overview Part 3: -Digging into the purpose of the assembly. -What does assembling mean? -What sets SUNDAY apart?
Avoiding a return Acts 4:32-37 “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Things that we know happened 1 Cor 16:1- Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches ofGalatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to [a] put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 3 When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; 4 and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.a Acts 20:5- 5 But these had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas. 6 We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them atTroas within five days; and there we stayed seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his [c] message until midnight.c
1 Cor 11:17-Onward 17 But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together [p] as a church, I hear that [q] divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become [r] evident among you. 20 Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you…. 33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.pqr
Jude and Philemon 1 12 These are the men who are [l] hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, [m] doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own [n] shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the [o] black darkness has been reserved forever.lmno Philemon 1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, 2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
Acts 2 and Day-by-Day 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread [j] from house to house, they were taking their [k] meals together with gladness and [l] sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding [m] to their number day by day those who were being saved.jklm
1 Cor 14…and each of us 26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has apsalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. "I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another." (Rom 15:14) "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Col 3:16)
If not assembling to worship, then what? Eph 4:11-12, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. ” 1 Cor 14:26 “ When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.” “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 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 10:24-25) (note: Or prostrated himself in reverence—Acts 10:24 Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and [t] worshiped him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.”)t
Reasons for assembly—katartizo "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Eph 4:12-15).“ "A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher." (Luke 6:40) When Jesus was walking in Matthew 4:21, He said, "Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.” "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor 1:10)
Before we move on to extra-Biblical texts, let’s look at dailies… If you only ever thought about your spouse once a week, would you consider yourself close with him/her? “Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God." (Is 58:2)
Before we move on to extra-Biblical texts, let’s look at dailies… Today, people often see each other at assembly on Sundays, but have no contact with each other during the week. They're not family in any sense of the word, and most of their friends are from outside of the church. How does this compare to the church Christ created? "Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people." (Acts 2:46-47)
Before we move on to extra-Biblical texts, let’s look at dailies… Some people think that being a Christian daily is too hard. Is it? "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2 Cor 4:16) This has to be a daily process, not a Sunday-special! It's accomplished through the "renewal of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5) which is received in immersion (Acts 2:38).
Before we move on to extra-Biblical texts, let’s look at dailies… Someone once told me, "It's great! Jesus died for my sins so I'm forgiven and don't have to change!" Did Jesus say that we could continue as we were? "And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Luke 9:33)“ But wait! God has incredible compassion, and He is, "the Lord who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation." (Psa 68:19) If you're willing to pick up your own cross every day, God is willing to help you bear that burden, and there is no helper out there stronger than God!
Before we move on to extra-Biblical texts, let’s look at dailies… "The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." (Acts 17:10-11)
Before we move on to extra-Biblical texts, let’s look at dailies… 1 Cor 15:31 says, "I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." What does that mean? Ephesians 4 (and many other places) has an answer: "22 In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."
Now the extra-Biblical writings. The Didache (“Teaching”) was probably written in the late first century or early second century (80-150 AD)(Did-uh-KEE): The Didache "Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day: 1. But every Lord's day yoou gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they are reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations." (Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Chapter XIV)
Now the extra-Biblical writings. ~100 AD BARNABAS "We keep the...day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead" (The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 AD 15:6-8)
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Barnabas Now, because I want to write many things to you, not as a teacher, but as suitable for one who loves you, I have taken care not to fail to write to you from what I myself possess, with a view to your purification. For this reason, we should be attentive in these last days; for the whole past time of your life and faith will be of no benefit to us, unless now in this wicked time we should stand against coming temptation, as is suitable for children of God. Therefore, in order that the Black One may find no means of entrance, we should flee from every futility (frustration?), and we should completely hate the works of the way of evil. Do not live separate lives, by each going his own way, as those who have already been justified; but by coming together in harmony, you must discuss what leads to the benefit of all. For Scripture says, “Woe to those who are wise to themselves, and have understanding in their own sight!” We should be spiritual; a complete temple to God. As much as depends on us, we should meditate on the fear of God, and we should strive to observe His commandments, in order that we may rejoice in His requirements. (Epistle of Barnabas 4:9-11)
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Pliny the Younger was governor of Pontus/Bithynia from 111-113 AD. “they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to (do) any wicked deeds, never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate.”
