The Edifier

West Allen Church of Christ

The Edifier Index

When The Roll is Called Up Yonder

Robert Turner

Religion in the minds of many people today is based upon their own perception of God. When asked if they are religious, they answer in the affirmative and explain how they believe God relates to them. Belief in God is paramount yet many are divided on the inspiration of the Bible. Religion is important and most accept the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. They believe they are very religious but suggest that church service attendance is not necessary to have a relationship with God. To be religious and have a relationship with God is summed up by their perception of what God expects of them.

They sound a little like the fellow who said, "Too many men who talk of finding God in nature rather than in church go hunting for Him with rod or gun. " A common view of being religious today is the lack of church service attendance. From this has grown the idea that service to God is "at large" and can be accomplished without any of the trappings of the church. Is church service attendance necessary for salvation? The Bible shows the answer to this question.

God required the children of Israel to assemble. Deuteronomy 16:16 describes how "all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses." He ends the verse with the admonition "and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed." The men of Israel could not neglect these appointments and feasts. In Numbers 9 we are told of those who could not keep the Passover because they had been defiled by the dead body of a man. Because of this they were kept from presenting the offering of the Lord at its appointed time. A second Passover was established for these situations and the admonition given in verse 13 "But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of the LORD at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin." Did God think attendance was necessary?

For the Christian, attendance to worship is imperative. The Hebrew writer wrote: "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25). In verses 26-31 of the same chapter the consequences of forsaking the assembly is given - failure to partake of the supper of the Lord. The religious world does not partake of the supper upon the first day of the week as commanded by God so no emphasis is given for attendance. One false doctrine breeds another. The judgment of failing to assemble with the saints is: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (verse 31)

Someone wrote, "There are some whose faith is not strong enough to bring them to church services, but they expect it to take them to heaven." We know that attendance to a gathering will no more make one a faithful Christian than sitting in a hen house will make you a hen. The importance of attendance is worship - not attendance. But God demands His faithful to assemble each Lord's day - to worship. Religion based upon serving God "at large" and not attending worship is a false religion. No one should call himself a Christian who does not believe that assembling is necessary.

Does the sacrifice of Jesus mean so little that we trod him under foot, count His blood as nothing, and insult the Spirit of grace? Failing to assemble with the saints of God is much like taking the body of Jesus off the cross and spitting on it, stomping on it, and cursing God. A religion that will not assemble with God's people will certainly not take you to be with them in Heaven when you die. "If a church member expects to answer when the roll is called up yonder, he had better be present when the roll is called down here."