'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
The Apostle Paul instructed those to whom he wrote that they should not "forsake the assembling" of themselves together. It is interesting and instructive that he did not use the word "church". By church I mean an organized and recognized congregation with a complete structure with Pastors, and all others who have specific responsibilities within the group called church.
In what Paul instructed, did he mean that those to whom he wrote should find a preexisting group of believers, with all the structure ordinarily considered to be requirements for being designated as a church, and join, or otherwise become part of that group?
What did Paul mean by "assemble"?
In the vast landscape of what is called Christianity today, there is an almost endless array of groups, fellowships, organized and unorganized studies, and "get together" where there is usually a leader or leaders, with a structured pattern of worship, study, and fellowship. These may be any day of the week, any time of day or night. These, in general, have the purpose to feed on God's Word, worship Him in various way, and fellowship with each other.
During the days of the ministry of God's Apostles and servants, travel was often very difficult, believers often scattered. Therefore, assemblies of believers were small, and located in homes, or small villages with very limited facilities for large groups. Later, as converts increased in number, larger facilities were located in larger villages and towns. But for a long time, there existed only what we call "house churches" with relatively small groups or assemblies. These first small assemblies were motivated more by fellowship and sharing, encouragement, and sometimes protection, rather than for deeper learning.
As we see in Paul's work with the Corinthians, and Ephesus, the larger the assembly, the larger the problems. In today's world of super-churches, and "mega-churches", it is very difficult at times to find connections, and to relate to what is occurring with such large groups or assemblies. Sometimes very large congregations draw those who are not as sincere or committed to God way. This condition can draw Satan to concentrate his activity to large groups, and prey on those who are not as yet fully established in the faith. For him, there is safety in numbers, as well as for some who mix and mingle with those who are genuinely seeking God's ways. In the last days spoken of in the book of Revelation, Satan appears to seek the largest target which he pursues to persecute and attempt to destroy (Revelation 12:13-17).
So when we speak or think of what today is referred to as an assembly or church, the Apostles did not require necessarily that one "join" or attend an organization referred to today as a church. Even a very few coming together - even two or three - can be designated as an assembly. We as God's children are not "called" to an organization or assembly.
We are called to be His "holy ones". It matters little to Jesus the size or format of an assembly, until there is the need for more structure and chain of authority due to the numbers of believers who gather and assemble for fellowship and worship, and need a controlled environment. This was the situation at Corinth and other large churches that required Paul to establish a strict pattern of assembly, teaching, and worship.
"If we will practice this living union with Christ, loving each other without any concern about sects and denominations, doctrines or forms, then we shall have the body of Christ, with Him as Head. This is the Ekklesia (church) in its truest and purest sense...not an institution, not a system, not theology, not the words of the Bible, and not any ritual or ceremony. Ekklesia exist where there is this life union with God through Christ" - Kokichi Kurosdaki (1886-1970)
We as God's children are not "called" to a specific organization or assembly. We are called to be His "holy ones".
"Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I Am in the midst of them." - Matthew 18:19-20 (AMP)
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