Hebrews 12:22,23 St Paul pays some very high
compliments to God's church, "But ye are come unto mount Sion,
and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to an innumerable company of angels,
Verse 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn,
which are written in heaven…”
I think that is a
wonderful text. It is speaking of the church of God upon this
earth, and it says that their names are written in heaven.
They are the company of God; they are accounted members of the
Church of God right along with the angels.
Now you would think
that with God praising the church so highly, and I want to
tell you that throughout the New Testament, God does do just
that: You would think that people would be anxious to be in
the church; but, strange to say, there are quite a few
individuals that do not belong to any Church.
Excuse: The Church is Not in Harmony with the
They give this reason
or that reason. Most of them excuses. Some say this, "I will
tell you why I do not belong to a church, they teach things
that are not in harmony with the Bible and I just cannot
Well, I agree with
that. If a church teaches some things that are contrary to the
Word of God then I would not want to belong to that church. I
could not unite with a church if they were teaching error.
Why? Because by having my name on their church books, I would
become party to the propagating of that error. I would stand
responsible before God and the world. Therefore I would say
that probably the only good reason for not belonging to a
church would be if the church were teaching some error.
For we are told in
Timothy 3:15 that the church is to be the "pillar and ground
of the truth."
In establishing a
church of God on this earth it was the intention of God to
present truth, not to "change" the truth. That was the very last
thing that Jesus ever had in mind; that the church would ever
presume to change this and to change that.
Truth is eternal and it is unchangeable; no church has the
right to alter one verse or one chapter of the Word of God. If you think the
church does not teach the truth, then I do not blame you for
not wanting to be united with that church whatever it may be.
Excuse: I Can't Afford to Join the Church
says, "Well, I will tell you why I do not unite with the
Church. I am just financially unable. I cannot afford it."
How sad if the church
has come to the place where it has made poor people feel out
of place. We have built such magnificent buildings, such beautiful
institutions, that the poor man feels out of place to come and seek their
But I want to tell you
that in God's sight the rich and the poor are all alike.
And in the church of God we are to stand on exactly the same
God is no
respecter of persons. Jesus was a poor man. He was born poor;
He never had any riches in this world and He died in poverty.
There is one thing
that I like about the tithing plan; it is so very fair. If you have a lot, you
pay a lot of tithe. But if you have nothing then you pay
nothing. That is a very fair plan. You can expect that,
because it was God Himself who instituted the tithing plan.
Yes, if a man is poor
and he feels unwanted by the church then I would not blame him
for not uniting with the church that makes him feel that way.
Excuse: I Am Not Good Enough
Other people say, "I feel that I am not just good enough." Well the question is,
do you know anyone that is good enough?
"...there is none good but one, that is God:" So you see there
really isn’t any who can class themselves as good.
I have found in
reading the Bible that Jesus takes the most interest in the
people who do not think of themselves as good. But the individuals
who think themselves very well off and very good, well I find
that Jesus did not have very much time for.
We have an
illustration of that in the case of two men that went up to
the temple to pray.
There was one man standing over there, well dressed, high in
the social circle, well respected because of his high
position. Whenever he did anything he liked it to be noised
abroad. He just stood there in
the temple, praying so the people could see how good he was. The strange thing is
the Bible says "he was praying to himself." He said, "Lord, I am so glad
that I have been able to do so much; I have done this, and have done that; I am
so glad that I was not born in poverty and ignorance. I am so glad that I
have the light of this truth and am not blind like that fellow
over there that is praying."
Then Jesus tells us of
the other man. He was a poor man. He worked in the tax revenue
department of the government, and he stood there praying. He knew that he had
cheated a lot of people out of their money. He was overwhelmed
with his guilt. And now he seeks repentance. All he said was, "God
be merciful to me a sinner." In other words "Lord, can you forgive
a sinner like me?" And Jesus points to this man and says,
"That man went down to his house justified rather than the
No I really don’t
think that you have a good excuse if you say that you are not
good enough. Jesus says "Why you
are the very one that I came to save."
Excuse: Too Many Hypocrites in the Church
says, "I don’t want to belong to any church because there are
so many hypocrites in the church."
