Date: June 4, 2006

Bible Text: Matthew 28:1 |


Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 28.  I’m going to preach on the sin of missing church, and I want to emphasize that word, “sin.”  It was considered that for decade after decade, century after century; but today, people who consider themselves Christians just push God’s day aside.  I think that is one of the reasons we are having so many problems in our homes and in our lives.  Sunday is the Christian sabbath.  The Jews worshipped, of course, on the seventh day, Saturday.  But Jesus rose on the first day of the week, and everything changed.  When Jesus was crucified, the two Marys came to visit the tomb, and we begin reading in verse 1 of chapter 28, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”  I want to stress what is said here, “…as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week…” It was Sunday.


“And, behold, there was a great earthquake:  for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:  And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.  And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye:  for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here:  for he is risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him:  lo, I have told you.  And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.  And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail.  And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.”


If you would, turn now to John 20.  On the first day of the week, He rose.  And then we read in John 20:19, “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”  The Lord’s day is the prominent day of the week for Christians.  It’s a day that is supposed to be given over to Him.  Again, it’s a day that should be given over to Him for worship, for praise, for learning.  Now for centuries, Christians would never work on Sunday or play.  I thought it was silly when I was growing up many years ago as a teen, when the pious old saints frowned upon us playing football on Sunday afternoon.  We went to church, we went to Sunday school, we canvassed after church, and we went to church on Sunday night.  But we squeezed football in there, and these old-timers did not think it was right.  As usual, those old-timers were right.


And now since these prohibitions have been broken down, Christians have pushed God out of Sunday totally.  Today, the Lord’s day is nothing but a time of play and recreation.  In John 20:26 we read, “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them:  then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”  Jesus met with them the second time on Sunday night.  Acts 20:7, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”  When I preach and it gets to be about five or ten after 12 noon, certain ones will be looking at their watches.  Can you imagine if we went until midnight?  People would say, “He’s crazy.”  No, it’s the Lord’s day.  I’m not saying to prove it’s the Lord’s day that the pastor has to preach until midnight every Sunday, but the point that I am trying to make is that these people were not ready to leave and go about their schedule.


In I Corinthians 16:1-2 we read, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.  Upon the first day of the week [Sunday] let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him…”  Why the first day of the week?  Why would they take their offerings on the first day of the week?  Because it was when they gathered.  It was the Lord’s day.  The Apostle John says in Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”  Now the thing I want to stress is that we should take it seriously; because I believe with all my heart that if you don’t take care of this idea of the Lord’s day, putting it first, you will never be the kind of Christian He wants you to be.  And maybe you won’t be the kind of Christian you want to be.  It’s the Lord’s day.  It is not ours; it is His.


Now to my text in Hebrews 10 beginning with verse 23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”  In other words, he’s saying, “Let’s help each other.  Let’s uplift, not gossip about each other, not hurt each other; but, let’s remember each other.  Let’s help each other.”  And here it is, “…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another…”  There it is.  Help one another.  “Why weren’t you in church?  I missed you in church.  C’mon out to church.”  Again I say, don’t gossip.  But it should bother you when your friend is not in church.  And we should exhort “…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.”  Exhort, encourage one another.  Provoke one another unto love and good works.


Today it seems like everybody has an excuse for not coming to church.  They act as though they would catch the plague.  Today we live in a heathen society.  People really don’t comprehend what God’s house is.  It’s a place where you will be helped.  Many of our teens just went down to Mexico, and the Mexican culture is a Catholic culture.  They went and saw little dolls and idols that were being worshipped.  I don’t want to hurt anybody here, but it is heathenism; and this is what many people believe church is.  They think it’s just going through the motions, never getting anything out of it.  But that’s not what the Bible teaches.  You say, “You just made me mad.”  Well, good.  There is more to going to church than sitting in a pew and saying you did something.


Again, it’s a place where you are helped.  It’s a place where you are uplifted.  It’s a place where you are taught.  It’s a place where you are encouraged.  It’s a place where you are blessed.  Now, for many people, they say, “I’m not going to church because it’s too hot or too cold.  We’ve got company coming over.  The baby sneezed on Friday, so we better not bring him,” or “We better not bring the baby, or he will catch something.”  From the time a baby is born until they are about four or five years old, they are too much trouble to bring.  And then once they are four or five years old, then they don’t want to come because they are used to playing at home.  The weather is used to stay home from church as much as anything.  Isn’t that a shame?  I don’t care if it snows 20 feet.  Come to church; we’ll be here.  It rains maybe eight Sundays out of the year.  Maybe six Sundays a year it snows.  And it’s hot seven Sundays, and it’s cold eleven Sundays.  And you have company over and entertain maybe eight Sundays.  You go visiting or go on picnics or who knows what ten Sundays.  That makes 50 and leaves Easter and Christmas.  And most likely a person like that will stay home and cook dinner rather than come to church.


