FORSAKE NOT THE ASSEMBLING?
YE NEED NOT THAT ANY MAN TEACH YOU
"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." (Hebrews 10:25).
Assembling today has taken on various forms and meanings. To some, it is as sacred as the blood of Jesus, while with others, there is no value at all in assembling. The above verse would seem so simple that a child would not err therein, yet I believe many miss this vital mark.
There are fundamental truths and topics we would think everyone who professes Christ Jesus as Lord should know. This is not, however, always the case. Some things go overlooked with little thought attended to them. Forsaking not the assembling of yourselves together is a good example. One factor that causes some to withdraw from fellowship is what John wrote. With his words in the foreground of their thinking, they refuse to hear what others have to say. The verse below is often misunderstanding, but this is not the whole story. We have noticed a common thread in more than a few of these separatists there is a spirit of pride and/or bitterness sewn with the misunderstanding. With this combination, it is almost impossible to reach them or point out where they may have taken the wrong turn. Nevertheless, we hope to touch not only their hearts today, but also anyone who reads these few pages. The verse in question is found in Johns first epistle:
YE NEED NOT THAT ANY MAN TEACH YOU
The apostle wrote, "But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him." (1 John 2:27). John, of course, was not saying that God does not call prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers as Paul drew out in Ephesians 4:10. If that were his implication, he would have been very much in conflict with Paul, the other apostles, and with himself as well.
If there were no need of men and women to preach the Word of God, it is unlikely Paul would have written: "...How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom 10:14-15).
You see, the problem does not reside in hearing someone preach, teach, or prophesy, as a few have taken Johns words to mean. According to the scriptures men are the primary dispatchers of truth, and very little would be heard without them. If He chooses to do so, God could divinely inspire the souls of every human being, and with one sweep of His hand miraculously save them all. That, however, is not His general plan. He has saved people in this manner, I was one of them, but it is not His general rule. He finds great pleasure in taking His time, and working through Christs body of many members. That is the primary means He uses to call His creation back home.
Let us never for a moment think that we should cease from hearing others speak. There is nothing wrong with giving your ear to the vessels of His calling. Much life can be had in their words. The issue is not in hearing others, but comes in not hearing properly. Jesus mentioned this in Luke 8:18, saying, "Take heed therefore how ye hear."
If the messenger speaks, and the word he speaks is heard by the Spirit it is then by the Spirit that abides within that teaches the individual. Although a man or woman presents the word of truth, it does nothing until the Spirit within breaks it open and teaches the person. If the Spirit does not teach it, the best possible scenario is mental ascension and carnal reasoning. This, of course, would be the letter that kills. And we know there is no life in the letter alone, never has been, and never will be.
When people isolate themselves with hopes of escaping the influence and doctrinal pollution of men, they may be in for a surprise. I am not saying our Lord does not draw us away and unto Himself at various times, for He does. There are also occasions when He may separate us from fellowship, from listening to tapes, or reading anyones publications. Many today know by their own experiences this is true. Some, however, separate themselves from the body when it is not the Lord doing it at all.
As an illustration we will go back and look at myself in this error. After a year or so into my salvation, More than twenty-five years ago I withdrew myself from any sort of hearing what others in the body of Christ had to say. My unlearned intentions were good but I was way off the target. Other than learning by my mistake, nothing was gained. I was off target by a mile. After reading the apostles words, that there was no need of any man to teach me I quit going to meetings in the attempt of receiving from no man. It was my intention to get the Word straight from God, from the Source, right from the throne, from Christ Himself, with no outside influence whatsoever. My conviction was that the Anointing abiding within would teach me all things, that the word I heard would be pure, unpolluted, and undefiled. In my mind I believed that once this pure word was received, I would have a pure word to impart. But it didnt happen that way, and I even had a scripture to back me. This was one of my first lessons in the dangers of building upon an unstable foundation of a presumed truth.
I suppose the first mistake I made was in not knowing I was just as polluted as the men and women I felt I no longer needed to hear. My own mind had a cunning way of sewing adamic thoughts, cherubim if you will, into the veil with those of Christs. I was sadly surprised when the small amount of word I had been receiving stopped flowing altogether. If it had continued, I would have no doubt brewed an apothecarys mixture. The very thing I tried to escape from followed me into the wilderness where I had fled. Try as I may, it was impossible to outdistance myself. I could not get away from my greatest and most deceptive enemy myself.
