Why go to church?
(A need for self-examination)
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
It’s been six years since I wrote an article exploring the common answers to “Why go to church?” Of course, this question is directed to all who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The answers I’ve heard are: I go to church because: God commands it; or, I want to worship with the people of God; or, I want to be fed. Another answer offered is, “I go to church because it is makes me feel good and there are programs for my children in which they can socialize with their friends.”
We know that God has made us for worship and that when He makes a Christian, He gives a desire to worship Him.
This question is directed to those who claim to be in Christ, those who are saved so that we all might be aided in self-examination. A review of salvation is necessary. God has revealed His order of salvation.
God Effectually Calls a dead person to life. The effect of His call is Regeneration. All men are born dead in sin. God must raise a sinner from death to life. This is what Jesus meant by being born again, John 3. The result of regeneration is Conversion. God converts a sinner into a saint. In doing so, He gives two gifts. One is the gift of faith and the second is the gift of repentance. Both are exercised by those who receive them. The result of turning from sin and turning to Jesus is Justification. Justification is a legal term. God declares a sinner to be in right standing before Him only by the merit of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God covers the sinner with the perfect life of Jesus Christ and transfers the sinner’s sin to Jesus. This is called double imputation. After justification, God Adopts the sinner into His family. Those changed by God become heirs of His promise in Christ, namely heaven. Following adoption, God begins His work of Sanctification. Literally, as Justification covers the sinner with perfect righteousness, Sanctification is God’s action of making the sinner righteous from the inside out. In Sanctification, the sinner responds to God’s work in him. God promised to make us more and more like Christ. The end result of Sanctification is what is called Glorification. God promised to see us to glory. Every believer will be in glory in heaven. The comforting fact of glorification is that God sees us as already glorified. I would encourage you to read Romans 8:30 and notice that all of the verbs are in the past tense, even glorified.
Returning to the question, a Christian is one whom God has saved. God’s order of salvation revealed in Scripture, detailed above, is: God’s Effectual Call, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification and Glorification. Each step along the way is by God’s action. In other words, a Christian is one who has been saved, is being saved and will be saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
Christians, those made “new creations”, don’t go to church. Christians are the church with Christ as the Head. The visible church, the one we see, is defined as those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and their children. A more accurate question is “why should I attend corporate worship?”
Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. God made everyone for worship. Men and woman will worship someone or something. To worship is to bow down to and serve the object of worship. The object of our worship is God.
The worship manual of the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church, the book of Psalms gives the answer to my question. Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”’ God places in each believer a desire to gather with God’s people to declare His praises and to hear Him speak both in the reading of Scripture and in the Proclamation of Scripture. As a result, believers are edified or if you choose to use this word, fed.
God has commanded worship. A believer understands that corporate worship is a duty that grows into a desire! Has God filled your heart with a desire to worship Him with other believers because of who God is and what He has done? Is worshiping Him your highest priority?