Seven brothers and sisters in Christ gathered in Port Orchard on October 15th, including brethren from Edmonds and Purdy. We are grateful for the friendship and the fellowship in Jesus’ name.
What does the New Testament teach about disciples of Jesus assembling together? What does God say is/are the purpose(s) of “assembling together” and where does He say it? From where do we get the term “the Lord’s Day?” Where does the Lord define it as different from other days, and in what ways does He say it is different? What does God say is its significance to us, and where does He reveal this? What does it mean to come together on “the Lord’s Day”? Is that a special time of worship set apart from the idea of being a living sacrifice during your regular course of living? How does living our lives as an act of continual worship relate to our gathering for a special time of corporate worship?
Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” [Matthew 18:20] The Lord wants us to gather together and Jesus is in our midst. There is something special about how the Lord works among us when we gather together. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that
they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” [Matthew 18:19]
Purpose for our gathering includes mutual encouragement [Hebrews 10:15-27], edification of the church [1 Corinthians 14:12, 26], and eating together [1 Corinthians 11]. A point was made that “worship” was not found in any of these New Testament verses.
When we gather together each member ought to be able to minister and to serve according to their gifts of the Holy Spirit. Each ought to be able to participate and not just those who teach. In Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his
message until midnight.” The believers gathered to eat together and Paul spoke.
The words translated “spoke” and “message” do not require the concept of a
sermon to a captive audience, but may indicate a discussion among the brethren
Along with discussion about what we are to do when we gather, there was also discussion about what day to gather and the significance of that day. It was noted that some believe that the People of God should continue to observe a Saturday Sabbath day. Some believe that the Church should observe the Sabbath but that it was changed to Sunday. Others consider the Sabbath to be a type and shadow fulfilled in Jesus Christ; that Jesus is
our Sabbath-rest. Of those there are some who consider Sunday to be a day the
Church should gather and there are those who do not consider it important which
day to gather.
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” [Acts 2:46, 47]
The above verse and others indicate that the Church was meeting every day. Other verses note that they met on the first day of the week, Sunday.
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet…” Revelation 1:10.
The above verse is where the term, “The Lord’s Day” is found. There are some who equate this with the first day of the week, Sunday.
One brother, who participated by email wrote:
““The Lord’s Day” was taken from a poor rendering of Revelation 1:10. It should properly read “on the Day of the Lord,” meaning the time of the Lord’s return and the subsequent events as described in Revelation.
“The Catholic Church changed the time of gathering from Sabbath to Sunday (Sun-day) in commemoration of the “venerable day of the Sun” according to Constantine’s order. The purpose was to remove “the church” from its Hebrew foundations and instill a pagan-Christian format for the institutional church system known as the Holy Roman Empire. The traditions passed on through the Reformation to Protestantism and even
Seventh-day Adventism, as well as Mormonism, etc.
“It shouldn’t matter which day the saints meet; early on they met every day of the week. That’s my two-cents’ worth, if you’d care to share it with the others.”
Romans 14:4-13 and Colossians 2:16-18 were referred to as relating to not judging one another about a day.
Additional scriptures about what we are to be and to do together were discussed.
“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” [1 Corinthians 14:26]
“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” [Ephesians 5:17-21]
“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” [1 Corinthians 16:1, 2]
We observed that there are many instructions for us as the Church but not many specifically about what to do when we gather in our meetings.
2. Are house churches Biblical? Are mega churches
The Church in the New Testament met at the temple and house to house. At the temple the apostles were arrested for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those gatherings were evangelistic. Otherwise, every gathering where the building was mentioned was in a house. [Acts 2:46, 20:20, Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:9, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 2]
In Acts 20, when Paul was speaking to the brethren who had gathered to break bread, the young man fell from the third floor. This may have been someone’s home or another kind of structure.
Clearly, a church meeting in a house is Biblical in the sense that this was the observed pattern in the New Testament. The New Testament does not require meeting in a house and it does not prohibit meeting in another type of building.
The relationships and participation and mutual edification of each member in the Church to build up one another [1 Corinthians 14] can work well in assemblies of a size that can meet in a home.
Paul teaches the principle of following the pattern of the apostle in the New Testament.
