Class 19: The Encouragement Place (Part 1)
Today, we are going to continue our study from Letters to Young Black Men titled, “The Encouragement Place” (Part 1).
As we begin this lesson, consider these words from Blaine Bartel: “A good pastor will protect you from wolves, feed you, inspire you, and correct you.”
Let’s begin by reading a portion from Letters to Young Black Men:
Down through the years in this country, we as a people have been known to be closely connected to the church.
My grandparents and parents are church-going people. They always have been. I am thankful that my elders made sure that I went to church regularly while I was growing up. I must say that I really did not learn much from church during those years. But I am thankful for the experience because it helped to place within me a hunger and desire for the true and living God.
When I became a teenager, I rebelled against going to church. During that time, I did not feel that it had any place in my life. However, when I left home upon graduation from high school, God and the church had a strong pull on me, even though I was a prodigal son. After some time out on my own, I finally came to know the true and living God through Jesus Christ. I believe this grand experience is due partly to my praying grandparents and parents and their dogged resolution to keep their offspring in church. I said all of that to say this: Stay close to the church.
If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, you ought to be involved in a good church. Why?
- Because God wants you to be. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
- Because going to church regularly will strengthen and build up your faith through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Now, please pull out your printed study guide or your digital study guide as we begin this lesson.
Let’s take a closer look at the biblical reasons why you should stay close to the church.
I. Because God wants you to.
A. Ephesians 2:19 says, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”
When you accept Jesus Christ you become a child of God, and thus, enter into the family of every individual who has ever trusted in the Lord. You are part of a spiritual household, and you have a responsibility to gather and interact with your spiritual relatives just as you do with your physical family. In order to be a good son on this earth, you must actually visit your parents, communicate with them often, and care for their needs. The same is true with the church. God deeply desires that His family is tied together by healthy, dynamic relationships. You cannot uphold your end of this responsibility if you refuse to go to church, or even if you do go but refuse to actively engage in the life of the congregation. There is an incredible family of God that is waiting for your participation.
B. 1 Timothy 3:15 says, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
This verse credits the church with being the dwelling place of truth. In a world that constantly surrounds you with lies and deceit, there is a safe place where you can let your guard down. God desires you to be a part of His church so your life may be absorbed with His eternal truth, thus preparing you to effectively live in and minister to this fallen world.
II. Because going to church regularly will strengthen and build your faith through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.
C. Let’s look at 2 Timothy 4:2 and note the relationship between the preaching of the Word and the increasing of our faith. This verse reads: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
Consistently exposing yourself to the preaching of God’s Word empowers you to face any situation this world may throw your way. Teaching by godly leaders increases your confidence in defending and understanding your faith. It also broadens your evangelistic skills and enhances your Biblical knowledge. Through exposing yourself to consistent, godly preaching you will come closer and closer to grasping the beauty that is God’s truth. As more of His truth is revealed, your faith will significantly increase.
If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, we will continue looking at the reasons why you ought to be involved in the local church in our next lesson.
In closing, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”
Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people I grew up around said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.
First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.
If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.