by Stephen R. Bradd
How important to you is it to gather with the saints? Sadly, too many folks look upon church attendance as being secondary to anything else on their schedules. They are not opposed to religion. They may even look upon it as a vital part of life, but they have no conscience against neglecting it. Perhaps the attitude is: “I’ll go to church if nothing comes up, or if I am not too tired.” However, to stay away because we have so many other engagements or because we have so little strength left is like staying away from the dinner table because we are too weak from hunger to eat. Such behavior is foolish and self-destructive.
The Bible tells us that this was not uncommon in the first century. The writer of Hebrews notes – “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”(Heb. 10:25). Some who lived two millennia ago viewed the church and assembling together as important but not essential–just as some do today. To obey the gospel and become a member of the body of Christ is to acknowledge the importance of the church. But, to fail to assemble with the saints as often as is physically possible exposes an improper attitude toward the church. If the church is not the foremost priority in one’s life, he is making a terrible mistake (cf. Matt. 6:33). God does not want to be just a part of our lives; He wants us to understand and demonstrate that our lives revolve around Him in every way.
Ponder this question for a moment: Is there anything the church has to offer that a person cannot get anywhere else? The answer to that question should be “yes,” but is it? One man said: “I do not go to church anymore because I can get what the church has to offer in a better form elsewhere.” Friends, when the church gets into the business of offering
the world what the world already has, it is in the wrong business! Additionally, how can a church that offers what the world already has truly be the church of the New Testament?
The mission of the Lord’s church is to save souls. God’s power for saving souls is in the gospel of Christ. Romans 1:16 declares on this point – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” It is the mission of the church to preach the gospel of Christ. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:19,20).
The church offers a family atmosphere to believers that is not found elsewhere. The early church was said to be “together, and had all things common” (Acts 2:44). Each member of the church is important. The church offers assistance to the believer in need (cf. I John 3:17). The church is where the saved are (cf. Acts 2:47). Their names are enrolled in heaven (cf. Heb. 12:23). Where else can men and women have spiritual fellowship and communion with God Almighty? In what other institution can we find a purpose for living that extends beyond this temporal realm? Where else besides the church belonging to the Christ can we find the assurance of eternal life?
Although many fail to realize it, the one true church has things to offer that the world does not have and does not even understand. The wise will seek to serve and worship the Lord with His people as their premier duty and priority in