Going to church as a measure of genuine faith

I’ve often heard people say that they wish their friend or relative would go to church because then it would show that they are a Christian. I don’t see anything in the Bible about church/assembly attendance as a measuring rod aside from God wanting us to not stop meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). And I know it’s at church where they may hear the gospel.

I would guess that at least 90% of people who go to church aren’t really Christians.

Here are some quotes by J.C. Ryle. I would say the last two quotes are more important to ask than, “Do you go to church?”

Evidences of A Converted Heart

Sense of sin and deep hatred of it, faith in Christ and love to Him, delight in holiness and longing after more of it, love for God’s people and distaste for the things of the world, – these are the signs and evidences which always accompany conversion.

–J.C. Ryle

Do You Pray?

Never be surprised if you hear ministers of the gospel dwelling much on the importance of prayer. This is the point we want to bring you to; we want to know that you pray. Your views of doctrine may be correct. Your love of Protestantism may be warm and unmistakable. But still this may be nothing more than head knowledge and party spirit. We want to know whether you are actually acquainted with the throne of grace, and whether you can speak to God as well as speak about God.

Do you wish to find out whether you are a true Christian? Then rest assured that my question is of the very first importance – Do you pray?

–J.C. Ryle

(Colossians 4:2)

Do You Read Your Bible?

Ah! reader, it is a painful thought that there should be so much profession of love to the Bible among us, and so little proof that the Bible is read! I charge you, I entreat you, to give an honest answer to my question: ‘What art thou doing with the Bible?‘

–J.C. Ryle

10 Responses to “Going to church as a measure of genuine faith”

  1. 1 Joel (Polycarp)

    I believe that fellowship is important, Jeff – of course, I haven’t been in about two months for different reasons – but ‘church’ may not be. Many go just to be seen.

  2. 2 Jason

    As a pastor, naturally I view church attendance as important, but not because I simply want filled pews. It seems the early church was devoted to one another and their meeting together, but it was not for meeting’s sake; rather, it was for fellowship and being equipped for doing the work of the gospel. I feel that many church services today are not much more than mere social gatherings. What would happen if church attendance became illegal and meeting could be punished by law?

  3. 3 Scripture Zealot

    What would happen if church attendance became illegal and meeting could be punished by law?

    That would be more indicative. It reminds me of this quote.


  4. 4 Jason

    Quite poignant indeed.

  5. 5 Damian

    I would guess that at least 90% of people who go to church aren’t really Christians.
    As an aside, I gotta say, Jeff, that I balk at people saying things like that. I think that one might plausibly say that 90% of people who go to church aren’t good Christians, but truth be told, Christ was never too picky about the people he called his own. We’ll never know his exact criteria (I tend to prefer objective ones such as Baptism); but I suspect it encompasses more than we expect.

  6. 6 Stan McCullars

    A few thoughts…

    Going to church doesn’t make one a Christian.

    Skipping church doesn’t take one out of the kingdom.

    Not attending church should cause one to consider whether or not they are in the faith as they are living in open disobedience to God’s Word.

  7. 7 Scripture Zealot

    Damian, I thought Jesus was pretty picky. That one guy really want in, but Jesus told him to sell all his possessions. He was the ultimate seeker and Jesus basically turned him away. He talked about how narrow the gate is and how few enter, how lukewarm “Christians” want to make Him puke etc.

    Nice points Stan.


  8. 8 Damian

    Hmm. Good point, Jeff. But he hung out with the sinners, he preached forgiveness and lack of judgement. It should be noticed that a few of those verses (the lukewarm one for example) was initially applied to followers of law who failed to do so, rather than to Christians saved by grace.
    How do you reconcile Jesus’ inclusivity with his exclusivity?

  9. 9 Scripture Zealot

    Sure, Jesus hung out with the people He wanted to save. Lack of judgment (in some respects) is for us not for Him.

    Wasn’t the church of Laodecia one that already knew the gospel?

    His invitation is for everyone but the requirement(s) of following Him is very strict. He’s looking for true believers. The parable of the wedding banquet starting at Matthew 22:2 may be relevant.


  10. 10 Damian

    Thanks, Jeff.

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