Listen, if you are not a Christian, coming to church is not going to get you to heaven.  But if you are a Christian, you have no decision to make.  It’s the Lord’s day.  We have dozens of people on vacation.  I understand that.  God understands that.  You go on vacation and you miss a week or two.  But you don’t go traveling down the road to have a picnic.  You don’t go traveling down the road to a concert.  Someone said that an excuse is nothing but the skin of reason stuffed with a lie.  Listen, it is commanded of God to attend church on the Lord’s day.  I don’t know that you are more spiritual than these first disciples.  We saw that they came to church on Sunday night.  Jesus met with them until He went to heaven.  I believe where two or three are gathered together, even 2,000 years after Christ, He promises to meet with us.  Now what is more important than that?  I’m not saying if you go get drunk on Saturday night and come and sit in church like a bump on the log you are going to get something.  But if you come as a Christian looking for something, you will get something.  Is it that my sermons are so great on Sunday morning that you don’t have to come on Sunday night?  Is it that you are so spiritual that you don’t need to come on Sunday night?  No, the most spiritual people will be here in church tonight.  And it will be the carnal people, the weak, who will stay at home giving excuses that the devil gave them.  The Bible says, “Forsake not the gathering of yourselves together as the manner of some is.”  Don’t stay home.  God said some will not be faithful.  And what I’m saying is, don’t be one of them.


Years ago, a missionary to China told a story.  I understand the Chinese coin had a hole in the middle and they had a hook-like device on their belt where they kept their coins.  A Chinese man came to the missionary all distraught about the fact that he had stopped to talk to a beggar, and the beggar had distracted him and taken one of his seven coins off his belt.  He was all upset, and the missionary made this application.  “The Lord gave us seven days a week, but one is His.”  Now we’ve got to understand that.  You say, “Well, this is different.”  It’s different in the heathen day we live, but it wasn’t different during the good days of America, in the days of God’s blessing on America.  Six days are man’s, one is God’s.  He didn’t say that it was a day of pleasure.  He didn’t say it was a day of visiting or a day of camping or a day of sports.  When you knock on doors, people will say, “But Sunday is the only day I can…”  Sunday is the only day that is God’s day.  You should say, “It’s the only day I can’t…”  It’s the Lord’s day.  Camping is fine.  Visiting and having a good time is good.  But don’t take the Lord’s day to do it, and don’t say your schedule will not allow you to be faithful to God’s house for Sunday school, church, and Sunday night.  Change your schedule.  You say, “Oh, this is hard.”  No, it is not hard.  It’s God we are talking about.  God is the only One who can really bless you.  He’s telling you to do this. He will bless you.  Change your schedule.  This Holy Bible says the tithe is His, and the Lord’s day is His.  And just as the beggar stole one of the coins off the Chinaman’s belt, you are stealing from God when you take one of His days.


Now turn to I Corinthians 16:2.  It is commanded to give on the first day of the week.  “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him…”  When you bring your tithes and offering to church and give God’s way, you will be surprised at the deepening of your spiritual faith.  Now I can’t explain it.  All I can say is that is how it worked in my life, and that’s the way I see it.  People fight these basics.  Don’t you understand that it is Satan whispering in your ear?  Don’t you understand that it is the unsaved who are trying to do everything they can to keep you from being blessed?  We are talking about basics.  We are talking about coming to church and giving God His first day, one of the seven.  We are talking about giving the tithe that He has ordered us to give.  God can never bless you the way He wants until you become obedient.


If you get saved, you will go to heaven.  But you won’t have blessing here on earth, you won’t have His guidance, you won’t have His peace, you won’t have His joy when you disobey Him about the matter of baptism.  And the same thing can be said about faithfulness to church.  The same thing can be said about giving.  Oh, I’m sure there are people sitting here saying, “No, I would be miserable.”  Try God.  I say again, He is God.  Stop listening to Satan.  He destroys your life, and then you listen to him as he sits on your shoulder and you follow him more.  He will destroy your life totally.  He will destroy your children’s lives, and you will answer to God for it.  When you give what God leads you to, you will be surprised with the ease that things can be taken care of financially.  An unsaved banker can never tell you how you can get by better on 90% than 100%.  But God can.


