Article 67

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“When Should We Gather Together?”

The question asked, and more directly stated, would be this, when should believers assemble together as the church? Is there a day that we should meet? Most all who profess to be believers in Christ would agree that we should meet as an assembly. All who are truly believers in Christ desire and enjoy meeting as an assembly gathered in common faith and fellowship around the gospel of God’s free and reigning grace manifested in the person and work of Christ. That person who professes to be a believer and views gathering together as a chore or a bore has a false profession.

Before we proceed with answering the question a few erroneous ideas need be addressed for proper foundation. (1) We do not “go to church” thus the question was not, “When should we go to church?” This makes the church a place or even a building. Many hold to that view but scripture does not. The church, locally speaking, is that body of believers in Christ in any given locality (Acts 11:22; Rom. 1:7; 16:1 etc.), and they are the church even when they are not gathered together (I Cor. 14:23a) and thus there is a plurality of churches. The church, universally speaking, is every individual for whom Christ shed His blood and is Head (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:25; Heb. 12:23) and is thus one church. All references like: “Yet in the church…” (I Cor. 14:19) does not refer to the place or building but the assembly itself. (2) Our gathering together is not, in itself, our worship and service. Those who hold to this erroneous view also have the idea that the more they gather the more they are worshiping and serving, thus they gather often, and since prayer, song, and preaching becomes boring they gather for just about anything under the sun and call it worship and service. We should gather together to worship, serve, learn and fellowship in the gospel. We also worship, serve, learn, and can sometimes even find fellowship throughout the whole of every day, whether gathered together as an assembly or in our everyday lives.

So then, when should believers gather together as the church? The practice of our early brethren in Christ was to gather together upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Clearly, there are at least three things associated with this day. (1) Our Lord was raised out from among the dead on the first day of the week (Mk. 16:9). (2) The resurrection of Christ is the central theme of the gospel (Rom. 1:1-4; I Cor. 15:1-4…). (3) The brethren had the tradition [a precept handed down to be practiced] of meeting on the first day of the week. This third point is even more clearly revealed in reading Paul’s order to the church at Corinth, with the same order being given to the church at Galatia, concerning their laying by them in store, that they do so “Upon the first day of the week…” (I Cor. 16:2). The very fact that Paul did not explain the significance of this “first day” implies the brethrens’ prior knowledge of the practice. All churches of orthodox doctrine hold to this practice, even today. Tradition is not only good but it is vital as well (cf. II Thess. 3:6). Nevertheless, we are never told to make our own traditions but to hold to what has already been established (II Thess. 2:15). The New Testament scriptures alone dictate our faith and practice. We dare not add to or take from that authority. We are given no exact time to meet on the first day nor given any exact length of time to meet that day, but meet we should with all expectation and joy of the fellowship of the saints (Heb. 10:24-25).

Scripture also reveals that the brethren also meet at various other times and on occasion other days of the week. In researching the various accounts we find these meetings not as a matter of tradition but of providence, expediency, or necessity. For instance, Paul preached at Ephesus for a total of somewhere around two years and three months, and in the latter two years Paul spoke every day (Acts 19:8-10). A special meeting was held in Jerusalem, with many in attendance, against the legalistic teaching of circumcision for salvation (Acts 15:1-29). Paul held a meeting on a riverbank on the sabbath day (Acts 16:13-14). Clearly, these meetings were not that of those things Paul calls “the traditions taught” but as God in His wise providence allowed.

In summary, we should gather together as the church, as a matter of common faith and practice, on the first day of the week. To gather together any other time is certainly acceptable, but if it has been made into the tradition and is demanded as a rule of faith and practice then someone has overstepped their bounds! Many meet Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, then again on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday night in a mid-week service [some term these mid-week services has “Prayer Meeting” where praying is the least thing they do], at least one “Revival” or “Conference” meeting a year, then several other appointed meetings just for fun Christian events dotted at various times throughout the year. Any argument demanding one or more of these added days of meeting, or ridiculing others who do not, or basing faithfulness to God on such added meetings, on the basis of its better to meet more is based on human opinion. I recently heard a preacher on the radio say, after having announced their Sunday morning Sunday school time and their Sunday Morning preaching time and their Sunday evening preaching time and their mid-week service time: “We have a full schedule of services.” He did not say, “This is our full schedule of services.” His actual words clearly imply that anyone who does not have such does not have a full schedule! Not one scripture can be given to prove its better to demand more than God in His wisdom appointed as a matter of faith and practice!

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