1. You folks hear me rail against southern California
Christianity on a regular basis. Anyone who has attended Calvary Road
Baptist Church for more than a couple of Sunday morning services has
heard me rather vigorously excoriate the dangerous frauds in southern
California who claim to share with me a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
2. But I deny that someone who denies the trinity is a
fellow brother in Christ. I deny that someone who has turned the grace
of God into lasciviousness is a fellow brother in Christ. And I deny
that a dog who has returned to his vomit is a fellow brother in Christ.
3. But I do not vigorously oppose southern California
Christianity merely because I do not believe it represents the faith
once delivered to the saints. I oppose southern California Christianity
because it is profoundly confusing to someone who is not converted who
hears me preach and then looks around at what the so-called Christians
at work or at school live like.
4. That unsaved person must either become convinced that
southern California Christianity and the Gospel which I preach represent
two entirely different religions, or he will think that I am arbitrary
and confused in my own thinking about the Christian faith.
5. So, you have to choose between TBN and the Gospel
which I preach, between channel 40 and the Gospel which I preach,
between Calvary Chapel and the Gospel which I preach, between Faith
Community Church and the Gospel which I preach. By the way, I preach the
Gospel of Jesus Christ the way Paul preached it.
6. Part of the problem which I face when dealing with
lost people is the emphasis which the Bible puts upon Church and the
relative de-emphasis of Church that is accepted by these southern
California Christians. Are you a professional athlete? You donít need
to go to Church on Sunday. Do you want to go camping? Just check out for
the weekend. Do you feel like staying home and watching 60 Minutes
on Sunday night? Okay.
7. Excuse me, but the mindset that takes that approach
to Church attendance is foreign to what I find in Godís Word. So, to
clear things up in your thinking, and to show you the extreme importance
of Church in Godís plan and economy, Iíd like you to turn in your
Bible to Hebrews 10.23-25. When you find that passage, please stand for
the reading of Godís Word:
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our
faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to
provoke unto love and to good works:
25 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.
6. My friends, the Jewish Christians written
to here were on the verge of faltering in their Christian lives. The
writer of Hebrews was inspired of God to encourage them, to warn them,
to straighten them out. They needed to know, and you need to know, how
important your regular and faithful attendance at Church is.
7. Your faithful Church attendance is related
1A. First, YOUR PROFESSION OF FAITH
Verse 23: "Let us hold fast the
profession of our faith without wavering"
1B. Do You See This Word
"Profession?" Itís The Noun Form Of The Word
"Confess" Found In First John 1.9: "If we confess our
sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Word Here Refers To
What Your Lifestyle Is Declaring For One And All To See. We Typically
Refer To This As A Personís Testimony.
2B. My Friend, If You Claim To Be A
Christian Your Testimony In The Community Is Important, Your Testimony
At Work Is Important, And Your Testimony At Home With Your Family Is
Important. But Our Text Shows Us That Your Regular And Faithful
Attendance At Church Is A Critical Factor In Establishing Your Public
3B. So, If You Do Not Faithfully Attend
Church, Regularly And Routinely, You Are Wavering In Your Profession,
You Have A Wobbly Testimony. In Other Words, You Are Creating Doubts
In Peopleís Minds About Your Brand Of Christianity If You Do Not
Faithfully And Regularly Attend The Church Services. That Means Church
Is Very Important. Is It Important To You?
2A. Your faithful Church attendance is
also related to YOUR CONSIDERATION OF OTHERS
Verse 24: "And let us consider one
another to provoke unto love and to good works."
1B. Rare Is That Individual Who Stays Home
From Church Because Of His Concern For The Spiritual Welfare Of His
Fellow Church Members. Rare Is That Individual Who Stays Home From
Church Because Of His Concern For The Spiritual Welfare Of His
Neighbors. Rare Is That Individual Who Stays Home From Church Because
Of His Concern For The Spiritual Welfare Of His Family.
2B. Neither Do I Recall Ever Having Seen
Anyone Provoked Unto Love And Good Works By Someone Who Wasnít At
Church, Who Stayed Home, Who Went Golfing Instead Of Attending Church,
Or By The Self-Serving Fellow Who Decided That Making Millions Of
Dollars Playing A Professional Sport Was Godís Will For His Life.
How Do Those Things Provoke Unto Love And Good Works?
