Monday, April 06, 2015
Back to the Basics | Christian Assembly
This is a "sticky" topic, but it needs to be addressed...
Those of us who have been "set" as ministers of the Gospel and overseers of God's house must remember that the local church, or Christian fellowship, is just that. It's meant to be a fellowship of BELIEVERS who come together to encourage and edify one another.
24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
We, as born-again believers... the Church of Jesus Christ, are commanded to fellowship for the purpose of encouragement, strength and biblical instruction. Essentially, the "church" is not merely a building, nor was it ever. It is the family of Christ through the Spirit of adoption, made possible through the blood of our Savior.
This fellowship of believers also serves as a "launching pad" through which servants are separated and sent into the world to build this same Church, the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God. Reference Acts 13:2-3; 14:23.
The fellowship of believers, often referred to as the "local church" or "Christian assembly" is also called as the governmental body of God's Kingdom in the earth. As a Body, we are called to bring instruction, order, correction and love to one another. Reference Ephesians 4:11-16; Matthew 18:16-17.
This "local church" or "Christian assembly" was established by the Apostles and has a set order which should be followed by New Covenant believers. Reference 2 Thessalonians 3:14; 1 Timothy 3:5.
With all of that being said, where in the world did we get this concept that the church is "a hospital for the sinner?" That is NOT biblical. You will NEVER see in Scripture where the sinful and rebellious gathered to worship God. In fact, it's impossible, as those who worship a holy God must worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). We, who have been called to watch over God's assembly, cannot continue to entertain worldly things under the guise of "winning souls to Christ." The biblical pattern for doing so is to GO INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOSPEL (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15). It is NOT the job of the church to make the worldly feel at home in God's house.
We should be (out) in the world, preaching the Gospel and showing the love of Christ to all. Once they repent, and are baptized, we should then invite them into a joint fellowship - the same where we, as believers, gather strength from one another and welcome the presence of God. This is the biblical model. It's a dangerous thing to tell people that they should come into God's presence "as they are" without any reverence for who He is. This is why the presence of our Father is so scarce. He will not dwell among the unclean. We are commanded to be holy as He is holy.
It is not my job, as a pastor or overseer of a congregation, to make anyone feel "comfortable" other than God, when we are gathered for worship and the study of His word. In fact, we SHOULD feel uncomfortable if there is disobedience in our lives. God's house is a place of repentance, worship and power. It's a proverbial filling station for those who are truly doing the work we are called to do... giving to the poor, comforting the weak, caring for the widow, feeding the hungry and preaching Christ to the lost. It is NOT a voting booth for the sinful who want to feel that they can belong. It is NOT a 4-H club for people to plan entertaining events. It is NOT a food truck to sell chicken and fish plates, trying to raise money for plays and community basketball games. All of these things are secondary. They do NOT define, nor are they necessary in God's house.
Additionally, Paul taught that we, as believers, should restore one another when a brother or sister falls into sin (Galatians 6:1-3). If that brother or sister refuses to turn away from the sin, fellowship with them should cease until repentance comes to pass (Titus 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14). They can't BUY a free pass. They aren't entitled to a vote. We are not to look the other way when blatant, unrepentant sin is present. It may sound harsh, but it's the word of God... and IT WORKS! It protects the honor and integrity of the SANCTUARY, which has (in many cases) become nothing more than a multi-purpose activity room.
When will the called and elect of God stop allowing the world to define how we worship? How dare we allow anyone to demand that God's house be used for any ungodly purpose. Could this be the reason for the powerless rhetoric we hear on a daily basis? All talk, yet no power? We really need to drop these 501(c)3 death contracts and seek God according to His own instruction. It's not comfort that brings us to repentance. So, if I truly believe that "Jesus saves", I want others to realize the need for Him. He's a necessity, not an accessory! When we make the "church" comfortable for those who refuse to follow Him, we rob them of a true experience with God, and quite possibly eternal life altogether.
The local assembly is for God's people. If people don't feel comfortable because of sin... DUH! That's the point!