Forsaking Worship

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Humbled_Calvinist

Inactive User
Here is something I have wondered about concerning those who don't go to church because they can't find one reformed "enough" to their personal liking. I had always thought that if you could find a church were there were true believers of like minded faith, that it should be alright to worship with them provided that they are preaching the word of Truth rightly.
I have know of some who have quit church altogether simply because they could not find a church close to home to their liking even thought there was a reformed church close by that they could worship at until they moved to one close by or one was started.
If God in His Word tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together,(Heb 10:25) than is it not also a sin to refuse to fellowship with other true believers of like faith simply because they may not be as reformed or hold to the exact same ideas about worship as you may hold to? Not speaking of Arminians and what they believe, mostly concerned about those in the reformed camp.
When a person gets to the point where he thinks he is so reformed that he can't worship God with other believers, it makes me question his love to Christ who gave Himself for us all.


Just a thought.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
I'm in full agreement with you Tom. I believe Hebrews 10:24 is telling us that even attending and fellowshipping in a toxic church is better than not fellowshipping at all.

In fact, if we have been blessed with the light that reveals the true Gospel and an understanding of the depth of justification we have an obligation to teach (gently and with great patience) those who still stumble in their knowledge. If we are unable to help someone to see the sovereignty of God in salvation and the doctrines of grace then we are "salt that has lost it's savor".

Obviously, if we have children then special consideration must be taken to protect them from bad teaching and show them how to measure all things against the Word.
 

Humbled_Calvinist

Inactive User
Hi Bob, :)

yeah, it is ironic how some who claim to love God so much and are really deep into being reformed to the core can disassociate themselves with other believers and at the same time claim to walk in fellowship with God.
I just don't get it and maybe I never will.



peace.




Tom
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
One of the saddest things about the splintering of Presbyterian, Reformed churches in my experience has been to see very Reformed folks turn to "home churching" as their solution to the imperfections of churches around them. It is true that many denominations carry serious baggage but, as has been noted, Hebrews 10:24 teaches us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. The walls of Zion may be crumbling, but the Church of God is very precious and ought not to be despised. Home churching is no substitute for the visible Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, as well as the God-ordained means of salvation and sanctification.
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Amen to all the above comments. Who knows what God may do through a faithful visiting family? We often forget the joy of enduring differences to see real change, in ourselves and in others.
 

Abd_Yesua_alMasih

Puritan Board Junior
:amen: I believe there can be a danger when a family or small group isolates itself fro other believers - even if they disagree with them on some issues. The small group and get silly ideas and breed bad theology and no one else is there to point it out the same way as in a big church... At least in a church you dont agree with fully you have a chance to spread the truth and 'get some people on your side' (cant think of a better way to say it right now)
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
More then spreading the truth and getting some people on your side the institutional Church provides balance. You have the whole council of God's Word set before you in the institutional Church. If you seperate their is a tendancy to be preoccuppied with the issue that caused the seperation rather then the totality of the message of Scripture.
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Good posts!

A home "church" that is just a family, or group of families, playing church because they cannot bear to assemble with other believers in a legitimate local church are also completely void of accountability and authority! The church provides real accountability and has real authority and to stay home for "church" violates Heb 10:24-25 and Heb 13:7, 17, just to name a few!

This especially seems to be a scourge among those who confuse realms of authority and think that the father, as head of the home, is free to pull his family out from under the authority of the church when he thinks he knows best! We must not ever pit the family against the church since ultimately God is the one who ordains and appoints ALL authority (Rom 13:1). To resist any God given authority for any reason other than a demand that would cause you to violate the Scriptures (Acts 4:18-20; 5:28-29) is to rebel against God (Rom 13:2).

Think about it. In the realm of family authority the husband is the head and the parents are over the children, but Christ is the ultimate authority in the family (1 Cor 11:3). In the realm of the government, Christ is also the final authority (Rom 13:1). In the realm of the church, Christ is the head (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18). And in the realm of the workplace, we work as unto God (Col 3:23-24).

Most of these families or individuals that think that they can hold church without proper structure, function, officers, etc, are really just living out an act of rebellion in the name of God. And God says that to love Him is to obey Him (1 John 2:3-6; 5:1-3). Rebellion then is the opposite of love for God. It is indeed to hate God and love self, elevating self above the requirements and design of God for the family and the church. It is idolatry!