Praise God, this proud deception lasted only a month or two before I realized by the prompting of the Spirit what was happening. Since I had willingly severed myself from hearing Gods anointed men and women, God severed His word from me. Once I realized where the responsibility lay which was in me and by the anointing of Christ not only was I able to hear and receive from all the members of Christs Body, but that inner word began to flow again. It is now a true pleasure to hear the Voice of my Father in every vessel of His wonderful body. It is good to know that those of His household are not useless utensils, but they stand as vital parts in my life. Each one will help us all along if we let them. They are not here to slow us down.
We have many hindrances in the land, this is sure, but most of them cannot compare to ourselves. Although the leader of our nation and a multitude of supports are killing our babies on a mass scale as it was in the days of Moses and Jesus we must come to know they are not our worst enemies. It is not the president, the liberals or conservatives; it is not drugs, alcohol, or the tobacco industry; it is not the so-called antichrist, or the hoard of false prophets and teachers; it is not Babylon, nor even the devil who is our worst enemy. Our worst and foremost enemy is OUR OWN SELVES. All those other factions are merely fragments of the evil that is sufficient unto the day thereof (Mat 6:34).
Those who choose of themselves to walk alone are destined to stagnation. Their journey back home will be slowed considerably. While God is assembling the Body, they are busy working contrary to Him. In their sincere, but sincerely misguided venture, they are disassembling themselves from Christs body. When they should be re-membering the body from whence they came, they are dis-membering it.
Although most Christians do not fit the willful act of refusing to fellowship with others, they too may be dismembering the body of Christ. This can come in failing to understand the difference between assembling, and gathering. The two terms appear the same, but there is quite a difference, as we will see.
ARE WE GATHERING OR ASSEMBLING?
I believe a good example of being assembled is the 120 in the upper room at Pentecost. They were certainly assembled; for as our friend Louise Slay related: "They met in one accord and were filled with the Holy Spirit--And now the Holy Spirit really isn't welcome in the mainline gatherings and there is no such thing as 'one accord.'"
I do not believe we are wrong by saying that most Sunday morning church services are gatherings rather than assemblies where everyone is in one accord. For example, let us compare the many members of Christs body to an automobile that has many members, or parts. We can have all the parts of a beautiful, new Mercedes Benz gathered in a pile but I challenge anyone to hop on top of that pile of new parts and drive them to the market for a quart of milk. Those parts would be more akin to a junk-pile than an automobile, and the supposed driver would get nowhere. However, when all those parts are properly assembled by a team of assemblers who are in one accord you can zip across the country at breakneck speed if you so desire.
Have you ever bought a present for your child, and when you opened the box it was full of parts with a notice that read "Some assembly required?" We have all been there, havent we? Well, dear "gatherers," some "assembly" is required with us. We want to be portions of Christs manifested Body, this is good; but before the members can come forth and work, we must be assembled together.
It is possible to be on the back side of the desert, as where Margit and I live in southern New Mexico, and still be joined to the corporate body of Christ. It is not unusual to be void of regular church meetings, as we generally are; but this does not stop us from being assembled. Although we would choose to gather on a regular basis with like-minded believers, we are content to be without it. It is easy to be content when it is known that we are in our proper places of Christs Body and doing exactly what our Father bids. We know many saints in similar situations. They are physically isolated from the Body, but they are spiritually connected. They may not be gathered, but they are assembled.
Others may sit every Sunday morning in churches of 100 members, or in cathedrals of 5,000 and not be assembled. They may sing in their choirs, teach Sunday-school classes, preach firebrand sermons, and still not be assembled, only gathered. What a difference! Just being there does not constitute a true assembly. Those who are active in their churches may feel they are assembled, but this does not do it either. Men and women can be full of "good works" but totally void of the assembled Spirit and Godly works of Christ.
It is not uncommon to see people gather for special meetings. Wherever a convention, ingathering, or out-of-town guest is speaking, many are there to hear the anointed word of God. Very often, however, after being filled, they go away without having digested what was ministered. Therewith, they fail to put into practice or grow by that which was delivered. Suspect of being gathered rather than assembled. It is good to attend these meetings, we love to do so when we can; but the purpose of coming together can be wrong. What is the motive? Is it to enrich our lives and grow in the Lord, or simply to eat and get religiously fat?
