Monday, April 28, 2008

Gathering Together - why? 4-27-08

When we say we go to “church”, church does not really mean the building.

The “church” is: A. God’s people.

And B. the gathering of God’s people.

Matt. 16:13-18 Jesus spoke of building his church. The word he used there for church is ‘ecclesia’ in the Greek. This is the same word used in other places for an assembly or gathering of people. It was not a spiritual term. So, when early Christians gathered together, they were doing “church”.

Go to “church” actually means go to “the gathering” or the “gathered group”.


Question: Why gather in the first place? Why did the early Christians gather?

A. It was not recorded anywhere that it was a command given by Christ. (The word for church is only used in Matt. 16:18 and in Matt. 18)

B. It was not emphasized by the apostles, with the exception of Heb. 10:25.

But, in spite of not being encouraged or commanded to, believers have always gathered together.

Answer: They gathered because:

#1 – it was natural – “birds of a feather flock together”

And, #2 – it was practical. They found that gathering together was helpful, beneficial, profitable, fruitful.

They discovered that gathering together made a definite, positive difference in their lives and spiritual growth.

Which led to: #3 – it became traditional. (typically, what is traditional, was practical at the outset.)

Practical reasons for “gathering” – Why they did. Why we should.

#1. To learn. Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (doctrine),….”

A. about – God – Jesus Christ – right & wrong – good & evil – life’s purpose & how to fulfill it – life truths & how to apply them
B. from the apostles, pastors, teachers, one another, & God

#2. To teach. Att. 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, ….” which includes…..
A. formal teaching – for example; a Sunday School class
B. assisting – example: AWANA helpers, van drivers, etc.
C. sharing with one another – example: open discussion at a Bible Study with questions and answers from the class participants..

#3. To socialize Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves……to the fellowship, ….”

Church is not just a social club, but it can also be a social club, if it is fulfilling all the other reasons to gather.

#4. To encourageHeb. 10:24 & 25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together,….”
Note the context of this scripture.

The 1st. century Christians dealt with: an immoral society, non-Christian philosophy, non-Christian boss, mockery and ridicule, heavy taxes, unfriendly government, medical problems, financial problems, marital and relational problems, child-rearing problems, death, disease, depression, etc.

Is it any different today????

When life beats you down, you need some more courage. You can give or receive two kinds of courage: Encourage or DIScourage. When you encourage someone, they are built up and strengthened. When you discourage someone, you beat them down and weaken them.

“Joy Suckers” are those who constantly DIScourage others.

#5 To be encouraged - because we are all dealing with the same things the early Christians dealt with. (See list in #4)

#6. To evangelize – through the gathering I Cor. 14…. Outsiders notice when a gathering takes place. They notice when something is going on. Gathering helps create an environment to reach the lost.

#7. To organize - for Maximum ministry and maximum mission

The Great Commission is a large task. It is better tackled with cooperation

The Book of Acts is partly a story of organization and cooperation which led to denominations.

#8. To worship. (corporate worship)

We can and should worship alone and apart from the group, BUT corporate worship always has been central to Christianity.

#9. To honor God – to show or declare His worth. This is done through:

attendance, attention, offering, worship, involvement, assistance

Psm. 50:23 – “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,….”

When you are here, it honors God. When you pay attention, it honors God, when the parking lot is full, it honors God. Gathering acts as a form of the Old Testament thank offering.

#10. To experience God

You can and should experience God apart from gathering,

But, there is something special about gathering together. Matt. 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there as I with them.

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