By Bill Brandstatter
For the second time this year, I had someone expressed the above sentiment to me. The first time I heard this I was talking to a family whose loved one had just a few hours to live. We talked and had prayer together. Someone said, “You don’t have to go to church to be saved.” Then, recently I was talking to a person whose brother had had a stroke. He told me about the stroke and the recovery. He said their faith helped get them through. He indicated to me they didn’t “go to church” anywhere. He said they didn’t because some churches were just too political, and then changed the subject.
In thinking about this, there are two things to be considered. First, what connection does our faith have to attending church services? Secondly, what is the importance of the church that my faith would cause me to attend worship?
Faith tells me about the church. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). So, as I read the Bible, I learn about God’s plan for the church. He had it planned before time began (Eph. 3:10, 11). Jesus shed his blood for the church (Acts 20:28). Jesus stated it was His church (Mt. 16:18). He is the head of it (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18). God has provided a way by which we can be added to the church (Acts 2:47). Any faith I have in God, Christ, or the Word of God should cause me to see the importance of the church and my attendance at each gathering of the saints.
Faith helps me to enter the church. I must have faith in God in order to please Him (Heb. 11:6). My belief in God and Christ causes me to want to obey the gospel and be baptized for my sins to be forgiven. Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). On the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, believing Jews obeyed the gospel message (Acts 2:38,41). Those who were saved were added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47). Without my faith I cannot enter the church and take an active part.
Faith sustains me in the church. I need church members to help me on my Christian walk. The writer of Hebrews states: “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.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) We sometimes miss the import of verse 24 of this text. Part of the purpose of assembling is to consider one another to stir up love and good works. Assembling helps to sustain my faith and keep me going in the Christian walk.
Without faith, I would not know about the church, I couldn’t enter it, and it wouldn’t help me. With the church and assembling with the saints, I get a tremendous blessing and will be pleasing to God as I attend church services and worship with other Christians. I need the church and the church needs me.
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/