Have you ever heard that one? Why, you
can hear that one all over the world. I used to think that
excuse was an Australian invention. But I have heard that
one in plenty of other places. As a matter of fact to
hear some people talk, you would think that most church
members were hypocrites and that everyone outside the church was
pretty good. They just turn the whole thing the wrong side
You see there are some
individuals that stand outside the church and they look inside
the church window, and they look at one church member and pick
him to pieces. Then they lay him out
and start finding faults in others. They are just like
cannibals, they tear the members apart. They then say, “I am a
whole lot better than that and I am not even in the church.”
There are some bad
ones that get into the church; there is no question of that.
Satan puts them there to back up his accusation.
Why, Jesus said,
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was
cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind.”
Good fish are pulled in with the bad. He said, “You go out
there and you sow wheat but you also gather some tares.” And that is true. But don’t stay outside
the church because there are some hypocrites there. Why friends, there are
hypocrites everywhere, many of them are in parliament, others
are in business. They just infiltrate.
Matthew 7:15 says,
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s
clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
If you look up the
names in the early Christian church and look for “J” you will
notice first and foremost “Jesus”. There is also “James” and
there is “John”. But on the same page is “Judas”.
Yes that name is written right into the first page. If Jesus
was willing to have his name on that church book in that early
church, and have a name like
“Judas” in that same page; then I don’t think that excuse will
hold very much value in the great judgment day.
I wonder if they used
that excuse in Noah’s day. Can you image someone saying “I
won’t go into that old boat church because there are too many
Excuse: I Don't Need to Belong to a Church
There is another
excuse, “I don’t think it is very important, I don’t think
that you or anyone needs to belong to a church.”
Now what is a church?
Well a church is a union. It is an organization for strength.
But that strength is to be used in spreading the gospel.
United we stand, divided we fall. The wolves know that very
well. They attack the sheep that has wandered from the flock.
Yes, it is the scattered sheep that the wolves attack first.
Being a Church Member
There is also a warmth
that comes in being united. Like the fire, take a glowing hot
coal out of the fire and in a very short time it becomes black
dead. But place that coal back into the fire, soon it begins
to glow once again.
It is just like those
who have been in the church and have then wandered away. They
did not mean to, they did not intend to go, but as they
separated themselves from the others without realizing it,
their fire, their zeal began to die down and soon it was gone.
But when they are united again then the fire comes back.
There is another strength that comes from being united with
the church and that is the union of prayer. Jesus assures us that
where a group is united in prayer request “I will hear that
We have an example of
that in the experience of Peter. It is a thrilling story. You find it in Acts
12th chapter. Herod, having beheaded
one disciple saw that it pleased the Jewish leaders and now he thought I
will gain great applause if I have Peter beheaded also. The
together in this fateful hour of danger. Yes they assembled
together and they prayed and they prayed desperately. So God sent down one
of the chiefest of angels. The angel turned the key and the
lock was free.
There is not a prison
house that God cannot open.
Yes I am thankful that Jesus has a key to every prison. God heard the prayers of His
church, united in their appeal to
I tell you it means a
lot to belong to the church. It is a wonderful
thing in time of danger, in time of suffering and sorrow, and
Church Compared to the Body
it says, "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave
him to be the head over all things to the church,
Verse 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth
all in all.”
The church is what?
“His body.” Yes it is the ‘body’
That illustration is
carried a little further in
1 Corinthians 12:18 and onward.
Verse 18 "But now hath God set
the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased
Verse 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
Verse 20 But now are
they many members, yet but one body.
Verse 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need
of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of
Verse 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to
be more feeble, are necessary:"
Then he makes this appeal, Verse 25
"That there should be no schism in the body; but that the
members should have the same care one for another.
Verse 27 …ye are the
body of Christ, and members in particular."
We enter the church
and we are united with the body of Christ. We still have our
individuality; we are individual members, but we are united
with the body of Jesus Christ.
Importance of Baptism
As a matter of fact St
Paul goes on to speak of the importance of baptism in the same
Verse 13 “For by one
Spirit are we all baptized into one body…”
That shows us how
important it is that we be baptized, for by one Spirit we are
all baptized into His body.
