Featured in the September, 2009 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News
Though there are many enigmas in our time certainly the greatest mystery is the relationship between the professing Christian and the local church.
The church must be important. We read “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). But apparently there are many people who do not agree with Christ that the church is really worth that much!
A person who claims to be born-again has great difficulty finding a Biblical church. After he becomes a Christian or when he moves to a new location he very quickly finds the supermarket, the school, the gas station, the bank, McDonalds, the TV repair shop, the dentist and the closest pizza parlor, but announces that he is still “looking for a church”! There would be a shaking national spiritual revival of monumental proportions if born-again people joined churches where they live.
When Jimmy Carter was elected president, he moved into the White House on Thursday, January 20, 1977, and joined the First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C. on Sunday, January 23rd. If it took only three days for the busiest man in the nation, then all others are without excuse for any longer delay. It is a mystery why it takes so long.
If the average Christian who “regularly attends church” added up all the sleep-in Sundays, not-feeling-well days, company-just-came-over, we-were-just-getting-ready-to-leave-for-vacation, we-just-got-back, the-car-wouldn’t-start and bad-weather Sundays, he would be amazed how much he misses.
Every born-again person manages to eat each day, sleep every night, cash his check, regularly wash his car, and daily walk his dog and accommodate in his life regularity and frequency for a host of “priority” tasks.
But in the mix of life, prayer meeting may be missed rather than a racquetball session. Sunday evening worship may be omitted rather than a favorite TV program. Bible believing churches have a mid-week prayer meeting and two services on Sunday, and to some people this schedule seems burdensome. But the early believers found delight in “daily” fellowship (Acts 2:46).
If gathering a few times a week with God’s people seems a big chore then perhaps you have not been converted. If praying, praising God, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship are boring, just think how bland heaven will be!
The Christian’s life is voluntary, no one has to repent of sin and receive Christ as Savior. Baptism and church membership could never be forced. Even when a person joins a church there is no way to compel him to pray, witness, tithe, or attend. Either one chooses to live the Christian life or he does not do it. If one’s heart is not inclined toward the things of God, perhaps it is because his heart has never been changed, he has truly never been born-again. Or perhaps it is a great mystery why one attends so infrequently.
The Bible is clear that the ultimate reward for the believer is not how much he has done for Christ but how faithful he has been (Matthew 25:14-30). We have differing abilities and gifts, but each can be faithful.
No church could exist if it were not for a core of faithful people. In each good Bible-preaching church across this country you will find these folk. They attend the services, bring their tithes and offerings, pray for the pastors, deacons and missionaries, and share in the work of the Gospel according to their God-given abilities.
They are faithful to the Lord, to His church, to other believers, and faithful in sharing the Gospel with the lost.
Faithful simply means full of faith. Faith simply means that you have the confidence that God will keep His Word. You believe that the church is the only divinely appointed organization for carrying on God’s work in this world. Therefore, you join it and commit your life to Christ through it.
You attend the services because you are confident not only that this is the right thing to do, but also that through the preaching of the Word, God will do an eternal work in hearts of those who listen. You give because you understand that this money is better invested than all the other dollars that pass through your hands. You are full of faith about what God is going to do through all of this. Consequently, you are a faithful person.
A person who does not believe that the church is divinely ordained, that the Holy Spirit works today through the preaching of the Word, that sinners will be converted, that saints will be edified, has no expectation; therefore, no faith, and not being full of faith, he is not faithful. His lack of commitment and spiritual consistency is simply an evidence of a lack of faith.
But if you do have faith, if you are full of faith, then you will be a faithful person. Or is faithlessness a great mystery?