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You can find statistics for just about anything that you want.
Some people do not trust statistics because “they can be skewed to say whatever you want.”
The truth is that statistics can be very helpful in many situations.
Statistics can give you a view on something that you would not normally have.
One troubling statistic that seems to be floating around is the one that shows that church attendance is on a steady and sharp decline.
Most reliable resources all point to that there has been a decline in church attendance in our country.
There can be a number of factors for this statistic.
“Nominal Christians” no longer are attending.
More and more church members are attending less frequently than before.
It is important to clarify that just attending a worship service at a church really does no good if it does not affect your daily life.
The fact that less people are attending church also shows us that there are less people that are plugging in and being discipled as the Lord intended.
Today, we are going to finish our series on our church covenant.
The final statement of our church covenant speaks to the importance of being part of a local church wherever the Lord may lead us.
We determine by the aid of the Holy Spirit to purpose that when we remove ourselves from this church, we will as soon as possible, unite with another New Testament church, where we can carry out the spirit of this commitment and the principles of God’s Word.
There are different things in life that may cause us to have to move - job, school, family needs, etc.
When you go to a new area, it can be hard sometimes to find a local church to plug in to.
Being the “new person” is not always fun.
You have to work at making new friendships and getting into already formed circles.
For some, this serves as a reason to drop out of church.
I want to look at a couple of reasons why this is a bad idea.
Hebrews 10:
Why should I be actively involved in a church?
A high price was paid
The first reason that I see from this passage that we should be involved in a local church is because a high price was paid for our access.
We live in a very affluent society.
There isn’t really much that we are hurting for.
We have clean water, clothes in our closets, food on the table.
At this time, there is no threat of military coming into our worship service and hauling people away for worshipping.
The author of Hebrews was originally writing to a group of Christians that were thinking about throwing in the towel on Christianity and going back to Judaism.
In verses 19 and 20, he reminds the readers that we can enter into God’s sanctuary — His presence — only because of the blood of Jesus.
This sanctuary that the writer speaks of is the throne room of God not necessarily this room.
We pray that this room would be one that people encounter God in.
The access that we have to God does not come because we were good enough or definitely not because deserve it.
Our invitation into God’s presence to enjoy Him and know Him comes solely because of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ gave on the cross on our behalf.
It is by His blood that we boldly enter into God’s presence.
When we remove ourselves from being part of a local church, we make light of — if not trample — this precious gift that Christ has given us.
The church is God’s plan
In verse 21, the writer reminds us that Jesus Christ serves as the high priest over every New Testament church.
Yes, there are pastors that God calls and equips to lead and shepherd His people, but the top position belongs to Jesus.
Remember that the first audience that heard these words were those who came from a Jewish background.
The high priest was the top of the pecking order.
He was the one that determined how things would go in the Temple and with worship.
The writer here says that Jesus Christ holds this position forevermore.
He is the One in charge of the direction and life of a church.
When a person chooses not to actively participate in a local church, they are pushing the work of the Holy Spirit through the Bride of Christ away from their lives.
The church is God’s plan for carrying out the Great Commission.
There is no other plan that He has.
When a person chooses to not be part of that plan, he or she ends up being at odds with God’s plan.
There is no neutral ground here.
When a person chooses not to actively participate in a local church, they are pushing the work of the Holy Spirit through the Bride of Christ away from their lives.
Is the church perfect?
The church is filled with sinners who have been redeemed and whom Christ is working on daily.
For someone to say that they love Jesus but not the church, that is dangerous ground.
When Paul gave instructions for how Christians who are married are to relate towards one another, he used the example of Christ and the church ().
Would you have the audacity to look Jesus in the eye and tell Him that you love Him but you really have nothing for His bride?
How do you think that would go?
The church is where unique things happen
As the writer of Hebrews continues, he shares three “let us” statements that he uses to encourage the readers to be actively involved in the life of the local church.
The writer of Hebrews shares in verses 22-25 three types of ministries that are found
(v 22) “let us draw near...”
this is an invitation to experience the wonder of the Christian life.
The writer talks about having full assurance, that is fully assured that God is who He said He is and will do what He said He will do.
The writer also speaks here about coming near because we’ve been cleansed by the pure water of Jesus Christ.
This is the beautiful reality that our sins have been washed away when we came to Jesus by faith confessing and repenting of those sins.
We draw near together with others who have experienced the same thing.
(v 23) “let us hold...”
We are encouraged to hold on firmly to the confession of our hope — the fact that Jesus is the Messiah and we’ve chosen to live under His lordship.
It is so easy to waver in this matter.
It is something that we must actively pursue and not expect to drift into.
When the waves of this life come rolling in, they have a tendency to push us further from the truth of our confession.
We can do this because the One whom we are trusting in is faithful and stable.
It is so encouraging to gather with others who also are making the same confession.
(v 24-25) “let us watch out for one another...”
the term here has the literal meaning of directing all of one’s attention towards something.
This is what doing life as a church is about.
It is not casual rubbing of shoulders with others but to passionately love one another and spur one another on to what God has for them.
There is no way that this can happen outside the context and work of the local church.
There is no way that we can faithfully obey the Word of God here by being separated from the life of the church.
God created us for relationships.
God also wants to use those relationships to share the redemptive message of the gospel with a hopeless world that needs it.
For someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus to say that they do not need the local church is sadly mistaken.
We see just in these seven verses alone that it is vitally important.
The work of the local church is to make disciples and equip them for what God wants to do in his or her life.
God may have plans to move you from your current location to a new one for whatever reasons.
The writer of Hebrews closes this passage by
It is important that we commit to being part of a local church wherever God may send us.
There may be the temptation to think that nowhere is as good as here or your “home church.”
The truth is that the same God is who doing an amazing work here at FBC Fulton is also doing amazing works in local churches around the world.
If God moves you from this location, He will either have a new fellowship for you to join in to help, or He may want you to start one!
Either way, just sitting on the sidelines or coasting along is not an option.
If we are going to be obedient to the One who rescued us from our sin, death, and hell, then we will be actively involved in a local church.
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