You learn the nature and content of the love of God from the way that love acted in history in Jesus Christ, and you experience that love as a present, life-changing reality as the Holy Spirit pours it out into your heart. Both of these are utterly crucial. If we make claims to have experiences of the love of God without solid foundations in history and its God-given meaning, we become cultic, emotionalistic, fanatical; and if we claim to understand the history and the meaning of history but we don’t experience the love of God poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we become barren and impotent and intellectualistic.
So said John Piper.
The purpose of going to church is to receive the gifts God wants us to have. The purpose of the sermon is to preach Christ crucified, the proclaim the Good Story of Christ’s entry into history to save a fallen creation and the Holy Spirit operates through that Word to “pour the love of God into our hearts”.
Back in the old hippie days they used to say “be there or be square”. The church service is the means that God uses to deliver forgiveness of sins and as we say over and over again – where there is forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation. It is not possible to love Jesus and never go to the place where he chooses to come to you.