Why do I have to go to Church?

Good Morning to everyone listening today to our series on the hard questions of life.

Grace and Peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God Loves you, and I love you, but it's God that counts.

Today's hard question is: "Why do I have to go to Church?"

As a pastor, I will find myself in many places other than the church buildings. I will be visiting the sick in the hospitals or at home. Sometimes I will find myself in someone's home and many times there will be some family members or friends that do not go to church. Almost always one of them, after they find out that I am a preacher, will say, "I don't believe you have to go to church to be a Christian." Or, they will say, "Why do I have to go to church, they're just full of hypocrites." This is usually a response to my question, "where do you go to church?" Sometimes, though, they will just bring the subject up themselves.

The time that sticks in my mind the most was when I was in the hospital visiting a sick church member, one of the daughter' of the sick man's friend drove her. The daughter was visiting from out of town and I asked her were she went to church. Her uneasy frown turned into a sneer, and she said she did not believe you had to go to church to be a Christian. I asked her if she was a Christian and she shared her upbringing in a church as a child, and she did not see "why she had to go to Church." There was a lot of bitterness and resentment behind those words. I redirected the conversation to where she worked and if she had children. From our conversation I had discerned that she had been married several times and was currently living in sin with a man who was not her husband. She was bitter and unsatisfied with life and worried about her children staying at their fathers home. She was alone and there was no peace in her life.

After visiting and praying with my church member, I invited her to visit our church, and if she was interested we could continue our conversation about "why do I have to go to church?" in a quieter, more private place, in the hospital, while her mom visited with our church member. She said, "maybe sometime later." I gave her my card and excused myself and left. I never heard from her again.

This has been my experience over and over again with people who ask the question, "why do I have to go to church?" These people are overcome with selfishness and sin, they are lonely, and there is no real peace or joy in their lives.

The answer to the question, "Why do I have to go to church?" is fourfold:
  1. It is the fellowship of the church where we find Jesus Christ.

  2. It is the fellowship of the church where we find protection from the demonic forces of evil and sin in this world.

  3. It is the fellowship of the church where we find encouragement in life.

  4. It is the fellowship of the church where we become Jesus Christ to the world.

"Why do I have to go to church?"

First, it is the fellowship where we find Jesus Christ in the world. But, before we continue with this, let me first help in understanding what the church is. The word "church," is translated from a word that mean an assembly of people. More than just that, it means, an assembly of different kinds of people with a common starting place. The word is ekklesia, and that common starting place is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

You see brothers and sisters, "church" is not the building or the denomination. It is the different kinds of people, coming together and sharing one common starting point for their being together, Jesus Christ.

(Matthew 18:18-20 NIV) "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. {19} "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. {20} For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Jesus is saying that there is a connection from heaven to earth, and that connection is found where two or three (at least, that is) come together with a common starting point, the name of Jesus Christ, and He, Jesus, will be there! Jesus does not dwell with the "lone rangers!" You might be able to read about him, or remember about him alone, but if you want to find him alive, well, and waiting to meet you at your need, you have to go to his gathering called a church.

Why do I have to go to church? Because that is where the living resurrected Jesus Christ is, healing, saving and making folks new again! This living Jesus we experience through his Holy Spirit. After Jesus Christ died on a cross to pay for our sinfulness, and was raised from the dead to make us into a new creation, he left his Holy Spirit to who?, a gathering of his disciples, a church!

(John 20:19-23 NIV) On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" {20} After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. {21} Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." {22} And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. {23} If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Jesus is alive and well, here on earth today, through his Holy Spirit which he breathed on his church, the gathering of his people together.

If you claim to be a Christian and you are not part of his church, then you may be playing the fool with your soul, thinking you know him as your savior, when all you do is just remember words about him from your past.

The second reason, why do I have to go to church?, is because it is the fellowship where we find protection from the sinful and demonic forces of this world that desire to lead us on a path in life that leads strait to hell! And I mean hell on earth and eternally.

Jesus says (Matthew 12:43-45 NIV) "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. {44} Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. {45} Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."

Every heart is the residence of unclean spirits, except those which are temples of the Holy Spirit, by faith in Christ. We find the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ when we are gathered together regularly in his name. Paul the Apostle says,

(1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV) Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? {17} If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

We find the power of God in the Holy Spirit in the fellowship of the church and can prevail against the very power of hell!

The third reason is similar to the second, and that is we are loved, encouraged, strengthened and uplifted by the fellowship of the church. Remember the true church is people; people who are filled with Jesus Christ's Holy Spirit, loving each other, ministering to each other and helping each other. The Hebrew writer says, (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. {25} Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

That Day is the day of Judgement! Are your ready to stand before God in judgement without Jesus Christ, his son, and his blood, to wash you clean and forgive your sinful selfishness? The old devil is ready, today, to keep you from knowing Jesus in the church. The devil just loves the lone rangers who do not feel the need to be part of the fellowship of Christ's church.

My brother-in-law is retired military and was a member of the 82 Airborne Rangers of the Army. Their motto was, "death from above." They were paratroopers. Though he does not like to discuss it, he once shared with my other brother-in-law, a Marine, a deadly technique know as the "snatch." The "rangers" would parachute behind enemy lines and create obstacles along the path the enemy army would travel and cause some soldiers to tarry alone behind the larger company. As soon as they were alone in the thick forest, they would "snatch" them. Now these missions took no prisoners, so the "snatch" meant instant, silent, death! They never dared attack the larger company of soldiers, because the power of their numbers was too great to overcome.

Why do I have to go to church? Sin, the evil forces at work in this world, and the world's worries, are all trying to separate us from the fellowship of Christ's Holy Spirit which is in his church, the gathering of his people. Alone, we are at the mercy of the devil, just waiting to "snatch us up" into a bitter life and eternal death. In the fellowship of his church we have the power of Almighty God to overcome the powers of sin and evil.

Finally, the answer to our question, "why do I have to go to church?" is, that when Jesus died for our sins, was raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven, his bodily presence left us until he returns to judge all people, on the Day of Judgment. His Holy Spirit is here but Jesus needs someone else's body to carry his message of salvation and right living before God to a lost and spiritually starving world. There are no super spiritual lone rangers to rescue the lost. Jesus left us his church, the gathering of his people saved by grace and living in faith. Together they form a more perfect body of Christ to the world.

(1 Corinthians 12:12-27 NIV) The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. {13} For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. {14} Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

If no one went to church, rather, if no one joined together to become Christ's body, the church, no one would know of Jesus Christ and his salvation. And we all would be lost!

Do you want to know Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sin? Do you want to have eternal life in him? Do you want to be part of him to a lost world?

Pray with me!

Father, forgive us when we have rejected your Son Jesus by fleeing from your church.

We open our hearts and minds and ask your son Jesus to come and make us into a new person and join us to his body, the church.

Come in Jesus.

Thank you God, for the gift of eternal life. Amen.

Now come and become the Church of Jesus Christ to the world.

This is pastor John Warrener saying again, God loves you and I love you, but it is God that counts.

Would you like to know Jesus Christ as your savior and receive eternal life?

I want to know Jesus Christ as my Savior!

Return to Pastor's Homepage

| Home | Incorporation | Constitution | Email Newsletter | Missionary | Prayer Requests |