Sunday, we will be holding a gospel meeting entitled “Exploring
Islam and Christianity”. It will focus on the differences
between the world’s two major religions. A brief glance at the
topics is enough to excite us about this meeting. However, I want
you to know, there are reasons for which you should not attend
this gospel meeting. And while you may have already set aside time
to be at every service of this gospel meeting, I want to explain
to you why you should not attend this gospel meeting.
should not attend the gospel meeting.
not attend the gospel meeting because you have to.
For over 12
years as a gospel preacher I have argued with one person or
another about whether or not you have to attend all the assemblies
of the church, whether Sunday night, Bible classes or the
assemblies in a gospel meeting. We are all very familiar with Hebrews
10:25 and the various ways people apply it to our service
today. But the fact is, I am tired of having this argument. I am
convinced it is a “no win” argument. By that I mean, no matter
where we come out in the conclusion of the argument, this church
“lose” the argument, then those who attend the gospel meeting
because they think they have to will quit attending. Every church
in any location that has started teaching you don’t have to
attend drops in attendance. We would be no different. In this
scenario, the church here will lose because people will quit
attending our assemblies.
“win” the argument, then I will simply produce a class of
Christians that attends because it wants to “toe the line” but
doesn’t really want to serve the Lord. These will be as devoted
to worship and serving God as is the teenager devoted to making
the yard look nice when he cuts the grass. The church loses
because these people won’t edify effectively. So, please don’t
attend the gospel meeting because you have to.
not attend the gospel meeting because someone will get onto you if
Much akin to
our first reason is this one. Despite anyone’s belief regarding
the technical necessity of attending all the assemblies, everyone
recognizes that, all other things being equal, attending more
frequently demonstrates a greater commitment and growth. And
everyone recognizes that our duty is to stimulate one another to
growth (Hebrews 10:24).
the meeting, some will call to check on those who didn’t attend.
Because of this, some will attend just because they don’t want
anyone to get onto them. Attending the meeting because somebody
has gotten on to you or will get on to you only builds resentment
between brethren. Anything you may learn or gain from the worship
we will be having in this meeting will be overridden by the
negative feelings governing your reason for attending. So, please
don’t attend the gospel meeting because someone will get onto
you if you don’t.
not attend the gospel meeting because you really like Andrew
an outstanding job when he participated in our Fall Focus last
year. I have heard some preachers with whom I have not been nearly
as impressed. I have heard some whose preaching was almost tiring.
It sure is good when you like the preacher and his style, isn’t
But that is
not what our gospel meeting, or any other assembly, is about. Our
worship is not about preachers that we like or dislike. Our
worship is about God. The Corinthians had trouble with preacher
following. Paul describes the trouble and gives the answer to it
in I Corinthians 3:4-6.
This meeting is not about a preacher who amounts to anything in
our estimation. This meeting is about God who will cause the
growth. So, please do not attend this meeting because you really
like Andrew’s preaching.
not attend the gospel meeting because the topics sound interesting
I have to be
honest; I am extremely excited about the topic for this meeting. I
am very interested. But if we only attend because the topics sound
interesting to us, then if they didn’t sound interesting, we
would not attend. That is the wrong basis for worship.
Far too many
people only attend when the worship interests them. But upon whom
is the focus of worship in that case? Is the focus of that kind of
worship upon God? No. When I attend only because the topics of the
sermons are interesting to me, my worship is focused on me. In
fact, it may not be as obvious, but there is little difference
between the one who attends only because the sermon sounds
interesting and the one who attends with a congregation only when
they have a “fellowship supper”. In both cases what is
happening is based on me and not on God. Paul explains that
worship is about sacrificing myself to God, not focusing on myself
(Romans 12:1). So,
please do not attend the gospel meeting because the topics sound
interesting to you.
not attend the gospel meeting because you do not have anything
better to do.
gospel meetings were the greatest community events of the year.
There was no TV. There were few social clubs. Organized sports and
school events were rare. People had nothing better to do, so even
non-Christians attended the meetings. This motivation is not
surprising from non-Christians. After all, they are not devoted to
worship and we should not expect them to be. If they were, they
would already be here, wouldn’t they?
however, that seems to have been the reason for the good number of
Christians attending those meetings as well. I say this, because
as our society has become more diversified in its ability to
provide entertainment for people, even Christians have slacked off
in their attendance to the worship assemblies, because they have
“better” things to do. Have you ever noticed that we do not
allow things to get in the way of events that are important to us?
Many don’t even allow worship assemblies to get in the way of
events that are important to them. But, when we only attend
because we don’t have anything better to do, be assured that
Satan will work overtime to provide us with “better” things to
do (I Peter 5:8). So,
please don’t attend the gospel meeting just because you do not
have anything better to do.
should attend the gospel meeting.
attend the gospel meeting because God deserves it.
