OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE "ASSEMBLING"
Jesus said, “Most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matt. 24:12-13) It’s not a new problem that some Christians put little importance on their commitment to assembling with the saints. Lest we forget, God has always been concerned with the assembling of His people together for worship. Long before the Lord's church came into existence, the duty of assembling was an important practice during the Mosaic period. The Lord even ordained two silver trumpets to call the people together (Num. 10:2-3). The attitude of faithful Jews was expressed by the Psalmist when he said, “I was glad when they said unto me let us go to the house of the Lord” (Psalms 122:1 NASB)
Good But Not Necessary? – Some today seem to believe that it is good to attend, but if there is something else of interest to do, church attendance is of lesser importance. The fact is, it is not only good to assemble, but it is also sinful not to do so. Clearly the Lord considered assembling together for worship and fellowship as a vital part of the Christian's life. It was important enough to the Lord that He commanded Christians to meet regularly to engage in worship: “Not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some; but encouraging one another; and all the more; as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25).
The Early Church Assembled – The practice of the early church meeting on the first day of the week was recorded in Acts 20:7. This set before Christians of all ages the inspired example that is imitated by the faithful today. "And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight."
Only On Sunday? – But what about our attendance to assemblies that occur on other than the Lord's Day? The early church certainly did not limit their assembling together just on Sunday Consider the following:
- Those who were converted on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem were together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44). Later the disciples met and prayed together (Acts 4:31).
- Barnabus took Saul (Paul) to Antioch where they met with the church for an entire year and many were taught (Acts 11:26). When Paul and Barnabus returned from a missionary journey they gathered the church together and reported to them all the things that God had done through them (Acts 14:27).
- At Corinth the church gathered together for the purpose of disciplining a wayward member (1 Cor. 5:4).
Did each of these gatherings happen on the Lord’s Day? Those who might conclude such should be reminded of Acts 2:46 "…day by day continuing with one mind in the temple..." When we think of the many assemblies the early church had, the direct command that they were not to miss assembling together, takes on more meaning than just the Sunday worship.
Just a Private Matter? – Attendance is not just a “private matter” as some would like to think. Other Christians are looking at us, and they are affected by our examples. It is a very serious matter when a poor example is set. A poor example in the matter of attendance might well set a new or weak member on the road to a complete falling away.
As parents our own children are being told by our pattern of attendance what we consider important and what we consider unimportant. If we allow the smallest thing to keep us away from the assemblies, surely we are giving a message that is loud and clear to our children. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that the attitude of the parent becomes the attitude of the child.
Encourage Each Other to Attend – We can become stronger individual Christians and stronger congregations if we will all become faithful attenders of all the assemblies.
God’s exhortation is just as applicable for us today as it was for His church over twenty centuries ago: “And let us consider HOW to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (1) NOT forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some; (2) BUT encouraging one another; and all the more; as you see the day drawing near.” (Emphasis added AB)
With brotherly affection - Andy