Phillip
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm very happy to read these comments. I'm convinced that one of the core problems of modern day evangelicalism is that it is too "low church". If I could quote something Keith (openairboy) said in another thread:

[quote:34c6b1ffa1]When "church" is simply me singing some songs and listening to some man teach (and maybe meeting for fellowship), than it simply isn't necessary, because I can find both of these through my radio, t.v. or local IHOP. However, when the liturgy is central, especially the Lord's Supper, than participation in Kingdom via liturgy is essential.[/quote:34c6b1ffa1]

Very well said, I think.

But another point that is even more relevant to Reformed churches in particular is that though our confessions (echoing the teaching of Scripture) speak of the church as having real authority in the teaching and preaching of the Word, many Reformed folks have a bad habit of living as though they are an island to themselves. The Reformed tradition is blessed in that usually both the leaders and much of the congregation are knowledgeable of the Scriptures, but this is also a curse in many ways. The reason there are so many tiny Reformed churches is because there is always some person that is never happy in any church that he goes to because he always finds something that he disagrees with. So what does he do? He goes and starts his own church that is REALLY Reformed. Then somebody in that church decides that the church isn't Reformed enough, so he starts his own church. And the cycle goes on endlessly.

But the fact is, this kind of thing makes man autonomous rather than Scripture. Like it or not, we are all fallible in our capabilities and none of us are studying Scripture in a vacuum. We are studying Scripture in the context of the fellowship of the covenant community, and we are all bound to one another. I really believe that many of the reasons people leave churches today are silly, sometimes even the theological reasons. For example, I've known people who have left churches because this church didn't hold the same view of the Sabbath as they did. The same with paedocommunion, exclusive psalmody, and other issues. But if you feel that the fact that you disagree with your church on something gives you the right to leave, you are setting yourself up as a the authoritative interpreter of the Scriptures. We feel like because Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the church door and said "here I stand", we are justified in leaving the church and starting own. But even Luther seperated from the church because he was booted out, not because he said, "the heck with you guys, I'm gettin outta here and doing it Jesus' way."

The thing that seems to never cross our minds is, maybe we should honor what our church teaches while attempting to reform the church from within. That's why I say concerning the issue of paedocommunion, if I am ordained in the PCA, I will follow the PCA stance on the issue. In a liturgical setting, I'm not going to fight the elders distributing the elements to give them to my children that have not yet stood before the session. And in a less liturgical setting, I'm not going to secretly try to snatch some extra bread and wine to give my children as the plates go by while the elders aren't looking. I will make my children wait until they have been examined, and thus honor what my church teaches concerning the sacrament. But at the same time, I will do whatever I can to encourage more discussion and study within the denomination in hopes that maybe a change will eventually be made. If the denomination's stance remains the same, then oh well. I guess I'll be an anti-paedocommunionist.

Now before anybody responds, I know it's not an easy issue. I know our personal understand of Scripture plays an important role in our worship and in our choice of church attendance. I'm not downplaying that, and I'm not trying to set up church overagainst existential understandings of Scripture because both are fallible. Only Scripture is infallible. The main thing I'm trying to suggest is that this idea of "I disagree with this, so I'm gettin' outta dodge" is not a proper understanding of the relationship between personal interpretation and church interpretation. I'm not claiming to have a complete grasp of this issue either, but I'm pretty certain that this attitude is contrary to Scripture (here I go promoting my personal understanding).

:think:
 

alwaysreforming

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ok, Guys, tell me if this is bad...

I moved from an area with a wonderful church (in fact, its Luvr's church, St. Paul's Presb.) to an area previously unknown to me so I had to start visiting some churches to "get a feel for what's out there." In my visits I'd stay at some churches one week and some for several weeks, but I still haven't "landed" on my church "home."

I found a couple wonderful churches, but they were too far away to really be actively involved in the life of the church besides the Sunday am worship. I really wanted to join a church family to have the fellowship, accountability, and to be able to serve, but so far have not found a church where I'd want to stay. So, in this interim, I've just been church-hopping, trying to see the different ways different churches do things, kind of like getting a pulse on contemporary American evangelicalism.

