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Different people view going to church in different ways... 

 

There are some who wouldn't miss church on Sunday morning for the world, even if they have to drive a long way to get there. On the other hand, there are some who seldom come, even though they live right around the corner from their church. Then there are also those in every congregation who seem to show up only at Christmas and Easter.

Our church has no hard and fast rules about how often its members must attend services - that would be wrong. However, the Bible does have quite a bit to say about the worship life of God's children. Part of the pastor's job is to remind all the members, from time to time, about how Scripture answers the question:

"Why Go to Church?"

1.    ...for the Word

2.    ...for fellowship

3.    ...for confession and absolution

4.    ...for the Lord's Supper


For the Word

The most important reason to attend your weekly church services is to the hear the Word of God. The Bible tells us that a regular diet of His Word is more important to our spiritual health than food is to our physical health. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He told the Devil, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" (Matt 4:4). We need God's Word to live!
It's a sad fact, though, that many people consider church services to be a minor part of their weekly schedule - something they can omit if another activity comes up, or if they need extra sleep. According to the Bible, coming to hear God's Word isn't just one part of our lives. . . it's the very foundation that the rest of our life is built on! Jesus said, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of  Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, and floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock."  (Matt 7:24-25). If we want to make our lives more secure, from the ground up, the regular hearing of God's Word is the best place to start!

Someone once said that a believer's faith never stands still - it is always either growing…or fading.  Jesus said the same thing when He described His relationship with every individual believer.  He said the relationship of a Christian to His Savior is like that of branch attached to a grape vine. The more firmly the branch is attached, the more life-giving nutrients it can receive from the vine, and the more fruit it can bear. On the other hand, a branch that is cut off from the vine soon withers and dies. "I am the vine, you are the branches," Jesus said. "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered." (John 15:5-6). Our weekly church services are designed specifically to strengthen your connection with the Savior.  The closer you can keep to God's Word, the more you'll find your faith - and your Christian life - growing and bearing more fruit for Christ.


For the Fellowship

There are always some who object, "Yes, but I can read my Bible at home. I don't have to come to church to hear God's Word!" That's true, of course, and we should all take time to study the Bible at home. But there are some things that you can get at church that you can't get from personal Bible study - and one of them is fellowship.

"Do not be unwise," says St. Paul, "but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:17).  And the Lord's will concerning our faith lives is that we get together with other believers on a regular basis to hear God's Word, to thank and praise Him, and to encourage one another in the faith. In the book of Hebrews, Paul says, "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!" (Hebrews 10:24-25). The encouragement that comes from worshipping together is like a fire that warms both ourselves and those we worship with.  For our own good, and for the good of our fellow Christians, God warns us not to let our attendance at public worship services slide!

 

For Confession and Absolution

There are other advantages to attending church regularly. One is confession and absolution. Every Sunday, during our liturgy, each person confesses his sins before God in repentance, unloading the burden of guilt that has been weighing on his conscience.  Then the pastor, exercising the Ministry of the Keys on behalf of our Savior and the congregation, pronounces the "absolution", or forgiveness of sins. He does this according to the words of Jesus that says, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them." (John 20:23). Of course, you can confess your sins and get forgiveness from God any day of the week. But it is especially comforting to join in confession with your fellow believers, and hear God's word of forgiveness spoken out loud from the lips of the pastor.

 

For the Lord’s Supper

One very special way that we receive the assurance of the forgiveness of sins in church is through the Sacrament of the Altar - the Lord's Supper. Scripture tells us that along with the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, we also receive the actual body and blood of our Savior. In this miraculous way, Christ "seals" to each individual the forgiveness of sins.  Like a person who seals a letter or gives a ‘paid in full’ receipt for a debt, Jesus makes it very personal - to be received not just collectively, but also individually. Also, Paul says, coming to the Lord's Supper regularly is one way we witness the truth of the Gospel and our unity to our fellow believers, ". . . For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till he comes." (1 Cor. 11:26).
 

Take advantage of the Opportunities

In these and many other ways, God encourages us through His Word to make regular use of the means of grace - the Gospel in Word and Sacraments. On the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached God's Word to the crowds in Jerusalem, three thousand people came to faith in Christ and were baptized. What did these new believers do then? "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42). Let us take every advantage of the same precious fellowship also!

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