CAN YOU NOT ATTEND CHURCH AND STILL BE A CHRISTIAN?
By: Derek Gentle
Here we have one of those “Have you stopped beating your wife?” questions -one of those questions that cannot possibly have a “yes” or “no” answer because it is simply the wrong question. Someone has said the world’s biggest fool can ask a question that the world’s wisest person cannot answer. So, let me throw out some better questions which do have “yes” and “no” answers and which might shed a little light on the subject:
Is a person saved by church attendance? No, we are saved by God’s grace alone. We receive salvation as a free gift, not by doing good works (Eph. 2:8-10).
Does the Bible command us to go to church? Yes, Hebrews 10:24,25 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling our ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.”
Does a person who loves the Lord also love to be with the people of the Lord, sharing in the things of God? Yes, the Bible is full of this teaching. Paul said in Romans 1:11,12, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established; That is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (see also 1 John 3:14).
So, you are saying that if a person is walking with God, he will go to church? Yes, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7). A person is not alive because he has vital signs – pulse, blood pressure, etc., but he has vital signs because he is alive.
God understands about those whose health is so poor they are not able to attend church, does He not? Yes, of course. We are not obligated to go to church or be eternally lost, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal.
I can read my Bible and pray at home, listen to good preaching on TV or radio, and I feel very close to God on the lake. Is not that enough? No, because it fails to take the other members of the church into consideration. The Bible compares the church to a physical body – the body of Christ, with Christ as its head: “There are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you” (1 Cor. 12:20,21). Consider your service to the rest of the church: “…the whole body, joined and knit together by what every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying (building up) of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16).
Can you be a Christian and not attend church? Well, can you be a football fan and not cheer for your team? Can you be a singer and not sing?
(The above material appeared in the November 1992 issue of Pulpit Helps.)
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