I like what one flame of fire in Gods Kingdom wrote recently. Bob Torango gave this analogy about people who are hears of the word only and not doers. In essence he said: They are like the one-celled amoeba, which is of the simplest life form. Their entire lives revolve around receiving but never giving. Never being full, they are on a relentless search of food, and more food.
Like the amoeba, they flow through the corporate Body of Christ, engulfing and consuming all they can. They may be eating a rich diet of the word, but they still may not be members of that body, and they are not necessarily assembled in it. There is more to being a manifested son of God than consuming and believing present-day truths. It is wonderful to believe Gods eternal truths. We have heard, however, that demons also believe, but it does them no good. James put it this way: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:19-20).
The apostle did not say in detail that the devils believe Gods truths, only that they believe there is one God. Even so, we can conclude as much. For we know people who believe many things we believe; but they are devils in the flesh.
We do well to have the believing parts of the body gathered around us in fellowship and meetings, yet without being assembled we can lack a great deal. When we are void of assembly, we are void of manifestation that Paul said the world is waiting for. Please know, brethren, creation is not standing on tiptoe looking for people with a new doctrine, or even the right doctrine. They couldnt care less about a blueprint of Christs body, or detailed instructions of how it is supposed to work. They want to see it working.
As profound as Jesus words were about His impending death and resurrection, they could not be compared to the actual event. Likewise today. Creation is not asking us to tell them about the appearing of the Sons of God they are waiting to see it! That is their hope of being delivered from the bondage of corruption, not spine-tingling doctrines about the manifestation. True doctrines are good, and they are good to know; but what the world wants is the substance the doctrines points to. The people want a taste of reality, not teaching to muse over and consider if it is true or not. They want a worthy vessel that can sail to Gods celestial shores, not a polished surfboard to merely ride the waves. There is a lot of surfing today, and it may be fun and exciting, but you wont get far with that mode of travel.
Another wrote concerning the world waiting to see the manifestation, saying: "May God indeed impart to us that faith to believe His Word, and then go on to see it incorporated into a people who BECOME LIVING MANIFESTATIONS of what He has said, and done. The world waits for something far more than a superficial believe what I say, not what I do, type of message. They are weary of religious profession without a possession. But when they SEE His children, the work of Mine hands, they will sanctify My name, they will glorify God, and in turn seek Him for themselves."
Another way of looking at the difference of being assembled and gathered is a baseball game. Ill borrow a thought from Kelly Varner. From what I remember, he said it something like this: After your favorite team has won the game, have you ever jumped up and declared? "WE won! WE won! Bless God, WE won!" Well the fact is, WE didnt win anything THE TEAM WON! WE WATCHED while THE TEAM WON.
In this picture, all the spectators were GATHERED in the stands watching the ASSEMBLED team working together as ONE BODY. It is much the same with many Christians today. They gather and assume they are assembled. The sad point is, they stand proudly and condemn those who are truly assembled. Large crowds and the roar of cheers are not necessarily an assembly. Believing in your team, the Baptists, Anabaptists, Assemblies of God, Sons of God, etc., will not be the ticket to glory. Embracing their doctrines, as good as they may or may not be, will not give you a home-run to paradise. Home-runs come when you are a player on the team. You are then an assembled member of Christs Body. You are not just showing up and shouting "Hallelujah, praise God," and saying "Amen" to everything preached.
It is good to encourage those running the race, the ones fighting the good fight in this harrowing war; but we see there is more to it than being cheering spectators. There is a participation on our part if we expect to finish the race and claim the prize of the high calling.
In this race let us never be intimidated by those who fail to realize what true assembling and participation is. Let it also be far from our own minds to feel we need to make excuses for not gathering ourselves inside the walled cities of Babylon. And please, we should never be pressured into joining Sauls army who seek to destroy Gods anointed. Rather than thinking we must be busy about religions business, let us be about our Fathers business. In this, the caves of Adullam will serve us for the time, as they did for David and his men.
THE CAVE OF ADULLAM
"David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men." (1 Sam 22:1-2).
