Levi Sisemore, Texas Normal Singing School
What happens when we “go to church”? Are we simply gathering out of habit or tradition? Are we fulfilling some biblical mandate? Does the Bible tells give us the whys, whats, and hows of such an occasion?
To know why God’s people assemble, we must know something about God and about his redemptive purposes.
Redemption is a fully developed biblical word that, in essence, means “to purchase back from slavery.” In other words, when God pays a ransom price for us and then sets us free in his love, he has redeemed us. We ought to remember, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). God’s redemption comes with a purpose, a definition for the life of the redeemed.
God’s redemption – fulfilled in the Christ – seeks to reverse the realities of sin and all its effects “far as the curse is found.” Whatever relationship, joy, perfection, loveliness, or peace that sin has wrecked, killed, or destroyed, God would restore in the process of redemption.
Effectively, God is restoring Edenic fellowship through and in the work of Christ. In the cross God is reconciling all things, whether on earth on in heaven, to himself (Col. 1:20). Assembly – our very togetherness as his redeemed people – is the natural application and outgrowth of a true sense of fellowship with God. We come together because it’s in the nature of God to put things together that have separated themselves (cf. Eph. 2:15).
If fellowship is a verb, then assembly is the context of its fulfillment. As such, assembly participants should be understood to include the earth-bound family of God and God Himself. Others – “outsiders” (I Cor. 14:23) – may be physically present, but they remain on the outside, looking in (in this way the assembly event itself may serve as an evangelistic invitation into fellowship and metaphysical assembly Christians share with God). No encounter with God leaves a man unchanged. Either his heart is hardened by his rejection of godliness or he is moved in the direction of holiness. The assembly seeks to roll back the effects of sin because fellowship with God is the renewed relationship with God.
When you come together with his church, how is the change made evident in your life? Do you hide from godly togetherness?
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24f)