Why do you go to a particular church? In fact, why go to church at all? Most importantly, what would the living God have you do? Instead of simply asking you to go to the “church of your choice,” the Bible gives very specific answers to these questions!
WHY DO YOU GO TO “YOUR” CHURCH?
by Roderick C. Meredith
Why do you go to a particular church? In fact, why go to church at all? Most importantly, what would the living God have you do?
Most people simply go to church where their parents, friends or relatives have gone. Yet millions today go for other, more personal, reasons. I had a talk with my nextdoor neighbor the other day, and he told me, "We've tried to find a church with the best youth program. Since we have kids, isn't that the most important thing?"
Others try to find churches that are more "up-to-date," modern and exciting, or where there are more activities and better music. We are all familiar with the huge "mega-churches" where as many as 10,000 people may attend—enough to fill a small city. In those churches, people can go for years without getting to know most of the other members, and there may be very little emphasis on, or opportunity for, interacting or counseling with the pastor, or being part of an intimate "family" of worshipers who understand and pray for one another.
Why does God have a Church? What is its purpose? Why did the early Christians go to very "unpopular" places and even risk their lives to meet secretly in homes, in small rented halls or even in caves? We know that tens of thousands of Christians literally met in caves along the Appian Way in Rome and elsewhere, fearing Roman persecution. In those early centuries, many Christians were literally burned to death, or were publicly thrown to wild animals and tortured to death! They must have had a very special reason to "go to church" and be willing to risk ignominy and possibly even death. We all need to think about that!
We need to realize that God wants us—through His true ministers and His true Church—to learn about His genuine purpose for our lives, and how to fulfill that purpose. Since God devotes a full one-fourth of the Bible to prophecy, He obviously wants us to study and understand His purpose in guiding world events. Remember Jesus' command, "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).
When Jesus Christ came in human flesh, He regularly met with fellow Jews in the synagogue on the Sabbath. The Gospel of Luke tells us: "Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah" (Luke 4:14–17).
So it was Jesus' "custom" to worship on the seventh-day Sabbath with His fellow Jews. When it came His time—as an adult male Jew—to read God's word in the Sabbath services, He was handed the book of Isaiah. After reading a passage that, in fact, predicted His very ministry, Jesus "began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing'" (v. 21).
Jesus called the book of Isaiah "Scripture"—the very word of God! He taught, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Here, the Son of God validated what we call the "Old Testament" as Scripture—and He said we should live by that inspired Scripture! So all true Christians—genuine followers of Jesus Christ—must be willing to live by the inspired teachings of Scripture, as Jesus commanded.
The original, genuine Church was first and always based on teaching and preaching the inspired word of God! At services, the ministers and elders explained and expounded the Bible—reading directly out of the Bible and showing its true explanations of the purpose of life, the laws of God and His plan for all of our lives. Church services seldom if ever emphasized history, philosophy or the "traditions of men."
Although church choirs and activities can certainly be enjoyable, Church services are truly helpful only insofar as they fully explain, exhort and inspire believers to truly believe and obey the words of the Bible and to let Christ live His life in them through the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20). Socializing and friendship are wonderful features of the true Church of God, but much of that kind of human interaction can also be found in the Rotary Club or Lions Club or other social forums. Coming before the Creator to worship Him and learn His Truth is on an entirely different level!
Jesus told a Gentile woman who worshiped God in a "different" way: "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:21–24).
So, to truly follow the Christ of the Bible, we must worship God "in spirit and truth" (v. 24). And what is the "Truth?" Jesus Christ proclaimed, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).
If you wish to genuinely serve and worship the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ—if you truly want their blessing and protection during perilous times just ahead—you should earnestly, persistently and honestly try to find the Church that Jesus Christ built, of which He is the living Head (Ephesians 1:22), the Church that actually preaches and teaches His full Truth (Acts 28:30–31) and is doing His Work on earth today! You must be willing to sincerely and zealously "seek" the true God. You must be willing to serve and worship Him in the way He reveals in His inspired word!
Of course, it may be more "convenient" to go to the church of your family or friends, or to the closest neighborhood church. It may be more "fun" to attend a church with a big choir or lots of activities. Yet the Christ of the Bible earnestly warns us, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). So why go to a church where entire passages and books of the Bible are rarely, if ever, thoroughly explained and expounded in the worship services? Where people attending are not really having their lives, thoughts and actions changed by the powerful preaching of God's word? Where the one-fourth of the entire Bible that is inspired prophecy is rarely explained? Where the members gain virtually no understanding that we are now living in the "last days"? Where they are not shown the specific events to "watch" for that will precede Christ's return to this earth?
Why, indeed, would anyone want to waste their time in a place like that?
As end-time prophetic events speed up—as the prophesied drought, earthquakes, disease epidemics and acts of terrorism begin to affect us more and more—are the clapping, singing people in some neighborhood church going to "save" you? Who can genuinely protect you and your loved ones if you are unwilling to seek and to worship the God of the Bible "in spirit and in Truth"?
Through Tomorrow's World magazine and this Work, you have been brought into contact with the true Church of God. If God is truly opening your mind, and if you have the courage to act on the Truth, I encourage you to "follow through." Check up on us even more. Prove what we are teaching out of the words of your own Bible. Our teaching can easily be validated and proved from the Bible itself—for it is the Truth.
As the prophetic events this Work tells you about continue to occur and intensify, and as God opens your mind to the great Plan He is working out, be sure to act. For in many different passages in His inspired word, God tells us to act on the Truth. "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22).
May God grant you the understanding, the faith and the courage to take action!
Adapted from “Why Do You Go to ‘Your’ Church?” from www.TomorrowsWorld.org.