3B. You See, Failing To Attend Church Is
Almost Always For Selfish Reasons. Rare Is The Individual Who, Like
Our Own Jane Johnson, Stays Home Because Her Heart Is Too Weak To
Attend Two Services On A Sunday. Most Who Miss A Sunday Evening
Service Claim They Are Tired, But They Still Go to Bed Late That
Night. Or They Want Some Family Time, Though They Spend The Entire Day
Farther Away From The Wife And Kids Than If Theyíd Sat Next To Them
4B. If You Are Considerate Of Others, If You
Care About Others, If You Place The Welfare Of Others Ahead Of Selfish
Pursuits, If You Are At All Concerned About The Eternal Destiny Of
Those You Say You Love And Want To Look After, Then You Will
Faithfully And Routinely Attend Church.
3A. Finally, your Church attendance is
related to YOUR EXHORTATION OF OTHERS
Verse 25: "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
1B. Some See The Day That Is Approaching As
A Reference To The Impending Destruction Of The City Of Jerusalem,
Which Was A Foregone Conclusion Once The Sea Port At Caesaria Was
Completed. The Romans Had Just Gotten Fed Up With Jewish Resistance
And Had Decided To Crush It Once And For All. As The Caesaria Port
Neared Completion, Where Huge Numbers Of Roman Soldiers Would Soon
Disembark, Folks Saw The Handwriting On The Wall. Jerusalem Would
2B. But Others Are Of The Opinion That The
Approaching Day Mentioned Here Refers To The Impending Second Coming
Of Christ, And Our Need To Be Even More Faithful In Church As These
Last Days Come To A Close. And This Is Likely The More Correct
3B. But In Either Case The Message Is Clear.
When Significant Things Are About To Happen, Such As The Destruction
Of Jerusalem And The Dispersion Of The Jewish People, Such As The
Second Coming Of Christ, Such As The Turn Of Our Entire Civilization
Toward Pagan Humanism, The Need Of The Hour Is The Same. You Need To
Faithfully Attend Church To Exhort Others, And To Be Exhorted By
Others, During Times Of Crisis.
4B. There Are Times When Even The Most
Sure-Footed Person Stumbles And Falls. Where Will That Helping Hand Be
When You Need It, But Youíve Stumbled Elsewhere? Where Will Your
Helping Hand Be When Someone Stumbles And You Are Elsewhere?
1. Donít miss Church. Donít miss it for
work and donít miss it for leisure. Donít miss it when you feel
great or when you feel puny. If you are well enough to go to work you
are well enough to go to Church. And donít miss Church to get well for
work. Miss work to get well for Church, because Church is more
2. Are there a couple of times a year when you
need to tend to family business or to vacation? Perhaps there is a time
when illness requires that you stay home to recover. But generally
speaking, Church is something that should occupy a place of such
profound importance in your life that you simply should not miss a
3. After all, your public testimony as a
Christian, your consideration of others, and your exhortation of others,
is greatly affected by your attendance in Church.
4. If those three things mean little or
nothing to you then youíll stay home tonight. But if those three
things are important to you, and you desire that no indication be given
by your lifestyle that you are apostatizing the Christian faith, then
you will take great pains to be here tonight, and for every service.
5. Now, brother Isenberger comes to lead us in
a song before this morningís message.
1. De-Emphasizing Church. Thatís one of the
characteristics, I believe, of these end times and the general turning
of our culture away from Christianity.
2. Now, there are various ways in which Church
can be de-emphasized. TBN has de-emphasized Church by replacing the
gathering of the saints with a television experience. No good.
3. Robert Schuller de-emphasized Church in his
early days by replacing the gathering of the saints with drive-up
services, in which men in bath robes and women in curlers could sit in
their cars and watch Schullerís performance like someone attending a
drive-in movie. No good.
4. But now heís back in an auditorium,
de-emphasizing Church by trivializing the message he preaches,
substituting positive thinking for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and
giving people entertainment instead of the truth. Still no good.
5. I could go on and on this morning, but I
would like to lay out before you some considerations that will show you
why this de-emphasizing of Church is so wrong. I hope, instead, you will
leave this morning with the firm conviction that Church is extremely
important in Godís Word, is extremely important to God, and should be
important to you.
6. Why should the de-emphasizing of the Church
be reversed? Why is the Church important?
1A. First, BECAUSE THE CHURCH IS THE
USUAL MEANS OF GRACE
First Corinthians 1.18: "For the
preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us
which are saved it is the power of God."