Now here's the question: because I hope to "return to my former love" by moving back to my hometown within the next 3-5 months, would it be wrong to continue to "church-hop" and more or less "experiment" with my worship? For some reason, it feels wrong, because I'm not "giving" to any particular body, nor being held accountable. But on the other hand, I feel that its a valuable experience because its helping me to understand what kind of preaching and worship other people are undergoing, and how lacking true Christ-centered preaching really is. (And if I'm not finding true Christ-centered preaching, should I really not continue to look?)

What sayest y'all?
 

Authorised

Puritan Board Freshman
[quote:d420576af6]I believe Hebrews 10:24 is telling us that even attending and fellowshipping in a toxic church is better than not fellowshipping at all. [/quote:d420576af6]

Just how toxic?



Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
And having an high priest over the house of God;
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 10:19-29


Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Romans 16:17

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

2 John 9-11
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
[quote:93a3f033f0="alwaysreforming"]Ok, Guys, tell me if this is bad...

I moved from an area with a wonderful church (in fact, its Luvr's church, St. Paul's Presb.) to an area previously unknown to me so I had to start visiting some churches to "get a feel for what's out there." In my visits I'd stay at some churches one week and some for several weeks, but I still haven't "landed" on my church "home."

I found a couple wonderful churches, but they were too far away to really be actively involved in the life of the church besides the Sunday am worship. I really wanted to join a church family to have the fellowship, accountability, and to be able to serve, but so far have not found a church where I'd want to stay. So, in this interim, I've just been church-hopping, trying to see the different ways different churches do things, kind of like getting a pulse on contemporary American evangelicalism.

Now here's the question: because I hope to "return to my former love" by moving back to my hometown within the next 3-5 months, would it be wrong to continue to "church-hop" and more or less "experiment" with my worship? For some reason, it feels wrong, because I'm not "giving" to any particular body, nor being held accountable. But on the other hand, I feel that its a valuable experience because its helping me to understand what kind of preaching and worship other people are undergoing, and how lacking true Christ-centered preaching really is. (And if I'm not finding true Christ-centered preaching, should I really not continue to look?)

What sayest y'all?[/quote:93a3f033f0]

Brother Christopher,

I certainly do understand your situation, having felt alone in the wilderness at times (most particularly in Texas). As we have discussed previously, there are a few churches in the Northern Virginia area that I would personally recommend visiting (including my own) as you evaluate the options before you. But to address your question more specifically, I wonder if you continue to maintain membership in your previous church? If so, does your session have an active oversight of your situation currently, and if so, what do they say? I think you understand the need for accountability and oversight, which is good. If you only plan to be in the area for another few months, however, I probably would not advise you to seek membership in a Virginia church. Church membership is not a hasty thing to enter into. Although it is critical in the life of a Christian to be part of the life of the visible Church, it is also understandable in a temporary situation to explore where the Lord would have you to be and to better understand the branches of Zion that exist in different places.
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
I had a relevant discussion with a good friend of mine the other day about tithing that revealed what I considered a low view of church. He was justifying tithing to himself because where "two or three are gathered in my name...". I could hardly contain my frustration. He was dead set on proving that every gathering of christians is a church assembly.
 

raderag

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:5a755d8d79="Ianterrell"]I had a relevant discussion with a good friend of mine the other day about tithing that revealed what I considered a low view of church. He was justifying tithing to himself because where "two or three are gathered in my name...". I could hardly contain my frustration. He was dead set on proving that every gathering of christians is a church assembly.[/quote:5a755d8d79]

I've tried that logic on my friends in my home fellowship group when it was held at my house. They were just too high church to hoodwink. Oh well, it was worth a try.

:lol:
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Ian: That's rich - tithing to himself! I guess he can appoint himself an elder and obey himself too. I wonder how, after the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), Paul was able to find all these loose affiliation of ever-changing churches to deliver the letter ruling to (Acts 16:1-5). Perhaps you can ask your friend if he can hold an ecuemnical council with himself (ala Acts 15) and send his letter ruling around to all the churches in his area.

Sadly, evangelicalism encourages foolish, low-church unbiblical behavior.
 
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