Lesson 9 – The Meetings of the Church (1)
GOD’ S ORDINATION FOR THE BELIEVERS
In Hebrews 10:25 the assembling of ourselves together refers to our Christian meetings. God has ordained the way in which every living thing in the universe should exist. God’s ordination is the very law by which a particular living thing lives. If the living thing obeys that law, it will survive and be blessed. God is the same toward us who have believed in Christ. God’s ordination for us, which becomes our law of existence and blessing, is the meetings. As water is to the fish, and air to the birds, so are the meetings to the Christians. As the fish must live in the water and the birds must exist in the air, so the Christians must maintain their spiritual existence and living by the meetings.
A REQUIREMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
Every kind of life has its own characteristic, and usually, many characteristics. The spiritual life we believers have received, being the life of God in us, also possesses many characteristics. For example, the hatred for sin and the separation from sin are characteristics of this life. The desire to draw near to God and the willingness to serve Him are also its characteristics. One of the many characteristics of our spiritual life is to flock together, to meet together. John 10:3 and 16 show us that since we are saved, we are the Lord’s sheep. The characteristic of the sheep’s life is to flock together and to dislike isolation from the other sheep. Hence, the Bible says that we are not only the Lord’s sheep, but even more, His flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2). In order to be a sheep which shares in the blessing of the flock, we must meet together with the flock. The characteristic of the spiritual “sheep life” within us requires this of us.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BELIEVERS’ MEETINGS
In Matt. 18:20 the Lord especially promised that wherever two or three of us who belong to Him are gathered together into His name, that is, meet in His name, He is in our midst. When we meet in His name, we enjoy His presence in a special way. His very presence undoubtedly brings us enlightenment, grace, supply, and many other blessings. Hebrews 10:24-25 also shows us that meetings can cause us to consider one another for inciting to love and to exhort one another for good works. This causes us to have spiritual fellowship with the saints to receive the life supply from them. Thus, we must not forsake the meetings, and so much the more as we know that the Lord will soon come back. Our Christian life is not like the life of a butterfly, which does well on its own; our life is like the sheep’s life, requiring that we flock together and live a meeting life. Consequently, we need to meet, and the meetings are crucial to us.
TO MEET BEING TO WORSHIP GOD AND TO SERVE HIM
We have already said that to meet is to worship God and to serve Him. But we need to stress again and again that if a believer does not come to meet with the church, that means he does not worship God and serve Him in an adequate way.
TO MEET BEING TO MINISTER CHRIST TO OTHERS
To meet is to minister Christ to others. This point is very crucial. Most Christians have the concept that to come to the meeting is to receive the help. They do not have the sensation, the consideration, or the concept that they need to minister Christ to others. Every believer should have something of Christ. Thus, when we come to the meeting, we come to share Christ with others, to minister Christ to others, either by our prayer, by our testimony, or by our word as a short message. We always have to get ourselves prepared to minister Christ in the meeting. We need to speak more on this point to impress the young ones and the new ones among us. Their wrong concept needs to be corrected.
According to the type in the Old Testament, God charged His people not to come to the meeting empty-handed (Deut. 16:16). When you come to the meeting, you must have something to offer. Also, if the priest in the Old Testament did not offer something on the altar, he could never get into the tabernacle. Without anything to offer to God, we can never enter into the tabernacle, so this is a must. If we do not offer something to God, and we try to enter into the presence of God, this is a great deficiency.
TO MEET BEING TO BUILD UP THE CHURCH
We also need to see that to meet is to build up the church (1 Cor. 14:26). First Corinthians 14 says that in a meeting the best thing is to prophesy (v. 31). This is because prophesying builds the church (v. 4b). This tells us clearly that when we come to the meeting, we build up the church. To meet is a service, and this is the building service, the building ministry.
According to Ephesians 4:16, the Body of Christ is built up not only through every joint of the rich supply but also through the operation in the measure of each one part. This indicates that every saint must participate in the building up of the Body. This is carried out mainly by coming to the meeting. To meet is the way to build up the church. Every attendant in the meeting must be a builder to do the building work. But we need to consider our situation today. A number of saints in our meetings would not do anything. They just sit there expecting to receive something. But if all the saints would exercise to build the meeting, surely we would have a strong meeting, a rich meeting, and a high meeting. Suppose not even one saint would function in the meeting, and everyone came to the meeting to sit there dumbly. That would be the lowest meeting, the poorest meeting, a meeting with nothing. The more we open our mouths to speak for the Lord, the more the building work will be done. The more we all exercise to speak Christ in the meetings, the richer, the higher, and the more living the meetings will be. We need to encourage all the saints to minister, to serve, for the building up of the church.
THE WAY TO MEET
The way of meeting as revealed in the Bible is one that enlivens people. It revives man’s spirit and develops the organic function in man. It develops from within man the initial gift received from God. This initial gift is the divine life of God, which is capable of growing within us in the same way that the life within a baby will grow. When this life grows, the functions of life are developed from within the baby gradually, causing the baby to see, to hear, to speak, to work with his hands, and to walk with his feet. However, the system of meeting in today’s Christianity does not develop the spiritual function of life within us, the regenerated ones. On the contrary, it restricts, limits, and suppresses our spiritual functions, with the result that they are reduced or annulled.
The way to meet as revealed in the Bible establishes and builds up the function of life in us, and it stirs up all the gifts of the divine life that the saints received from God; the result will be that they are nourished and supplied. By this the saints grow, and the growth of the saints is the building up of the church. However, I have seen some brothers and sisters among us who come to every meeting, who participate in all the services, who are very faithful in listening to messages, and who love the Lord; yet, we do not see much growth in life in them. The reason is that there is not much supply and nourishment in the meetings, and also there is the lack of the release and exercise of life. For this reason, in the meetings under the old system, it is difficult to see any growth in life, and there is very little building.