The following message was delivered during our Sabbath assembly.
I want to talk to you on the subject of God’s Commanded Assemblies. I believe this should be addressed because I’ve noticed a slackening off in our zeal or enthusiasm in attending Church services. I believe I can speak from personal experience, since I’ve been a part of the Church of God for many, many years and still remember the excitement and desire to be with God’s people. I’ll briefly tell you that God seemed to be calling larger numbers into His Church in those years of the early ’60s. (I was baptized in 1963 while we, a group of East Tennesseans, were driving to the closest Church group which was in Atlanta, Georgia.) This doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, but I can tell you that about a dozen people were driving about 200 miles, one way, to attend Sabbath services in Atlanta about twice a month. After a year, another Church was raised up in Asheville, N.C. which was closer by 100 miles. Again we tried to attend at least every other Sabbath. Finally, after a year of that distance, a Church group was started here in Knoxville, Tennessee, with a minister to teach us from the Bible what God expected from us.
Some of the early lessons we were taught were that:
GOD COMMANDS HIS PEOPLE TO ASSEMBLE TOGETHER ON CERTAIN OCCASIONS
God has used various methods in the past in these announcements: Numbers 10:1 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou may use them for THE CALLING OF THE ASSEMBLY, and for the journeying of the camps. 3 And when they shall blow with them, ALL THE ASSEMBLY SHALL ASSEMBLE THEMSELVES to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm.”
God no longer uses this method to call assemblies, but, what are the OCCASIONS where God COMMANDS our ATTENDANCE? (I know of no true Church of God group using bells to call for assembling!)
Leviticus 23:1 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be HOLY CONVOCATIONS, even these are My feasts. 3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, AN HOLY CONVOCATION. 4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even HOLY CONVOCATIONS, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons (annual Holy days.)”
(Then more of these “Holy Convocations” are listed in several other verses in this chapter:
Verses 7, 8, 21, 24, 27, 35, 36, 37. You’ll also notice that some are called “Sabbaths”, “Solemn assemblies” and “statutes”)
According to my “Webster’s New American Dictionary”, a CONVOCATION is: “The act of calling an assembly together.” And since these convocations are HOLY; this means they are CONVOKED OR CALLED BY GOD, HIMSELF! Yes, these are HOLY COMMANDED ASSEMBLIES!
So how do we, as human beings, and some, supposedly, members of God’s true Church, neglect or take lightly our responsibility IN OBEYING A COMMAND FROM GOD?
(I know there are legitimate reasons or circumstances that can prevent us from attending or assembling on these special days, but just using lame excuses can become a dangerous habit!)
God gives us a WAY to avoid this!
First of all, PROVE THESE THINGS and HOLD FAST those PROVEN THINGS that are GOOD; that are CORRECT; that are FROM GOD and HIS WORD. You do this by PERSONAL BIBLE STUDY and REGULAR SABBATH ATTENDANCE!
Notice II Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God.”
Beyond this personal responsibility of regular Bible study, God put a MINISTRY in place to guide us into understanding the deeper and more complex questions concerning His Word. Until we come to appreciate and accept this Truth, we stand in DANGER of being misled by the many false deceivers described in the Bible: Ephesians 4:1 “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the calling of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Here we see one of the main reasons for the ministry: to keep the Church unified in purpose, goals and doctrine.)
Continuing: Verse 11 “And He gave some (to be), apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS, for the WORK OF THE MINISTRY, for the EDIFYING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST: 13 Till we all come to the UNITY OF THE FAITH, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. 15 But speaking the truth in love, (the true ministry) may grow up unto Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
My friends, my brethren, you’ll not receive these special benefits while worshipping alone at home, IF you don’t have a legitimate reason for not assembling with God’s people!
What were some of the most blatant sins of Old Testament Israel that brought on them great curses, defeat and even captivity by foreign nations?It was disobedience of God’s Commanded Assemblies! Ezekiel 20:11 “and I gave them My statutes, and shewed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. 12 Moreover also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. 13 But the House of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness: they walked not in My statutes, and they despised My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and My Sabbaths they greatly polluted : then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness. 16 Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in My statutes, but polluted My Sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.” So this has been a continuing sin with Israel even until this day.