Now I know I have become a broken record, but I believe in God and I believe in the Bible because I’ve practiced it.  Not because I am a pastor, but I’ve practiced it now for going on 60 years.  He’s real.  Every time I have diverted from what God teaches, I am miserable.  Every time I do what God says in the very basics such as what we are talking about here, God blesses.  And I am here to tell you something I’ve practiced since 12 years old: God can bless and make you do better on 90% than you can do on 100%.  I’m not saying an unsaved person will never be rich, but the Bible teaches that covetousness is a sin—and that’s the problem not only of the unsaved, but the saved.  Grabbing, putting money on your credit cards, and financing—rolling things into your mortgage and getting further and further in debt.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  You trust God and go according to His teaching, and He says, “I will rebuke the devourer for your sake.”  He’ll keep things working better.  He’ll keep you healthier.  You’ll have to pay the same for meat or clothing; but if you give and follow God’s simple instructions as to how to take care of your money, you will do better giving than if you didn’t give.  You say, “You are a con man.”  No, I am not.  I practice it.  I venture to say that besides people on welfare, I definitely make less than the average family here, and I live good.  I’ve lived very good.  I venture to say I’ll live good until I die.  I watched my parents.  They lived on nothing but Social Security for years.  My father banked $100 a month living on Social Security.  They lived good.  Are you listening?


God wants to take care of you.  You must have faith, and give, and follow the Bible’s instruction.  And when you give God’s way, you will have money left over for His work.  It’s true.  When you take care of God, He takes of you.  It’s amazing how God will take care of you, and you will be surprised that you ever doubted God about tithing.  There are those here who have never really tithed, and they are the ones in trouble.  It doesn’t make any difference what you make.  It is not common today for couples to make $100,000.  And some of those people don’t feel they can tithe.  And yet someone else making $35,000 or $40,000 a year, will be tithing and giving just fine.  Why is that?  I say again, you will be surprised.  There are people here who have been saved for years and don’t even have faith to tithe before their taxes or before their health insurance and this type of thing.  You cheapskate God; He’ll cheapskate you.  Every time.  You will see people struggling along; but overall the person who gives, loving God, will be rejoicing.  Why don’t you trust in the God you say you believe in.  Give on the first day of the week.


Not only are we to give on the first day of the week and give Him the day because it’s the Lord’s day, but thirdly, look at II Timothy 2:15.  It’s commanded of God to study the Bible.  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  That’s what happens in Sunday school.  That’s what Sunday school is all about.  That’s what our midweek service, especially during the school year, is about.  We taught on the family this year, and next year we are going to teach on things we believe that people don’t understand, teaching these hard-to-understand subjects.  We teach on Sunday morning and on Sunday night.  That’s what I am doing right now.  I am helping you to understand why it is a sin not to come to church.  I am instructing you; I’m teaching you.  We’re studying the Word of God together.


I know some of you are thinking right now, “I can study the Word of God on my own.”  Well, what if we took that attitude with our day school?  What if there were no compulsory attendance laws?  We just studied when it was convenient.  Before long we would have a bunch of kids who would grow up illiterate.  Without scheduled, disciplined time to study, they would play ball, hunt, fish, or work—just what backslidden Christians do on the Lord’s day.  Boys and girls won’t study what they need to study unless they are scheduled to.  And we as Christians will not grow in the things of the Lord unless we follow God’s plan.  And part of God’s plan is, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.”  Picture so many millions of kids today.  They grow up to 15 or 16 years old, and they quit school.  They get a job at McDonald’s, and they are the richest kids on the block.  “Ha, ha!  You are going to school.  I’m rich.  I made $200 last week.”  They hit 65, and they are still making $200 a week.  They’ve got nothing.  And so it is with the Christian who doesn’t come to church and doesn’t learn God’s Word.  Any time someone says they can worship God in the woods listening to the birds sing, they are denying the Word of God and common sense.  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”


Some push the local church aside.  They don’t need the leadership of the pastor.  They will only listen to the pastor when they agree with him.  But other than that, they push him aside.  Let me ask you something, you who know more than the man of God whom God has given to lead you.  Why does He call preachers?  Why did He create the church?  Why are there deacons?  You may think the preacher is ignorant politically.  We’ll see when we get to heaven who is ignorant politically.  Why did God give the church and the pastor and deacons so much prominence in His Word?  You know I believe in the family, and I preach and teach on it more than any other subject.  But God spends a lot of time on the local church.  He talks about the church of Rome and sent a letter.  The church of Corinth.  The churches of Galatia.  The church of Ephesus.  Philippi.  Thessalonica.  Pastor Timothy.  Pastor Titus.  Try to refute that.