“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” [Philippians 3:17]
“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” [Philippians 4:9]
As an assembly grows larger it becomes harder for the instructions of the New Testament to be carried out.
Organization in the church is necessary as seen by Acts 6:1-7 and in 2 Timothy and Titus regarding elders and deacons.
There is no prohibition in the New Testament against large churches.
In Acts 2, 3000 men were added to the Church and in chapter 4, the total came to 5000. These are large numbers, but there is no indication they formed one church assembly. It appears from the rest of the New Testament that they met, “from house to house.”
The pattern that we see with what is now called “mega churches” is that one man is prominent in leading a particular mega church.
There are verses that indicate elders were appointed in each city [Titus 1:5, Acts 20:17], in which case perhaps there was just one elder over a house assembly. And there are verses that indicate there were multiple elders in each assembly [Acts 14:23, James 5:14]. Hebrews 13:17 refers to “they” and “them”. In either case, multiple elders are emphasized whether in a city or in an assembly. And one man having preeminence is never expressed.
The idea of one man having prominence over a church was a concern similar to the 3 John 9-12 reference to Diotrophes.
The idea was raised that with the proper hierarchy one man could oversee a large church similar to the advice that Moses received from his father-in-law in Exodus 18:13-27. However, the concern was expressed about one-man leadership where the leader claims to be a Moses over the people. Since Moses was a type of Christ and not of a professional
clergyman, this is blasphemy (Deuteronomy 18:15, Acts 3:22 and 7:37).
Leadership in the church should be different from the world.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man
did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28
3. What is a love relationship with Jesus?
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” [John 14:21]
The Church is Jesus’ bride, not an institution, but people.
A love relationship with Jesus can be thought of as between an individual and the Lord, but also it is important to see our love relationship as between the assembly of believers and Jesus Christ.
To love Jesus is to love His body.
Agape love is to act without regard to getting anything in return.
Love God and love people.
James teaches that true saving faith results in helping people in need.
“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” [1 John 4:20, 21]
Abide in the Vine [John 15:5]
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” [1 John 4:18, 19]
Those who wait upon the Lord… [Isaiah 40:31]
Our God personally cares about individuals such as Hagar in Genesis 16 and 21.
4. What does the Bible teach us about pragmatism?
Pragmatism: a practical way of solving problems. Results oriented. What ever works. Non-ideological: make it work. A philosophy and a movement where the significance of an idea is determined by its practical results. Utilitarianism. Actions based on objective scientific judgment. Leadership by technocrat.
In a sense, following Jesus is pragmatic. If the ultimate end is self-interest, one could say the Christian is pragmatic because heaven with the Lord is the result. But to be pragmatic in that sense requires one to believe in an existence beyond this life.
When Satan accused God by saying that the only reason Job serves God is what he can get from God, God proved Satan a liar by demonstrating His manifold wisdom through Job’s life as He does through the life of the Church [Ephesians 3:10, 11].
From an earthly point of view the life a Christian is not pragmatic as we are commanded to deny our self, pick up our cross and follow Jesus. [Matthew 16:24]
Pragmatism, in its normal sense, is about solving the world’s problems and it is not about eternal things. Pragmatism is about “whatever works”. This is the opposite of faith in many cases.
Faith is exemplified by Joshua stepping into the Jordan [Joshua 3] or Peter stepping out of the boat [Matthew 14].
We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. [2 Corinthians 5:7]
The Lord wants us to be effective in working for a living and helping people.
The following verses were briefly discussed.
“So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in
much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:9-13
In general, pragmatism is the religion of the world as represented by Esau’s selling his birthright for a meal [Genesis 25], the serpent’s lie [Genesis 3], and the Tower of Babel [Genesis 11].
The world chose Barabbas over Jesus. [Matthew 27]
5. Is the whole world being deceived? If so, how
shall we respond? If not, why not?
Unbelievers are being deceived.
The whole world is being deceived.
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Revelation 19:20
Deception occurs among professing Christians. [1 John 3:7, Galatians 1 and 6:7, Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11]
The world is being deceived by the religion of pragmatism.
“But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” [2 Thessalonians 3:12-15]
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” [Matthew 28:18-20]