Have you ever felt that your flight from Sauls guardianship in the church was a mistake especially when you found that your only place of safety was in obscurity? This is where many of us are today, but rest assured it was not a mistake. Although we find ourselves in the depths of the earth we are in the heavens. We may be in obscurity, unseen, and detached from the crowds but we are ever assembled with our Lord in the cave of Adullam. No, brethren, although we have made mistakes in the past, this has been no mistake! We are where we belong for the moment.
Let us briefly take note of the word, Adullam. It means justice of the people and comes from the root word Adlay, meaning justice of God (Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament). Therefore, let us all be encouraged who are in the cave of Adullam, for we are being prepared to be Gods justice in the earth. Creation is anxiously waiting our exit from the obscurity, and thereby delivered from the bondage of corruption, and made free in the same glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:19-21).
In the days of Jesus, before His crucifixion, He, like David, found Himself more in the wilderness ministering to the people than in the cities and meeting halls of the church. Neither He nor David was welcome in the "honorable" places of the kingdom, so the seashores, hillsides, and caves had to suffice for the time.
It was therein, outside the camp, where the people in distress, (matsowq, a narrow place, i.e. confinement or disability (Strongs Exhaustive Concordance.) and every one that was in debt, (nasha', through the idea of imposition; to lend on interest; by impl. to dun for debt; to lead astray, i.e. (mentally) to delude, or (morally) to seduce. (Strongs) and every one that was discontented (mar, bitter (lit. or fig.); also (as noun) bitterness, or (adv.) bitterly, (Strongs) sought out Jesus and David. And so it is with us.
While under the rule of Saul in the church system, we were in distress narrowed down to fit their church mold, confined to their dogmas and thereby Spiritually disabled. We were made to believe we were indebted to them. We were led astray, deluded, and seduced by their harlotry. In such servitude, the diet of vile doctrines and unending religious ceremonies became the norm. The heavy burden of discontentment set bitterly upon our spirits. Oh, but praise God! When we left and were gathered together, assembled, with our Lord, it mattered not in what city, wilderness, or cave our physical bodies abode all was well.
Isnt it good to be free? Our lives are no longer squeezed from us. We are not seduced, and the sweetness of our Lord has replaced the bitterness of Sauls reign. Secular Christianity may see us as misfits, as Ray Prinzing said he is, but we are Gods justified misfits, and we shall soon bring the same justice to the world.
The Hebrew word for gathered does not carry the thought of "gathering" in the sense we are noticing in this study such as, "gathering" parts into a pile, or people grouped in a congregation to hear a message. The Hebrew word means to grasp, and it is often used to describe an assembled army that is exercising great power as a working body of soldiers. One example is: "That they GATHERED themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, WITH ONE ACCORD" (Josh 9:2). You see, their purpose was not to merely come together to be encouraged for another day by their drill sergeant. They came together IN ONE ACCORD as an ASSEMBLED WAR-MACHINE. It was a mechanized, assembled army, which could crush the enemy and bring victorious justice to the people.
FOUR HUNDRED MEN
The term four hundred who joined David in the cave has some significance for us today. According to E.W. Bullinger in his book, Numbers in Scripture, four hundred (400) carries the thought of a divinely perfect period. For David and those assembled with him, the period they dwelled in caves probably seemed like 400 years. Nevertheless, it was the perfect period appointed of God that would prepare them to reign with David. What they endured is not unlike our own lives. We too have had long days and dark nights.
There were times when we wondered if the call of being manifested in Christís glory was only a dream. Could we have only imagined we would someday rule and reign with the Captain of our salvation? Will these hard and lonely times ever end? Oh, yes, dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, it will end! What we are enduring is working an eternal weight of glory that is not comparable to the silence and inactivity we presently know. Like those in Adullamís caves, we are being prepared to reign openly with Him in His Kingdom.
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together...and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" Hebrews 10:25. Most of you probably agree with me up to this point. Nevertheless, in all truth we cannot dismiss what this verse is saying. What has been brought out is true, for there is a difference between gathering and assembling. Both are important, but different. When the captain says, "Gather around boys, Iíve got something to tell you about engaging this battle," is not quite the same as when he says," Get you weapons and fall in men (assemble yourselves), for we are marching off to war." Much can be learned in gatherings, but it is the assemblies that are the working bodies.
