christ is Lord of that Sabbath day.
So, those seven reasons I’ll recap them very quickly for you. Why do we go to church?
1. To worship God together
2. To be fed and grow
3. To be nurtured and to nurture
4. We go to fellowship
5. We go to be honed to do a work
6. We go to prepare for eternal life in the kingdom of God and
7. We go because God has issued us a summons
Hebrews 10:25 I’ll close with this scripture. I had some comments to read about Teddy Roosevelt, by the way, who would not miss church when he was President — would not miss church on Sunday. And one time he was going out of town and he wrote the pastor — here’s the President of the Untied States — wrote the pastor and said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, I’m not going to be able to be there this week. I’ll be out of town.’ Wrote his pastor! He gave, I guess, ten reasons why people should go to church which I’m not going to have a chance to read to you. But I do want to share with you one final one. And it talks about nice guys finish last. Everyone knows the old codger lived to be 100 and cavalierly attributes his longevity to booze, black cigars, beautiful women and never going to church. But according to Dr. George Comstock of John Hopkins University, John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, "That kind of impious longevity may be the exception, not the rule. In the studies of the relationship of socioeconomic factors to disease in the population, Washington County, Maryland, Comstock and his colleagues made an incidental but a fascinating discovery: regular church going" - and clean living often goes with it — "appears to help people avoid a whole bagful of dire ailments and disasters. Among them: heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, tuberculosis, cancer of the cervix, chronic bronchitis, fatal one-car accidents and suicides. The most significant finding was that people who go to church regularly have less arteriosclerotic heart disease. The annual death rate from such was about 500 for every 100,000 persons who go to church regularly / nearly 900 of those who don’t, out of 100,000." It’s almost doubled. "As for bronchitis, Comstock is at a loss to explain the relation ship. And he said, "Maybe all that hymn singing clears the tubes." In any case, he has a name or at least a nickname for the whole phenomenon which he calls ‘The Leo Durocher Syndrome’." Leo Durocher was a manager of the New York Giants years ago and the Brooklyn Dodgers as well before that. "He said, "Nice guys" this man said, concludes the good doctor, "do seem to finish last."" Because in baseball, Leo Durocher said, if you are a nice guy, you finish last. So this man said, that’s the Leo Durocher Syndrome. Nice guys do finish last because they last longer. One final scripture then, we are exhorted by the apostle Paul:
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together... That word, assembling and together is the same word — it is Episunagoge , which means going to church; be at church; assembling together; assembling. It’s the same word that’s translated as assemble. God says that we must come together and we must assemble. And he says, ... but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
Let’s be grateful that God has given us the institution of church and let’s make sure we maintain that institution for not only ourselves, but for our children and the future of this world.