Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 10, 1961
NUMBER 14, PAGE 10-11

The Assembly

Bill McMurry, Atoka, Oklahoma

Most of the members of the body of Christ are familiar with the admonition of Hebrews 10:25. We understand the necessity of assembling together (at least, most of us think it necessary to do so on Sunday morning) and engaging in study, prayer, the Lord's Supper, singing and the preaching of the word. If we have done this, we feel that we have completed our work and kept the law of Christ. Too many do not realize that this is not all that is involved in the command to assemble together. The Bible will reveal that this command is not fulfilled merely by our meeting for an hour or two in a specified place to engage in the mechanical acts of worship to God. It is certainly true that we must assemble and equally true that we must follow the pattern of worship, and just as true that we must be present also in mind and spirit, for we can not worship God any other way. (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:18; John 4:23-24) We must come physically together but we must worship in the spirit.

Let's take a look at the items of worship. Do we just mouth the words of the song service, or does it have a deep spiritual meaning for us? The same can be observed of prayer. It is not enough just to say the words, or to listen when another says them. Prayer too must be in the spirit. (1 Cor. 14:15) Being in the spirit denotes an attitude on our part, a frame of mind, a state of heart, a condition of preparedness, not some miraculous condition in which we are lifted bodily out of the world, placed on the Olympian heights and made to view the portals of heaven. Being in the spirit is a rational state of mind; (Isa. 1:18) a state of mind in which we think on the nobler and better things and in which we feel gratitude to God for all His goodness to us. John was in the spirit on the Lord's Day, (Rev. 1:10) yet the events which follow this announcement clearly demonstrate that he was in a state of mind or heart.

How may we know if we are "in the spirit" on the Lord's Day? We may know in the same way that John knew. We know by our attitude. In taking of the Lord's Supper, for example, we must do so in the right spirit and the right attitude. This involves a self examination and careful scrutiny on our own part. (1 Cor. 11:27-29) If we eat and drink unworthily (and this is an adverb of action, referring to our own estimation of the act we are engaging in) we condemn ourselves.

We see that to be in the spirit then is to be in the proper frame of mind. We must have the right attitude toward what we are doing and toward those who assemble with us. Nor is it possible to live wrong six days of the week (or one day, for that matter) and to be in the right spirit for the Lord's Supper on the other. We must live right daily (Acts 2:42) and not have any fellowship with devils. (1 Cor. 10:20-21) Ii we follow the advice of Paul and have the mind of Christ, we will be continually in the spirit. (Phil. 2:6) By thinking on the things God commands us to think on we will develop the attitude that is necessary to examine ourselves each day, not just on the first day of the week. (Phil. 4:8) We must provide things honest in the sight of all men. (Rom. 12:17) The New Testament tells us what sort of life we should live before men. (Tit. 2) We must keep ourselves constantly stirred up, (1 Tim. 4:14) and this is done by a constant study and constant application of the Word of God to our lives. (2 Tim. 2:15) All of these things must go into making our lives what they should be, and only if our lives are right can our actions be right. God despises a lukewarm Christian, one who is neither for nor against Him. (Rev. 3:15-16)

Since it is obviously necessary to prepare ourselves for the services of the Church we might ask ourselves a number of questions in self examination to determine whether we are eating and drinking damnation to ourselves.

1. How have I lived my daily life? We read from Tit. 2 what manner of person one ought to be in order to be recognized by God as a Christian, a follower of the Lamb. Do I actually practice what I teach to others? (Rom. 2:21)

2. Has my speech reflected praise to God and my Saviour, or has it made a liar of me and shamed Him before the world? The world will know a Christian by his actions and by his speech. (Matt. 7:16) Do I do all things in the name of the Lord so that the Church of God is praised? (Col. 3:17) Does my whole life reflect an attitude of praise and thanksgiving toward my Father as it should? (Eph. 5:20)

3. Have I remained above the world, refusing to mix with it, or have I placed myself on the same level with the denominations? We are warned that it is just as sinful to encourage false teaching as it is to actually preach it. (2 John 10-11) If we allow error to pass uncorrected in our presence we are guilty before God, and the blood of the lost will be laid to our account. (Ezek. 3:18-21) Just as it is a sin for a man to add to or to take away from the words of God, (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19) it is equally sinful for a Christian not to teach God's law. (Jas. 2:10) It is an easy thing for us to become so accustomed to a routine of worship and to forget the spiritual significance of it. Perhaps this is due to a, lack of teaching on the part of those who are responsible for our spiritual development. Whatever the reason might be we must constantly keep ourselves stirred up. (2 Pet. 3:1) If we follow the advice contained in 1 Thes. 5:16-22, we will find that we are improving each day.