Hebrews 10:25 has been misused and made to be a lash to compel people to gather into their churches. It is also used to condemn those who do not heed their call. It is one of the most abused verses in the Bible. The horrible mind-set for so many is that if a person is a Christian, they must attend a "church" of some sort. Any will do as long as it carries corporate papers, is sanctioned by mainstream religion, they are a non profit, tax exempt business, or it is at least a place where people gather on a weekly basis to listen to one person tell his or her view of the Bible. It is in their misguided thinking that everyone has to have a church or pastor to cover them.
Those who do not attend such organized gatherings are often suspected of not really being Christians. We have heard it said,"How could anyone who is a Christian not go to church?" Of course, there is no place in Bible that says the only way a person can be a Christian is to belong to, or go to, a certain church. Such thoughts are manmade.
The High Assembling is that to which we aspire; but let us not discount all gatherings. They are necessary as well. We are not to only be thinking of high assembling of an army. There is need to gather so those in need of correction can be ministered to. Some require counseling, while everyone should be taught sound doctrine. The brethren who give way to the lusts of the flesh are in dire need of a people who can, and will, exhort them in Godly love and wisdom that will bring correction. If it is not done in love and understanding, it will likely not be the work of the Spirit and more harm than good can be done than good.
There are a lot of overseers in churches that are more often scourgers than true exhorters. It is customary to beat the wayfarers with the letter of the law. If this does not work, the sinners may be excommunicated. Rather than administering Godly counsel that will set the hapless souls back on the narrow way of Christ, they often destroy them. Religion can be ever so cruel. The face of religion may be beautifully painted, but her heart is pure evil.
Newborn Christians need nurturing. This is common sense. Young girls and boys with driving passions can use good counsel at times from Godly role models. And there are others who simply desire wholesome fellowship with the saints. Should we tell them all to stay home and forsake the gathering of themselves together? Absolutely not! For such gatherings are indispensable for some.
However, with the spirit of the world with which the church system has clothed herself, and coupled with so many erroneous teachings, I am reluctant to encourage anyone to join themselves to that which is engaging in such spiritual adultery. Therefore, rather than sending innocent people into such misguided places, I would suggest the high calling for them. Let the 400 in the caves of Adullam prepare yourselves to receive, nurture, encourage, and exhort those in need.
It is time to question those in the religious system, "How can you remain in Babylon, or churches, of Saul, and under his high-taxing rule where there is no justice for the people?" I believe the question is just as legitimate as when it is asked of us by them, even more so. For so long, those in organized religion have warned us about the dangers of separating ourselves from their guardianship, yet it is time to turn it around.
The 400 who have assembled with Jesus, the unseen King, could easily warn those who are at ease in Zion. They could be alerted to the impending fall of that religious system by saying: "Come out of her My people, and be not partakers of her sins and plagues. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together with the anointed, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
You see, righteous gatherings lay in the eyes of the beholder. What is right for one is not for the other. I will hasten to tell you ó not everyone is called to the caves of Adullam, and neither is everyone called to subject themselves to the rule of Saul. We all have our own unique calling in this life, and each person should abide wherein they are called. If you make a good church citizen, and you are excited about the word being preached, then stay where you are. The time for you to leave will come when it is hit with Godís judgment. It will then fall, and you will have no choice of the matter. But please know, this is not for your hurt but for your good. Since God loves you, everything that comes between Him and you will eventually be brought down.
However, if you are not one of those who are at peace in those places, you might examine your calling. If you are in distress, feel indebted, and are discontented ó it may be time to leave and head for the cave of Adullam. If you are hearing the Father saying to come out ó fear not, and be quick to move. You will not face starvation, and there is no need to be afraid of the devil. He is not waiting behind every bush and corner for you, and the only shadows you find him lurking will be in the shadows of your own mind. When you leave the confines of your home-church, you will be joined to the Lord and His 400. Whether you find yourselves in a crowd of people or alone in a desert place, be sure to know ó you are Godís workmanship and He will place you in the body where you fit. 1 Corinthians 12:18. Furthermore, you will remain there for the appointed season necessary for maturity. You will not be forsaken, and neither will you be forsaking the assembling of yourselves together. You will be assembled with those who will come forth as the manifested Sons of God!
In conclusion: "...Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" 1 Kings 8:27. Can we then build a church building in which He would like to live? I think not! But in His assembled body, His is more than pleased to dwell, in you and me and all the others!
Elwin R. Roach
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