As I look at many believers’ lives today, and not just their words, I find a large difference between what many say they believe and what their lives show they believe. When I look at the New Testament, however, I find that there is a strong similarity between the two, although there certainly also was a bunch of believers who were growing into a greater level of Christian maturity, and had a ways to go.
I believe that much of the difference between many of today’s Christians and Christians of the past is their relationship to the local church. Back in the Apostle’s day, it was evident to all that they loved Christ – the One Who had done so much for them. Because they were focused on His Sacrifice, and then on His exalted position in glory, they could not do enough for Him.
The key to their strength was clearly to be found in their frequent fellowship with other believers. In Acts 2:42, we read this: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” There is no doubt that they were faithful to the local church. It wasn’t just once a week, either, for just 5 verses later, we read in verse 46: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” They met every day.
Even though probably not many believers meet daily today, including preachers, we can still see a big difference between those who go to church just once a week and those who attend three times per week. Their love for Christ is often greater, the Word has a greater hold and mold on their life, and many of them do more in the church on a regular basis. Although still not perfect, their testimonies for Christ are also generally much clearer for others to see. Again, faithful attendance makes a difference – if it is a church that plainly teaches the Bible.
The difference can also often be seen in their children. Unfaithful people typically beget more unfaithful people – except for the grace of God. Faithful people are also much more likely to have children who will also be faithful to the church. Once they get away from home, children often do what their parents do, rather than what they say.
When you forsake the local church, you:
- Turn back to the beggarly elements you were delivered from – the world and its temporal state.
- Though still saved, you forsake the eternal riches.
- Start down a path that will keep you away from the people of God and the position of blessing from God.
- Turn your children away from the church and God, possibly causing them to not be saved.
- Saying “Yes” to Satan as you deliberately depart from God’s clear will.
- Let sin begin to get a strong grip in your life in some areas – and the joy is gone.
The command of God is the same today as it was centuries ago: “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” (Hebrews 10:25). We live in troubled times and believers need the strength that comes from fellowship and a strong focus on the One Who washed us from our sins in His own blood, and Who will One day receive us into glory! That day may not be far away.
Now let’s look at it from the other side of the coin: what blessings may a Christian faithful to the local church have? We see some of these in Psalm 84:
- A welcome from the Lord – He will not turn the serious believer away!
(vs. 1) “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!”
- Multiple blessings
(vs. 4) “Blessed are they”
(vs. 5) “Blessed is the man”
- A lasting joy and praise
(vs. 4) “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.”
- Power to be a blessing to others
(vs. 6) “Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.”
- Strength to continue serving God
(vs. 7) “They go from strength to strength.”
- A comfort and confidence in God’s strength
(vs. 9 “Behold, O God our shield”
(vs. 11) “For the LORD God is a sun and shield”
- Grace, glory, and every good thing
(vs. 11) “the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
These seven things are worth having. We need them. Have you been experiencing these things? I know that I see them often! I hope and pray, my friend, that you do, too.
If you would like to learn more about why Christians need the local church today, I invite you to order my booklet, which is available in print, entitled:
Christian, let me hear from you, what blessings do you get from faithful attendance to the local Church?