Friday, December 26, 2003
I have been seriously disappointed with the number of church members who have compromised their faith this past week and run serious risk of losing God’s favor in their lives. What has brought me to such a state of horrified alarm? Our Wednesday night Bible Study service attendance was extremely low. I attribute this to a serious lack of faithfulness on the part of Christians who were caught up in the holiday season. Some people fail to take the Christmas season seriously (Holy Observer) and as a result, their standing with God is seriously jeopardized. My main concern, however, is not with the wider false denominations out there but with solid, Bible-believing Pharisees who ought to know better and failed to attend church the way they ought.
This year was particularly indicative of the lukewarm nature of Pharisee faith in the lives of many of our church members and in your church’s too, I don’t doubt. Christmas Eve fell this year on a Wednesday night, the night when most of us hold our mid-week Bible study. I would have expected that church attendance would be unaffected because True Pharisees are in church every time the doors are open. But our attendance was seriously lacking this year. I attribute this to the secularization of the holidays, the decline of spiritual commitment in the Christian population at large and the evil influences of so-called "family friendly" ministries and radio preachers. All of these have conspired to reduce or minimize Christian commitment to church attendance.
The biggest excuse I heard this week for why folks were skipping church was that they wanted to "spend more time with family." This is absolute hogwash. They could have spent time with the family in the place wwhere it would do them the most good – in church. Some were saying that they had family traditions of spending Christmas Eve with Grandparents or other members of their extended family. Since many of these family members don’t attend a True Spirit-Led Bible-Believing Pharisee Church, they are as much as confessing to me that they would rather spend time with their heathen, hell-bound relatives than with the True Family of God in church where we are continuing our chapter-by-chapter study of the book of Obadiah. The church is the Family of God, to which they claim to belong I might add, and we are just as (if not MORE) important than any earthly family. Jesus admonishes us that if we don’t love him more than our families on this earth, if we are unwilling to hate our mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and children for the cause of Christ, then we are not worthy of Him. It looks to me like there are a lot of Christians who are not worthy to go by the name because of their lack of love for Christ and His family over earthly family as evidenced by their church attendance.
It is the duty of every True Born-Again Believing Pharisee to be in church every time the doors are open. There is no excuse that is sufficient to explain away unfaithfulness to God other than providential hindrance. Would an employer permit the kind of lackluster dedication to service that pastors are forced to put up with from faithless church members? I think not. Employers and business expect their people to be their every time they are open for business. We only require the same. All we expect is that people come for the following:
*Sunday Morning Worship
*Specialty Ministries as appropriate (Choir practice, committee meetings, Youth Group, MOPS, Jr. Church worker’s meetings, Youth Workers meetings, Young Life, Word of Life, College Campus Ministry, Evangelism Outreach Team, Men’s prayer breakfast, Women’s Christian League, Fellowship of Christian Athletes award banquets and special services, etc.)
*Wednesday evening Bible Study
*Special holiday services
*Conferences and seminars hosted at our church
*Special Mission emphasis nights
This is hardly a burdensome requirement. Whiny Christians complain that they "need a break" from church every once in a while. I suppose they "need a break" from prayer and Bible reading as well. What they don’t realize is that they are going to spend eternity worshiping and serving God. If they need a break in this life, then how are they going to handle it in the next life when there is no break from church? Their willingness to attend church on the earth is a sign of their willingness to attend worship in God’s Kingdom. Those who want to skip services here may likely find themselves skipping services for all eternity since it is clearly evident that their hearts are not in the right place.
It is the solemn duty of every Christian to attend church every time the doors are open. Excuses are legion but the Bible uses church attendance as a means of separating the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, the faithful from the unfaithful. Its continued emphasis on the need to be in church every time services are in session is clearly seen in passages such as Hebrews 10:25 and others, although their exact references escape me at the moment. The Bible is very clear that Christ can only get glory in our church service as Paul says in Ephesians, "unto him be glory in the church." People who think they can please God without being in church are sadly mistaken and will suffer a loss of rewards in heaven, if they arrive in heaven at all.
Jesus declared, "Believe me…a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."
John 4:21-23 (NIV)
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