Six Steps to a Closer Walk with Jesus

MATURE: Why Attend Church Weekly?

(Ephesians 3:1-13, 5:15-33)


I am going to give you three simple, memorable reasons why you should attend Church weekly - if we want to have a closer walk with Jesus. These are based on our passages from Ephesians.


1. Come because Jesus is here (3:1-5)

2. Come because the end is near (3:7-11)

3. Come because his family is dear (3:6, 12-13)



1. Come because Jesus is here (3:1-5)


“In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.” (Ephesians 3:1-5)


Jesus is here. True, if we have received Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, he is with us each personally by his spirit. But Jesus is here in a special way today because we are gathered together in his name. Jesus promised, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  (Matthew 18:20).


This should be reason enough for showing up each week. Why? Because you might miss something. You might miss something Jesus wants to say to you. You might miss something Jesus wants you to do.


What do you think Thomas was doing a week after the resurrection when everyone else was gathered together to hear God’s word and talk to Him? What could have been more important to Thomas than meeting with Jesus? He wasn’t there and so he missed Jesus. He spent a whole week disbelieving that the other disciples had seen Jesus. He missed out on meeting the risen Jesus. 4000 years ago, God felt it was so important that his people stop their normal work and meet weekly, he made it mandatory. He made it one of the ten most important commands he gave his people:


"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…” (Deut. 5:12-14)


What could possibly be more important to you than meeting with Jesus - for one hour on a Sunday? Remember Jesus words in the Garden of Gethsemane? “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). When Jesus needed help they were sleeping. Is an hour a week really too demanding for your busy schedule? Think back to last Sunday or the Sunday before. What did you do? How did you spend the day? Did it come close to being with Jesus? Hearing Jesus? Talking to Jesus? If you are a Christian yet too busy to meet weekly with Jesus and his family you are too busy.


How is Jesus present with us on Sundays? Paul tells us, in Ephesians 3:4-5: “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.” (Ephesians 3:4-5).


Notice Paul says - “In reading this” - that is - through the reading of Scripture written by the apostles and prophets the Holy Spirit has revealed the mystery of Christ. In chapter 5 Paul says the same thing - “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26)


How is Jesus present with us on Sundays? Answer : primarily through the word. The word communicated through the apostles and prophets. The mystery of Jesus - God’s rescue plan for the world - has been revealed in and through the Bible. That’s the primary reason we meet together on Sundays. For the reading, the hearing, the exposition, the interpretation, the understanding, and the application of God’s word.


In Ephesians 5:24 Paul assumes something we should not presume on: “Now as the church submits to Christ…” (Ephesians 5:24). How do we show our submission to Christ? Answer: By showing up to be with Jesus and listening to his word.  Jesus said on one occasion, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."


(John 14:21). Jesus reveals himself progressively to us as we submit to his word. We show that we love Jesus by taking his word seriously, by meeting with him together weekly. So let me ask you again: Can you think of anything more important than spending an hour on Sundays with Jesus? To listen to Him? To speak to Him? To learn from him? To reflect on how we can help others come to know him? I can’t think of anything more important, can you? So come first of all because Jesus is here.


2. Come because the end is near (3:7-11)


“…His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:7-11)


God’s plan for saving the world is reaching its consummation. Have you ever considered that our meeting together,  as Christians throughout the world are doing today, is a visible witness to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms?

That God is in control? That God is rescuing his people? That evil is defeated? That God’s eternal purposes are being and will be accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord? The parked cars outside are not just witnessing to our neighbours that this is the place to be on Sundays - they are witnessing to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms that in Virginia Water at least, God’s eternal purposes are being accomplished. What do dying and empty churches say to the devil? Conversely, what do thriving and growing churches say to the devil? What we do on Sundays is not just for ourselves. What we do on Sundays should not be based on a casual whim. Paul urges us, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)


The writer to the Hebrews makes this even more explicit. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)


What day is approaching?  The day of his coming. The day of judgement. The day of consummation.   This afternoon I am speaking at an Islamic conference. Some Christians have a hard time with me making friends with Muslims. I can’t understand that mentality. Why am I doing it? Because I want to introduce Muslims to Jesus and if I get an invitation to talk about Jesus in a mosque, or a synagogue or a temple, I don’t refuse, I can’t refuse, because like Paul I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I do as I am told. If Jesus tells you to do something, you better do it.


