“When You Come Together”
“When You Come Together”
By Paul R. Blake
When the Lord commissioned His apostles to build the church on the foundation He laid, He inspired them to teach that the deepest and strongest fellowship exists when the disciples come together. Immediately after the church began on the day of Pentecost, the Christians began coming together (Acts 2:44, 46). In his epistles that taught Christians how to worship in song, the apostle Paul told them to speak and sing to “one another” (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). When he wrote to the Corinthians about the Lord’s Supper, he said “when you come together” five times (1Cor. 11:17-18, 20, 33-34). When Peter was imprisoned by Herod and held for execution, the church was “gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12). The church is to assemble together for exhortation and teaching (Heb. 10:25; 1Cor. 14:26). Assembling together after being baptized, assembling together to sing praises and edify one another, assembling for the Lord’s Supper, assembling for prayer, and assembling for teaching and preaching -- the first century Christians clearly understood that assembling together was not just an instruction from God, but the scriptural means by which they truly shared in fellowship with one another.
The church is not a building. The church is the assembling of God’s people together in one place. When God’s children come together in one place, they are a local church. If Christians do not come together in one place, then there is no local church. Any given community may have dozens of Christians, but if they do not come together, there is no local church in that neighborhood.
Live streaming of worship services is a blessing for those who are sick or shut in, enabling them to hear Bible teaching and songs of praise. However, live streaming will never be a scriptural substitute for assembling for worship. To insist that it is an acceptable alternative to assembling for worship, in effect changes the scriptural organization of the church. The frequent use of “when you come together” when talking to Christians about the church is a Divine implication from which we draw the necessary conclusion that a sound church exists when the disciples come together for worship and service.
“But brother Blake, don’t you realize the risks we must take to assemble under the threat of COVID19.” I do, and I know that there are reasonable precautions that can be taken to reduce but not entirely eliminate the danger. In the first and second century, Christians were under the threat of being arrested and executed for assembling in some cities of the Roman Empire. They understood that there were risks in assembling, and they took reasonable precautions to reduce but not entirely eliminate the threat. They met in tombs and catacombs, but take note that they accepted some of the risk and assembled. The threat of COVID19 today is not greater than was the threat of being pierced by a Roman spear in the first century. Both we and they belong to the Lord’s church, we both embrace the scriptures as the source of sound doctrine, and we both believe in a resurrection to eternal life in heaven. After taking what precautions were available to them, they accepted the risk of death and assembled. And in comparison to some Christians today? The frightening aspect of this is that some may become unwilling to assemble until all risk is eliminated. Will such a day ever come when there is no risk at all?
At some point, we must become willing to reduce the danger by taking reasonable precautions, and then with courage accept the risks that cannot be entirely eliminated by the precautions. Any noble goal is worth the risks involved in achieving it. This is especially true in the spiritual arena. The mature and strong will understand and apply this. Those who yield to doubts and fear will struggle with this, often unsuccessfully. He who risks nothing, achieves nothing. “But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39).
A little seed lay in the ground,
And soon began to spout.
“Now which of all the flowers around,”
It mused, “Shall I come out?
“The lily's face is fair and proud,
But just a trifle cold:
The rose, I think is rather loud,
And then its fashion's old.
“The violet is very well.
But not a flower I'd choose,
Nor yet the Canterbury Bell,
I never cared for blues.”
And so it criticized each flower,
This supercilious seed,
Until it woke one summer hour,
And found itself a weed.
(Via The Family Newsletter)
A Moments Wisdom
--We do not need better methods or more money; we need better men.
--Giving is grace; not giving is disgrace.
--People seldom “lose their religion” by a blowout; it’s usually a slow leak.
--Moderation in sin is no more possible than moderation in hanging.
--The real measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he would never be caught.
--Postponed obedience is disobedience.
--Christ will not live in the parlor of our hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts.
Test Your Bible Knowledge of Job
1. What three things did Satan take from Job? ________________________
2. What did Job’s wife tell him to do? ________________________________
3. How did Job answer her? _______________________________________
4. Who were Job’s three counselors? ________________________________
5. Who was the young man who tried to help Job understand? ____________
6. What did God command Job to do? _______________________________
7. What did God give to Job after his trials ended? _____________________
8/30/20 AM - “In His Time”; PM - “My Friend” (Doug Sanders)
9/6/20 AM - What Thomas Missed; PM - Singing Service: Congregational Choice
9/13/20 AM - Saving Lot’s Wife; PM - Mixed Blessings: Being Grateful in Want
9/20/20 AM - Making Jesus Sigh - PM - Mixed Blessings: Being Joyful in Sorrow
9/27/20 AM - You Cannot be Taught Wrong and be Baptized Right
PM - Mixed Blessings: Being Gentle in a Cruel World