“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
It seems that everyone is excited and talking about all the things they want to do and the places they want to go “as soon as this virus thing” is over. Visiting family and friends is high on the list of “must-do” and perhaps even a trip out of town to visit relatives we haven’t seen in so long.
I would like to recommend a place to go as soon as the recommendations of group gatherings is lifted. Church. Go to church. God has been so good to us and has blessed us to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully, we will soon be getting things back to business. While we will forever embrace the blessings given to us in this time of quarantine, and we must never forget the things God has done in our hearts, it will be nice to be able to go to church once again. Our church is going to begin the process of re-gathering this coming Sunday!
So, when you make your plans to begin going to church, or going back to church, it will make a huge difference in what that will mean to you and your family.
What is a church and what is needed to make church, church? Church cannot be a simple gathering of the community. We do that at community events and social gatherings. Church is not to be just a tradition or family reunion. Church is much more than that! While we are all grateful for the fellowship and the fun we can have at church, there is more to going to church than just a building.
You and your family are invited to a community event. Church is where we go to meet with God and His people. It is a visit where we hear the Word of God preached by the man of God. It is a place where sinners are loved and salvation is free! Church is where the broken are welcomed and pointed to the Saviour who is their only hope. Church is where back-sliders and hypocrites are warned and hopefully restored. Church is where the Spirit of God meets with the people of God through the preaching of the word.
With this being said, it is important to see what the Bible has to say about “church.” Does God expect a certain order, structure, qualification for church? Is there a right and wrong way to have church? Since this is of eternal importance, it must be answered by the Bible alone.
1. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ.
Matthew 16:18b — “… upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus said that the church belongs to Him. Jesus was speaking in context of the conversation He was having with Peter, and approved of Peter’s remark concerning the Deity of Christ. Peter was not given the “headship” of the church, just simply being recognized as a student with the right answer.
Jesus claimed ownership of the church and has proven His ability to protect and preserve His church throughout the generations.
2. There is an expected order in the church.
1 Corinthians 14:40
Let all things be done decently and in order.
(Colossians 2:5; Titus 1:5)
Since Jesus is the Head of the church and He alone is in charge, we can look to Him for leadership and instructions on what a church is to be (and what it is not meant to be.) While the church will minister socially to a community, that is not the primary purpose. Some churches are positioned to reach into their community in a way that others are not. However, every true church will maintain the common theme of preaching the Gospel and training the converts. A church is the hope for a community.
3. Pastors must be Biblically qualified.
1 Timothy 3:1-7
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach…
The Bible title of bishop is one of the terms used to identify the pastor. While there is continued controversy on this subject, the Bible is plain and clear. God doesn’t expect perfection, but He has set down some very clear requirements for those who will preach His Holy Word and hold His people accountable. The New Testament leaves no shadow of doubt concerning the importance God places on His pastors being qualified. ( I would not want to be treated by a doctor who was not qualified, why would I allow my family to be influenced by a “preacher” who was not qualified?)
The qualifications found in the Bible are not debatable — they are God’s expectations. God never said you must have a degree in theology, but He did say a preacher must be a man, be blameless, not having a bad name or reputation outside of the church. God said the preacher must be the husband of one wife, not divorced, and certainly not re-married. God said that the preacher must have children who are following his leadership, correctable, disciplined and a good example of His leadership. Among other things listed in various New Testament passages, these are unchangeable and must be considered when you think about going to church. If the pastor is not qualified, then where else is the church going to be drifting off course?
4. There can be no deviation from the Doctrine of the Word of God.
1 Timothy 4:2-4
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
If there is one thing man has done consistently, it is that mankind has regularly made up and modified doctrine to fit what they think or feel. From the time of the Old Testament, people have made their own “gods” and even taken what God gave them and turned it into an item of false worship.
The Bible is clear when it comes to the doctrines of the Word of God, and any time a person twists or changes what the Bible is saying, they do so to their own destruction. God warns of changing what the Bible says. (2 Peter 3:16b “…they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”) Many have done it anyway (that is why we have so many different denominations and “Christian” traditions).
The Bible was given by God through common men to common people. We can read it and see, with the help of the Spirit of God, that God means what He says and says what He means!
Salvation is an eternal bift from God that cannot be taken away or lost. Baptism does not save your soul. Being good is not good enough to get you to Heaven. Disqualified people cannot lead the church as a preacher. Going to church will not get you to Heaven. There is one way, one truth, and one life.
The faster you understand these facts, the better off you and your family will be in your search for a church to attend.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God and has given Himself to be your personal Saviour. Jesus died in your place, paying for all your sins. He died, was buried and rose from the dead to prove that He is God’s Son and will be your Lord and Saviour, if you will turn to Him and, by faith, believe in Him. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and to save your soul. Turn your life over to Him and believe that He alone can and will save you today!
Let me know if you have trusted Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour.
Leave a comment below.
See you in church!
(Pastor Jones can be reached by email email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PastorTonyJones or visit an upcoming service at Faith Baptist Church … “The Church on the Hill.”)