Just think… as we gather this Sunday for collective worship to glory in the Triune God, we will be joined in voice and heart with the great anthem of all God’s people across every continent on the globe in lifting our praise to the King of all kings. A tremendous harmony of different languages, ethnicities, and music styles will sound forth in a great chorus to the ears of our transcendent yet intimately personal God.
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So What’s in the Gathering?
What we do when we gather as local churches is deeply historical. From the very inception of the Church over 2,000 years ago, the redeemed of God have gathered on Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection (see Acts 20:7-8; cf. Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:19-21; 1 Cor. 16:2; cf. Rev. 1:10). The Didache (lit. “Teaching,” an important first-century document that provides the teaching of the apostolic fathers) gives further evidence that Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” was the day early Christians gathered for corporate worship. So when we gather on Sunday, we are following the pattern of the earliest ecclesial expressions. For more information see Jon English Lee’s (Ph.D. candidate at SBTS) article on the Didache’s discussion of Sunday worship HERE (at ancientchristianstudies.com).
What we do when we gather as local churches is specifically biblical. We are following the pattern of the New Testament churches through the preaching, teaching, and public reading of God’s Word, prayer, giving, singing, and celebration of the ordinances: communion and baptism (see Acts 2:37-47; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Col. 3:11-17; 1 Tim. 4:13; Heb. 10:23-25).
What we do when we gather as local churches is incredibly necessary. We grow effectively as followers of Christ not in isolation from one another but in biblical, authentic community together. We need the ministry of each other in the working of the Holy Spirit’s gifts among God’s people. In fact, the calls to sanctification in the New Testament are far more collective than individual. To put it bluntly, if you’re regularly absent from the worship gatherings of your local church, you’re spiritual growth is most likely in severe atrophy (see John 17:13-26; Rom. 12:1-8; Eph. 2:11-22; 4:1-16; Col. 2:6-7).
Notice I said, “as” local churches, not “at” local churches. We don’t gather at our family for Thanksgiving Day dinner, we gather as a family for the giant feast. I know it is a bit of a buzz-phrase now but it’s true: let’s not just go to church, let’s be the church. So as we gather as God’s family, let’s prepare to love one another with pure hearts, operate with one mind, and serve one another with the apron of humility (1 Peter 1:22-23; 5:1-7).
Let us Come.
“O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God and a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you hear His voice…” (Psalm 95:1-7)
In Christ Alone,