This article serves as the final installment in two series of articles. It is the last article in "The Meetings of the Assembly" series (see previous article). It also completes the "Servants in the Body of Christ" series (see previous article). In this article, I want to explain the functions of the elders and servants in the assembly.
Part 1 of this series pointed out that the meetings of the first-century saints were called ekklēsia and discussed where and when they met. But besides the regular meetings of the ekklēsia that we will discuss in future installments, early Christians also ate the Lord's Supper together. This was so common and central to their lives that, before discussing the order of the meetings in general, I want in this article to teach how the Lord's Supper was eaten and who ate it.
If you have read many of the articles on this site, you know that I frequently refer to the ekklēsia, the assembly of people whom God has called out of the darkness of this world into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Naturally, readers frequently want to know what the meetings of the ekklēsia were like and how they can conduct meetings of the ekklēsia today. This article is the first in a series in which I will answer these questions.
A. There are two common misconceptions people have about speaking in tongues: 1) Speaking in tongues in the Bible is speaking in the language of angels or some other language that no people on earth normally know, and 2) The same gift of speaking in tongues we read of in the Bible continues today.
I am going to ask you to come forward. Up there–down there–I want you to come. You come right now quickly. If you are with friends or relatives, they will wait for you. Don’t let distance keep you from Christ. It’s a long way, but Christ went all the way to the Cross because He loved you. Certainly you can come these few steps and give your life to Him . . .
The words above are Billy Graham’s as quoted by Iain H. Murray in The Invitation System (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1967) 3-4. Billy Graham was certainly famous for using such an invitation. But these words could just as well be those of thousands of other preachers who use basically the same formula week after week: the emotional music, and maybe asking everyone to sing Just as I Am. Then there is the invitation. A preacher may first ask people to bow their heads, close their eyes, and/or raise their hands. But always he will eventually tell them to come to Christ by coming up the aisle. Sometimes the preacher will also call those who want to rededicate their lives to Christ. It’s certainly common enough. But is it biblical? Should we be doing this?
Excerpted from “Additions to the Church” (based on Acts 2:47: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”) preached 5 April 1874
Many of us have apparently become so conditioned by what has become the "norm" that we are suspicious of what seems like a new innovation. Yet house churches are anything but new or innovative. What critics of house churches seem not to have noticed is that houses are the only places mentioned for the meetings of the ekklēsia (the Greek word mistranslated as church in most English Bibles) in the New Testament (evangelistic campaigns were completely separate and occurred in public places such as the temple, synagogues, schools, and simply in the open air).
I once knew a pastor who spoke of house churches as if they were a great evil in the land. He is not alone but, happily, Charles Spurgeon would not have been in his company.
Collins English Dictionary defines a “sacred cow” as “a person, institution, custom, etc, unreasonably held to be beyond criticism.” Among many Christians, there are sacred cow Bible passages. Hebrews 10:25 is one of them. It states, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
This verse is taken by virtually every church and every elder to mean that we should not stop attending church; that we should be in church every Sunday. Some even take the latter part of the verse to mean that, the closer we get in each week to Sunday, the more we should be exhorting one another to attend church. Many Bible scholars, who I must presume are afraid of upsetting the “sacred cow,” simply will not give an unbiased exposition of this verse.