If you refuse to faithfully attend services at a local church you have no strong reason to believe you’re a Christian. It doesn’t matter that you were baptized at age 7, that you prayed the “sinner’s prayer” when you were 15, or how good you feel when you read Christian books. If attending with other Christians at Bible based church services is not something you do, then you shouldn’t have assurance of salvation (of course, I’m speaking to those who are physically able to attend).

This is not a legalistic rant. It’s really not a rant at all. There are many who attend church services all the time and are self-deceived, not Christians at all. Our bodies in a physical location do not guarantee any spiritual benefit. And this is not meant to guilt trip people. If you are not faithful to a local church you should feel guilty because you’re disobeying God (Hebrews 10:25). But that’s not the real motivation behind this.

What am I driving at? I want to warn. I want those who are not faithful to a local church to be warned of the terrible future that could await them right now if they died tonight. But I want to warn in a specific way. I want you to see that this is a heart problem.

Here are some questions that will both search our heart and show more of the true problem:

Why do I not want to have Christian fellowship?

Why do I not want to worship God with other Christians?

Why do I not want to be where prayer is offered to God at?

Why do I not want to hear the Bible taught?

If I know it’s God’s will for me to be faithful to a local church, why don’t I want this?

Is God important enough to me for me to rearrange my schedule?

Why do I not desire the things of God?

This is not legalism. It’s a matter of the heart. Why don’t some desire these things? That’s really the question I want to drive at. There are ups and downs in the Christian life. Our desires go up and down as well. A Christian loves the Bible, and yet sometimes he doesn’t feel like reading, but, out of discipline, reads anyway. He wants to pray, but sometimes, again, out of discipline, makes himself pray. And I believe the same is true for being a part of a local church. Christians want to be with their church families, and yet sometimes they don’t feel up to it. Maybe they have physical hurts they battle, or emotional hurts. There are times in the Christian life when our desires are down. And there are times when we just can’t attend for different reasons.

I think all of us would probably agree with that last paragraph. Each of us need love and encouragement at times. But I am not speaking of the ups and downs of the Christian life, something that all of us experience to some degree. I am not speaking about the Christian who would love to attend faithfully but is unable to. I am speaking of a normal, consistent, lack of desire for the things of God. That’s the big thing I want people to think about. Why is it that many do not desire spiritual things?

The more we view matters in light of the heart, the more we will begin to see attending church services in a different light. We begin to see that a lack of attendance at Church services, not as a disease, but as a symptom. It is often a symptom of a far greater issue. It is often, I fear, a symptom of a heart that doesn’t desire the things of God. And when one sees that their heart doesn’t desire the things of God, they see their problem as being much greater than not being in a physical location once a week. Is being faithful to a local church very important? Yes. But it is a fruit of salvation, not what saves us. In other words, one of the signs that I am a Christian is that I will desire to be in relationship with other Christians in a local church.

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