First Corinthians 14.24-25: "24
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one
unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25
And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling
down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in
you of a truth."
1B. It Would Not Be Correct To Insist That
No One Ever Gets Saved Anywhere But In A Church Service, For That
Simply Is Not True. But It Should Not Be Denied By Anyone That Church
Is The Most Frequent Place Sinners Are Converted.
2B. And This Is Understandable For Several
Reasons: Church Is The Most Frequent Venue For Preachers To Preach The
Gospel, Church Is The Place Where Those Who Seek The Conversion Of The
Lost Gather, And Church Is The Place Where Sinners Both Hear The
Gospel Preached And See The Gospel Lived Out In The Lives Of Godís
3B. Richard Baxter, Great Puritan Pastor And
Preacher, Correctly Observed That Church Is The Usual Means Of Saving
Grace. And John R. Rice Once Correctly Observed That Most People Get
Saved In A Church Service. These Menís Observations Cannot Be
Doubted By Honest Folks.
4B. So, Church Is Important Because Church
Is The Usual Means Of Grace. It Is Where Most People Who Get Saved
Actually Get Saved. Therefore, To De-Emphasize Church Is A Travesty.
THE CHURCH IS THE CUSTODIAN OF DIVINE TRUTH
First Timothy 3.15: "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."
1B. The Lord Jesus Christ Is The Truth
Incarnate. He Said "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
The Word Of God Is The Truth In Writing. Jesus Also Said To The
Father, "Thy word is truth." But The Church Is The Pillar
And Ground Of The Truth. Now, What Does This Mean? Pillar And Ground
Is That Which Holds The Truth Up Where It Can Be Seen By Men.
2B. But How Does A Church Hold The Truth Up
To Be Seen By Men, The Lord Jesus Christ Who Is The Incarnate Truth,
And The Word Of God Which Is The Written Truth, But By Gathering
Together For The Teaching And Preaching Of Godís Word To Point
Sinners To Christ?
3B. And Do You Doubt The Need For Such A
Custodian Of The Truth As This Church Provides? Then Ask Yourself How
Many Have Gotten Saved In Synagogues Over The Last 2000 Years, Though
They Have Every One Of Them A Scroll Of The Hebrew Scriptures? Or Ask
Yourself How Many Have Gotten Saved In Cathedrals Over The Last 2000
Years, Though They Have Every One Of Them Copies Of The Word Of God?
4B. Being The Pillar And Ground Of The Truth
Is Much More Than Just Having A Copy Of The Bible On Hand, Or Talking
About Jesus, As The Catholics And Orthodox Churches Continually Do.
Folks, Itís The Appointed Task Of An Appointed People To Be The
Pillar And Ground Of The Truth. And Those Appointed People Are You And
Me, And Other Congregations Like This One.
5B. And Since Itís The Truth Which Sets
Men Free, When That Truth Is Probably Handled And Communicated, And
Not Like Cathedrals And Synagogues Handle The Truth, Church Is
Extremely Important And Should Never By Anyone Be De-Emphasized. Souls
Hang In The Balance.
3A. Third, THE CHURCH IS THE HIGHEST
SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY ON EARTH
Matthew 18.15-19: "15
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him
his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast
gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee,
then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two
or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if
he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if
he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man
and a publican. 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye
shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall
loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say
unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any
thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father
which is in heaven."
1B. Setting Aside, For Now, What This
Passage is Dealing With, Let Us Consider The Implication Of Verses 18
And 19. Read Those Two Verses Again.
2B. My Friend, Can You Find Evidence
Anywhere Else That Grants To An Institution Here On Earth That Kind Of
Clout, That Kind Of Influence, That Kind Of Authority? What Astounding
Authority Is Vested In This Church, And In Other Churches Of Jesus
3B. Therefore, How Profoundly Negligent Is
The Pastor Who Does Not Emphasize The Church He Serves. And How Dull
Of Understanding Are Those In Attendance Who Do Not Realize The Place
In Godís Economy Their Church Occupies, And The Place That Their
Church Ought To Occupy In Their Own Lives. De-Emphasizing Church Is No
4A. Fourth, THE CHURCH IS THE TRAINING
GROUND FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING
Ephesians 4.11-16: "11 And
he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and
some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of
Christ: 13 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: 14 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; 15
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things,
which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the
whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every
joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of
every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in
1B. This Passage Deals With Gifted Men
(Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor-Teachers) Who Are Used By God
To Bring To Christ And To Bring To Maturity In Christ The People Of
2B. But What Do We Know Of Apostles In The
New Testament? They Established Churches. What Do We Know About
Pastor-Teachers? They Preach In Churches. And The Prophets And
Evangelists Listed Between Those Two Men Do Some Variation Of The Same
Things Those Men Do.
