I have many friends that claim to be Christians, yet never study, witness or attend church. How can I convince them that there IS a “need” to attend church, study and witness?
Let’s look at the first real question, although not stated as such: “I have many friends that CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIANS…” By such a statement, there is some doubt about them being true Christians. They do not seem to have the desire to do what Christians should delight in doing. I Corinthians 2:14 says, “But THE NATURAL MAN receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” We are talking about spiritual things here, and people who are not saved are not going to have a desire to do these things, unless, they, like Cornelius are seeking after God with all of their hearts.
The apostle Paul had some doubts about the people in Galatia being saved, too, because their lives were not matching up with correct Biblical teaching in regard to salvation. Galatians 4:19-21 says, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I STAND IN DOUBT OF YOU. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” The people of Galatia were trying to mix law and grace, and Paul rightly wonders then, if they really understand what true salvation is. Galatians 2:21-3:3 says, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for IF RIGHTEOUSNESS COME BY THE LAW, THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
Some people just do not understand what true salvation is. Some think that it is just repeating some words, but the Bible makes it clear that it is more than that. Matthew 7:21 says, “NOT EVERY ONE THAT SAITH UNTO ME, LORD, LORD, SHALL ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Obviously, getting saved is more than just saying words.
Getting saved is a matter of repentance and faith in the heart, that will eventually come out in confession, that is, in words and actions. Acts 20:20,21 says, “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, REPENTANCE toward God, and FAITH toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Acts 10:42-47 says, “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. WHILE PETER YET SPAKE THESE WORDS, THE HOLY GHOST FELL ON ALL THEM WHICH HEARD THE WORD. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” What happened here? These people heard Peter preaching, and as soon as they heard Peter preach “that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins…”, they then, right in their hearts, believed upon Jesus Christ to forgive them and save them. They had not had time or opportunity to say anything audibly yet. They had believed upon Christ and called upon Him in their hearts, and they were saved.
The moment they received the Lord Jesus Christ, they also received the Holy Spirit. No one can have the Holy Spirit, unless they are saved. Romans 8:9 says, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now IF ANY MAN HAVE NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST, HE IS NONE OF HIS.” So when Peter saw that these people were given the Holy Spirit, he immediately commanded them to also be baptized.
A person cannot be baptized, unless he has first believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ and is saved. Acts 8:35-38 says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; WHAT DOTH HINDER ME TO BE BAPTIZED? And Philip said, IF THOU BELIEVEST WITH ALL THINE HEART, THOU MAYEST. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” So salvation must come before baptism.
When Cornelius and his family and friends received the Holy Spirit (thus showing that they were saved) Peter had not even had time to give an invitation for them to come forward. Those people were still sitting in their seats, and Peter was still preaching to them. In other words, those people called upon the Lord in their hearts as soon as they heard the truth as to how to be saved. Salvation is a matter of the heart, not just certain words repeated, but not really understood or meant in the heart. Romans 10:9-11 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Those who truly believe upon Christ in the heart, will make it known with their mouths, and it will be eventually showing their lives. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Probably most everyone here knows at least one person who claims to be saved, but there is nothing in that person’s life to back up that claim. We need to pray for those people, that if they are not saved, then they would receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 10:1-3 says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
Matthew 7:13,14 tells us, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and MANY there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it”. It tells us there that MANY are following the wide path to destruction, and only a FEW are following the narrow road to eternal life.
What is on the WIDE ROAD? Certainly not attending church. The wide road is sleeping in on Sunday; or going to the football game; or going to the beach; or going up to the cottage; or getting in some overtime at work, or any number of other things. Faithful church attendance at a fundamental, Bible-preaching church is not part of the world’s wide road. But it is a command of the Bible. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Church attendance is a command of God, but you do not have to argue with or force a spiritual Christian to attend church. The spiritual Christian goes to church, because he/she wants to go. It is like comparing school to college. Why do many young people attend school? Only because they are required to do so to a certain age. At that time, some drop out and quit. But what about college? No one says that you have to go to college. It is not a state requirement that all young adults study and receive a bachelor’s, or master’s, or doctor’s degree. That is up to the individual. Then why do people ever go on and study at college? Because they want to do so.
So it is in the Christian life. Yes, God does command us to attend church, but that is not grievous to us. We want to go. I John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” If God’s commands to us are grievous to have to keep, then our hearts are not right with Him.
What is there at church that causes us to want to come, other than God saying that we should?
The singing should cause us to come. Do you know what the first proof is that the Bible lists for being filled with the Holy Spirit? Having a song in your heart. Ephesians 5:18,20 says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” A spiritual Christian will want to come to church to sing unto the Lord.
All we hear at the stores is rock music. All we hear from neighbor’s yards is rock music blaring. All we can normally hear on the radio (even so-called Christian radio) is rock music. A spiritual Christian is going to long to go to church to hear some good sacred hymns. Colossians 3:16 says, “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.”
Another reason that we will want to attend church, is to make our spiritual understanding sharper. This is a deceitful world, and we need to be made aware of its deceit. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
The deceit of abortion. They call their position “Pro Choice,” when the real truth is that they are “Pro Death Of Unborn Babies.” They want their immorality with no responsibilities. They want the right to kill babies, so that their life styles are not altered and hindered by the responsibility of raising a child. But all of this is defiling and polluting our country. Numbers 35:33 says, “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.” Judgment will one day fall upon this nation, for all of the innocent blood being shed in it now.
So we come to church to be taught from the Bible as to what is right, and what is wrong. That is not grievous to us. That is what we desire. Psalm 27:11 says, “TEACH ME THY WAY, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.” God wants us to read our Bibles and study on our own. II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” But God also has given teachers for our benefit. Ephesians 4:11-14 says, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”
God has given us teachers, but that does not relieve us from the responsibility of checking things out for ourselves. Acts 17:11 says, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
When it comes to the matter of witnessing, that is a matter of obeying what the Law said, and what Jesus reaffirmed. Leviticus 19:18 says, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF: I am the LORD.” Matthew 22:36-40 says, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Do we want to personally go to hell? No. That is why we got saved, because we realized “the wages of our sin is death.” (Romans 6:23), and that death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14,15). If we thus love our neighbors as ourselves, we will also want to see them saved. Because of that, we will try and witness to them. II Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” II Corinthians 5:20-6:2 says, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”