The local church has been pushed aside by TV preachers, by para-church organizations, and even by what some people call “home churching.”  They try to say they are more spiritual, yet they don’t have a leg to stand on.  There’s nothing in the Bible about it.  And because of this, Christianity has become anemic.  Praise God for a vibrant, local church, and be part of it.  Look through the Bible from cover to cover, and you will not see any organization but the church that is to teach adults the Word of God.  You will never learn outside of the church what you can learn inside.  You get your pencil and pad and go to some Bible study or some TV preacher, and you will become so confused you will be worse than a termite in a yo-yo.  That’s the way Christians are running around today.  What if we loaded up our academy in buses and transported them from school to school?  Even if they were excellent schools, they would end up with nothing but confusion.  The church is created to lead and teach, and that’s why you not only should go to church, but go to your church.  People say, “I travel here, and I travel there, and I go to church every Sunday morning.”  No, that’s not what the Bible is talking about.  Be faithful to your church.  You will never be fulfilled until you accept that.


Then, we need to bring our children up in church.  We know Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:  but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  It’s written to fathers.  Nurture here means discipline.  Not only spanking, but regimentation and consistency also.  We should have consistent, private devotions.  We should have consistent family devotions.  But God gave us a church to have consistent Bible study under the man of God who is called.  I’ve often said I’m no better than anyone else in this church, and God knows I believe it.  But God has called me to lead.  And something else that I’ve learned through the years.  If you don’t follow the pastor that God has given you, you are going to end up in exactly the same shape as those Israelites who would not follow Moses—in real trouble.  Your family will be in deeper and deeper trouble.


Our sports teams will be as good as they are disciplined.  Our basketball team or soccer team or whatever, doesn’t choose to come to practice.  They are there, or they are off the team.  It’s as simple as that.  Now, fathers, you are to bring your children up in the fear and the discipline of the Lord.  Don’t send them to Sunday school, bring them.  Let them learn by repetition, by discipline, by regimentation.  You should set an example.  Your boys and girls are going to do what you do.  You go to church on Sunday, you go to Sunday school, and they will do it in the future.  Have the right attitude.  Look forward to going.  Talk about it in the right manner when you get home.  But if you start criticizing and finding fault, they are going to do the same thing.  They can read you like a book.


Fifth, it’s commanded of God to forsake all other gods for Him.  Exodus 20:3 reads, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  A lot of people today worship the god of pleasure.  II Timothy 3:4 says in the last days before His coming, people will love pleasure more than God.  I’ll say it again.  God says in the last days people will love pleasure more than God.  Isn’t that true today?  People love campers.  People love tents.  People love ball games.  People love snowmobiles.  This is what people do on Sunday.  Now there’s nothing wrong with tents.  There’s nothing wrong with recreation.  I have always liked to be an active person.  About every five years, I still like to ski.  I may kill myself because of my age, but I still like to ski.  I stopped climbing, but I like to hike in the mountains.  My family was very active as they grew up.  I loved to play football.  But not on Sunday.


I remember when I was in high school, our team was ranked number one in the state.  And on a particular Saturday we won the game, but the score was too close.  Our coach was mad, and he said, “We’re going to practice tomorrow.  We’re going to practice on Sunday.”  And he said, “If you are not here, you are off the team.”  I’ll tell you, I loved football.  I played football from the time I had my head cracked open on the concrete; I just played football, and it was everything to me.  But I knew that when he said that, I had a decision to make.  And I knew what the answer was.  I could not play on Sunday, and I wasn’t going to miss church.  And you know, God worked it out.  He demoted me from first string to last string.  I squeaked by.  But the point I am trying to make is that it doesn’t matter how important the game is.  That was so important to me, but it was the Lord’s day.  Play on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but Sunday is His day.  If you don’t follow this admonition, some day your child will fight going to church and he will say, “You taught us this.  You taught us to go to the lake.  You taught us to play ball.  I’m only doing what you taught us to do.”  You say, “I’ve been working hard.  I need rest.”  Come here and rest.  He promises to give you rest.


Not only that, but many times the god of money pushes our Savior out of Sunday.  Again, you can’t refute these scriptures.  I Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”  And if you have to work so much that you miss God’s house, stop working that much.  Change your schedule.  You say, “I’m just so tired.”  Then work less.  If your job keeps you from church, you should get another job.  Put God first, not money.  It’s the root of all evil.  All over America, people love big homes and cars and positions more than their relationship with God.  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Don’t be grabbing them before He gives them to you.  Don’t be grabby.  Don’t be covetous.  Trust Him; put Him first.  It’s time that we all say with Joshua of old, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


Now last and very quickly.  Psalm 150:6 reads, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.”  That includes the animal kingdom.  You hear a rooster crowing on Sunday morning, I believe he’s saying, “Get up and go to church.”  “This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  The birds sing, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…,” and “God even knows when we fall,” they might tell you, if you could understand them.  “And if He knows when we fall, he knows about you.  Don’t you worry.  Get to church, and He’ll bless you.”