By Steve Horn, pastor, First Baptist Lafayette
I guess it is possible to maintain a vibrant spirit-filled, Christ-honoring, God-abiding spiritual walk without maintaining a relationship with a local church, but I have never met anyone who did. I’ve known some who have tried, but I have never known anyone who succeeded. I’ve met some who said they were going to succeed, but I have never known anyone who did.
The local church, including ours, with all of her problems and at times hypocrisy and inconsistencies, is still the best way to help you in every other area of life. Maintaining a growing relationship with Christ when we are connected to the church will never be easy, but I maintain it is nearly impossible to maintain that relationship without the Church.
So, as we begin this new year, I urge you to commit yourself anew to Christ and anew to the Church. I urge you as a sign of your commitment to pledge your faithfulness to the “assembling of ourselves together” each week.
Notice in the Hebrews 10 passage the high priority of worship.
- Our Condition Before Salvation—The first thing that ought to compel us to worship is our condition before our salvation in Christ. The context of Hebrews gives several ideas to consider. The writer of Hebrews leads up to the “therefore” of verse 19 in this way:
1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
In a phrase, we were separated from God, before salvation, but now, Christ has made the way. As a result, shouldn’t worship be a priority in our lives? Someone will quickly say, “So, you’re saying you can’t get to Heaven without going to church.”
No, I am not saying that.
We can get to Canada without a train, a plane, or an automobile, but why would anyone want to do that? Likewise, why would anyone want to be saved (be a Christian) and not worship the God who has brought that salvation?
- Our Confidenceto Worship Almighty God—The Hebrews should have understood this. To this point, they had this belief that though all could worship God, only the priests could go to that place where the Spirit of God resided. Only the elite of the elite could go into that Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwelt. So, in that arrangement, their worship was dependent on someone else.
Now, in Christ, they could worship for themselves.
Think about it. We are invited to worship the God of this universe. He invites our fellowship. He invites our relationship. Why would people not be standing in line to, in a public way, bring their offering of worship before the LORD?
The confidence we have to worship the LORD should be motivation enough to make worship a high priority in our lives.
- The Contaminationof the World in which We Live—The third reason worship should be a high priority is the condition of the world in which we live.
We are not certain of all of the reasons the Hebrews were neglecting their assembly. It probably was the persecution alluded to in other places of this letter. There is, however, indication that by the early second century, Christians were forsaking public gatherings of worship because of the simple preoccupation with business affairs. The fear is that neglecting the worship assembly would cause them to be soon absorbed by the world. Let’s face it—we live in the world all week. All of us need to prioritize setting aside time to get out of the pace of the world and worship.
- The ClimacticTimes in Which We Live—“As you see the Day approaching,” verse 25 says. We live in climactic days. We live in challenging days. The Day is all the more reason to give great attention to our worship habits!
- The Lord’s Command—I have given you four reasons already, but let me give you the conclusive reason. The Lord commands us to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” Now someone might say, “Well, the text does not give us how often or how many services of the church to attend.” You’re right! I think the idea is that we assemble enough to be connected to the Assembly.
If you live in the Lafayette area and are not presently connected to a local church assembly, let me encourage you to join us this Sunday at First Baptist Church, Lafayette. We meet at 9:45 a.m. or 11:11 a.m. for public worship. We have Sunday School classes for all ages at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 a.m.
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