In urban North American society, it is easy to live compartmentalized lives: school life, home life, social life, and assembly life. This is not Biblical. The assembly meetings should not be merely events added to a busy schedule. God wants us to be fully involved and committed Christians who Scripturally gather to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Romans, Paul teaches that when Christ died we died with Him, to self and to the world; when He rose again we rose with Him to live for Him. Our lives should be marked by faith and devotion to God and His work on earth. He left us a pattern to follow and the power to live out all that He intends for us. He has designed the local assembly for our blessing, so our worship and service can be united with other believers in a way that will glorify Him. Our fellowship in a local assembly is not just another part of life, it is our life.
Importance of Truth
When writing to the church in Corinth, Paul explained that we were “called into the fellowship of His Son” (1Cor 1:9, ESV). This word fellowship means “a sharing in common” or “being in partnership with another.” In a local assembly, one thing we share in common is eternal life. How amazing! We share the very same life as God’s Son. God’s assembly was designed by God for those who belong to Him. Eternal life involves more than just heaven as our destination. It is spiritual life, the ability to live by faith and glorify God in the here and now. Jesus described eternal life as knowing God; it is heart knowledge, not head knowledge, that manifests itself in how we live out our lives (John 17:3). In the local assembly we share this life; we are partners together in daily living out the faith we possess. This characterized the New Testament Christians. “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42). It was a partnership of pattern, practice, and purpose.
Significance of Truth
In Acts 2:42 it says that the early believers established their doctrine and practice upon the apostles’ doctrine, the Word of God through the apostles. This is the truth by which we live and gather together. Whenever we have questions about practices in our local assemblies, it’s important to go back to God’s Word, which must be the foundation of our lives individually and collectively.
Knowledge of Truth
All believers need to know God’s Word because God’s truth frees us to live for Him. It provides stability, peace, joy, and all we need to live the abundant life. Satan’s domain is built on deception and lies. When we trusted Christ, we were transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Now we choose, through the many decisions we make, whether we’ll live according to the Spirit or the flesh. It is a day-by-day living out of the truth that enables us to glorify God.
We also need to be able to defend the truth. When others ask us why we break bread each Sunday and gather as we do, we need to be able to open our Bibles and explain. Knowing and being able to defend the truths of God is vital because our assemblies are based on these truths and being in fellowship in a local assembly means we are partners together in this.
Love of Truth
Jesus taught that our heart is where our treasure is. Essentially, we place value on what we love. We give our attention and spend our time on what matters to us. So, what occupies our thoughts? Does God get the leftovers or is He given priority? It is possible to go through the motions without having a devoted heart. Attending the meetings and taking part are public ways of showing that we value God, but our private lives should also reflect our devotion. We need to pray that God will give us fully devoted hearts and that He will deepen our love for Himself and His people. Our method of gathering together was ordained by God as a means for collective worship and service. Our commitment to the local assembly must first of all be a commitment to Him. Our fellowship is not in a system or a set of rules, but in a person, our Lord Jesus Christ. Flowing from our love for Christ is our love for the truth He has given us.
Practice of Truth
We live out what we believe and value. This is why Paul wanted Timothy to have a good understanding of the local assembly, so “his conduct” would be shaped by God’s truth. Since the assembly is called “house of God,” our fellowship should be marked by reverence. The throne room description in Isaiah 6 helps us to see the awesome holiness and majesty of our God. A good glimpse of Who God is helps us to humbly bow in worship.
The assembly is also called “church of the living God.” Our God is alive, so our fellowship should be real, vibrant, and full of life. If not, then we should look within ourselves. Each of us contributes to our local assembly. If we’re apathetic or just coasting in our Christian lives, this is what we’re building into our assembly. Instead of complaining and faultfinding, we need to get on our knees and ask for teachable and devoted hearts to serve Him purely. We need to pray for our elders, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for those who are difficult to love. God can change them, and us, and fill our hearts with love for them.
As the pillar and ground of truth, the assembly is to be a place where God’s truth provides solid ground under our feet and support for our lives. We start by learning the truth and we grow by living it out. When God teaches us truth and we put it into practice, we find joy and contentment that cannot be obtained any other way. Nothing the world has to give – possessions, vacations, pleasures – can begin to compare with the satisfaction that comes from living a life of devotion and service to God. When things are difficult and testimony seems weak and fragile, we need to band together. The fellowship to which God has called us, is in His Son, and this should be a fellowship of love, grace, truth, and perseverance.
The next seven articles will be about young believers and their relationship to the local assembly.