A Note from Michael Gossett
Over the past few weeks, I have been writing about our individual call to follow Jesus. However, every individual call to surrender and follow Jesus will ultimately be seen in a corporate gathering. What does this mean? It means that every person called by Jesus is called to the Body of Christ, the church. Paul gives various descriptions of the church. The word translated “church” in the New Testament is ekklēsia, which literally means “the called-out ones.” This is from the root, ek, which means “out of” and klēsia, which means “called.” While this is a common starting point for explaining the meaning of the church, it may leave us short of truly understanding what the church is. When we break down words in this way, there is the potential of misleading the reader. No one would think that a butterfly is a fly with butter on it. In the same way, we should not attempt to understand the church as the “called out ones.” Instead, the word, ekklēsia, refers to “assembly.”
A study through the Old Testament would help us understand this truth. In the Septuagint, which is the Old Testament translated to Greek, we find the word, ekklēsia, 65 times. The most predominant translation of the word in the Septuagint is “assembly.” Deuteronomy 9:10 says, “On the day of the assembly, the Lord gave me the two stone tablets, inscribed by God’s finger.” In Joshua 8:35 we read, “There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read before the entire assembly of Israel, including the women, the dependents, and the resident aliens who lived among them.”
In both of the instances, the word refers to the assembly of God’s people. But how does this apply to the New Testament as well as us today? The New Testament is clear about the importance of Christians assembling on a regular basis. Paul’s letters were written to different locations where followers of Jesus were committed to one another as well as committed to the purpose of Christ. When we read the word “church,” it is usually in reference to a local gathering of God’s people. The exception would be when there is a reference to the catholic (universal) church which is talking about God’s people in all places in all times past, present, and future. A good example of this is found in Ephesians 5:25 which says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”
With these references and the abundant evidence in Scripture, we can see that every believer is expected to assemble with God’s people in a local gathering. A church, therefore, is not just about the individual, it is about the corporate gathering. The church is a saved people who have covenanted together for the purpose of Christ. The church is called to proclaim the Gospel, protect the Gospel and portray the Gospel of Christ. This is done in the gathering and as the church is scattered outside of the gathering. This is why Hebrews is so clear that we cannot forsake “the gathering” which helps us understand the greater weight of being with God’s people.
We gather because we are called together. We are called together for not only our own good but for the good of others. Every gathering is to focus on the worship of Jesus and the edification of the Saints. As we proclaim the Gospel, we are committed to singing God’s word and teaching God’s word. As we protect the Gospel, we are committed to rightly dividing the word of truth. As we portray the Gospel, we are committed to the right administration of the sacraments. This Sunday, we will gather together to worship, we will sing God’s word, we will preach and teach God’s word, we will see baptisms, and we will administer the elements of the Lord’s Supper. I hope that this Sunday you will make every effort to come and join in on the amazing things God is doing in His church.
The WKND: Darkness & Light is a high-powered weekend for 6-12th grade students on February 16-18, 2024. Exciting worship, crazy REC, large group teachings, and overnight in homes with your closest friends. The cost is $85. This is a MAIN EVENT that you don’t want to miss!
Join us March 3rd in LH 260 at 9:30 AM if you are a new believer and wanting to learn more. One parent must attend with the child. We can’t wait to be a part of this exciting time in your life! Spots are limited.
I cannot wait to worship with you this SUNDAY! This week, we are jumping back into to the book of Hebrews 3:1-6. Here is the text so you can read the passage and begin to pray for God to speak to us through His word.
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. Now every house is built by someone, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. But Christ was faithful as a Son over his household. And we are that household if we hold on to our confidence and the hope in which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:1-6, CSB)
Begin preparing your heart now as we look forward to worship, receiving the word of the Lord, and participating in the Lord’s Supper.
You are loved and prayed for!