WHY DO CHRISTIANS ASSEMBLE?

Wayne S. Walker

     Question:  “Why do members of the church of Christ assemble
together, and why do they assemble at various times?”

     Members of the church of Christ assemble together because this is
what is taught in the New Testament.  And it is exactly what we find
Christians doing in the first century.  In Acts 11.26 we read of Barnabas
and Saul of Tarsus, “And when he had found him, he brought him to
Antioch.  So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church
and taught a great many people.  And the disciples were first called
Christians at Antioch.”  This was not just a one-time thing but went on
for a year.  Thus, we have an approved, apostolic example of the church
assembling on a regular basis.

     But why does the New Testament teach that the church should
assemble?  In Hebrews 10.24-25 we read, “And let us consider one another
in order to stir up love and good works, 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.”  Since we are told
not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, this necessarily
implies that there must be an assembling of ourselves together not to
forsake.  The passage explains some of the reasons for this assembling,
which are to consider one another, to stimulate to love and good works,
and to exhort one another.

     But why do members of the church of Christ assemble at various
times?  One time that is specified for Christians to assemble is on the
first day of the week.  We read in Acts 20.7, “Now on the first day of
the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to
depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until
midnight.”  One of the purposes stated for this assembling on the first
day of the week was to break bread or observe the Lord’s supper (cf. 1
Corinthians 11.23-26). In fact, the only time that we read of in the New
Testament when the church met to observe the Lord’s supper or give of
their means into the tresury of the church was on the first day of the
week (cf. 1 Corinthians 16.1-2).

     But since this assembling on the first day of the week is specified,
why do members of the church assemble at other times, such as midweek
services, special classes, and nightly gospel meetings?  Well,in Acts
2.46-47 we read, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and
breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and
singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  The
church at Jerusalem saw fit to assemble, at least for a time, every day.

     Therefore, by this approved, apostolic example, we know that the
church is authorized to assemble at times other than the first day of the
week.  While the Lord’s supper and collection are limited to the first
day of the week, other acts of worship together, such as singing,
praying, and studying the Bible, are not so limited.  Thus, each local
church is free to set other times when members are supposed to assemble
for praise and edification under the oversight of those men who are
chosen to see that the flock is fed properly (Acts 20.28, 1 Peter 5.1-2).
 When we thus assemble, we can worship our God, encourage one another,
and be built up in the faith.

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