It is not unusual to have someone ask, “What does your church offer?” Or, “what programs do you have for the young?”
An advertisement from a community church offers humorous singing vegetables, free sports posters, coffee with a variety of creamer flavors, rock music, music videos, food, and coffee mugs. Other churches pride themselves in having the finest building in town, programs to make people feel good, or perhaps a prestigious membership. Is this what true religion offers?
The religious world has gone mad over entertainment and fun. Food is often included to bring people “in”, but Jesus told many who followed Him that “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” (John 6:26) He told them to labor for the food “which endures to everlasting life” – to know Jesus and His words. That is what the church can offer.
The church of Christ cannot offer entertainment, food, and fun, for these are not in the realm of the church’s mission. But because the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), we do offer a study of the Word of God, wherein is revealed the “righteousness of God”, God’s plan for making man right (Romans 1:17).
We can offer neither a sign nor the wisdom of men with excellency of speech, but we offer the simple preaching of “Christ crucified”, a “stumbling block” to many and “foolishness” to others. (I Corinthians 1:22-23)
We cannot offer hope without the Word of God, because it is the gospel which brings hope (Colossians 1:23).
We cannot guarantee peace with one’s family or friends (see Matthew 10:34), but we can offer the word of reconciliation, by which God in Christ reconciles men and women to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).
We do offer the gospel of Christ, good news which is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16) That gospel contains words by which all can be saved, just as Peter was instructed to speak to Cornelius. (Acts 11:14ff) It contains words which can produce faith in the hearer. (Rom. 10:17)
We offer the word of God “which lives and abides forever,” through which one is “born again.” (I Peter 1:23) It contains words which will nourish the child of God (I Timothy 4:6), words that will comfort him (I Thessalonians. 4:18), and words which will build him up and give him “an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
The church here is interested in offering up true worship to God. Jesus said, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23).
The church here assembles to worship and to study from the Bible, wherein are words directing men to salvation in Christ, to true worship, and to the authority of Christ. The gospel of Christ when obeyed produces simply Christians. Food will fill the stomach but won’t forgive sins. Entertainment will make one feel good but won’t make one pleasing to God.
The church will not waste anyone’s time trying to offer to others anything short of the truth, because anything short of the truth cannot save.
– Larry Jones