This week while I was studying for our Wednesday night services, it occurred to me how that many of our church members have fallen off in their Wednesday night attendance. There are some that have been faithful for many years to attend all services of the church but have now found something more important to do during this time. I realize that the demands of work schedules put a strain on our busy lives, but I also realize there are many that could attend but have decided they would rather spend their time elsewhere.
Recently, I spoke with one of the newer members of our church, one who has not been saved for very long, who was simply incredulous to learn there are seasoned (?) Christians that have opportunity to learn more from God’s Word, but have reached a plateau in their lives and are not much interested in moving beyond it. This person has a true hunger to grab every morsel of understanding to feed his soul, and could not understand why those who have known the Lord for a longer time do not have an even greater desire to fellowship with God’s people around the Word. Well this person should wonder about such things because this is the opposite of what God has designed in our sanctification.
This part of the sanctifying process, which we call progressive sanctification, is to mold our lives daily into the image of Christ. Paul called this being “conformed” to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29). This is an upward movement in which we become in character like Christ. A very good question to ask is, “How is this conformity achieved?” We have the answer from the lips of the Saviour in John 17:17. In His high priestly prayer, He said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The Bible is the means of this sanctification. We have the same thought from Paul as he wrote concerning the church, “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:26-27).
It should be clear from these statements that a Christian who has a desire to be like Christ would avail himself of all opportunities to learn from the Word. I find it very hard to believe that those who absent themselves from the preaching of the Word are spending their time on Wednesday nights combing through the Bible in personal study seeking enrichment from its treasure.
What remains then is to ascertain the reason why those who have opportunity to grow in Christ would satisfy themselves in some other pursuit. As usual the Bible has the answer for this as well. In fact, nearly every epistle in the New Testament addresses this in some form or another. The letters of Paul, John, James, Peter, and Jude were written to Christians that were struggling over issues of sin in their lives and the consequent wavering in their faith.
Every member of Berean Baptist should closely examine himself on this issue. Many churches have decided to give up Wednesday night services, and closely behind this decision will follow another which is to abandon Sunday night services. The deplorable state of our churches today can be pinned directly on God’s people who have thwarted God’s progressive sanctification. When the Word becomes uninteresting to God’s people, perhaps there should be Sermon on the Mount examination whether such are really God’s people (Matt. 7:21-27).
Pastor V. Mark Smith