A young lady visited our church recently on the recommendation of her former Pastor. She had lived in another city in Delaware and, when her Pastor learned that she was planning to move to Milford, he recommended First Baptist Church. It was my privilege to visit with her and tell her about our church this week.
After I left there, I asked myself this question: Why should people attend our church? Is there anything special about us?
Our text this morning a Psalm that might be called a “Call to Worship”. Think about this church for a moment as I read the One Hundredth Psalm.
“1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
I hope that’s how you came to church today, with thanksgiving in your heart and praise on your lips. So, I’m glad I’m here today, but I’d like to explain Why You Should Attend Our Church.
God says that you should attend church.
The “church” was something new after Jesus Christ arose from the dead. He had said during His ministry that He would establish His church.
Matthew 16:18 “18…I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Interestingly, a church is NOT a building. While, I was saddened (and maybe maddened) when I learned on Wednesday that three churches in our area had been set on fire, I want you to remember that the “church” is NOT the building; it is the people. In fact, the definition of the word translated “church” in our Bibles is “a called out assembly”. A church is an assembly of believers. So, when someone burns a church building, the building might be destroyed but the church is not! If our building would burn down, we’d still have a church; we’d just have to find a different place to meet!
But, God’s plan for today is that we meet together to worship and praise Him as local churches. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he taught them about the Lord’s Supper. This ordinance was to be observed, according to 1 Corinthians 11:18 “18…when ye come together in the church…” In the Book of Ephesians, we read in chapter 5, that “23…Christ is the head of the church:” In fact, a couple of verses later, we read that “25…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” When Paul, the Missionary, went to new places, his apparent goal was to win people to Jesus Christ and then start a church! In fact, after he had given a report of this missionary work to the people in the church at Antioch, which was his “sending church”, he took Silas and went back to these places, according to Acts 15:41, “…confirming the churches.” Now, look with me, please, to Hebrews 10. We see here a challenge to Christians concerning faithfulness and helping each other.
“23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”
This is an important principle for Christians; we need to “consider one another” and we need “to provoke” each other unto love and good works. And, here is one way we can do that;
“25 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.”
In fact, as “the day of the Lord” approaches, we are to be even more diligent in “assembling” together. Attending church is important. In fact, Jesus said,
Matthew 18:20, “20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
So, the first reason I believe that you should attend our church is because God says you should attend church! But, someone is thinking, “Okay, but why THIS church?”
You will hear the Gospel preached.
Look with me, please, to a couple of Scripture passages. In Romans 1:15-16, We learn about the importance of the gospel. The first Missionary, Paul, said this; (he was writing to the Romans)
“15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
It is through the preaching of the gospel that people are saved! It is so important that, before Jesus returned to Heaven after His resurrection, He gave us this command, found in Mark 16:15;
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
The gospel is to be preached and, in our church, you will hear the gospel preached. In fact, let’s look at the biblical definition of the gospel. It’s found in 1 Corinthians 15.
“1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;”
Let me explain something to you. The Bible teaches that we are all sinners. Romans 3:23
“23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”
None of us had ever been good enough to please God. Our sin separates us from Him. Sadly, because God is just, He must punish sin. Listen to this, from Romans 6:23;
“23 For the wages of sin is death;”
That is speaking about eternal death and eternal separation from God in Hell. God’s justice demands that all sin be punished; and that’s what we all deserve because we are sinners. Now, here’s where the teaching of the gospel makes sense. We just read from 1 Corinthians 15:3, that “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture…” Jesus Christ has taken the punishment we deserved. What a wonderful gospel! HE loves us and wants to forgive our sins! But, that’s not the end. Romans 6:23 told us that “…the wages of sin is death;” The last part of the verse says, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The first question should be, “How can this be?
We just learned that Jesus Christ DIED for our sins. How can we have eternal life through Him if He is dead?” That’s a good question! BUT, He is NOT dead! Let’s go back to the definition of the gospel, in 1 Corinthians 15. “3…Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…” This is how we can have “…eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We must trust in His sacrifice in our place. We must accept this wonderful offer He makes to forgive us if we will admit our need and accept His payment. This takes place when we truly believe on Him and accept Him as Savior.
