Watching a church service online is not a substitute for coming to church. Online platforms are supplementary to being present, preached City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, Aries Zulkarnain.
The CHC App, launched on Oct 13 during City Harvest Church’s 29th anniversary, caused much excitement among CHC members. The app offers content like sermons, worship music and radio programs, and is meant to allow members and all who download the app to experience the many aspects of the church.
But the app should only serve as a supplement to the church and not as a substitute, said CHC’s executive pastor, Aries Zulkarnain as a reminder to members.
His message this weekend (Oct 20 and 21) delved into the importance of going to church in person.
Hebrews 10:25 exhorts the believers to “not [forsake] the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Pastor Aries explained worship and fellowship are two of the many “nutrients” that are vital to spiritual health. In the same way that supplements cannot replace the nutrients found in food, watching sermons online can never replace worship and fellowship in church.
WHY IS GOING TO CHURCH IMPORTANT?
“Can online replace on-site? As Paul puts it, certainly not!” Pastor Aries exclaimed, drawing laughter from the congregation.
The pastor then referenced Matthew 16:18 and explained that Jesus came to this world to build the church of the living God. To come to church is to experience this work of Christ.
Drawing the congregation’s attention to the Cross, he explained its four points, each representing a purpose that Christ wants to instil.
The first purpose is to encounter God. “The cross of Christ deals with our sin, our flesh, and the natural man by giving us a new life,” Pastor Aries explained.
The second is to experience family. “The blood of Christ forgives and removes our sins and guilt to bring us back to our Heavenly Father.”
The third to cultivate purpose. “The life of Christ made available to us to empower us to recreate.”
The last is to make a difference. “The working of death in natural man is so that the life of Christ is us can manifest progressively.”
The first two aspects of the cross are remedial in nature.—they deal with undoing the works of the devil in the believer’s life.
“It is like cleaning up the house. But after the house is clean, it cannot be left empty. The Bible says the devil will return if the house is empty,” said Pastor Aries, referring to Luke 11:24-26. “The redemptive nature of the Cross wants to secure the purpose of God in our lives.”
The pastor went on to explain that many believers find it hard to live the Christian life because they do not understand the redemptive power of the Cross. They constantly struggle with sin and guilt because they try to live a holy and righteous life by their own will.
“One of the ways we can live the victorious Christian life is through the church.”
THE DEATH OF LOVE
To further explain the purpose of the Cross.Pastor Aries explored Paul’s message on marriage and its relation to the love of Jesus for the church
Reading Ephesians 5:25-27, the pastor explained that while these passages are well-known for explaining how spouses should treat one another, they also contain insights to how the cross is not only for the atonement of sins but also for the creation of the church.
Paul told husbands to love their wives, “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:25). Pastor Aries said that from the beginning, Christ has had the church in mind and that He loves the church.
Ephesians 5:31 says, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two become one flesh.” This is a reference to Genesis 2:24, the verse that follows the creation of Eve.
God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, a symbol of death so that Eve could be created. Similarly, when Jesus died on the Cross, God created something out of His death—the church.
“Adam’s death had nothing to do with sin,” Pastor Aries pointed out. ” It was for the sole purpose of creation. Jesus’ death is not only for the penalty of sin, but it’s also a death of love, to create the existence of the church.”
In modern society, many believe marriage to be an old-fashioned concept created by humankind. They see it as flawed and no longer relevant. However, Pastor Aries pointed out that marriage was already in the mind of God before sin came into the world, as evidenced in Genesis. When marriages break down, people are quick to blame the system but they fail to see that the problem was sin and human weaknesses.
Similarly, the concept of church was not birthed from the human mind; it was already in the mind of God from the beginning. Alarmingly, many Christians now say the church is no longer relevant; some even feel that simply worshiping alone or with their family can replace going to church.
“But again, the church was there in the mind of Christ at the beginning,” Pastor Aries asserted. “The gathering of people to worship and fellowship is here to stay. No app or online experience can replace the purpose of God for His church. He wants us to become the Body of Christ that will embody the bride of Christ.”
He quoted Ephesians 1:22-23, which says, “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”
That is why the full works of the Cross are not just for salvation, but also for the purpose of God to be manifested in the believer’s life.
“To put it simply, this is the complete work of the Cross: firstly to be reminded that in Christ, I have died to that old life of independence which I inherited from sin. Secondly, in the resurrection, I have become not just as an individual believer in Christ but a member of His body.”
One of the obstacles to growth is individualism. The pastor encouraged the church to put aside its selfish nature and come into fellowship. He explained that Christians need one another’s encouragement on life’s journey.
“Because our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers,” he explained. “We cannot handle it alone, but being in church, we can stand on each other’s shoulders.”
In conclusion, Pastor Aries encouraged the church once again to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Heb 10:25).