|Vol. 2, No. 6||Page 10||June 2000|
Do I Have To?
Of all the questions Christians ask, one question stands out in my mind as highly disrespectful and an indicator of deep spiritual problems. The question is, “Do we have to attend Sunday and Wednesday night assemblies?” The answer is, if these assemblies are available, yes we do. Now, let’s examine the evidence.
A natural place to turn for an answer to this question is Hebrews 10:24-25. This passage says,
“. . . 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.”
After diligent study of this passage, we correctly conclude that it is dealing with one assembly on the first day of every week. The Bible, then, does not deal directly with additional assemblies. Up to this point, our reasoning is valid. The problem is that some brethren, based on this passage, make an erroneous assumption. They assume that, since the Bible does not deal directly with additional assemblies, the attendance of such assemblies is optional. That assumption is not correct, and this is why. Since this passage in no way deals with additional assemblies, it cannot condemn or approve such assemblies. This passage contains a command to assemble ourselves together. Further, New Testament study teaches us that this assembling is to occur on the first day of every week. Do we have to attend Sunday night and Wednesday night assemblies? All that we can honestly conclude from this Scripture is that not attending these assemblies is not a violation of this passage. This in no way implies that this section of Scripture justifies willful neglect of additional assemblies. It simply means that we must look elsewhere for an answer to this question.
Let’s first of all examine the following words spoken by our Lord. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 7:33). Some people limit this verse to the idea of one who is not in obedience to God, “finding God,” and becoming obedient to his will. In truth, this verse goes far beyond that idea. In the original language, the word “seek” carries with it the force of a command. It is also a continuous action to be taken by the individuals who receive this command. The Lord was saying, “I command you (plural) to seek and continue to seek . . .” That which is to be continually sought can be sought only in the kingdom of God and the seeking of it must be our first priority. That which is to be our first priority and continually sought in the kingdom of God is God’s righteousness. Through the righteousness of God, that is, through God’s faithfulness, truthfulness and the certainty of his promises, man can become right with God. This end result can only be accomplished through the continual seeking of righteousness in the kingdom of God.
Imagine if you will, you are watching a man wander aimlessly through a cornfield. After observing his actions for several hours, you become curious as to why he is doing what he is doing. Finally, you approach this man and ask him what he is doing. He replies, “I am looking for some squash.” Immediately, a couple of observations come to mind. It may be that the man is completely ignorant of that which he claims to seek. Or, perhaps he is not being honest about what he truly seeks. If we maintain logical thought, we must draw these same conclusions when it comes to spiritual matters. If we are the kind of people who claim to seek righteousness, yet we spend our time wandering aimlessly through the world, we either do not know what righteousness is and where it is found, or we are not being honest about that which we truly seek.
Second, let us note these words written by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:15. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Paul wrote that study is required if one is to be acceptable to God. Notice Paul did not say light reading is required. Paul used the word study. The word “study” implies a deep examination of God’s Word. How many people who wish to avoid the assembling of God’s people do so because they want to stay home and study God’s Word? We cannot put a number on it, but one thing is certain, these two attitudes are at opposite poles. It is through study that we learn to rightly divide the word of truth. When we have learned to rightly divide the word of truth, we need not be ashamed, for we are approved of God. Where are we more likely to study God’s Word on Sunday or Wednesday nights? Are we more likely to study sitting on our sofa while a movie plays, or at the bowling alley, or perhaps at the mall? No, we are more likely to study God’s Word when we are assembled with God’s people.
As was stated previously, some brethren believe that attending Sunday and Wednesday night services is a matter of choice. Let’s look at some choices: 1) Stay home and watch a sporting event or assemble with God’s people, 2) Go to the movies or assemble with God’s people, 3) Go out to eat or assemble with God’s people, 4) Just stay home and unwind or assemble with God’s people, or 5) (Fill in your own excuse) or assemble with God’s people. The choices we make reveal that which we truly seek.
In Matthew 7:7 the Lord said, “. . . seek and ye shall find.” How do we know what we truly seek? We know what we truly seek by looking at what we have. Do you find that you have a more complete understanding of the complex rules of football or of God’s Word? Do you find that you are more excited when you talk about an outstanding round of golf you played or when you talk about God? Do you find that you spend more time through the week seeking your own entertainment or seeking to further the Kingdom of God? Do you find that you know more about the imaginary life of a television character or the real lives of your brethren? Do you find that you are more likely to watch a mini-series that airs two hours per night for four nights, or attend a Gospel Meeting? When you take a long, hard look at what you have and do, can you honestly say, “I have sought first the kingdom of God and his righteousness?”
The right question has never been, “Do we have to attend additional assemblies?” The right question is, “Can we truly withstand constant exposure to the world without the assembling of ourselves together at every possible opportunity?” Do we have to attend Sunday and Wednesday night services? Yes, we do. Why? Because if we seek to avoid any assembling of God’s people, we are not first seeking the righteousness of God, and we stand in direct violation of our Lord’s command.