Lesson 10 – The Meetings of the Church (2)
THE LORD’S TABLE MEETING
Acts 2 tells us that the early believers had the Lord’s table, the breaking of bread, every day in their homes (vv. 42, 46). Later in Acts 20:6b-7a, we can see that the saints had a habit of having the Lord’s table on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week. Verse 6b says that the apostle Paul and his co-workers stayed in Troas for seven days. Then the next verse says that on the first day of the week they had the Lord’s table. This strongly indicates that by that time the Lord’s table was conducted mainly on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, the day of resurrection. Today the whole world takes Sunday not mainly for worship but for pleasures, for sports, and for all kinds of entertainment. This is more evil than idol worship, but this tide has flooded many Christians. Many Christians not only refer to the Lord’s Day as Sunday, but also consider Sunday as a day of pleasure and entertainment. We, however, should consider the first day of the week as a day for the Lord.
We remember the Lord by breaking the bread, by eating the bread, and by drinking the cup. According to what the Lord has established, whenever we break bread, there is not only a loaf of bread prepared for us to break and eat, but next to the bread there is also a cup prepared for us to receive and drink. By eating the Lord’s bread and drinking the Lord’s cup, we eat the Lord’s supper in remembrance of the Lord. The bread and the cup are both symbols. According to what the Lord said, the bread signifies His body that He gave for us and the cup signifies the blood that He shed for us. He gave Himself for us in order to impart life into us that we may partake of Him. He shed His blood for us in order to redeem us that our sins may be forgiven.
When we see or receive the bread that we break, we should consider how the Lord became flesh for us, how He died for us in the flesh, and how His body was broken for us and given to us that we may have His life. We should consider the Lord and what He did for us not only when we see or receive the bread which we break but also when we see or receive the cup which we drink. This cup signifies the new covenant, which the Lord enacted for us
by shedding His blood. Whenever we see or receive this cup which we drink, we should consider how the Lord partook of flesh and blood for us (Heb. 2:14), how He not only gave His body for us that we may have His life, but how He also shed His blood for us that we may have the topmost blessing, that is, to be delivered from sin and obtain God and all that is of Him. By this symbol, we should consider how the Lord bore our sins, was made sin for us, and was judged and cursed for us, shedding His blood, which constitutes our cup of blessing, our eternal blessed portion. We should also consider how we are redeemed, forgiven, sanctified, justified, reconciled, and accepted by God through the Lord’s blood; how it cleanses us from our sins and washes our conscience that we may come to God with boldness; how it speaks better things before God; and how it resists the attacks from the evil spirits for us that we may overcome the devil who accuses us.
THE PRAYER MEETING
There are two special matters in the prayer meeting which the brothers should pay attention to.
First, tell all the brothers who pray to learn to be short. Ten out of ten prayer meetings are ruined by long prayers. In the prayer meeting everyone should always learn to pray in a short way. The elderly brothers may have a few long prayers. But tell the new believers from the very beginning to learn to be short. For the prayer meeting to have power and be strong, the prayer has to be short. Long prayers are often padded with many empty words. When you come to a prayer meeting, you should remember to tell them to pray short prayers.
Second, the words of their prayer in the prayer meeting must be honest. Warn the brothers and sisters that their prayer in their own personal prayer time and their prayer in the prayer meeting should not differ too greatly. Learn to be real. It is true that the words uttered in the prayer meeting need to be clear. When you are having your personal time before God, you may stop before a sentence is fully uttered; of course, you would have to continue this sentence in the prayer meeting. However, there are times when the words you use in the prayer meeting are not the words you use in your personal time of prayer. Therefore, we need to charge them to pray from their heart; they must pray for God to hear. Do not let some brothers or sisters make prayer a kind of preaching of the truth nor let them give an intelligence report to God. As many words as you have, speak that much; whatever words you have, speak these words.
THE MEETING FOR EDIFICATION
In every meeting we should keep the principle of mutuality. The Devil has plotted to annul the mutuality in Christian meetings. However, if you would read the New Testament again you could see that the Christian meeting is altogether a meeting in mutuality, a matter of one to another. In 1 Corinthians 14:26 one has a teaching, another has a revelation, another has a psalm, another has a tongue, and another has an interpretation. All these are in mutuality. There is not simply one or a few who function. There is no distinction between laymen and clergy. All are functioning members in mutuality.
THE MEETING FOR READING THE WORD OF GOD
“When they had gathered the multitude together, they handed them the letter. And when they read it, they rejoiced at the encouragement” (Acts 15:30-31). These verses tell us that when Paul and his companions arrived in Antioch, they gathered the saints together to read to them the letter written by the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem under the leading of the Holy Spirit. This indicates that we also may need to meet together occasionally to read the word of God in the Bible. In Colossians 4:16 Paul says, “When this letter is read among you, cause that it be read in the church of the Laodiceans also, and that you also read the one from Laodicea.” This verse also refers to a gathering for reading the Word of God.
THE MEETING FOR LISTENING TO MESSAGES
In the church we also may gather together for listening to messages. According to the record in Acts, this kind of gathering is not frequent. One verse that refers to such a gathering is Acts 20:7. “When we gathered together…Paul conversed with them, since he was to go forth on the next day.” On that day, the believers in Troas met together to listen to Paul conversing with them concerning the spiritual things of God so that they might be edified and established. This indicates that sometimes we also should meet to listen to spiritual messages spoken for God by the Lord’s minister of the word that we may be edified and established.
THE SMALL GROUP MEETINGS
The Bible shows us that from the beginning of the church life there were two kinds of meetings. The big meetings were held in the temple, while the small meetings were held from house to house. The big meetings raised up and brought in the people, who were then put into the small meetings. In the small meetings they were nurtured and edified. There they coordinated together to be built into the house of God. Hence, the foundation of the building of the church is in the small group gatherings.
Whenever you come to a small group meeting, do not come in a loose way. Rather, prepare yourself. Come with prayer and with the deposit which you have picked up in your daily life. Everyone must come with his loins girded and his mind refreshed. Leave all the oldness and forms behind. Open your mouth, release your spirit, exercise faith, and demonstrate the power. In this way the small group meetings will surely be rich, strong, fresh, living, attractive, and able to support people. May we all strive in this matter, and may we all learn and practice together, so that the Lord may have a way among us.