We began a series several weeks ago, where I asked the question: Is what we believe based on tradition & religion, or on the Word of God? I then gave a true & false test with many statements.
The correct answer to all of them is - False. I have been giving scriptural exegesis to them.
Today, we will talk about two more of them. “You don’t have to go to church, as long as you love God”. How many people have you heard make that statement? I am guessing, many. I know that I have. This could not be farther from the truth. Let's look at our final authority, The Word of God, not someone's misguided opinion. Hebrews 10:25 says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." KJV. This lets us know that some would be eventually decide to no longer meet together for worship. We are admonished by The Holy Spirit, the author of our Bible, to make sure that we do not quit meeting together, especially as we get closer to His coming. You & I are closer to it then anyone has ever been. We are in the last of the last days.
People seem to have many excuses for no longer being faithful to the house of God. “We're too busy.” Then you are, TOO BUSY!! God must be first. He desires the first of our time, worship, family, and finances, You cannot say that you love someone but are too busy to ever go see them at their house. When you love someone, you love what is important to him or her. The church is the bride of Christ. If you love Him, you better love His bride. The church is also the body of Christ. You can't love the head and want nothing to do with the body. They are attached.
Ephesians 4:11-13 says, “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” God has set teachers, pastors, and the other five-fold ministry offices in His church. Therefore, He planned on His people being discipled and matured through them. When you are not part of a body, you have no structure of authority, no pastor to help teach and guide you, and no church body to minister to your needs. You must be part of a good, Bible-believing church. If you are not, you are in rebellion to God and His Word.
Some would say, “but, there are no good churches where we live.” First of all, there is no perfect church. If there were, it would cease from being perfect the moment you walk in. We have to wait for heaven for perfection. However, I will agree that once you have tasted of the presence of God, been a part of a church that preaches the uncompromising Word of God and allows The Holy Spirit to move, uninterrupted, you cannot settle for anything else. If I lived in a place without what I have known, I would either have to move to be a part of a good church, or start one, which is precisely what I did. A good church is more necessary than having a place to buy food. Our spiritual condition needs to be given first priority in out lives.
The next statement that I would like to talk about is this: “It’s not important what you give, but the thought that counts”. What an absurd statement! On your anniversary, when you give your spouse his card or gift, and he just looks at you blankly, with nothing in return, how do you feel? Would you possibly say, “do you have anything for me?” What if his reply was, “I thought about you once today.” Where there is much thought or love, there is giving. The Bible does not say that God so loved the world that He thought about us. It says that He gave His only! Where there is much thought, there is giving. When you go to a grocery store and arrive at the check-out, do they ask you for money or what you think about them? I cannot imagine how far I would get by saying, “oh, come on, I had a nice thought about you today.” Can you imagine saying that to your banker in lieu of giving them your mortgage payment, or even to your favorite physician for the care he has given you. “Hey doc, I don’t plan on giving you anything, but I had a nice thought about you today and it is the thought that counts.”
Luke 6:38 says, “Give, (not, have a good thought about) and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” When Mary broke open the alabaster box, containing a full year’s wages, and lavished it upon Jesus, she didn’t just have a nice thought about Him. It cost her dearly to love the way she did. When David was offered free animals to sacrifice to His God, he was insulted. He basically said, I can’t give anything to God that did not cost me anything. I imagine he had lots of good thoughts about God. We see that by his songs of worship to Him. Yet, that was not enough. Where there is great love, there is great, sacrificial giving. That does not mean giving the left-overs that do not cost. It means that because I love deeply, I dig down and give deeply. He deserves my best. Again, the latter part of verse 38 says, For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again”. I don’t want God’s left-overs and I don’t give Him mine. 2 Cor. 9: 6-7 say, “6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” It says nothing about thoughts but about how we give. It does not say think bountifully, but give, bountifully. It reminds us that we are to do it cheerfully, for it is something God loves. I want to do what God loves and delights in, not that which costs me nothing. How about you?