Do I Have to?

Do I have to go to all of the worship assemblies and Bible classes which are offered at my home congregation? This is almost like, “What must I do to remain saved?” One can almost hear the murmurings in the background, “What can I get away with so that I can enter heaven by the skin of my teeth?”

The standard perception is that there is only one essential service of the church – the one in which the Lord's supper is served – a persistent and widespread concept. Why is it so perceived? As important as partaking of the communion is, it is no more important than the other four avenues in which we engage in worship. The results of this attitude are that a large portion of the Lord's people, people whom Jesus redeemed with his own blood, will consciously and purposely attend only the morning worship on Sundays, but miss the evening worship. Furthermore, many consider the midweek Bible class superfluous and non-essential; some even irrelevant.

Many even think that the worship and Bible classes are all that there are in which the body of Christ concerns herself. Forget personal Bible studies; visiting the sick, those confined to a hospital or home, or those in danger of falling away; and even evangelistic efforts, which include door-knocking, lectureships, and just attending a gospel meeting.

Remember that to which Christ has called us. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our salvation, deliverance from a life of sin, and redemption: he bought us back from the slavery of sin. Is it not reasonable that Christians would find themselves involved in what the Lord deems to be important? Is there real satisfaction in giving only the bare minimum of service which is required, rendering only a grudging measure of devotion to the Lord: one hour of worship (if indeed that is what one really is doing)?

Remember the parable of the unprofitable servant, and his attitude (I have done all, and still regarded as an unprofitable servant).

Luke 17:7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. 10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Humility would prohibit one from thinking too highly of himself. The humble servant realizes his relationship to his master, and that whatever service he provides is only what is expected of him. The idea that he has gone far above and beyond his duty is foreign to his thoughts and mindset.

Where is our love, and what is our goal? What is most precious to us, and where is our emphasis? Is it not in those things which are spiritual; those things which bring us life? Jesus showed us that it is our spirit which benefits from his teaching.

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Jesus said we are to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;. . .” (Matt. 6:33). One's top priority ought not to be what pleases himself; but rather, what pleases the Lord.

The church in Laodicea had become lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. This condition so affected the Lord that he was ready to expel them as though they were repulsive to his digestion.

Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

It is painful to imagine that an entire congregation of the Lord's church would become so offensive to him that he wanted to remove them! This, all because they had no zeal nor desire to serve him, yet had not completely forsaken him. They all had the most blessed gift handed to them by his own death, and yet felt no responsibility to take any action on his behalf. Because they were not “on fire” for the Lord, nor were completely indifferent toward him, it made him sick to his stomach, in a manner of speaking.

That church most likely did not enter this condition overnight. Just as it is with us today, some time had probably passed before they had become both neglectful and ineffective as the Lord's church. Christians are warned about the deception of sin, and the end result of unbelief, and eventually removing themselves from God (falling away).

Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

The church in Ephesus was warned that, although they had faithfully rejected false teachers, and continued their labor in the faith, they had left their first love (Rev. 2:1-5). They were exhorted to, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” Let us consider ourselves. Have we fallen from a higher position in our Christian life? Do we need to return to the love we first had for our Lord?

What habits have we developed? Over time one can become full of apathy about the value of that marvelous gift which God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit have given us. Consider that one of the most important aspects of our assembling together to worship is the assembling of ourselves together. There is no better time nor place to. . .

Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Surely, the words of this hymn ring true:

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Within the fellowship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ we have warmth and encouragement to lean on the everlasting arms. Where else can we find the encouragement we need to keep the faith, to continue resolutely to walk in the light? Where else can we “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). Where else can we come to know “the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15)? Where else do we find the words of life? Jesus asked the twelve disciples he had personally chosen if they, too, would depart from him:

John 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX

Curtis A. Little
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