Why Do I Need To Go To Church?

Practical Applications Bible Study, 3/9/11



– Scott Shepherd

We wanted to reiterate the purpose of this series. It is not to give you a set response to every question. I want to remind you of what Jesus said to the disciples:

Matthew 10:16-20
  1. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
  2. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
  3. And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
  4. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
  5. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

The disciples walked, talked, and had a relationship with Christ. If we seek out that same relationship, that same communion with God, we won’t have to seek out the words to speak; we’ll have the words to answer. So this series is not to give you the words, but to give you the concepts and the confidence you need.

Why Bother Going To Church?

– Adam Paine

> I’m a Christian. Why should I have to go to church?

A co-worker of mine came to me and said, “I used to go to church when I was a little kid. But now I pray; I study my Bible, and I’m okay with that.” I don’t doubt it. I said, “That’s great. But is God okay with that?” We have to let that be our focus. It’s not about what we want, but about what God wants.

People who ask this question believe they have a relationship with God. You don’t hear people say, “I don’t believe in God. Why should I have to go to church?”

Hebrews 10:24-25
  1. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  2. 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.

What is “going to church”? Obviously, we’re here on Wednesday because we have so much fun on Sunday that we said, “Let’s do it on Wednesday, too.” But the main church day for most people is Sunday. The word “sabbath” is referenced in the ten commandments. One of the ten things written in stone was to observe the sabbath.

Exodus 20:8-10
  1. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  2. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
  3. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

The sabbath is observed on the seventh day, in remembrance of God resting on the seventh day from all his work.

Genesis 2:2-3
  1. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
  2. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

When you look at the sabbath, you think “Okay, it’s a celebration of God resting.” But did God rest? No. The sabbath is a gift from God. Creating the world in seven days did not wear God out. He didn’t say “I want to sit back and watch football.”

Exodus 31:13
  1. Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

So it’s for everybody in the “children of Israel”. We know that Jesus came, and now we are counted among the “children of Israel”.

The Jews have 89 rules about what you can and cannot do on the sabbath, but these are rules created by man. This gets into what we call “legalism”. But God just said to observe the sabbath.

Here in Mark it says that Jesus and the disciples were working through the fields and began to pluck the corn; in Matthew it says they rubbed the kernels between their hands.

Mark 2:23-28
  1. And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
  2. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
  3. And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
  4. How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
  5. And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
  6. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

So this is Jesus making reference to something that David did. The story is, David and his men were hungry, so they went to the high priest. The high priest said, “All I have is the shewbread.” Now the shewbread, according to one of those 89 rules, was something you couldn’t eat. Nobody could eat it but the high priest. But David said, “We’re all sanctified; feed us,” and he did. If you want to read more, it’s in 1 Samuel chapter 21.

Saturday or Sunday?

Some Christians observe the sabbath on Saturday; some observe it on Sunday. That’s kind of why we have a five-day work-week and a two-day weekend, because we didn’t know which day to observe the sabbath on, so we get both. You gotta love the American way.

Colossians 2:16-19
  1. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
  2. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
  3. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
  4. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

It’s about having a good conscience toward God.

There are many reasons people give about not wanting to go to church on the sabbath, but when you get down to the heart of the issue, it’s a Lordship problem. We are bought with a price. That means we are owned by God. A lot of people say, “Well, this works for me.” You hear about people “church-shopping” like we shop for shoes.

James 4:7-8
  1. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  2. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

When we talk about the fact that we’re sinners, I’m not going into it in depth; Jonathan did a very good job of that in week one.

Romans 13:1-2
  1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
  2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

We’re all members of the body of Christ, and the body has a diversity of gifts. I think there are many people we will meet in heaven who have never been to church in their life. But if you’re in a place that God has provided to you, to grow in the truth, and you are forsaking that, that’s what we’re talking about tonight. So if you are forsaking all that, you are forsaking the gifts that God has for you. And if you say that you don’t need those gifts, then the gift you lack is the gift of self-awareness.

1 Corinthians 12:4-31
  1. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
  2. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
  3. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
  4. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
  5. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  6. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  7. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
  8. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
  9. 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.
  10. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
  11. For the body is not one member, but many.
  12. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  13. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  14. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
  15. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
  16. And if they were all one member, where were the body?
  17. But now are they many members, yet but one body.
  18. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
  19. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
  20. And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
  21. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
  22. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
  23. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
  24. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
  25. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
  26. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
  27. Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
  28. But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

So this is a recapping of, “Here are gifts; here is how they are placed in the church. Nobody has them all; the body of Christ has them all.” Saying that we don’t have to go to church is like saying that I’ll do all my lifting with my right hand. God gave me two hands.

That’s a brief outline. Now let’s cover some of the excuses that people use for not going to church:

I get all my spiritual needs at home

Some people say that they don’t need to go to church because they get all their spiritual needs at home. I can respect that viewpoint, but it is self-centered. Number one, those people are thinking about nobody but themselves. Number two, we will never get all we need in Christ without the teachers that God has provided for us.

Jeremiah 3:15
  1. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
1 Peter 5:5-10
  1. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
  2. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
  3. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
  4. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
  5. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
  6. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Let’s talk about Philip and the eunuch. God calls Philip, and he goes to the eunuch. The eunuch was reading Isaiah. He didn’t have the New Testament yet, so he was reading the most up-to-date stuff there was. …

Acts 8:30-31
  1. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
  2. And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

The New Testament is filled with stuff we’re supposed to do for one another. We’re supposed to comfort one another, confess our faults one to another, pray for one another. How can we do those things if we forsake the gathering of ourselves together.