That illustration of St Paul is very fitting. Take this chair. It
isn’t much good with one leg missing. The body is certainly
hampered with a leg off. The brain is of no use without the
body and the body useless without the brain. It takes all members
to make up the body and it takes all members to make up the
Struck Off from the Church Books
There are some people
who say, “Oh, just take my name off the church books, I don’t
really care. Do with it as you like.” I want to tell you
that is the worst thing that can happen to any man or any
You would think it is a terrible thing to have your arm cut
off. But it is not anywhere as bad as having your name taken
off the church books. I would rather die in Jesus Christ in
premature death than to live on and be dropped from the church
says, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go
and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall
hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Verse 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one
or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every
word may be established.
Verse 17 And if he
shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he
neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen
man and a publican.”
Jesus warns of what an
important thing it is to be connected with the church and how
terrible thing it is to be dropped.
He says "Now don’t
broadcast this matter, tell the man privately, don’t feel that
you have to call a board meeting. Isolate the matter,
don’t treat the matter as a church scandal. But if you can’t do
any good, the individual just won’t listen, then count him as
I want to tell you that God takes notice of the records of the
Verse 18 says, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever
ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and
whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
So you can see the
worst thing that could possibly happen to a man is have his
name off the church books.
I must be united to
the body. I dare not be cut off from the body - the church; for
it is fatal.
Back a Sorrowful Sinner
But right here there
is something that I am thankful for. An individual might be
cut off by the church, he might be dropped because of his past
waywardness; but I am so glad that God also throws the door
wide open to welcome the sinner back if he returns in sincere
repentance. I never cease to be
thankful for that.
Romans 11:23 describes a branch that has been cut off, been
dropped from the church, "And they also, if they abide not
still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to
graff them in again.”
That is a wonderful
text. God says that He will graft that man in once again to
the body – the church.
The backslider is the one sheep lost from
the fold. He was in the fold but he left fold. Now he is back
I wish to God that
every member in the church would take the same attitude. The trouble is that
when we hear of a sheep having strayed from the fold, we often
take a clod of dirt and throw them at the straying sheep; thus
driving them further and further away. We ought to love them
right back into the fold.
I am glad that Jesus
loved the backsliders and that He is able to graft them in
Give God Our Youth?
I am reminded of this
other illustration of St Paul’s in
Ephesians 5:25 where it
says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved
the church, and gave himself for it;”
Then he goes on to
speak of the union between the husband and the wife. That love
that exists between the husband and the wife is a symbol of
the love between Christ and the church.
John meets Ruth. They
are greatly attracted to one another. He learns to love her.
"Ruth will you marry me?" "Oh, John, I am still young. I will
be only young once. I want to have a good time. I am not ready
to settle down yet.
Maybe sometime later." And so she goes her
flippant way. The years pass by and again they meet. "Ruth, will you marry
me now? I still love you. I want you as my own." "Oh, John, I can’t
now. I have thought about it sometimes. I have not forgotten
you, but you see I am just getting a career started and I
haven’t the time to go into these things. Years pass by. Again
they meet again. Now an old lady, bent, crippled, "Ruth, will
you marry me." What a pity she did not give him her youth and
I read the other day of the marriage of
a couple who were nearly 80 years old. Childhood sweethearts
getting married so they could escort each other to the
Why not give God our youth, God loves His church. It is a wonderful group
to belong to. We should love the church. St Paul had a
tremendous love for the church. The church is the
light of God in this world.
Excuse: I Don't Need the Church
Some people say we
don’t need the church. I want to tell you
that we are living in a very dark and awful hour, just as the
Isaiah 60:2 says,
“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross
darkness the people…”
But the Bible says
that even in the hour of this awful darkness a light is to
shine forth to the world.
It is an awful thing to be in darkness. I wish this was
nighttime. Do you know what I would do? I would give out candles
and then I would have the lights put out then one by one have the candies lit. There
would soon be lights all over the room. I would like to do
this. (Assume) I have a candle here. I light it then I snuff it out. If this was night I
would be in darkness. Were it not for the church I would be in
May the Lord help me
that my light will never go out, and that the LORD may help me
to share that light, that it may go to the whole earth.