Pastor Don Strand
Last week, in part one of the discussion of the reasons we need to go to church, I said that the first and most important reason is that God commands His people to do so. Two examples cited were Deuteronomy 31:12 and Psalm 50:5-7. Now, some may say: “That is what God commanded in the Old Testament for Israel, but things are different under the New Covenant.” And while that is true, there is a continuity that exists between the two Testaments. Because all who, by faith, have placed their trust in the promises of God are in fact, Abraham’s spiritual offspring. (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:29). As ancient Israel was commanded to gather before the Lord to hear of His mighty deeds done on their behalf, and to hear of His gracious forgiveness extended to them by the means established to cover their sins, so too, the New Testament saints are commanded to gather for the same reasons.
Consider also the instruction by the inspired writer of Hebrews in chapter 10, verse 25 where he gives this warning to: “… not neglect(ing) to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The phrase “not neglecting” in the original Greek is in the form of an active and ongoing activity by more than one person. That means we are to strive continually to meet with other Christians on a regular basis. The reason for the meeting is in the previous verse where we are told, again in the form of an ongoing activity, to “stir up one another to love and good works.”
But the most interesting aspect of verses 24 and 25 is this phrase “meet together”. This Greek word carries a broad meaning, including the ideas of gathering together as a group, of action, not inaction, in response to a call and it expresses a unity among those gathered.
But the Greek form used here is rarely found in Scripture. In only one other place is it used, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, where Paul writes: “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him…” Paul writes to assure the believers at Thessalonica to assure them that they will be united to Jesus at His return. The writer to the Hebrews intentionally uses the same word show that when we gather together as Christians in church, we do so as a foretaste of that great and glorious day when we will see our Savior and will know Him and be known by Him (Galatians 4:9).
Why do we need to go to church? To experience now in part what we will experience in full for all eternity when we are raised incorruptible by God as the bride for Jesus Christ. We need this encouragement on a regular basis because the world has a way of beating us down and causing us to forget where our final hope resides; in the promise of God of life in His renewed and perfect creation. We need to gather with others of the family of God to rejoice in God’s promise and praise Him for His matchless grace and glory. In this way, we are renewed and refreshed.
God commands us to go to church for our benefit. Why would we not do so? Next week we’ll look at some practical considerations in part three of “Why We Need to Go to Church”.