The Joy Of The Assembly

Empty Pews

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 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. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

The Joy Of The Assembly

One of the most basic needs of man is the need for companionship. Adam could not be happy in Paradise without Eve. Family is the root of all civilizations and the home is the barometer of the moral conscience of the world. When Jesus built His church He intended His people to share in their fellowship of grace, work of ministry and joy of exhorting one another to grow together. This can only be accomplished when the saints spend time with one another. There is a divine reason God ordained that His people gather together on the first day of the week. He gave His only begotten Son to die for men who hated and killed Christ. The remembrance of that great sacrifice is a focal point of the assembly. Taking the supper of the Lord reminds the saved of the grace of God and His incredible love. Another reason God wants His people to assemble together is found in the relationships that are created when common hearts join together in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs lifting up hands in prayer to worship the Lord. There is a special bond that is found when the disciples of Christ spend time with one another. As in the beginning when it was not good for man to be alone, it does not serve the purpose of the Lord’s design for the church to exist apart from one another. This becomes especially true in the modern world that no longer is defined by the nuclear community where everyone knows everyone and commonality is the bread of life. There was a time that most people who attended the worship services would see one another often during the week due to the limited scope of travel, work, and life. In the modern world of mass transportation and ease of travel, few families interact with one another on a daily basis during the week. There will be some interactions as families spend time together but on the whole, a congregation will find it difficult to fellowship with others. This is where the design of the local assembly fuels the spirit of brotherly love and exhortation.

In the letter to Hebrew Christians, the writer was concerned about the failing of many who did not assemble with the saints. This was sinful as the Lord commanded His people to remember the sacrifice of His Son in the Lord’s Supper and to deny this memorial insulted the Holy Spirit and displeased the Father and Son. Apart from the command to meet on the first day of the week, the Lord knew the needs of the saints for one another. Hope is a difficult measure to maintain in a world that is constantly trying to dissuade the soul from faithfulness. Love for one another can grow cold when time and distance keep one apart from one another. It is difficult to be exhorted to good works without the spirit of the encourager to admonish and hold up the hands of the weak. The language of the Hebrew writer instructs the early saints not to forsake the assembly because when they miss the assembly they fail to find the strength to exhort one another to greater hope, deeper love and multiplying of good works. Not gathering with fellow Christians harms the work of the church. On the one hand, the saint desires to go to Heaven but demonstrates his unwillingness to spend time with the same people while on earth. Holding fast the confession of hope is done with greater power when two or more are gathered as one. It is impossible to consider one another to love and good works staying home. Yet, many Christians make it clear they have no desire to consider others when they neglect the services of the Lord. It becomes a burden to participate in a Bible class or to attend a Sunday evening service with the saints and Wednesday night Bible class is never considered a purposeful exercise. Doing the bare minimum when more can be done does not help the congregation grow.

In the modern world of technology, saints have found a soothing answer to their conscience believing watching services on Facebook accounts for attending or assembling for services. This makes as much sense as trying to tell others that marriage can be fulfilling through watching one another long distance via Facebook. Companionship is the exhortation of the Hebrew writer for the saints to assemble with one other to confess their hope for one another, consider one another in order to stir up love and good work – requiring people of the flesh to be with people of the flesh. Let’s be clear. When a disciple decides not to assemble with the saints (for example on Sunday night, Wednesday night or gospel meetings) they are declaring that they have no abiding interest in helping the church grow in spirit and number. They may have Bible studies in their homes on Sunday night but they will not be advantageous to the assembly. Did God have a purpose in His people coming together in the assembly? Have we dismissed the design of the church to gratify our carnal desires to spend our lives fruitlessly? There are many saints who cannot make it to services for physical reasons, age and sickness. They number among those who spirits long to assemble with God’s people to sing together, pray together and fellowship one another – but they are unable. For many of the Lord’s church assembling more than an hour on Sunday is asking too much. By their actions, they do not help others hold fast the confession of their hope without wavering and they by their absence fail to consider their brother and sister in order to stir up love and good works. There will come a day when those same hearts will wish they had just one more opportunity to assemble and they cannot. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together as is the practices of so many but rather exhort one another by showing your faith.

 

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