The Threat of Apostasy (No. 8 in Series)
We all know that someone’s behavior is a good indication of the person’s thinking and where his or her heart is. What someone does or neglects to do says a lot about the person. When a Christian does not participate in the life of the church, what does it say about that person? What does it mean for his or her state of mind? Is there any connection between church attendance and salvation?
When reflecting upon the connection of verses 24-25 with verses 26-28 in Hebrews 10, one author has said bluntly, “Failure to [meet] is associated with apostasy” (Ellingworth, 528). What is apostasy? It is when a Christian turns away from the Lord, when a believer no longer believes.
Now, we do not believe that one is saved by good works, including church attendance. We do not believe that one remains a Christian by righteous behavior. We believe that we can never do enough to save ourselves or keep us in God’s favor. Yet, being saved by God’s grace in Christ does not mean that we cannot cooperate with God and obey His Word.
The Lord has instructed us in the way we should live. Although our bodies may deteriorate due to aging, illness, and the like, we may be continually renewed in our spirits. We can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We can be encouraged, helped, supported, and more so that we do not give up in the life of faith. We need each other in order to persevere until the end. If we try to go at it alone, we may possibly shrink into unbelief.
While attending church gatherings may not save you in the direct sense, it may be a big help in your salvation in an indirect way. The simple act of going to church will not make you righteous before God, but the church itself, the people, can spur you on to a life of faith and not let you give up trusting Christ. As my friend Dave would say, routine Christian assembling has a way of shoring up our confidence in salvation as well as helping to inoculate us from apostasy. Do you want to guard yourself from unbelief? A great way is by attending and involving yourself in the life of the church!