And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 14, Number
In this issue:
God’s word says:
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking 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. (Heb. 10:24-25)
The Holy Spirit’s exhortation to consider one another in order to “stir up love and good works” is thus fortified with practical application by warning not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together”.
The question arises as to which assembly is one obliged not to forsake. The prohibition against forsaking our assembling together is properly applied to all scheduled assemblies of the saints, inasmuch as the stirring up love and good works also equally applies to all. Please note that the verse does not say “assembly”, but, “the assembling of ourselves together”, thus generally denoting all occasions of assembling together.
The focus of this article is multiple assemblies on the Lord’s Day and our view toward them. What is our Bible authority for multiple worship assemblies on the first day of the week? Why do we have a second assembly? How should we view our participation in it? What happens when we choose not to faithfully assemble for all of the scheduled worship services of the local church?
The Assembling of Ourselves Together
1) We assemble to worship. Worship assemblies on the first day of the week are sanctioned by the apostolic approved example of Acts 20:7, “when the disciples came together to break bread.” The early Christians had daily assemblies to hear the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:46; 5:42). Consequently, a mindset toward attending worship services that says, “I’ll come if I can” is not the heart of a disciple of Christ that is given to being like the Teacher (Lk. 6:40).
2) We assemble to be edified. Saints assemble to worship God and to be edified (built up) in the faith: “Whenever you come together…let all things be done for edification” (1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 4:11-16). Breaking bread, teaching God’s word, giving, praying and singing each contribute to this godly purpose.
1) Deemphasizing faithful attendance at every worship service. Some Christians have yielded to the temptation to deemphasize attendance at every scheduled assembly of the saints (including Bible classes). Rather than expressing a diligent faith toward worship, these brethren have become “sluggish” in thought and deed (Heb. 6:10-11). Such spiritual fatigue is observed when one’s attitude says; “As long as I make it to the Sunday morning service to eat the Lord’s Supper” everything is fine. No, dear brother or sister, everything is not fine! Ought not God’s elect desire to do everything we can to participate in every worship assembly? Or, shall we display the same attitude of weariness that doomed Israel (Isa. 43:22-24)?
At the turn of the 20th century one Methodist preacher bemoaned the “oncesters” – those who only attended worship services on Sunday morning (The Sunday Night Service, Wilber Fletcher Sheridan, 14). One who thinks “showing up once on Sunday is really all that matters” has already forsaken some of the gatherings of the saints! We must instead have the attitude David expressed, “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psa. 122:1). Has the second Sunday service lost its glory as it has among the denominations? What about the mid-week assemblies? Shall we call these additional assemblies, “Ichabod” (1 Sam. 4:19-22)?
2) The erosion of an attitude of excellence. Instead of “doing all we can do” the “oncester” betrays an attitude of mediocrity, if not lazy apathy, toward attending all of the scheduled worship services of the congregation. Christians are not to be indifferent, but “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29; Col. 3:10). It is impossible to conceive of Jesus having such a lackadaisical approach to worship. Our assemblies are opportunities to express devotion and to give adoration to the Lord. Multiple assemblies on the Lord’s Day as well as throughout the week are all chances to stir up love and good works among us. Instead of saying, “What do I have to do?” let us say, “What can I do?”
3) The second assembly becomes an excuse for not attending every assembly. The second assembly on the Lord’s Day provides another worship opportunity to all the members as well as the chance to worship when one could not attend the earlier assembly. It is not an excuse to minimize attending every worship service. Its use must not become a vehicle for condoning apathetic and unfaithful absenteeism.
Second assemblies do not exist because we live busy lives. Some may say, “Life is so much busier today than in New Testament times” to defend a failure to assemble with the saints at every assembly. There are undoubtedly more things that vie for our time, but do not be deceived; we have more leisure time today than ever before, especially when contrasted with the first century. Theirs was a life of daily subsistence, whereas ours is one of abundant free time. Instead of offering excuses we must seize every opportunity that exists to worship and praise Almighty God.
Consequences follow when the second assembly on the Lord’s Day becomes our excuse not to attend every worship assembly.
1) We set a poor example for others. Instead of lights that shine with faith and hope as we worship, our light grows dim (Matt. 5:14-16). Would we be satisfied if the elders only attended worship on Sunday morning, or only on Sunday night? Why then should not all the members set the same good example of full attendance when the church comes together?
2) We become poor stewards of our time. We must redeem the time we have to do God’s will (Eph. 5:16). What better use of our time is there than to worship God: Recreation? Entertainment? Sleep?
3) We are not sacrificing for the Lord. Jesus commended the widow who gave “her whole livelihood” into the treasury; her sacrifice was complete (Mk. 12:41-44). Now, some are comfortable to reason that “because of my livelihood I cannot worship God”. Jesus will not commend us after commending the widow when she gave “her whole livelihood”, will He?
4) We have failed to set proper priorities. Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness compels us not to be “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). When we abandon the assembling of ourselves together for other things, we have sinned against our Lord and need to repent of our sin (Heb. 10:26; Rom. 2:4-10).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Marks of the NT Church (Part 1)
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 43:10-12
1. The church
of Christ is identifiable.
I. MARKS OF DIVINE ESTABLISHMENT (Matt. 16:18).
Would the Church be Established?
A Form of Bullying?
“A 15-year-old Wisconsin boy who wrote an op-ed opposing gay adoptions was censored, threatened with suspension and called ignorant by the superintendent of the Shawano School District, according to an attorney representing the child.” (FoxNews.com)
The report on FoxNews.com notes that Brandon Wegner supported his position with Scriptures, including those that call homosexuality a sin.
“The school immediately issued an apology – stating Wegner’s opinion was a “form of bullying and disrespect.”
“Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District,” the statement read. “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.” (Ibid)
Have we now arrived at the place in public discourse about homosexuality that if one disagrees with it he or she is a “bully”? And, when the Bible is quoted in defense of one’s belief, is it now a “form of bullying and disrespect”? That appears to be so at the Shawano School District in Wisconsin. The report went on to tell how the superintendent pressured the boy to recant (dare we say, “bullied”?), reminding him that he could be suspended from school.
So a superintendent can bully a student over disagreement with his stated belief (supported by Scripture) in an article, calling the article a form of bullying. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy here?
Whenever men “call evil good, and good evil”, divine punishment is not far away (Isa. 5:20, 21-25). As He was led to Golgotha Jesus said, “If they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” (Lk. 23:31) When innocence is punished, judgment is sure.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 01/29/2012
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA