Question #76

Must one attend all of the worship services of the church?

I am a church of Christ member and have been taught that you must attend ALL the Worship services or you are in sin and your Worship is in vain.

However I have a real problem doing morning services (as they are 5 hours long) (9:30AM Sunday School then 10:30AM - 2PM Worship Service) You end up being in Church all day, and I feel this is WAY to long, and it runs new converts off as well. Sundays are my ONLY day off work.

Our 5PM service (only 2 hours long) I like much better then the morning services as I can get things done around the house before going to evening Worship, but is my Worship really in vain by my only attending the 5PM service?

The Answer:

The scenario that you describe is longer than most worship services with which I am familiar. Given your email address (Truevineyard), I wonder if you are in fact attending a congregation of the church of Christ. For most, Bible school and morning worship generally lasts two hours, running a little longer for longer sermons or other worship activities. Evening worship generally lasts an hour, sometimes preceded or followed by youth meetings or devotionals.

Asking the question in terms of what you must do already demonstrates a negative attitude toward worship. While it may arise from activities that you consider too long, that is probably not an attitude shared by most of the members where you attend. High absenteeism would most likely dictate different decisions by the decision makers. A person who believes he or she is a Christian should in fact be present for every opportunity to worship. Sometimes a job may prevent it. Sometimes illness may prevent it. Often such hindrances are referred to as “providential hindrances.” That seems to me to be a misnomer since I do not believe that providence is in the hindering business. More often than not, such hindrances arise from our own desires.

The only verse that directly addresses attendance at the assembly of the church is Hebrews 10:25. “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.” The writer explicitly instructs the readers not to follow the example of those who forsake the assembly. True, “forsake” means to abandon or desert, but is that at least as much an attitude of the heart as it is a length of time?

You say that Sunday is your only day off work. Others have expressed the same thought in different language – it is the only day that they have. The fact Sunday may be the only day free from work does not mean that it is your day. It is the Lord’s Day, and those who claim to belong to the Lord have appointments to keep!

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)