Sunday, March 17, 2013

In Lieu of Church, Online Sermons

Hello, Internet,

One of the things I've learned through my theological studies is the importance of being a member of a church. Here are the main reasons why we should 'go to church.'

Being joined together with other believers is important because:
1. It allows you to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
2. It allows you to build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
3. You can 'stir one another up to love' (Hebrews 10:24)
4. You can 'stir one another up to good works' (Hebrews 10:24)
5. For accountability, so that you do not fall into sin (Hebrews 3:13)
6. To serve each other (Galatians 5:13)
7. To instruct one another (Romans 15:14)

There are possibly other good reasons. I'm not making an exhaustive list.

Incidentally, Hebrews 10:25 directly states that we should "not neglect to meet together." So we should seek to be together with other believers when we can. Under what circumstances, then, is failure to do so excusable?

Here's what I think, since the Bible doesn't specifically itemize a list of reasons why you should 'skip church.' (Mainly because 'church' in the sense of a building we go to once a week was not a concept that the New Testament believers would have understood. 'Church' is essentially this: fellowship with other believers). I think that if you are prevented from going, you have a legitimate excuse for not attending. But are you seeking to participate in the purpose that church exists for? Namely, fellowship with other believers, coordinating with them to do good works, and to instruct each other through Bible study and to have interpersonal accountability. If you're avoiding going to church because you don't want to do this, then you're avoiding it for the wrong reasons. 

Personally, I have been unable to find a convenient church to attend regularly nearby, since I've been living on campus at my university over the past 4 years. But I didn't resist out of pure laziness. Instead, I am seeking to have accountability by making sure that I'm spending time with other believers. We've managed to get a small group together on my campus, of other Bible-believing Christians that I've met over the past few years, and our intent is to fulfill the purposes detailed in the list above. And in the mean time, while I have not been attending church, I have done much Bible study on line, typically by searching a passage and researching its meaning. The websites GotQuestions,, BibleGateway, and BlueLetterBible are very useful in different ways: The first, in investigating theological concepts; the second, in looking up commentary on verses, and on finding out the Strong's # of certain words; the third, in looking up Bible passages online if you don't have access to a paper Bible; and the fourth, in using the Strong's # to find the definition of the original Greek or Hebrew word, and the contexts in which the word is used elsewhere in Scripture. These are fantastic study tools and can help you perform private Bible study if you are unable to attend a church.

And lastly, in lieu of hearing a sermon at a church, I've managed to find sermons on youtube and elsewhere, which allow me to hear Biblical instruction from a pastor, even if I can't physically be present.

Here is one of the youtube sermons I listened to today. It is Voddie Baucham preaching on the topic "What is the Gospel?" I hope it blesses you as it did me.

~ Rak Chazak

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