1 Thessalonians 4:18
  1. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:5-11
  1. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
  2. That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
  3. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
  4. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
  5. But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
  6. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
  7. And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
James 5:16
  1. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

There are 52 Sunday mornings in a year. If you come to every one, there’s a chance that you’ll get your cup filled 26 times. There are some days when you get exactly what you needed. On other days, you might help minister to someone else. You can get-get-get on your own, but you can’t give-give-give on your own. It’s kind-of like basketball. Everybody wants to play offense, but you’ve got to play defense half the time. That’s just how it worked.

> I said I’d never tell it to a living soul, > How he wrought salvation and made me whole. > But I found I couldn’t hide this love, > That Jesus did impart.

If you’re living your life as a Christian, then it’s going to shine through you. We see that example in Paul. New Testament, he’s basically the Starbucks of Christianity. Everywhere he went, he built churches. So we have an example of what to do.

Mark 16:15
  1. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

It’s boring and predictable.

> It’s boring. I went there last week. I don’t want to go this week, because I know what’s going to happen.

I feel that way about work sometimes. Everything we do in life, we have routinely. We eat routinely. We sleep routinely. We even have fun routinely. What’s the expression? “I need a little ‘me’ time.” If I slept once a month (because I slept last night – I don’t need to do it again), it wouldn’t be healthy.

If you don’t go to a church that preaches the true Christian gospel, you’re living on junk-food. It’s like three meals a day of Snickers and ice-cream: “It tastes great! I love it! But I feel awful all the time.”

1 Corinthians 7:24
  1. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

The keyword there is “abide”. So we’re talking about doing something with consistency.

I had a bad experience.

I was hurt. I was betrayed. Somebody did something that hurt me.

I don’t know what that feels like. A lot of us don’t. But it is important to never minimize people’s pain. We act as an ambassador for God, laying ourselves naked before God, and somebody betrays that trust. How do you get over that? A lot of people don’t.

Here’s what we have to remember. One, God is a god of reconciliation. Another thing is, whatever was done to them was done by man. They may have done it in the name of God, and that’s a shame. But God gave himself for us, the ultimate sacrifice, so we wouldn’t have to suffer. Don’t let a man come between you and God. If somebody does something bad to you, and you let that come between you and God, then you have put that man before God. I don’t mean to minimize the pain, but we have to go to God for reconciliation. When you’re in trials., in pain, that’s when you need him the most.

2 Corinthians 5:19-20
  1. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
  2. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

We’ve got to remember, we’re always pushing God, not our church social club. I like church. All my friends go there; I spend a lot of time there. But we’ve got to keep our focus. Why do we go to church? Because God wants us to learn there.

Practical application (mock Q&A)

So Adam, I know you go to church, but I don’t know if I should. The last time I went, they seemed more worried about how I look than if I needed God.
I’m sorry you had a bad experience. The reason I go to church is that I’m always looking to strengthen my relationship with God. The church is the family that God has called me to.
I have a lot of bad memories associated with church. My mom used to force me to go. I feel like I was treated poorly, and it’s too painful for me to go. It just brings back bad memories.
I’m not hearing you say that you’re against God; you just have a problem with church. If you want to have a relationship with God, what do you think the best way to go about that?

That’s good. I like to follow up these questions with more questions. And I ask not because I’m trying to say the right thing, like I’m selling them a car or whatever. I ask because I genuinely want to know.

I grew up in a church that says you have to go church on Saturday. Your church goes on Sunday. How do I know I’m not breaking God’s commandment by going on Sunday instead of Saturday.
Jesus said that the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. I don’t think it matters when we observe the sabbath; only that we do observe it.
I know you go to church, but I pray on my own; I read the Bible, and I don’t feel like I need to go to church.
In your daily life, do you ever come across things you don’t have answers for? I find that when I go to church, if I don’t understand something, I usually find someone who has an answer. There are a lot of people who have experience and answers that I don’t have.

I like that, because Pat based his answer on personal experience. He shared about why he goes. If you can’t tell someone about why you go, you can’t expect them to want to go.

I’m not a big church guy. It seems like the “same-old, same-old.”
I can’t tell you why you should go, but I can tell you why I go. I enjoy meeting and having fellowship with other people. I’m blessed by the music and the message, and it gives me the fuel I need to continue throughout the week. I couldn’t imagine not going.
I used to love church, but I had a bad experience, and I just don’t see myself going back.
I’m sorry that you had a bad experience. You had a real hurt in your life, and I think you should ask God about what kind of church you should go to. Maybe you can even ask your dad to go along.

This is about God’s church. I want to be clear on that. I love Christian Fellowship, but this not a commercial for Christian Fellowship. This is about being a member of God’s church.

I like taking care of my spiritual needs in the middle of the week, so my weekends are free for competitive bowling. What do you think about that?
I can read the word and pray, but there are a lot of things in the Bible that I don’t understand. There are people who are called to teach and preach the word a lot better than I can. So I go to church, and God speaks through his people. For me, I go to church because there are a lot of souls out there who don’t understand the word, and I want to be able to share with them.