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Vol.  10  No. 7 July 2008  Page 15
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Priscilla's Page By Marilyn LaStrape *Editor's Note*

Julene NulphThe Christian and the Church

By Julene Nulph

    Think in your mind of someone you love very deeply. This someone is extra special to you. You love to spend time with this person and would do anything for him/her. Isn’t that right? Now let’s say that there was going to be a gathering to honor this special someone of yours. Would you be there? Certainly, you would! Morning, noon or night you would make certain to do whatever was needed to arrive at this honorary gathering of your special loved one. Now let’s say this someone you love very deeply is Jesus, and the gathering to honor Him is when the saints assemble. Are you there?

    Erroneously, some believe one can be a faithful Christian without the church. The Hebrews writer stated Christians are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some (Hebrews 10:25). Through inspiration, the message clearly states Christians are not to skip the worship, Bible classes and gathering of other Christians like some people were doing. Acts 2:42 states of the first century Christians, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” These Christians were faithful in hearing the preaching and teaching of the apostles, in fellowshipping with one another, taking the Lord’s Supper and praying. This idea of steadfastly here means “to give constant attention to a thing” (Thayer 547). Inspiration records the frequency of that constant attention: “On the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7a).

    The Christians came together on the first day of the week. One man didn’t worship at home alone in his corner and another man worship in his corner. They worshiped together as a group. That group of believers was the church. “For the purpose of being taught by the apostles, they [the church, JRN] must have assembled together, and this as the occasion for manifesting their fellowship, which term expresses their common participation in religious privileges” (McGarvey 47).

    What else did these followers of Christ Jesus do together as a group on the first day of the week? They partook of the Lord’s Supper. In Matthew 26:26-30, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. He instituted it with the whole group of apostles present. Jesus did not institute this memorial to Peter and then show Andrew later. No, this was a group memorial. In Acts 20:7 we read, “…when the disciples came together to break bread…” (emp. added). After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples were still meeting together as a group; the church, to partake of the Lord’s Supper, in the same manner that Jesus had taught them to do.

    We read in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 that on the first day of the week Christians need to, again, come together to “lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” This passage deals with the collection of the saints and substantiates the fact that each Christian is to set aside a certain amount of money that he is able to give to the church treasury each first day of the week. “All church history testifies that the early church took up weekly collections on the first day of the week” (Johnson 126).

    Some people are able to give more money than others due to their having more money. One knows if he/she is truly giving what he/she could, and more importantly God knows if one is being stingy or generous in his/her giving. God knows not only what man does, but also what he thinks (cf. Luke 16:15). Notice that this giving is to be done on the first day of the week.

    The first day of the week is recorded in the Holy Bible as a special day for Christians. It was the day that the church assembled, and in that assembly, they worshipped God by: teaching and preaching (cf. Acts 2:42), giving as they prospered (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2), partaking of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-30), singing and making melody in their heart (Ephesians 5:19), and praying (1 Timothy 2:8). They assembled to do these things together, as a group called the church, as Christ Jesus taught. This was Christ’s church, not a denomination, but a possession! This was and is the church belonging to Christ (i.e. the church of Christ, cf. Matthew 16:18-19; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, et al). This same body of believers still assembles on the first day of the week to worship God. If one neglectfully skips the assembly, how can he honestly say he loves Jesus (cf. John 14:15)? If one is not at this assembly, how can a person properly give as he’s been prospered, take the Lord’s Supper or obey Hebrews 10:25?

    I once heard an old song that had these lyrics: “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage…you can’t have one without the other.” The same is true with a Christian and the church; you just can’t have one without the other!

Works Cited

Johnson, B.W. The People’s New Testament, Vol. II. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1992.

McGarvey, J.W. Original Commentary on Acts. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, n.d.

Thayer, Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2007.

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