I remember the first time I spoke at a Muslim conference it was at Leicester University. It was a week after September 11th 2001.  During the break after my talk a man and a woman came up to me separately and both asked me the very same question. Did I think that September 11th was a sign that Jesus is coming back? Yes I do. And there are plenty of other signs too if we look carefully enough. Muslims are asking the question. They are expecting Jesus to return. Are you? Lets get intentional about our meeting together with Jesus and all the more as we see the day of his coming approaching. Why attend Church weekly? Come because Jesus is here. Come because the end is near.


3. Come because his family is dear (3:6, 12-13)


“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus … In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged.” (Ephesians 3:6, 12-13)


In this passage Paul describes us as ‘heirs’ as ‘one body’ and as ‘sharers’. You know some dysfunctional families only get together when a wealthy relative has died and there is a reading of the will. Why? Because they want to find out if they have been left something. Isn’t that what we do every Sunday? As their heirs, we meet to read the will of the risen Jesus every Sunday.


My study is not something I am proud of at the moment. I have allowed it to become cluttered. I’ve had it on my ‘to do’ list to clear out my study for months. Then last Sunday I got my incentive. Sometime the week before Fudge our cat brought me a present. A mouse. A dead mouse. And he left it under a pile of papers. We didn’t realise this until it began to smell.  By last Sunday I realised we had a dead body on our hands - right in the middle of the youth worker interviews - I thought I’d kept it a secret until Mark and Megan told me Michael had proudly told them what I was up to… And despite the odour it took quite a while to discover it. In the process I had to clear a lot of books and papers out. The dead mouse trick worked. I have begun to prune my books and clear out the files and papers and clutter that have got in the way of my ministry.  A dead mouse helped me focus my ministry. It made me realise that when Jesus comes back things are going to change around here. He is not going to be impressed with the size of my library or my car or my house - he will be looking at the size of his Bride.


You know what kept me awake some nights this week? As I look back over the day I’ve asked myself, did I lose one of his sheep today? Sheep that might have wandered away from the fold? Or did I miss one of his sheep today? One of his new baby sheep trying to get into the fold? I care passionately about the Church because Jesus does.


Have you heard of the Darwin Awards? These annual awards commemorate the remains of people who have improved the gene pool by killing themselves in really stupid ways. Example p.80. Well someone at Christ Church nearly got an honourable mention in the Darwin Awards last week. Over coffee, someone apparently enquired whether they should attend the Christianity Explored course.
And someone was actually overheard putting them off. “No, you don’t want to do the Christianity Explored course…” What on earth would inspire a Christian to try and dissuade someone from a course designed to introduce them to Jesus? That’s about as dumb as placing yourself between a mother bear and her cub. Don’t ever place yourself between the Holy Spirit and a seeker.  Jesus cares passionately about his Body. Because his family is dear. We are heirs together.


Alone we can get so easily discouraged. When we meet together we can encourage one another. I was speaking to someone this week who is a recovered alcoholic. They described how they could only go three to four days without meeting with their AA friends. They admitted how hard it was to resist just one drink. They said “If I have a one drink today it will be a bottle tomorrow and I’ll be in a straight jacket the next day.” They knew their limits. Do you? They knew their need for fellowship every few days. Do you? Have you come to appreciate your fellowship here at Christ Church with that level of intensity? Have you come to value the encouragement we can give one another with that level of intentionality? Or do we seriously think we can go weeks without fellowship and remain immune to temptation? To stumbling or falling? I know I cannot. That is why we expect you to attend weekly and as we shall see next week - take the small group challenge. Why? Because Jesus is here. Because the end is near. Because his family is dear.


“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-26)


Think about it: “radiant … without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”  This is why we meet. This is what we are becoming. This is what we look forward to. Jesus is here. The end is near. His family are dear.


Greg Ferguson has written a song that expresses this. Its called “One Life.” I’ll read it and then we can listen or sing along in response.


there is an invisible presence

as close as the air we are breathing

there’s a call to a life that’s greater

there’s a hunger for something to believe in

there’s the voice of the risen Saviour

and He’s giving us an invitation

to the Rock we can truly stand on

to a more secure foundation

are you willing to join the adventure?

are you willing to follow onward?

in the steps of the risen Saviour

to the life that you’ve always wanted


this is the life he offers

this is the hope we’ve found

He is our certain future

He is our solid ground

This is the life we’ve chosen

This is the choice we make

This is the Rock we stand on

His is the strength we claim

This risen Saviour calls us

His invitation’s clear

His door is always open

Anyone is welcome here


One life on the outside

Is surprised by an open door

More lives given courage

Pulling others to the solid ground

Stronger, ever brighter

Heaven’s vision catching on


risen One

lead us on

solid Rock

true and strong

we will follow

lead us on


Lets pray.