3B. The Point That I Seek To Make Is This:
If You Want To Be Sure Youíve Come To Christ, And If You Want To Be
Sure To Grow To Spiritual Maturity After Youíve Come To Christ, You
Need To Submit To The Ministry Of A Gifted Man. But Where Are Such Men
Found, According To Godís Word? In Churches, Preaching And Teaching
And Providing Spiritual Leadership To The Gathered Flock.
4B. So, If Growing To Spiritual Maturity Is
Important To You, If Learning How To Live The Christian Life Is Of
Interest To You, If Learning How To Be A Husband Or A Wife Or A Mom Or
A Dad Is Important To You, Then Do Not De-Emphasize Church.
5A. Fifth, THE CHURCH IS THE COMMUNITY
OF THE REDEEMED
Acts 2.42, 46: "42 And they
continued stedfastly in the apostlesí doctrine and fellowship, and
in breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . 46 And they,
continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread
from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness
1B. On Several Occasions I Have Told You How
Lonely I Was Before My Conversion. Those Of You Who Have Grown Up In
This Church Have Never Experienced That Degree Of Loneliness, I Hope.
But Others Of You May Know What I Mean.
2B. God Gives You Something You Can
Literally Feel When You Get Converted And Become Part Of A Church. And
On How Many Occasions Have You Folks Testified That Church Seems More
Like Family To You Than Your Blood Kin?
3B. Folks? This Church Is My Spiritual Home
Away From Home. Itís My Little Bit Of Heaven While Iím Waiting For
Heaven. Itís My Place Of Belonging In A World Where I Donít
Belong, And Where Iíve Never Truly Felt Like I Belonged.
4B. And From Acts 2.42 And 46 We Can Be Sure
The Saints In Jerusalem Felt The Same Way. Church Is The One Place You
Can Come Where Truth Is Believed, Where Christ Is Glorified, Where God
Is Honored, Where Growth Is Encouraged. This Is Our Green House In The
Winter And Our Oasis In The Dessert, The Place Where We Gather As The
Community Of The Redeemed.
5B. Is That Unimportant To You? Itís
Profoundly Important To Me, Which Is On Reason Why I Emphasize Church
6A. Sixth, THE CHURCH IS THE TEMPLE OF
GOD WE LABOR TO BUILD
First Corinthians 3.12-17: "12
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious
stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every manís work shall be
made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be
revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every manís work of what
sort it is. 14 If any manís work abide which he hath
built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any
manís work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself
shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 16 Know ye not that ye
are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the
temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
1B. I Will State What I Can Prove In Godís
Word, But Do Not Have The Time To Prove In The Time Remaining: First,
The Congregation Is The Temple Of God, Verse 16. Second, Your Labor As
A Christian Will Be Judged And Rewarded, Verses 13 And 14. Third, And
This Is Usually Overlooked, Your Rewards Will Be For The Part You
Played In Building The Temple, Verses 12 And 16.
2B. My Friend, The Reason The Judgment Seat
Of Christ Will Focus On Your Church Activity And Service Is Because
The Local Congregation Is Godís Appointed Means Of Spreading The
Gospel During This Age In Which We Live. If You Fail To Labor And
Serve In Your Church, Regardless Of Your Efforts Elsewhere, You Are
Not Striving Lawfully And Will Not Be Crowned, According To Second
3B. So, Your Involvement In Church Carries
With It Consequences That Will Be Felt For Eternity. That Being True,
Do Not De-Emphasize Church.
1. Folks, I could go on and on and on and on,
but I think my point is already well made. Church is important and
should never be de-emphasized.
2. De-emphasizing Church is a part of the
growing end time apostasy. De-emphasizing Church is part of a personís
personal falling away from the Christian faith. And de-emphasizing
Church is very obviously contrary to Godís will for your life, as we
have seen in the Bible.
3. So, donít ever let anyone convince you that Church is not
important and that it should not be emphasized.