Worship by the Book: Gathering

Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors, see all the people. Why? Why do you see all the people? It has become very popular in our culture to say that we love Jesus, just not the church. Can we do that? Is church attendance important? If so, why? I want to bring 10 reasons why we gather together as a local church based on Acts 2:42-27 and the characteristics of that early fellowship of believers in Jesus.

We gather because we’re Christians (42a): Acts 2:41 speaks about the recently converted 3,000 many of whom were from Jerusalem and made up the 1st Century Jerusalem church and it is these believers who continually held fast to, or continually devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and gathering together. This is a natural outworking of the gospel in the life and it can’t be in reference to anything else, or compared with anything else because this is the first church ever! Basically, you have to understand that Christians want to go to church. 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” That doesn’t mean that everyone who has ever left this church is an unbeliever, but it does mean that church attendance is a part of what it means to be a believer. You can’t say, “I love Jesus, just not the church.” Christians want to go to church.

We gather because we want to hear the Scriptures (42b): Jesus directed the disciples to teach what he taught them to other disciples: Matthew 28:19-20 Make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. In 2 Peter 2:2 Peter tells believers to long for the pure milk of the Word because that was how they were to grow up  in respect to godliness. In 2 Timothy 3 we learn that the Scriptures are inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness, that the man of God might be equipped for every good work and thus Paul tells Timothy three of the most powerful words in all of Scripture: preach the Word. Timothy preaches the Word of God, the living, inspired Word of God that is able to equip the believer to grow in godliness. We gather to heart the Scriptures because that is the plan of God.

We gather because we’re a family (42c): The word “koinonia” is a familiar one, but it means more than just “fellowship” that might be limited in our minds to a meeting or a specific event. This has to do with the way the church behaved toward each other. It carries with it the idea of sharing or familial partnership. This is expressed most clearly in the “one anothers” of Scripture: Romans 12:10-19 This is how the Christian  family behaves.

We gather because there’s food(42d): When the passage talks about the breaking of bread, there are two possible meanings and I think both have bearing.

  1. Fellowship Meal: This was a New Testament, early church practice where they came together to eat a meal. Basically, pot-luck dinners are not a Southern Baptist phenomenon.
  2. Lord’s Supper: This phrase could also refer to the Lord’s Supper as instituted by Jesus in Matthew 26 and described in 1 Corinthians 11. There, Paul rebukes the Corinthians who were meeting together for a fellowship meal before the Lord’s supper and eating until they were stuffed and drinking until they were drunk, profaning the meal that was supposed to be a holy remembrance of Christ.
  3. Bottom Line: When the church came together, there was food. Whether it is the Lord’s Supper, or a pot-luck, food at church is a good idea.

Tomorrow we will address more of the reasons we gather as the people of God.

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