Why Do We Go to Church?

Friday, July 6, 2012

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7 KJV).

As grace believers who understand what God is doing today in this the Dispensation of Grace, we go to church….

  • To fellowship with God’s people (1 Corinthians 11:33).
  • To study the Holy Bible (King James Bible) (1 Timothy 4:13,15,16).
  • Not to gain God’s blessings (Ephesians 1:3).
  • Not to be entertained (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
  • Not to keep the Sabbath (Colossians 2:16).
  • Not to obtain salvation (Titus 3:5).
  • Not to “be in God’s presence/house” (2 Corinthians 6:16; cf. Acts 17:24).

According to Paul’s epistles, “going to church” is not assembling in some million-dollar auditorium, where wheelbarrows are pushed around as “collection plates.” Neither is “church” a place where we go to feel “emotional highs” and to enjoy “ear-tickling motivational sermons.” Nor is “church” a time where we crank up loud music in order to appeal to the world. Yes, that is today’s average (so-called) “‘Bible-believing’” (!) church, but God’s definition is otherwise.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the local assembly of the Body of Christ: “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:15,16).

As people who have trusted in Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we are one body, the Body of Christ. We are united forever because of the eternal life we all now have in Christ. We gather in local assemblies to study God’s Word rightly divided (dispensationally), so we can then scatter throughout the region and share with others sound Bible doctrine (the Gospel of Grace to the lost, and Pauline dispensationalism to the saved).

Let Another Man Praise Thee

Monday, May 7, 2012

“Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips” (Proverbs 27:2 KJV).

As humans, we all have a tendency to brag about ourselves. Religion only makes the matter worse, for it teaches us to perform rites and rituals for others to see. They then “glory in [our] flesh,” boasting in our ability to fulfill those commandments (see Galatians 6:12,13). We need not praise ourselves, dear friends, for in due time, another Man shall praise us.

While we all enjoy someone telling us “Good job” or “Congratulations,” oftentimes these words go unspoken. Some individuals, no matter what we do, will never accept us. Even if it was godly Christian service, they still criticize us. Nothing we do will ever be good enough for them. No matter how kind we are to them, they will never treat us with respect. Do we love man’s praise, or God’s praise (John 13:43)? If we want man’s praise, then we should not be Christ’s servants (Galatians 1:10)!

In 1 Corinthians 4:5, the Apostle Paul talks about Christians having “praise of God” at the Judgment Seat of Christ: Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”

The day is coming, the Judgment Seat of Christ, when Jesus Christ Himself will evaluate us Christians (the Church the Body of Christ) (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10). He will look into our inner man (soul), searching our hearts and examining the doctrine we studied and believed from His Word rightly divided, the doctrine we stored in our inner man by faith. He will evaluate the doctrine we believed according to Paul’s epistles (1 Corinthians 3:9-15). Finally, we will receive a reward: an office in the government of heaven (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6,7; Colossians 1:16-20)!

While fellow man may never say “Thank you” or “Well done” in response to thy acts of kindness or accomplishments, let another man praise thee… let the God-Man praise thee.

The Experts (or Not!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:1-3 KJV).

The scribes and Pharisees were highly educated religious leaders in Israel. These “lawyers” and “doctors [of theology]” were Mosaic Law experts, and they demanded everyone obey it. However, in today’s Scripture, Jesus exposed these “experts” as hypocrites. Despite their godly outward appearance, they were not God’s servants. In fact, they persecuted and killed God’s servants, under the cloak of religion too (Luke 11:45-52).

Archeologists report that a stone seat is found in front of every synagogue: this is “Moses’ seat,” where the authoritative scribes would sit and teach the Law to the people (today’s Scripture). These scribes felt they were successors of Moses (a man of faith). They held a place of authority, but they were “blind guides” because they lacked godly wisdom (Matthew 23:16,24). Unlike Moses, these religious leaders were not experts when it came to faith in God’s Word. The Bible even tells us they manifested their unbelief by refusing John’s water baptism (Luke 7:29,30).

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were guilty of faithless religious activity. It appeared good, but it was spiritually wicked because it was hypocritical. But, behold the hypocritical “blind guides” of our day! Theologians and seminarians, “experts” in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin, are destitute of expertise in faith (believing what God said). They all claim to be Bible “scholars” (ha!), yet how many really believe what God’s Word says? FEW! They seek your proficiency in the “‘original’ Greek and Hebrew,” but they have no real interest in teaching you to believe God’s Word in English. Furthermore, they encourage you to join them as they faithlessly mimic Israel’s rites, rituals, and ceremonies (formalism).

Remember, according to Jesus Christ, despite an educated person’s charisma and eloquence, he or she is not necessary an expert when it comes to faith in God’s Word. Furthermore, just because it looks nice, does not necessarily mean God approves it.

Religious Tradition is Not the Final Authority

Saturday, February 4, 2012

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye” (Mark 7:13 KJV).

A critic once asked me where the Bible taught “Sola Scriptura” (that the Bible, not religious tradition, was the final authority). Although he attempted to trip me up with this “I gotcha” issue, I showed him the following verses, including today’s Scripture, and he has not been heard from since! 🙂

Just as vain religious tradition abounds today, it did in Christ’s time. The Pharisees and scribes loved being religious, but they vehemently rejected God’s Son Jesus Christ, and they made every attempt to hinder His ministry. In their minds, their vain religious tradition, not God’s Word, had the preeminence (Galatians 1:13,14; 1 Peter 1:18). Sound familiar?

Today, most churches relegate God’s Word to a “good advice” status: the Bible’s testimony is only sought if it agrees with church tradition. Myriads of church members only hear God’s Word via a biased (denominational) viewpoint. This happens in “Christian” churches of all places too!

In Matthew 15:9, Jesus said: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” He expounded in Mark 7:8,9: “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”

The focus was not on God’s doctrine and its meaning, but whether or not someone could pacify Israel’s religious body with outward performance (formalism). By cleaving to their tradition, they nullified God’s Word (today’s Scripture). Consider modern-day church members enslaved to a denominational hierarchy, bound to perform religious duty and appease fallible man.

Friends, you either believe religious tradition, or you believe God’s Word. The two cannot and will not mix because they are mutually exclusive: “…Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:6). According to Jesus Christ, the Bible alone has God’s authority, not religious tradition (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16,17).