Last Sunday, I had gone up to Hemet/ San Jacinto as I am currently helping my friend in his church plant there, a church plant that desires one day to become part of the OPC. On my way back, I was listening to Air1 radio station, a "Christian radio station," on the first part of my drive back. During the radio broadcast at that time (Sunday evening PDT), there were a bunch of "pastors," whom I guessed were the resident pastors serving with the radio station, who were being asked a question on whether Christians ought to go to church, and why.
The answer given is illuminating, if only that it confirms what is wrong with Evangelicalism as a whole. The answer given to the question is basically that (1) Christians are commanded to go to church, and (2) God has promised blessings in the church gathering. The answers are totally in line with Evangelical spirituality, but opposite to Reformed spirituality.
Why should Christians go to Church? The Reformed will ask: Why do young children go back home? Do young children go back home because (1) they are commanded to go back home? or (2) At home, they can get lots of nourishment? Well, certainly those two could apply in some measure, but they are not the reasons why young children go home. They go home because it is natural to go back home. Likewise, why do Christians go to church? They go because that is natural. Professing Christians who see no need for the Church and for going to church services, are abnormal and strange. Can a person live and not breathe? Why then do we think Christians can live (be a Christian) and not breathe (going to church services)?
The problem with the Evangelical view of the Church outlined is that it is totally deficient at best and erroneous at worst. Reason number 1 is law; it makes coming to hear God speak a law, attending to the means of grace a law. Can anything be worse than making a Gospel blessing into a law? Reason number 2 is man-centered. God exists to bless "me," not the other way around. Are we actually asking people to go to church with the intention of expecting God to bless "ME"?
The Church service is a covenantal meeting between God and His people. God does bless His people in the meeting, but our goal is to seek Christ not seek His gifts. Christ is given to us in the sermon, Christ is broken and poured out for us in the Lord's Supper, Christ pronounced His blessing to us in the Benediction. The focus of the service is Christ, not us.
May we recover a biblical view of the Church, not hold on to the evangelical views that permeate the culture.