by pastor david
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Growing up as I did in the home of Christian parents and the home of a Baptist deacon, I attended church regularly. Actually, it was beyond regularly. You see, when I was a child we attended Tuesday evening Youth Meeting, Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting, Saturday evening Evangelistic Service, Sunday morning Sunday School, Sunday morning Worship Service, and Sunday evening Worship Service. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about it.
However, if I had it to do over again, I would not change a thing because, among the many things I learned about the Bible, I also learned to worship. I had the wonderful privilege of sitting with my parents and observing them and others worship Christ from the heart. Ironically, it was at a Sunday evening worship service that I gave my life to Christ!
Obviously, my parents and the leaders of the church where I grew up were familiar and obedient to the passage above. They did not “forsake the assembling” of themselves together and for that I am thankful.
The interesting part of the passage to me is the phrase, “and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”. Apparently, church attendance – the fellowshipping of ourselves together as believers – is more important today than it was when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. The reason is obvious. It is because we are closer to that approaching “Day” than ever. That “Day”, refers to the day of the return of Christ and all that follows.
If this is indeed true, and it is, why is the attendance of the average church member so sporadic, so erratic? Is it really too much to expect those who claim the Name of Christ to attend church regularly, unless providentially hindered. Is attending every Sunday now so out of the ordinary that those who do so are seen as Super Saints?
I certainly understand that there are times when it is impossible to attend. Sometimes sickness, travel, work, and other interruptions keep us from attending as much as we would like. However, that should be the exception – that providential hindrance to which I referred earlier.
“Are we going to Church today?” is a question that should never be asked in the committed Christian’s home. Faithful attendance to the house of God should be such a pattern in your home that your family and friends know exactly where you will be at church time.
Yes, church attendance is more important today than ever. Let’s make obedience to the Lord in this matter a priority. Not only will you be blessed but God will also be glorified!
“And He (Christ) is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
As everyone knows, we are quickly approaching that marvelous day known as Christmas. The streets and stores are decorated with the beautiful colors and ornaments of the season. The children are anxiously waiting to see if they will receive that one special gift for which they have been asking. The Hallmark Channel and others are showing one made-for-television Christmas movie after another.
While we are watching the various Christmas specials, the advertisers are bombarding us with an endless array of “must have” gifts for those we love. The cost of those gifts somehow corresponds with the degree to which we love them – or so the advertisers say.
Churches are also busy decorating for and celebrating this event that is so fundamental to our faith. There are musicals and dramas, pageants and presentations, sermons and songs, all pointing us to the moment in time when the Word become flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14); and so there should be.
I am thankful that in this one area and at this one time of the year the Churches of America are not backing down from their stand for Christ. All of us are working hard to keep Christ in Christmas.
We are still pausing to offer thanks to God at the family Christmas dinner. We are still taking time to read the real Christmas story to our children – you know, the one from the Bible. We are still playing Christmas music on our car radios and iPhones. Pastors and preachers are still proclaiming the message of Luke 2:11, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”.
Think about it.
• “Savior” –a title of Acceptance
• “Christ” –a title of Access
• “Lord” – a title of Authority
Yes, this is all very exciting and refreshing to those in whose lives Christ is Savior and Lord.
If Christ is to have the “preeminence” in all our lives, all the time, should He not have “preeminence” especially during the Christmas season?
Christ is the central figure of Christmas and every other day of the year.
Yes, Christ is the central figure of time and eternity. He stepped out of his eternal home in heaven to become flesh – the God-man. He was 100% God and 100% man. He was the One and only One of all time, the God-man. Because He was God, He could touch God. Because He was man, He could touch man. While hanging on the cross, with one hand stretched out to reach God and the other hand stretched out to reach man, Jesus reconciled God and man by His sacrificial and substitutionary death.
All of this was possible only because of what happened in Bethlehem 2,000 plus years ago. God joined us on planet earth. Yes, Christmas is still about the Babe of Bethlehem. Let us never forget this, whether it is during the cold month of December or the blazing heat of July. In all things, Christ is to be preeminent!
