JESUS IS THE ANSWER TO THE ASSEMBLING
The assembling, Greek, EPISUNAGOGE, means “a complete collection, spec. a Chr. Meeting (for worship):–assembling (gathering) together.” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, p. 83). This has been the subject of many and varied discussions over the years. What saith God the originator?
First, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad…brethren” (James 1:1, 2), said, “For if there come unto your assembly….” (James 2:1, 2). Plainly, the first century church had an assembly. “The church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2) came “together.” (1 Corinthians 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34). Barnabas found Saul in Tarsus, and “he brought him to Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people.” (Acts 11:26). One, therefore, realizes that the church assembled. One knows that this assembling took place over a one year period. Acts 2:46, 47 shows that the first century Christians met daily, as well as on “the first day of the week”, that is, weekly.
Second, “the assembling” was “upon the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2), “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10), the day Jesus arose from the dead (Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-7; John 20:1-9), declaring that He is “the Son of God with power.” (Romans 1:4). By the way, the church began on the first day of the week, the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1ff; Leviticus 23:15, 16). The assembly is, therefore, not without significance. The frequency of the assembling has been established. The article “the” preceding “week” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) is the Greek word KATA, translated “every” in Acts 14:23. “And they continued stedfastly…” (Acts 2:42) suggests giving constant attention to a thing. (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 547). Regular and consistent assembling to worship upon the first day of the week, or every week, is the idea.
Third, God has abolished and replaced the first covenant, the Old Testament, the law of Moses (2 Corinthians 3; Colossians 2:14-16; Hebrews 8:6-13) with the second covenant, the New Testament, the law of Christ, the gospel. (Ibid). However, just as those under the law of Moses were to observe a day, the Sabbath, weekly (Exodus 20:8-11), so has God set aside a day for Christians to worship, the first day of every week. (Acts 20:7). Saints are to assemble stedfastly, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25). Notice! (1) There was an assembling; (2) Some were forsaking the assembling, that is, abandoning deserting, leaving, or neglecting the assembling. (3) They were told to STOP doing this. Alan E. Highers had an excellent and informative lesson on this verse at Polishing The Pulpit, 8/2016. Contact the Jacksonville Church of Christ, Jacksonville, Alabama, for a copy.
Fourth, consider a sermon the writer preached in a number of formats over the years. No originality is claimed. Use it to the glory of God. Briefly, here is Why I Attend All of the Services of the Church. (1) Joy, Psalm 122:1; (2) Example, 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Corinthians 11:1; (3) Gratitude, Luke 17:11-19; John 19; (4) Teach/Admonish, Ephesians 5:19; Co-lossians 3:16; (5) Be taught/admonished, Ibid; (6) Hunger/Thirst after righteousness, Matthew 5:6; (7) Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, Matthew 6:33; (8) Always abound, 1 Corinthians 15:58; (9) Love God supremely, Matthew 22:38-40; (10) Be peculiar, zealous, Titus 2:13 and con-text; (11) Be ready unto every good work, Titus 3:1; (12) Fellowship, 1 John 1:7; (13) Aid, rather than hinder—What if disciples had not assembled, Acts 1; 2; (14) Imitate young, old, the infirm who met regularly in spite of physical problems; use examples in own experience; (15) Gus Nichols illustration: If 1 can forsake 1 assembling, 2 can be forsaken, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1048…ALL. If 1 can forsake 1 assembling, 2 can do so, 4, 8, 16….In other words, all could forsake all assemblings, destroying the church, and it would not be a sin against God! Absurd! (16) No employer would allow the tardiness and missed days one sees in the assemblings; (17) Forsaking “just one” assembling, or “now and then”, is like saying one little lie, theft of some small amount is OK. Cf. Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 3:9; (18) Would I want Jesus to come while I was elsewhere when the church was meeting to worship God?; (19) I want people to know where my treasure and heart are, Matthew 6:21; and (20) I do not want to be a stumblingblock to anyone, 1 Corinthians 8:9.
Fifth, Jesus, like a magnet, should draw everyone to the assembling. Reading of the coming “Prophet” (Deuteronomy 18:15), the “virgin” born “Son” (Isaiah 7:14), who would be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), the despised and rejected “lamb” or “sheep” of God who would willingly leave heaven, and come to earth to die for lost man (Isaiah 53), and all else, should so fill the hearts of all who know it to anxiously look forward to the day to assemble. A reading of the fulfillment of those, and more, prophecies, such as, the virgin birth (Matthew 1:16-25; Luke 2:8-20), the loving preacher and healer (Matthew 4:23, 24), the saving Lord (Luke 2:11), who gave His blood for the remission of my sins (Matthew 26:28), and to purchase the church (Acts 20:28) He promised to build (Matthew 16:13-19), should draw one to the assemblings. In short, one who is the diligent student saints are to be (2 Timothy 2:15) should never entertain the idea of whether or not to assemble with the saints. Looking forward “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice….” (1 Peter 1:4, 5), ought to fill every heart with love and desire to assemble on the first day of the week, and a readiness to perform such. Where else could one be when the church comes together to worship God to receive such blessings?
Sixth, those who sing the great songs of Zion should do so with the spirit and understanding. Do not be guilty of “showing up” now and then, and singing, “My Jesus, I Love Thee”, but showing up infrequently to commune with Him. Some sing when they attend, “A charge to keep I have, A God to glorify”, but they keep that charge now and then. Others sing, “Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love”, but rarely are present to show and enjoy it. A few may sing, “Closer to Thee”, but refuse to enjoy this closeness as they ought. Perhaps some ought to sing, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”, or “Is It Well With My Soul?” Hopefully, a number will learn to bring their singing and practice into harmony, with such songs as, “The Lord is my Shepherd…He leadeth me”, and I follow him, and, “When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” Beloved, read and study these psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and teach and be taught by them. (Colossians 3:16). Sing and mean what you melodiously vocalize.
Seventh, why should one attend Sunday morning Bible classes, Sunday PM worship, Wednesday evening Bible study, VBS, Gospel Meetings at home and area churches, etc.? (1) To grow, 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 5:11-14; (2) To be ready to every good work, Titus 3:1; (3) To imitate the first century Christians, who met other than the first day of the week, Acts 2:46, 47; (4) To obey and support the elders who have the rule over and oversight of the church, Hebrews 13:7, 17; (5) To enjoy the precious fellowship of like kindred, Acts 20:36-38 is a great example.
Lastly, do not be followers of those to whom Hebrew 10:25 was written. They obviously gave very little attention and significance to the assembling, which God put in place. Put God first in every area of your life. Be faithful in all areas wherein God leads you through His word. Watch your life and your priorities change for the better. Observe your hope of eternal life become clearer and dearer. Become a peculiar (different, obedient) person. (Titus 2:14).