A Gathered Church – Hebrews 10:25

It’s Monday, April 20, 2020, and you are listening to COVID-19 Connection Series # 29.

Welcome, so glad that you have joined me today.

How are you all doing?

Announcements:

  • Download sermon from Sunday – Daniel 6 at YouTube, or SLBC2u.com
  • SLBC Church App.
  • Resources available at SLBC2u.com
  • I’m praying that we can gather as a Church by the first Sunday, or at least by Mother’s Day, May 10th.

Today in the News:

  • CBS News: Yesterday in Canada a shooting left 16 people dead. Worst attack in the country’s history. Gunman dressed as a police officer.
  • CNN Politics reports: Democrats and the White House said they’re close to reaching a deal to replenish a fund for small-business loans. The initial $350 billion ran out amid reports it was being misused.
  • Apple News: Will warmer temps bring a Coronavirus reprieve? It’s complicated. Many scientists predict reduced spread in warm months, but can’t say by how much.

Church Bulletin Bloopers: Sent in by Deacon Jeff Floyd

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals. 
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The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on the Water. 
The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus. 
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Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands. 
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Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help. 
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Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation. 
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For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs . 
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Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get. 
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Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days. 

Pause for Prayer:

  • Bob Ahsmuhs – Home, treatment on Tuesday.
  • Tom Spann – cancer treatment
  • SLBC family
  • National response to COVID-19

Our Word from the LORD is taken from Hebrews 10:25,

   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.

Today I want to have a word with you about, A Gathered Church: Putting Together the Membership of the Church

What does a True Church look like?

  • A biblical faithful church is a gathered church.

It is voluntarily assembled congregation that is not bound together by nationality, ethnicity, or family alone. No mere circumstance of birth should determine the membership of a biblically faithful church. Rather, a profession of faith in Christ and the act of submitting to the teaching and discipline of a particular church should regulate a congregation’s membership. Christians choose to gather together and regularly out of obedience to God’s word.

Church history: Doctrinal Reform

  • Magisterial Reformers: used the office of the state to bring about doctrinal reform in the church.
  • Non-magisterial Reformers – outside the state (underground, unsanctioned churches) also sought to bring about doctrinal reform in churches.

These reformers preached sermons that exhorted the gathered to examine themselves to make their own calling and election sure. We read in 2 Peter 1:10,

   Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble

The local church is more than a congregation, a gathering, but it is never less.

Congregationalism understands that each gathering that has preaching and the administration of baptism and the Lord supper has been given the keys of authority by Christ and should therefore have its own leadership, accountable under God only to the gathered church.

The word “ekklesia” in the New Testament means “assembly.”

Diversity in the Body of Christ

One fact we know about the church is that it is made up of every group of people found on planet earth – Revelation 5:9,

   And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,

And to open its seals;

For You were slain,

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

Reasons for establishing a Church

Division should not likely be introduced into a local church. Language, distance, and even size are legitimate reasons to establish separate congregations. But then each separate congregation must uniquely represent the unity of Christ’s end-time assembly, and nothing should be encouraged which should obscure that witness – a witness of holiness and love, yes, but also of actual togetherness across lines of income, ethnicity, class, and more.

Churches shouldn’t TARGET certain group

As churches have reduced worship to evangelism, they have begun to risk introducing divisions amongst these kinds of groups. They have adopted actions appropriate for evangelism (like targeting certain groups such as the old or young, the upper class or the artsy class, the rock music or country music listeners) as an excuse to “narrow” their congregations by dividing them along worldly lines. Yet these are the kinds of divisions which we must not introduce to Christ body, just as it would not be right to try representing their reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ with services that are only for non- Jews or Caucasians.
 
Churches must be careful about creating subgroups acting as complete congregations that divide the church wrongly. In the New Testament Jewish and Gentile believers were not to have separate congregations. Indeed, their togetherness helped to display the gospel they proclaimed (Ephesians 2:11-22). The same is true today.

Churches that submerge differences of age, race, status, background, or employment give witness to the power of the gospel. Neither youth group meetings nor denomination scattered across the whole continent are in a strictly biblical sense a church. Nor are the leaders considered alone. A biblically ordered church regularly gathers the whole congregation.

Other Aspects of the church

  • It’s Christlike love
  • Its service in corporate worship and outreach

   In Ephesians 4:12-13 we read,

“So that the body of Christ being built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” 

Weekly Gatherings are another aspect of the Church

God created a weekly rhythm – The Sabbath Day – Seven days.

  • Is your week Monday through Sunday?
  • Is your week Sunday through Saturday?

Christians have always gathered together weekly, even in the scriptures. It is not surprising that the New Testament churches apparently met at least weekly if not more and even began referring to Sunday as the Lord’s day (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10; Acts 2:46).

  • Preaching in the Bible presumes a gathered audience
  • Partaking of the Lord Supper requires a gathered audience
  • Church discipline requires a gathered audience – Matthew 18; 2 Corinthians 2

Hebrews 10:25 exhorts us,

   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.

 Non-Christian Roman Official Pliny (AD 112), The Didache (Second century), Justin Martyr (middle of the second century) all spoke of Christians gathering together on the Lord’s day.

Christians came together for the following reasons:

  • Hear God’s Word
  • Baptism
  • Lord’s Supper
  • Prayer
  • Singing together
  • Taking an offering up
  • Teaching
  • Encouraging each other
  • Share in each other’s burdens
  • Know each other

The Church is a gathered people. A solid belief, and a participation.

The Church also recognized the need to maintain a truly saved membership. Born-again believers – Grace through Faith plus nothing.
 
Remember I’m in touch so you be in touch. Stay connected as a congregation.

And as always, Walk with the King today and be a blessing.” Dr. Robert Cook.