You can be Saved!
At the end of every message, we offer an Invitation to those we are not saved. We plan to do it this morning! We invite those who have never been saved to accept the gift of salvation and be saved. In fact, we offer to provide a counselor who can show you what the Bible says about being saved. Being saved involves believing in your heart the good news of the gospel. Listen to this, from Romans 10:8-9:
“8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
There was a family who came here years ago because they had a child – about 10 or 11 years old – who wanted to be saved. He had talked to people at the church they attended but they said he was too young and never gave him that opportunity. They had heard about this church and the boy came and was saved here at First Baptist Church.
In our AWANA Clubs on Wednesday evenings, the gospel is presented and children are saved. In our Christian School, the gospel is presented and children and young people are saved. At our Youth Activities, the gospel is presented and young people are saved. AND, in our services, the gospel is presented and people are saved.
A young lady came forward during our Invitation who had not been in church much even though she was an adult. She had heard the message and she was saved.
You can find God’s Will for Your Life!
I believe that God reveals His will in our lives using several things. First, He uses the Word of God! If you are in a church that is mostly preaching a “feel-good” message, you are probably NOT going to find God’s will for your life. His will is NOT always for us to feel good. Sometimes He allows us to walk through the storms and through the valleys so He can teach us and comfort us and show us His will.
A lady came to my office this week with a heavy burden on her heart. She was saved here and has become very faithful in church. After she became a member, she began to seek a place in which she could serve the Lord. You’d think that everything would go well for her as she seeks God’s will. Instead, she began to go through some of the hardest things she has ever faced in her life! She has remained faithful to the Lord and He has given her strength through the trials. When she came to me, she said, “As I read the daily devotionals, I began to be burdened to help others. A recent message confirmed this in my heart. I don’t think that God allowed me to go through these trials for nothing. I think He was teaching me and preparing me for some kind of ministry to help other people.” She has the right perspective! We are now praying about ways she can use her experiences and her understanding about relying on the Lord to help others. In fact, I reminded her of the Scripture in 2 Corinthians 1 that tells us that God often comforts us so that we’ll be able to comfort and help others.
“3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
I think of Karen Marvin, who was a wonderful, gifted school teacher in our school. She was a missionary who had returned to the States seeking God’s perfect will. After she had taught here for a while, she came to me feeling that God was leading her back to the Mission Field.
You can help us Carry Out the Great Commission.
Jesus’ purpose in coming to the earth was to shed His blood as He died on the cross to be the perfect Sacrifice for our sins. After He died, He arose and claimed victory over death! Before He returned to Heaven, however, He left us a job to do. We call it The Great Commission. It is found several places in the New Testament, but I want to read it to you from Matthew 28:19-20.
“19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,” (Literally, this means “to make disciples” or get people saved.) baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”
The job of every Christian is to “make disciples”. Every one of us has a responsibility to reach out and witness to others. BUT, we can’t fulfill the Great Commission by ourselves. Part of the Great Commission is to get people baptized. Baptism is an ordinance of the church and is to be administered by the local churches. Baptism, you see, not only identifies you with Christ and His death, baptism also identifies you with a local church! If you will study the story of the church that Jesus started in Jerusalem (this is found in Acts 1-5), you will see that everyone who claimed to be saved, or to be a believer, followed the Lord in baptism AFTER he or she was saved. THAT IS STILL GOD’S PLAN.
Oh what a precious promise,
Oh what a gift of love;
The waiting now is over and
The time has finally come.
For the God who made this world
To roll back the curtain
And unveil His passion for the heart of man.
Oh what a precious promise,
Lying in a manger in Bethlehem.
In summary, this may be one of the strangest messages I have ever preached. I feel like I have been trying to “sell” you on our church. The fact is that God has made me His “under-shepherd” over this church. So, since God has made me His “Under-shepherd” of this flock of His sheep, I want to do my best to lead you in the right ways. BUT, I can only lead those who are HERE!