Sunset Park Community Church
Lesson 9 - Church Attendance
One of the blessings as well as an important responsibility for the Christian is the practice of ASSEMBLING regularly with other Christians
We have an example of Christians assembling in Acts 20:7
We have an explicit command not to forsake our assembling together - Hebrews 10:25
The PURPOSE of our assembling is THREE-FOLD:
a. To express praise and devotion to God and Christ
b. To exhort and encourage our brethren to greater service - Hebrews 10:24-25
c. To receive such encouragement ourselves
1. THE ACTIVITIES OF OUR ASSEMBLIES
1. We have several examples of group prayer in the early church - Acts 4:23-24 - "On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them."
2. The value of such prayer is implied in James 5:16 - "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (if such is true concerning the prayer of ONE righteous man, how much more the prayers of MANY righteous!)
3. The value of all prayer is seen further in Philippians 4:6-7 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Thus prayer not only blesses (praises) God but also blesses (benefits) those who pray!
4. HINT: To get the most out of public prayers, make them your own!
a. In your heart, tell the Lord you agree with what is being said by the one leading the prayer
b. Don't hesitate to offer a hearty "AMEN" if you agree
1. Commands to sing can be found in Ephesians 5:19 - "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,"
2. Notice where the emphasis lies:
a. On praising God
b. On teaching one another
c. On making melody "in your hearts"
3. So the emphasis is not on how we sound, but on what we say and how we feel.
a. Therefore, pay more attention to the words rather than the melody.
b. Concentrate on engaging the mind and heart, and not just the mouth.
4. HINT: To get more out singing in public, sing often in private! - James 5:13
C. THE WORD OF GOD
1. Teaching or preaching of the Word of God was part of public worship in the early church - Acts 20:7 "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight."
2. For it is by the Word of God that we can grow spiritually - 1 Peter 2:2 - "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,"
3. How we listen to the proclamation of God's Word is an indication of our devotion to God
a. We should be quick to hear what God's Word has to say - James 1:18-19 - He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
b. It is important to receive God's Word with a proper attitude of meekness and willingness to receive it - Mark 4:23-25 -"If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." "Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
4. HINT: As with singing, the more we study the Word in private, the more we get out of it in the public assemblies!
D. THE LORD'S SUPPER
1. This is also called:
a. The "breaking of bread" - Acts 2:42; 20:7
b. "Communion" - 1 Corinthians 10:16
2. A memorial feast instituted by Jesus Himself - 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
a. In it we remember:
1) The sinless body offered on the cross in our place
2) The blood shed to provide forgiveness for our sins
b. Done faithfully, we proclaim our faith in the efficacy of the Lord's death
3. It should be done with all seriousness and appropriateness - 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
a. In a manner worthy of the One we are remembering
b. A time also to reflect upon our relationship with Him who died for us
4. Done properly...
a. It honors Jesus ("This do, in remembrance of Me")
b. It renews us to greater faithfulness - 1 Corinthians 11:28-32
c. It strengthens our oneness in the body of Christ - 1 Corinthians 10:17
d. We continually share in the "body and blood of the Lord" - 1 Corinthians 10:16
1) Not literally
2) Perhaps referring to a continual communion with the benefits of that sacrifice (e.g., forgiveness)
5. HINT: Reading passages like Isaiah 53, Psalms 22, and the Gospel records of Christ's suffering and death while partaking of the Supper can help keep our minds focused on what we are doing
E. THE COLLECTION
1. The early church is noteworthy for its love for one another - Acts 2:44,45; 4:32-35
2. Such love went beyond those in the local congregation - Acts 11:27-30
3. In time, a systematic manner for providing for needy Christians was instituted - 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 - "Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made."
4. The primary purpose of the collection, then, was to provide for needy Christians
a. Locally and abroad
b. Including those who devote their lives to preaching the gospel -
2 Corinthians 11:8,9; Philippians 4:10-18
5. How much should one give? The New Testament does not set a percentage (like the "tithe", or a tenth, found in the Old Testament), but rather instructs us to give according to the following principles:
a. "As he may prosper" - 1 Corinthians 16:2
b. Whatever is given with "a willing mind" - 2 Corinthians 8:12
c. "According to what one has" (here a percentage seems to be what is requested so perhaps in some way the tithe is in the New Testament) - 2 Corinthians 8:12-13
d. "As he purposes (plans) in his heart" - 2 Corinthians 9:7
e. Whatever one can give "cheerfully", not "grudgingly" or "of necessity" - 2 Corinthians 9:7
f. Keeping in mind the principle of "sowing and reaping" - 2 Corinthians 9:6,8
6. Even this activity fulfills the three-fold purpose mentioned at the beginning of our lesson:
a. We are blessed in giving - Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 9:11
b. Brethren's needs are met - 2 Corinthians 9:12a
c. God is glorified - 2 Corinthians 9:12-15
7. HINT: to help motivate us in giving, remember the examples of the churches in Macedonia and of the Lord Himself - 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
2. HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF OUR ASSEMBLIES?
A. KEEP IN MIND WHO IS PRESENT...
1. Our brothers and sisters in Christ
a. People like you, who appreciate the presence and encouragement of other Christians
b. So take the time to visit with them before and after the assembly
1) Don't get into the habit of always coming in at the last minute
2) Don't be in such a rush to leave after the service is ended
2. Frequently visitors who naturally draw conclusions about the congregation during their visit:
1) Will they conclude we are really disciples of Jesus - cf. John 13:35
2) Will they say in their hearts "God is truly among you" - cf. 1 Corinthians 14:25
b. So take the time to welcome them and visit with them - Hebrews 13:2 - Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
3. And especially our Lord
a. As He promised in Matthew 18:20 - For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
b. Do we act as we would if He were bodily present?
B. "YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT"
1. Preparation beforehand makes a big difference
a. Such as praying and meditating upon what you are going to do
b. Planning what you can do to make the assembly more edifying (such as welcoming and visiting)
c. In other words, come to serve, not to be served (although you will blessed in return by doing it this way)
2. The more you come, the more interest you show, the more (and faster) you will grow!
a. This is true in any endeavor (e.g., physical exercise, hobbies)
b. "How often do I have to come?" is an indication of grave spiritual immaturity!
1) It displays a lack of true love for Christ and His brethren
2) It shows that one is selfishly concerned with how little they can do to save themselves
3) How does the love of God abide in such a person - cf. 1 John 3:16-19
1. Neglecting the assemblies is detrimental to our spiritual growth as disciples of Christ
2. Do we express our love for God, our brethren, even our own selves as we should?
4. One of the greatest spiritual blessings we enjoy in Christ in this life is the fellowship we share in our public assemblies. Let's all do our part to fully utilize that blessing!
SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING :
1. Does one attend the assemblies to be entertained, or to serve?
2. Do you attend every assembly of the congregation where you are?
3. If not, are you praying to God to help you make it possible for you to do so?
4. What can you do before the assemblies to get more out of them?
This Lesson taken from the Executable Outline software program.