Now let’s look at some Right EXAMPLES in the New Testament!
Luke 4:16 “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, AS HIS CUSTOM (Habit) WAS, He went into the synagogue ON THE SABBATH DAY, and stood up for to read.” Of course! Our Lord and savior observed the seventh day Sabbath Day, as He had instructed His people, Old Testament. Israel to do, while leading them out of Egypt.
I Cor. 10:4 “--- for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” Did He also keep the annual Sabbaths as commanded in God’s Word? YES! John 7:2 “Now the Jews feast of tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that your disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, My time is NOT YET come: but your time is always ready. 8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go up NOT YET unto this feast; for My time is not yet full come. 10 But when His brethren were gone up, THEN WENT HE ALSO UP UNTO THE FEAST, not openly, but as it were in secret. 14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.” Jesus kept the feasts, which were Sabbaths.
What was the example of the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest men of the Bible? (And remember that he was a very important person, being especially assigned to preach to the Gentiles!) Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”
Acts 13:2 “As they (Barnabas and Simeon) ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they also had John to their minister. (Read about their encounter with Elymas the sorcerer in verses 6 - 11) 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia and went into the synagogue ON THE SABBATH DAY, and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”
Then Paul addressed these “Men of Israel, and ye that fear God”, about salvation in Jesus Christ in Verses 16 through 42: “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them THE NEXT SABBATH. 43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 44 AND THE NEXT SABBATH DAY came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.”
My friends, this is what we SHOULD BE DOING every Sabbath! Do you think that the One Who Made the Sabbath, (Who was Jesus Christ, John 1:3; Mark 2:27, 28), would ever Violate His own Commandment?! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!
John 15:10 “If you keep My Commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I HAVE KEPT MY FATHER’S COMMANDMENTS, and abide in His love.” Notice in Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I CHANGE NOT; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” He remains the same, in the New Testament! Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
We’ve shown you that the Sabbath is a SIGN between God and His people, FOREVER; we’ve demonstrated, from the Scriptures, these commanded assemblies are for ALL of mankind, not just for the Jews or Israelites.
If you allow your minds to wander away from the Truth you place yourself in MORTAL DANGER! We’ve given you the plain truth about GOD’S COMMANDED ASSEMBLIES and YOU CAN AVOID THE TERRIBLE BUT JUST PUNISHMENT FROM A LOVING GOD, if you APPLY THIS ADMONINTION: Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast THE PROFESSION OF OUR FAITH, WITHOUT WAVERING; (for He is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 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 (of the return of Christ). 26 For if we SIN WILLFULLY (Yes, it is a SIN!) AFTER THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH (i.e. we’ve repented of our former sins, accepted the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, been baptized, and received the promised Holy Spirit: I Cor. 2:11), THERE REMAINS NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS” There is no “once saved, always saved” doctrine in God’s True Church.
Christ said in Mt. 24:13,“But he that shall endure UNTO THE END, the same SHALL BE SAVED.” (Heb. 7:25) What’s the wicked’s fate? Hebrews 10:27 “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and FIERY INDIGNATION, WHICH SHALL DEVOUR THE ADVERSARIES (Those negligent to ASSEMBLING THEMSELVES TOGETHER!) 28 He that despised Moses law (including the Sabbath) died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant (of Christ’s Sacrifice), wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him that hath said, VENGEANCE BELONGETH UNTO ME, I will recompence, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
This is described vividly in: Malachi 4:1 “For, Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly (as those in Heb. 10:25, 26), shall be stubble: and the day that cometh SHALL BURN THEM UP (not burning and tormenting forever as this deceived world believes), saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet (Those righteous saints) in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”
DO NOT NEGLECT OR FORSAKE GOD’S COMMANDED ASSEMBLIES! Your eternal life depends on it!