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Justin Martyr wrote his famous Apology from Rome circa 150 A.D “After we have thus cleansed the person who believes and has joined our ranks, we lead him or her in to where those we call ‘brothers’ are assembled.” It is the person who has been “initiated” by baptism that is brought into the fellowship of “brothers”
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Justin Martyr wrote his famous Apology from Rome circa 150 A.D And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits;…Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought… and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited…helps the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration."
Note: Mt 19:21, which says, "Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” This was a very specific statement in a very specific circumstance, but part of perfection is putting aside self and rendering sacrificial service. That's why God says, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)
Note: 1 Tim 5 3 Honor widows who are widows indeed…. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the [c]saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Tertullian (155 – 222 AD) I shall at once go on, then, to exhibit the peculiarities of the Christian society, that, as I have refuted the evil charged against it, I may point out its positive good. We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force, we may wrestle with Him in our supplications. This violence God delights in. We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation. We assemble to read our sacred writings, if any peculiarity of the times makes either forewarning or reminiscence needful.
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Tertullian However it be in that respect, with the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more stedfast; and no less by inculcations of God’s precepts we confirm good habits. In the same place also exhortations are made, rebukes and sacred censures are administered. For with a great gravity is the work of judging carried on among us, as befits those who feel assured that they are in the sight of God; and you have the most notable example of judgment to come when any one has sinned so grievously as to require his severance from us in prayer, in the congregation and in all sacred intercourse. The tried men of our elders preside over us, obtaining that honour not by purchase, but by established character. There is no buying and selling of any sort in the things of God.
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Tertullian Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase- money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able: for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary. These gifts are, as it were, piety’s deposit fund. For they are not taken thence and spent on feasts, and drinking-bouts, and eating-houses, but to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the mines, or banished to the islands, or shut up in the prisons, for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God’s Church, they become the nurslings of their confession.
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Tertullian Our feast explains itself by its name. The Greeks call it agape, i.e., affection [love]. Whatever it costs, our outlay in the name of piety is gain, since with the good things of the feast we benefit the needy; not as it is with you, do parasites aspire to the glory of satisfying their licentious propensities, selling themselves for a belly-feast to all disgraceful treatment,-but as it is with God himself, a peculiar respect is shown to the lowly. If the object of our feast be good, in the light of that consider its further regulations. As it is an act of religious service, it permits no vileness or immodesty. The participants, before reclining, taste first of prayer to God. As much is eaten as satisfies the cravings of hunger; as much is drunk as befits the chaste. They say it is enough, as those who remember that even during the night they have to submit to God;
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Tertullian They talk as those who know that the Lord is one of their auditors. After manual ablution, and the bringing in of lights, each is asked to stand forth and sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing,-a proof of the measure of our drinking. As the feast commenced with prayer, so with prayer it is closed. We go from it, not like troops of mischief-doers, nor bands of vagabonds, nor to break out into licentious acts, but to have as much care of our modesty and chastity as if we had been at a school of virtue rather than a banquet.
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Tertullian Give the congregation of the Christians its due, and hold it unlawful, if it is like assemblies of the illicit sort: by all means let it be condemned, if any complaint can be validly laid against it, such as lies against secret factions. But who has ever suffered harm from our assemblies? We are in our congregations just what we are when separated from each other; we are as a community what we are individuals; we injure nobody, we trouble nobody. When the upright, when the virtuous meet together, when the pious, when the pure assemble in congregation, you ought not to call that a faction, but a curia-[i.e., the court of God.]
Now the extra-Biblical writings. Ignatius of Antioch was sent to Rome to be killed sometime around 110 AD. Ignatius of Antioch Therefore, make every effort to come together frequently for gratitude and praise of God. For whenever you are together frequently, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and his destructive plan is ruined by your unity of faith. (Ign. Eph. 13:1) [I will do this] especially if the Lord makes known to me that you all – man to man – come together in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality – that is, the antidote so that we would not die but live for ever in Jesus Christ. (Ign. Eph. 20:2) Let your assemblies be more frequent. Seek all by name. (Ign. Pol. 4:2)