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Like never before, the Church of Jesus Christ around the world has been infiltrated with false teachers and false doctrine. We expect this kind of aberrant teaching from the cults outside of the Church but, unfortunately, the greater problem, at least in our Western civilization, is false doctrine within the borders of the Evangelical Church.
We have somehow become more interested in being Politically Correct than we are in being Biblically Correct. We are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, or for that matter, anyone’s feelings that, even though they may be dead wrong about a particular truth, we are unwilling to challenge them or correct them.
I am in full support of maintaining peace within the Church, but at what price? Are we willing to take a flimsy stance on Biblical doctrine just to avoid a conflict or to maintain our current Sunday morning attendance?
The clarity of the Biblical message has, in our day, become muffled in many places and muted in many more. The doctrine that is heard in many pulpits and classrooms across America is incomprehensible or implausible or, incomplete at best.
Whether we are willing to admit it or not, imposters have penetrated our lines of defense. They have secretly and systematically contaminated the main supply of spiritual sustenance – that is the pulpits and classrooms that were intended to be a major source of Biblical nourishment. Many so called preachers and teachers have poisoned or at least polluted the simple yet powerful message of the Gospel. The disastrous result is masses of Christians who are Biblically illiterate.
Many do not know the Epistles from the Apostles. One man thought the Epistles were the wives of the Apostles. Another said his favorite book of the Bible was the Book of Parables.
In answer to the question, “What do the members of the church have a right to expect of their ministers?” the Scottish preacher George Duncan writes, “First, he is a preacher. He has been ordained to the ministry of the Word. ‘Preach the Word’ was Paul’s order to Timothy. Members of a church have a right to expect their minister to do just that; to come to them from the presence of God with a message, which is the Word of God. He will not come to tell them what he thinks, but what God has to say.”
Duncan goes on to say, “Every time the members come into the church they should be, they must be, expecting that to happen.” (George Duncan: Preach the Word-Marshall Morgan and Scott - 1989)
There are three distressing facts that we must face today.
1. Most churches in America are not comprehensively preaching the Word of God.
The second and more deplorable fact is…
2. They think they are.
The last and most dangerous fact is…
3. Most church members don’t know the difference.
How timely then is the message of The Epistle of Jude, whose main thesis is, “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”. (Jude 3)
The expression “contend earnestly” occurs only here is Scripture. It means to contend about an issue as a combatant. The adverb “earnestly” is added to convey the intensity of the verb. The reason we must declare war is because, “Certain men have crept in unnoticed…who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ”. (Jude 4). The battle Jude was facing then has escalated today to the point that we have no alternative but to go to war! When the great truths of Christianity are attacked, it is criminal to sit on the sidelines. Therefore, Jude sounds the battle cry for all to hear, “Contend earnestly for the faith”.
How do we, “Contend earnestly for the faith”? We do that by faithful and fully, expositionally and earnestly preaching and teaching the Word of God. That is our commitment to God and to God’s people.
Many years ago in the early days of Judaism there was a breakaway sect formed known as, “The People of the Book”. Their views and beliefs would certainly be different from ours as born-again believers. Nevertheless, it is the title that intrigues me - “People of the Book!”
these days, what we need above all else is a band of redeemed people who will be so familiar with the Word of God and so full of the Word of God that they will be faithful to the Word of God. We must be “People of the Book!” Amen?
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,
and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
According to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, a pronoun is, “A word used instead of a noun or name, to avoid the repetition of it”. In the passage above, there are two significant pronouns, used for our Lord Jesus, each of which, shine radiant and revealing light on the essential subject of the Church. Those notable pronouns are, “I” and “My”. Jesus said, “I will build My church”. A careful study of the passage reveals that this statement applies to both the universal church, of which every believer is a member, and the local churches, which meet at various locations around the world.
There is a great deal of comfort associated with these two prevailing pronouns.
1. Christ is building the Church, not man.
Each member of a local church fellowship has been given certain responsibilities to be exercised within the context of that local assembly. Ultimately, it is our Lord Jesus Christ, however, who is building the Church. How comforting that is. As a Pastor, I am given many tasks that must be carried out on a regular basis, relative to the local Church to which I have been called, but “building” the Church is, in actual fact, Christ’s responsibility.
