A Christian, discouraged or offended, might be tempted to justify not gathering with fellow Christians on God's Holy Sabbath, but this temptation should be flatly rejected in order to obey God our Father and Jesus our Christ.
The following is based on a true story, though it appear to be a riddle…
The COG-MMI Home Office was first in Bentonville, AR, which later relocated to Gravette, AR, before it was dissolved after about 4 years due to a complete drop in attendance. In many ways, the COG-MMI was at first a great place to fellowship. I had been raised in a church of God most of the life of me, but because of a number of doctrinal changes and, being otherwise unable to live with myself under those changes as the situation was a torment to me, I finally decided to disassociate with that group and immediately assembled the COG-MMI. After all, I, myself, and you know me, had struggled for a good eight years against such a trend, that it felt so incredible to finally be among those who simply agreed on most things. At the time, it was just not conceivable to myself, and I can assure you, to me, either, to trust any of the other COG groups.
Even if I got into an argument with myself, no matter how serious, it seemed that the matter could always be resolved by me. When it came to worship, the vocal unity was unmatched. I could usually trust the doctrine and instruction given by me, always being pleased with myself for being such a team player.
After a few years, however, I did begin to grow discontent with the same ol', same ol'…
I will continue the story, later, but let’s turn to Hebrews…
Hebrews 10:23 Hebrews 10:23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
American King James Version× Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:24 Hebrews 10:24And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:
American King James Version× And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
Hebrews 10:25 Hebrews 10:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version× 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.
Present a quote…
The Church, the ekklesia
“The word 'church' in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word 'ekklesia' which comes from two words 'ek' meaning 'out' and 'kaleo' meaning to 'call.' An ekklesia or 'calling out' was not just an assembly. The word ekklesia was a political term, not a religious term. Jesus was the King and the Bible used the term ekklesia for a good reason. In classical Greek "ekklesia" meant "an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly."”1
1Liddell and Scott define ekklesia as "an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly." [R. Scott, and H.G. Liddell, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 206
For the purposes of this particular message, the assumption is made that the presenter and presented to already know the Sabbath is holy. They have already learned from scripture that it is a day of rest from our labors. And they even realize that the Sabbath in the old testament was a commanded assembly for the people of Israel.
The problem, related to this last realization, commanded assembly, is the confusion that I have seen and experienced concerning the importance of assembly for the new testament EKKLESIA.
Discouragement can lead to isolation and self-protection. And because of this, I might defend myself by saying,…
“I may not go to assembly anymore, but I always say uplifting things to the checkout person at the grocery store, or help out at the local soup kitchen every Tuesday without fail, or I give generously to a ministry for which the sole purpose is to give out Bibles and 100% of their funds go to Bible acquisition and distribution. So, no, I don’t meet with brethren regularly, but I do all these other Christian acts.”
Are good works a substitute for assembly, or are they something additional?
Galatians 6:9 Galatians 6:9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
American King James Version× And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Galatians 6:10 Galatians 6:10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
American King James Version× Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Ephesians 4:1 Ephesians 4:1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation with which you are called,
American King James Version× I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
Ephesians 4:2 Ephesians 4:2With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love;
American King James Version× with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
Ephesians 4:3 Ephesians 4:3Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
American King James Version× endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:4 Ephesians 4:4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling;
American King James Version× There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
Ephesians 4:5 Ephesians 4:5One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
American King James Version× one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
Ephesians 4:6 Ephesians 4:6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
American King James Version× one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
I don’t have the time to go to these other references, but you might also note I Corinthians 12, where the church is likened also to a body. Additionally, look in Colossians 2, where we are described as being “KNIT” together, again as a body.
A recap about me, myself & I…
As previously mentioned, I spent four years in the COG-MMI. After a few years, though, I began to grow discontent with the same ol', same ol'. To me, it seemed, I just wasn't growing enough as a Christian,… even when relying on myself for guidance. Neither myself, nor I, and you know me, were really willing to drive anywhere to meet with anybody else, so this fellowship never grew in number which created discontent.
Finishing the story…
I finally did some searching, which was rather transparent to me, understanding why I needed to learn to share with others besides me, being so much like myself. So, in 2007 I visited another church where I found the Christian walk to offer much more exciting opportunities for personal growth and development, for serving others, learning better to adapt to situations which may not always be in perfect agreement with what I would normally do. Now, I get to learn to leave myself behind and forget about me.
So, out of necessity, in 2003, I had to leave one body that no longer believed in the scriptures, and, due to serious misgivings about what I had heard about COG splinter groups, especially as related to my need for help in overcoming, I had no desire at the time to enter those fellowships. I truly did not know where to go, so my solution was to fellowship with only me, myself, and I, in the COG-MMI. I didn’t want that solution for me & myself. I just had no idea how to go forward somewhere else, and it took four years of Christian isolation to help me realize just how critical it is to do everything in my power to meet regularly with God’s saints.
The church is a gathering of people, and that gathering is the one body of Christ. Without gathering, we are not a body. There simply is no substitute for in-person, “knit” together, assembly. No technological advancement made by man can ever substitute for commanded assembly.
Many of us in this room have experienced disappointments with Christian relationships, and what we must do is make sure that our strength comes from God, and that we grow to possess the patience and forgiveness of God; being that we are all weak in this or that regard. We must support one another to remember our source of strength and endurance is in Christ. You and I must make sure that we are not the weak link in mutual Christian fellowship and development. Altogether, we are the EKKLESIA, summoned by the Crier to assemble weekly as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.