Welcome back to the Commands of Christ blog series where we are examining together the nine foundational commands given by Jesus and which are essential for new disciples to understand and obey. If you missed the first eight posts in this series you can find them by clicking Repent and Believe, Be Baptized, Pray, Make Disciples, Love, Worship, Observe the Lord’s Supper, and Give.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20).
In this post, we will look at the ninth of nine foundational commands that Christ gave for disciples to obey. This command is to gather and is found in 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.
If there is one thing about the church that is being questioned as a result of COVID and the lockdowns which have been imposed, it is the command to gather. After all, many believers have turned to various forms of technology to encourage one another during this unusual season. We can pray for one another over the phone. We can host virtual Bible studies on Zoom. Pastors can email filmed teaching sessions to their members.
And we are grateful that we can minister to one another in these ways while scattered. I’m not writing to contribute to the conversation about whether churches should livestream “services” or send out pre-recorded material or such things during this strange time. I simply want to remind us that a church is never less than a gathering. Even though many congregations cannot now meet, assembling is of the essence of a church.
Gathering isn’t merely a nice thing to do; it’s part of what a church is.
There is a popular Christian social media catch-phrase that says, "You don't go to church, you are the church." While I understand the truth of this statement, this is an unhealthy view, pitting "being the church" and "going to church" against each other. If we truly are "the Church," then we will surely get together with other believers regularly. We cannot "be" the church if we don't go to the assembly. Not fully anyway.
The "Church" never implies a single, individual, lone-ranger Christian just going about his Christian duties, and never gathering together to worship with other believers. The "Church" by its very nature means multiple believers, who believe that, "where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them" (Matthew 18:20).
The Biblical pattern for church is this:
●Every Christian should gather together to hear the Scriptures and worship Jesus together with other believers weekly (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Acts 2:42; Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Romans 16:5; Acts 20:20; James 2:2; Psalm 84:4; Psalm 37:17; Psalm 92:13)
●It is also good to meet for smaller groups of Christian community in each other's homes regularly (see Acts 2:46)
●It's good to have leaders overseeing the work and needs of each local church - this is the Biblical pattern - not all of us are called to church leadership, and so we should submit to, and serve whoever God has called to lead at the place we find ourselves (see Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Philippians 1:1b; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Peter 5:1-2; Acts 20:17;)
●If there are believers who are unable for physical reasons to attend a church weekly, they should find a church or believers who will gather together with them regularly for worship in their own home. (see James 5:14; James 1:27)
So, here are ten powerful and biblical reasons why you should attend worship weekly, and why church attendance can change your life:
Don't let excuses stand in the way of what you know God is calling you to do. God will strengthen you, and empower you to do what He has called you to do. I am praying for you -- if you have encountered past wounds from leaders or from church members -- that God will bring healing and grace to you, as you seek to follow Him, and love His Church.
If you are looking for a church that preaches the gospel, leave a comment and we will try to help you find a good one.