4:11,the elders and living creatures before the throne of God
claimed, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive
glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things…”
The Psalmist said, “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be
praised, And I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm
having a meeting because God is worthy of our worship. God created
us and sacrificed His Son for us. He doesn’t deserve our
excuses, our procrastination and equivocation. He deserves our
worship. In the meeting we will have ample opportunity to offer
that to God. So, please attend the gospel meeting because God
attend the gospel meeting because Jesus died to give us this
many other things take precedence over the assemblies of a gospel
meeting in our minds because assemblies happen so frequently.
Because we have them every Sunday, it is easy to take them for
granted and not value them. Maybe, it is because all we see when
we worship is other people. Not extremely important people. But
other people just like us. We spend some time together performing
the “acts of worship” we have heard sermonized and then we
separate to get on with our real lives. For these reasons, we may
miss what is really happening when we assemble.
church is called the “house of God” (I
Timothy 3:15) to bring to our minds the Jerusalem temple,
which was the “house of God” (I
Kings 8:10-11). When you gather here with the saints, you are
coming to the temple and house of the living God (Ephesians
2:21). We are priests gathering here in the holy of holies (I Peter 2:9). We are coming to God’s dwelling place (not this
building, but this assembly). What right have we to come into the
very presence of God? What right have we to approach the throne of
God? How is it that we, weak, pitiful and sinful as we are, can
come into the presence of the great and mighty God, creator and
sustainer of the universe?
Hebrews 10:19-25 explains.
We have confidence to enter this holy place by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus died to purchase for us this ability to gather here and
praise God. Jesus’ death secured for us the ability to make our
supplications to God and cast our cares upon Him. We can do this
only because Jesus died. We can have our gospel meeting only
because Jesus died to give us the opportunity. That is how
valuable this is to God. How valuable is it to you? Please, attend
this gospel meeting because Jesus died to give you this
attend the gospel meeting because you need it.
is not about something God needs (Psalm
50:10). We worship because we need it. We need the reminder of
the sacrifice of Jesus. We need the reminder of our place before
God. But what we need most of all is the building up assembling in
Our kids get
upset when we tell them not to play in the street, but it is a
rule for their own good. Just so, we get upset, at times, that God
has commanded us to assemble. But it too is a law for our own
good. As demonstrated by Hebrews 10:25, what we are doing here is stimulating each other to
love and good works. We are encouraging one another.
when we don’t attend? We miss the stimulation and the
encouragement. I am amazed that when people become stressed or
distressed, the first thing to go is the worship assembly. They
think that is the only time they have for rest, so they don’t
come. It becomes a self-defeating cycle because the one place we
can come for true encouragement to carry on through the
difficulties is the assembly. And next week you will have two more
opportunities to come and be with your brethren. You have two more
opportunities to receive that pick me up and boost to continue on
serving the Lord in the midst of all the wickedness that goes on
around us. So, please attend the gospel meeting because you need
attend the gospel meeting because your brethren need you.
to the encouragement you will receive from the worship, the
preaching and the brethren around you, you will do some
encouraging. I don’t know if you feel this way, but I am
encouraged every week to keep on striving to serve the Lord.
Because I see you here, on Mondays I know there are more than a
hundred others also trying to serve the Lord.
When you are
not here, encouragement is hindered. In fact, it is downright
discouraging. There are times when the absence of brethren causes
me to wonder, “What am I trying for? If others don’t have to
or don’t want to, why should I bother?” If I feel this way,
who as a preacher am somewhat protected from the evil influences
most people have to face, how much more do your brethren who have
to work in the midst of sinners every day feel this way. They need
your presence and your encouragement that there is a point to all
of this. They need to know their labor and toil is not in vain and
your presence will provide that encouragement (I
Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 10:25).
we know from Ephesians
4:15-16 that this church will only grow to the extent that
every joint within it is strengthened and provides more growth.
Your brethren, this congregation, need you to be here so you can
grow from what is being done. That will help us, as a group, grow.
Please attend the gospel meeting because your brethren need you.
attend the gospel meeting because you don’t have anything better
you will have an increased opportunity to give praise to the God
who created you. You will have greater opportunity to give thanks
to the Lord who saved you. You will have more opportunities to
obey the Spirit who revealed His will to you. You will have two
more opportunities to come into the holiest of holies with your
brethren, in the very presence of God, even as we are doing this
morning. You will have greater opportunity to build up your
brethren. And you will have greater opportunity to be strengthened
and stimulate to love and good works. Can you think of anything
better to do than that?
I know some
have obligations with work (fulfilling another command of God in II
Thessalonians 3:10 and I Timothy 5:8) and with regret you will miss some of the
assemblies. But I would like for every one of us to consider if we
miss the assemblies of this gospel meeting, what we are saying
about what is important in our lives. Consider the other events
that you would have made sure to attend even under those
circumstances. Would you have still gone to work under those
circumstances? Would you have still made it to your child’s
school play under those circumstances? Remember, the things that
are important to us don’t get easily set aside because we are
tired, busy or distracted. We find ways to do what is important to
us. Find a way to attend this gospel meeting, because you don’t
have anything better to do.
I hope I have convinced you of why not to come this
meeting, thus helping you deepen your devotion to worship and
strengthening you to attend for the reasons that you should. You
need to be here and we need you to be here. Please, worship God
with us in our meeting.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