Ready for the Coming Hostility? Go to Church!

By Tom Gilson Published on October 20, 2018

My wife and I just moved 30 miles north, mostly to be closer to the church we’re attending. I hate moving no matter what the conditions, and this time we did it while I was wearing a boot, preparing for upcoming foot surgery. Neither of us took any days off from work for it. Long, long hours. Fatigue.

And it was worth every ounce of sweat, to be in real Christian community.

Ligonier Ministries, working with Lifeway Research, has just released the 2018 version of their biannual “State of Theology” report. They found that 46 percent of all Evangelicals, 61 percent of black Protestants and 65 percent of Catholics agree with the statement, “Worshipping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.”

I don’t get that.

The Bible Teaches How Much Church Matters

I don’t get it from a biblical point of view, first of all. Paul wrote most of his letters to churches. So did John. The letters in Revelation 2 and 3 were written to churches. Paul’s writings are full of “one another exhortations.” Hebrews 10:24-25 flat out tells us to be the church together, and you can easily draw the same conclusion from Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper, reiterated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11.

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If being a Christian has anything to do with following the Bible’s instructions, those 46 to 65 percent of non-churchgoers are simply wrong.

Not that I’ve never taken a walk in the woods on a Sunday morning, and loved my time with God when I was doing it. But that’s been on vacation. When at home I want to be at church with my brothers and sisters.

Spiritual Self-Defense Isn’t Do-It-Yourself

But if church was ever a good idea, it’s becoming increasingly important as the days go by — because the secular world is gunning for us more and more. Believers standing together tend to stand strong. Isolated believers get picked off.
My wife and I just moved 30 miles north, mostly to be closer to the church we’re attending. I hate moving no matter what the conditions, but this time we did it while I was wearing a boot, preparing for upcoming foot surgery. Neither of us took any days off from work for it. Long, long hours. Fatigue.

And it was worth every ounce of sweat, to be in real Christian community.

Ligonier Ministries, working with Lifeway Research, has just released the 2018 version of their biannual “State of Theology” report. They found that 46 percent of all Evangelicals, 61 percent of black Protestants and 65 percent of Catholics agree with the statement, “Worshipping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.”

I don’t get that.

The Bible Teaches How Much Church Matters

I don’t get it from a biblical point of view, first of all. Paul wrote most of his letters to churches. So did John. The letters in Revelation 2 and 3 were written to churches. Paul’s writings are full of “one another exhortations.” Hebrews 10:24-25 flat out tells us to be the church together, and you can easily draw the same conclusion from Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper, reiterated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11.

If being a Christian has anything to do with following the Bible’s instructions, those 46 to 65 percent of non-churchgoers are simply wrong.

Not that I’ve never taken a walk in the woods on a Sunday morning, and loved my time with God when I was doing it. But that’s been on vacation. When at home I want to be at church with my brothers and sisters.

Spiritual Self-Defense Isn’t Do-It-Yourself

But if church was ever a good idea, it’s becoming increasingly important as the days go by — because the secular world is gunning for us more and more. Believers standing together tend to stand strong. Isolated believers get picked off.

Stephen Cable of Probe Ministries told me it used to be that more college students would give up on their faith than other recent high school grads, but those numbers have turned around. College students are less likely now to walk away from their faith.

The difference, he reasoned, likely had to do with the fact that college used to be more hostile to faith than the rest of the world, but it isn’t anymore. The whole world has turned hostile — on social media, in entertainment, almost everywhere. At least in college, students can connect with other believers through campus ministries. There’s nothing similar for other recent high school grads. That gives a lot of college students stronger spiritual support than many others typically find, so more of them succeed in standing the test.

We’re all in the pressure cooker, and the heat is rising. We need each other.

But this is about more than just young people. Almost all of us swim in the same toxic media waters. All of us hear how “bigoted,” “homophobic” and “unscientific” the faith supposedly is. Anti-biblical “discrimination” and “hate speech” laws affect all of us, whether directly or indirectly. We’re all in the pressure cooker, and the heat is rising. We need each other.

‘And All the More As You See the Day Drawing Near’

In fact, I believe the time is probably coming when many of us, even in America, will have to stand and give our own account to hostile accusers. They’ll demand why we believe in this faith of ours, which they consider nothing but an arrogant, bigoted fairy tale. A lot of us already have to answer to that. People have been throwing those charges in my face repeatedly over the 14 years I’ve been writing online.

Do you see the Day drawing near?

And even though I’m confident in the facts of the faith, I still need friends standing by me in it. I sent out a call for prayer to a lot of them just this morning — because I know how much I need their prayers. I need their encouragement. We need each other. If there’s one good thing to come out of this new anti-Christian hostility, maybe it will be that more of us will discover just how much we need each other.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Do you see the Day drawing near? I do.

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