"I am the Lord your God...you shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:1-3)
"...not forsaking our own assembling together..." (Hebrews 10:25)
This is a peculiar time for the church, and a difficult time for pastors attempting to lead and feed the flock as faithful shepherds. I want to share some thoughts on why I believe we should make every effort to continue (or resume) bringing God's people together corporately in spite of conflicting governmental directives.
-The first commandment positively commands the faithful worship of the true and living God. This command is not obeyed individually unless it is obeyed corporately.
-Scripture expresses God's will to be glorified through the worship of His redeemed people by way of the command to assemble together corporately on the Lord's Day under the appointed means of grace (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:19-25).
-Scripture gives us neither provision nor precedent for doing otherwise, and compels the church to overcome whatever threats may hinder us from doing so (The book of Acts esp. chapters 4 and 12).
-Scripture prescribes the offices of elder and deacon to lead and serve the church under ordinary circumstances as well as extraordinary times requiring unforeseen accommodation (Heb. 13:17; Acts 6:1-6)
-Assembled worship defines the church as a people no longer belonging to this present evil age but the age to come, which is only known to us by faith through hearing the word of Christ, partaking of the Lord's Supper, and observing the baptism of new believers (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-34).
-Assembled worship demonstrates the church's living hope in the risen Christ and a kingdom which cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:18-29).
-Assembled worship recognizes and submits to the spiritual authority of that kingdom above all earthly authorities (Heb. 13:17; 2 Tim. 4).
-Assembled worship strengthens our faith as the Holy Spirit solidifies the assurance of our true identity as children of God (Romans 8:14-17).
-Assembled worship (corporate prayer) helps us give our attention to the spiritual realities and blessings that earthly anxieties so easily distract us from (Philippians 4:6-7).
-Assembled worship helps believers maintain a right perspective and a good conscience in seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (1 Tim. 1:5; Matt. 6;25-34).
Of course much more could be added, but these things are at the core of God's purpose for the assembled worship of His people.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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