Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Together!

      
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV)

What is the Definition of the Church?
The word means a “called out group or assembly.”  We first see the church in Matthew 16:18, where the Lord tells Peter,  “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (this truth that you have confessed) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  This seems to be the church that includes everyone that has ever believed in the Lord since the day of Pentecost until now.  This would include people in heaven and people on earth.  This is often referred to as the Lord’s body in the book of Ephesians.  The second time we see the church, it has to do with an offending brother in Matthew 18.  The person is to be approached by the one he offended, then by two or three witnesses to the attempted reconciliation, and when that doesn’t resolve the problem, the problem is to be taken to the church.  The church then treats the offender who will not reconcile with his brother as a heathen or a tax collector (both considered to be gross sinners with whom the church should not associate.)  Sometimes the two or three that tried to resolve this difficulty are defined as the church, but they are not the church.  They are part of the church since they took the problem to the church.  But here the church is a clearly identifiable group of people and they represent a congregation in a local community.  They are not the body of Christ but are part of the body.  This group of people would be known to their friends and neighbors and would be considered a testimony (or lampstand) to the Lord as we read in Revelation 2 regarding the local church at Ephesus.

The Church as a Fellowship
One thing that seems to be quite evident in the early church is that they gathered together for prayer, for preaching and teaching and for fellowship.  In addition, one of the activities that they gathered for was the Lord’s supper.   1 Corinthians 10 and 1 Corinthians 11 are the doctrinal expositions of the Lord’s Supper.  The tenth chapter shows us that the church needs to be separated from idols and the worship of demons in order to properly worship the Lord.  Chapter 11 shows that we are to be together when we participate in the Lord’s supper.  We are not only to be “together” physically, but we are to be “together” in our relationships. Notice:

1Corinthians11:17  Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. (They were divided and not considerate of one another.)
1Corinthians 11:18  For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.
1Corinthiansn11:20  Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. (They were eating together but the Lord was not being honored by what they were doing).
1Corinthians 11:33  Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
1Corinthians 11:34  But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment.

The Corinthians were eating a meal as part of the Lord’s Supper and they weren’t sharing.  They were obviously using wine since some were drunk.  Paul tries to simplify the Lord’s supper to a symbolic meal at which everyone was treated the same and where gluttony and drunkenness would not be a part of the celebration.

Coming Together
Many people feel that they can worship the Lord as individuals and as families and as informal groups.  While that is true, the Lord wants us to come together as a local church for prayer, for preaching and teaching, for fellowship, and for the Lord’s Supper.  But He wants us to be in fellowship with Him and in fellowship with each other when we meet together. The examination in 1 Corinthians 11 is primarily dealing with the interpersonal relationships within the church that need to be addressed for there to be true fellowship with the Lord as we take the bread and wine, but obviously those issues should always be addressed for the local church to function properly.

The verse referenced above from Hebrews emphasized the importance of the church “coming together.”  I have seen the verse used as a club when people get discouraged with the contentions and divisions within the church and quit coming.  And while the verse is not a club, it is a command of the Lord and that command gets more important the closer we get to the end of this age.

Coronavirus
Seeing that the Lord places great importance on our “gathering together,” let us pray that the coronavirus pandemic that has us all cancelling our meetings of the church will soon be over.  There is a lot we can do electronically and at home, but we really do need to “gather together” as a church to remain strong.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of March 22, 2020
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