We are soldiers enlisted in the army of Christ, serving His church under the glorious and age lasting commission of preaching His gospel to the whole world. (Matt. 28:1820) Only the Word of God and our unselfish dedication to it arms and prepares us for the struggle into which we have entered. (Eph. 6:13-17) Brethren, the greatest two weapons in our Christian armor are the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and the spirit of love and unity among our ranks. (Eph. 6:17; 1 Cor. 13:13) We must ever be pressing onward in this great battle, though we be pressed sore by the devils legions, forsaken by loved ones, hated by the world, and often cast down. We must remind ourselves that "He is faithful that promised" and that "His Word will not return unto Him void." The powers which Satan might raise up against us can not stand against the glorious power of the Lord. God will laugh at them and bring them to nought at His good pleasure. (Psalms 2:4-5) We are serving under an invincible captain who can not be defeated. We are marching onward to a glorious and eternal victory over death, hell and the grave! There is no power which Satan, the father of lies, can muster against us powerful enough to overcome us or our Lord! There is nothing in this world or any other able to stand before the thrusts of the two-edged sword of the Word of God.

The army of God is marching toward an absolute and ultimate victory over death. (1 Cor. 15) We are looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2) who will overcome all things and cast the devil into the lake of hell. (Rev. 20:10) We can not be conquered for we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ and His word. (Rom. 8:37)

This, brethren, is what is involved in our assembling. This is the attitude, the frame of mind, that makes it more than an empty formality or a dull ritual for us. Pray to God that our eyes might be opened and that we might comprehend more fully the perfect and true meaning of "assemble" and be more faithful in our coming together in the spirit on the Lord's Day.

A Report On Shreveport Ward Hogland, Houston, Texas

About a year ago, brother Earl Hartsell and a few other brethren began meeting in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was their desire to plant the cause of Christ firmly in that city. Although they received much opposition from without and within they continued to meet in a rented building.

The Elders at Spring Branch in Houston, Texas, having received their call for help decided to place a man full-time in that city. They selected brother Huey Hartsell, a blood brother to Earl. Since that time the brethren in Shreveport purchased a nice meeting house. It is of brick construction with an annex made of wood for Bible study. The building has central air-conditioning and many other fine features. It is probably worth three times what they gave for it. The congregation is known as the Linwood congregation and is located on the corner of Linwood and 75th.

After purchasing the building they asked the elders at Spring Branch about the possibility of a meeting. I was sent and the meeting was conducted July 10-16. Four responded to the invitation. Two were baptized, one restored and one identified. We had up to eighty people in attendance during the meeting. This is very good considering the congregation is made up of about nine families. We received excellent support from Haynesville and Logansport, La., as well as many visitors from the city.

YOU can help this congregation and this is how: Make a note of the location and supply to anyone in need. Send the names of relatives, friends, etc., both in and out of the church. Also send the names of soldiers in Barksdale Air Force base. Send this information to Huey Hartsell, 2940 Hillcrest, Shreveport, La. Brother Hartsell is doing excellent work with these brethren and will be happy to have any information you might give to assist in the work.

"Congregational Cooperation Of The Churches Of Christ"

Pryde E. Hinton, Dora, Alabama Brother Herbert E. Winkler of 6410 Charlotte Road, Nashville Tenn., has brought out another edition of his book of the title in above caption. The new edition has about 31 new pages of material by brother Charles M. Campbell, brother J. C. Hutcheson, and brother Winkler. These added pages add much worth to the book. The price is still $1.00 per copy, but cheaper if you can use 5 or more. Order from the Gospel Guardian or direct from brother Winkler. This is certainly one of the best books on this subject. This is a simple treatise on this vital subject that doesn't lose one in a labyrinth of intricate arguments and irrelevant and redundant discussions. One sister to whom I gave a copy loaned it to several others to read and it did great good. Buy several copies for such distribution or circulation. There are so many fence-straddlers, and so many who are either misinformed or uninformed, that we need to persistently teach the truth and save some, who otherwise would be swept into another apostasy.