Often, I remind the Lord and myself of course, that the Church I serve is His Church and not mine. This is especially true when things are not going as I had hoped or planned. Christ is actively and aggressively building his Church locally and universally. I do not have the experience or proficiency to take on such a daunting task on my own.
Out of this profound principle, there arises another insightful truth.
2. The Church belongs to Christ, not me.
The Apostle Paul puts it this way; “Christ is head of the church”. (Ephesians 5:23)
If the Church I serve is His Church, then I must follow his lead as He directs the affairs of the congregation. Fortunately, He has revealed His will for the Church in His Word, the Bible, and as long as I am following His Word, I know I am following Him.
Twice the wise writer of the Proverbs reminds us that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death”. (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25) If I do things my way, the result of my endeavors will be death.
Our loyalty to the local assembly where we worship must emerge from our love and loyalty to Christ, who is the “head” of the Church. We are to be faithful in our attendance and participation simply because we love him.
When we call a particular local assembly our “Home Church”, there is associated with that a certain accountability to the leaders of that Church and to its members. However, we are, in the final analysis, responsible to Christ who is the Head of the Church and the One who sacrificed His life to redeem it. The Bible says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:10) This, I am sure, is something that is not to be taken lightly or flippantly.
Today, I am resting and relaxing in the fact that our Church belongs to Christ and is being built by Him. However, there is a lot of work for each of us to do, in order to see our Church reach its highest potential. Amen?
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
Unless you grew up in a literary vacuum, you are familiar with the children’s story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, written by Robert Southey in 1837. While walking through the woods, Goldilocks came upon a house and finding no one home she went in. “At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge. Goldilocks was hungry. She tasted the porridge from the first bowl. ‘This porridge is too hot!’ she exclaimed. So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl. ‘This porridge is too cold,’ she said. So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge. ‘Ahhh, this porridge is just right,’ she said happily and she ate it all up.”
The same scenario was repeated with three chairs and three beds. “She lay down in the first bed, but it was too hard. Then she lay in the second bed, but it was too soft. Then she lay down in the third bed and it was just right. Goldilocks fell asleep.”
As you know, the family of bears finally came home and found their nosy neighbor fast asleep. When she awoke, “She screamed, ‘Help!’ And she jumped up and ran out of the room. Goldilocks ran down the stairs, opened the door, and ran away into the forest. And she never returned to the home of the three bears.”
Unfortunately, we have a lot of Goldilocks Christians in our “forest” these days.
They move about, from church to church, trying this and trying that, but are never satisfied and, therefore, never settle down to become actively involved in a local church, as every believer should. They say…
The problem with the Goldilocks Syndrome is that she never says, “Ahhh, this is just right”. She or he is never satisfied, at least not for very long. Consequently, upon their dissatisfaction, they move from church to church every few years; sometimes every few months. The consumerism of the day finally catches up with them when they hear about another church nearby with something different that “meets their needs”.
Sadly, we find no Biblical basis for this kind of “church shopping”. Does God, at times, lead a family from one church to another? Certainly, but that is seldom the reason Goldilocks and her family “run away into the forest” in search of something better.
And why is Goldilocks never satisfied?
Are we blessed and benefited by the presence and the ministry of the church? Certainly! But the church doesn’t exist to please us. It exists to please Him, the One who gave His life a ransom for it.
What should Goldilocks Christians do if they find themselves in this kind of fairy tale? May I make a few suggestions?
Is there ever a time for someone to leave a church? Yes, if that church is no longer preaching and practicing the Word of God and all attempts to remedy the situation have been exhausted (Galatians 6:1), then God will lead you elsewhere. Until then, stay where you are and serve God through your local church with all your heart and all your energy.
Go home, Goldilocks, and stay there!
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
All Bible Christmas Church Membership Discipleship Doctrine Faith Forgiveness Hope Identity Isolated Jesus Life Local Church Love Lust Prayer Purity Repentance Revival Salvation Sin Sovereignty Spiritual Growth Stress Surrender Tolerance Trials Worry Worship