Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 29, 1960

"Getting Ready For Church"

Robert H. Farish, Lufkin, Texas

"Getting ready for church" is a phrase frequently used. As the time approaches for worship to begin, parents instruct the children to "get ready for church." Adults remark to one another that it is time to "get ready for church." We understand the remark to mean preparation to attend a meeting of the church. This generally means "getting ready" physically. It includes bathing, brushing the teeth, combing the hair, putting on fresh clothes, etc. There is no criticism intended of this sort of "getting ready." Our physical appearance should come in for consideration in preparing to associate with others in worship to God. The thing that is wrong is the exclusive emphasis given to this phase of "getting ready" and the lack of attention to the more significant preparation of soul. Those who fail to prepare the outward appearance for the occasion are exceptions, rather than the rule, whereas, those who fail to prepare the inward man are the rule rather than the exception.

Common courtesy dictates that proper attention be given to the outward appearance. However, it should be remembered that "man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7) In our "getting ready," just whom are we striving to please? If the favor of God be our primary objective, heart preparation will receive the emphasis. Our actions in "getting ready for church" will be most revealing to us if we will pause and ponder their design.

What Should One Do To "Get Ready For Church?"

David wrote: "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." (Psalms 29:2) Barnes commented that this refers "to the state of the heart — the internal ornament — with which we should approach God, to a holy and pure state of mind. It may be added that there is no beauty like this; that there is no external comeliness, no charm of person or complexion, no adorning of costly robes that can be compared with this. It is this which God seeks, and with this he will be pleased, whether under a less or more attractive external form, whether under rich and costly raiment, or under the plain and decent clothing of poverty." (Commentary of Psalms)

One needs to think upon his purpose in assembling with the saints — why assemble? Is it to see and be seen of men or is it to worship God?

The proper frame of mind is an essential preparation to acceptable worship. The attitude of heart is constantly in the view of Him with whom we have to do — "All things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do." (Heb. 4:13) Our attitude must be one of reverence and awe if our service is to be well-pleasing to God. "Let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe." (Heb. 12:28) Our conduct which is the index to our attitude of heart too often it is a shocking revelation of irreverence and contempt. Care should be exercised to avoid presuming on the mercy and love of Him with whom we have to do. Consciousness of the fact that "our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29) will contribute greatly to the proper attitude in worship. This preparation of mind is an essential element in "getting ready for church."

But we are exhorted to "draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need." (Heb. 4:16) There is no conflict between "reverence and awe" on the one hand and "boldness" on the other. We can approach God in worship with "boldness" and "reverence and awe." There is a sense in which the word, "bold," is used which is bad and the very opposite of reverence and awe. Webster defines this sense as: "too forward; taking undue liberties; over-assuming or over-confident; lacking proper modesty; or restraint; rude — " The meaning of the word in Heb. 4:16 is confidence. We are to worship with confidence. This boldness or confidence is not based upon our personal righteousness or merit; but upon Christ. The sympathetic understanding nature of our great high priest is cited to assure us and thus make it possible for us to approach God, through him, with confidence. We can approach God in full expectation of obtaining mercy and grace for our high priest is one that can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

"Getting ready for church" should include reconciliation with any brother whom we have wronged. "First be reconciled to thy brother and then come offer thy gift." (Matt. 5:24) Reconciliation takes precedence over worship. It is a necessary preparation for worship.

"Getting ready for church" requires forgiving men their trespasses — "for if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matt. 6:14, 15)

These are some of the things to which attention should be given in "getting ready for church." Be reminded of the more needful preparation every time you use or hear used the expression, "getting ready for church."