A blog informed me recently that “as Believers, God expects more from us than just going to church on Sunday morning.” Instantly I thought, “Who says God expects us to go to church on Sunday morning?”
After all, there’s no passage in the Bible that tells us, “go to church every Sunday”.
And actually, dear Reader, there is none.
Those who know the Bible well enough will point out that in Acts 20.7, it mentions that the disciples in Troas came together on the first day of the week to “break bread” and listen to Paul preach before he left the region. But it doesn’t say they met every “first day” — but that they did on this “first day” when Paul was giving his last sermon in person to them. Maybe they met every week. Maybe not. This verse doesn’t settle that issue.
Others might point to 1Cor 16.2 which records Paul’s admonition that “on the first day of the week” the Corinthian “saints” were to “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.” But this doesn’t make any reference to “church” since the request is for them to lay aside these funds in their homes until Paul came again to collect them. No reference to Sunday church at all.
You might think I’m making an argument against “Sunday church”, possibly trying to convince you to do your services on Saturday or maybe even not at all. All I can say is, “Certainly not!”
But what I am saying is that what typically happens in churches on Sunday morning (or Saturday, for that matter) is not commanded of us anywhere in the Bible — New Testament or Old. What we’re doing today is not only not what they did back then, we’re not even doing today what was commanded then.
Again, some will point to Heb 10.25 which says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
For those who defend traditional church-going on Sunday or Saturday morning, if they use this verse they fall into serious difficulty. In a word, this verse doesn’t describe one of today’s typical church service (and that includes high church, low church, Greek church, Roman church, Protestant church or even Mu-church!)
Since this verse is a fragment of a sentence that started two verses earlier, we need to look at the whole paragraph in order to understand it:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the Curtain, that is, His Body, and since we have a great priest over the House of God,
- let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
- let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And
- let us look intently at one another, to spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
- let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
In these verses, we’re told to do four things in reference to our Worship:
(1) draw near to God
(2) hold unswervingly to our confidence in God
(3) look intently at one another to spur one another onwards in love and good deeds, and
(4) not give up meeting together.
“Meeting together” is clarified by the prior verses. What we’re supposed to “forsake not” is not the familiar and traditional religious assemblies we’re used to on the weekend, but gatherings in which — through our confidence in God — we boldly come into the Presence of God (in the Holy of Holies), and into the presence of one another, examining one another intently to provoke each other onward spiritually.
Does this accurately describe your regular Sunday (Saturday) assemblies? Notice that in this “definition” here in Hebrews, it says nothing about sermons or teachings, about pastors and pulpits and religious programs (or even shoes and ships and sealing-wax!) All it describes is what each and every person in an assembly is to do, within their spiritual community. And it doesn’t even say that these “gatherings” are on the weekend! What is described can in fact be accomplished when two or three are sitting down for coffee at Starbucks. (“Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there will I be in the midst of them.”)
Again, there’s no passage in the Bible that tells us, “go to church every Sunday”. There’s no passage that says Christians can’t go to church every Sunday if they like. Or every Saturday. Or Thursday, Tuesday, Monday or whatever. After all — what day of the week are we not able to come into the Presence of God to enjoy Him, and into the presence of our Brethren to strengthen them?
Maybe Christians would make a better showing in our nation and world if the normative “church experience” were trimmed back for awhile to what the Bible actually does say about those “gatherings” that we’re not supposed to forsake. And consider this: If your regular “worship” or “church” meeting is not helping you fulfill these four purposes, then you are amongst those who have forsaken the gathering yourselves together.
After all — if what you do or experience in your regular weekly services is not what Hebrews tells us to hold onto… then you have forsaken these four, biblical characteristics.
So think about this for a bit and consider changing something in your spiritual life: If what you’re practicing every weekend in your religious services is not what Hebrews tell you to be doing, how about taking a sabbatical from those religious activities for awhile, see if you can find some Believers in Christ who also want to fulfill the instruction given to us for our “gatherings” (our koinonia). And finally…
… stop forsaking the gathering yourselves together as the habit of some are!