Summary: The principle and practice of God's people gathering together in the presence of the Lord in a house dedicated to Him for the purpose of corporate praise and worship is clearly taught throughout the Bible by command, precept and example.
WHY WE GATHER TOGETHER
Psalm 84:10 "For a day in thy courts [is] better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."
Psalm 122:1 " I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD."
Matt. 18:20 "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Luke 4:16 " And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read."
Luke 24:52-53 " And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen."
Acts 2:46-47 "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
Acts 20:7 "And upon the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them,.
I Cor. 16:2 "Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."
The principle and practice of God's people gathering together in the presence of the Lord in a house dedicated to Him for the purpose of corporate praise and worship is clearly taught throughout the Bible by command, precept and example. The spiritual life of Israel was to be focused first upon the tabernacle and then upon the temple of the Lord. There they met with Jehovah. There the presence, power and provision of His Spirit became a reality. The sacrifices and symbols of the service rendered there, were designed to emphasize the power and presence of a living God. All of this, of course, pointed to the day the real sacrifice would be made and the Living Christ would rise again and promise to meet with His people until He comes again for them.
The privilege and priority of gathering together for corporate praise and worship is beautifully pictured in the poetic language of the psalmist as well. In the day of our Saviour the synagogue had become a place of praise and worship for the local community of Jewish believers. We are told it was Jesus' custom to gather together with the congregation in the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath. After all, it was incumbent upon Him to fulfill every jot and title of the law before nailing it to His cross.
The events immediately following His resurrection confirm the priority the New Testament gives to gathering together with Jesus in corporate praise and worship. The history recorded in the Book of Acts and the corresponding Epistles to the early churches further confirm this priority. In the transition that occurred as the New Testament was given, it is clear that Jewish believers gradually came to understand that gathering together as assemblies of immersed believers on the first day of the week was the way of the New Covenant.
We know that in New Testament terms the local New Testament Church is the house of the Lord today. It is the spiritual building dedicated to the praise and worship of its Founder and Head. It would logically follow that He would be pleased when His body designates and dedicates a place for gathering together for regular corporate praise and worship
I believe He promises to meet with us today when we meet in that capacity. Scriptural command, precept and precedent indicate that if His body designates regular times for such weekly activities, He will faithfully honour His promise to meet with them. Great is His faithfulness! Would be unto God that ours would be the same!
It seems quite clear that our Saviour expects us to gather together with Him each week. We know the principle and practice of praise and worship is paramount. But it might be good to further explore the Biblical and practical purposes for gathering together and ask ourselves WHY WE GATHER TOGETHER.
WE SHOULD GATHER TOGETHER TO EXPERIENCE HIS PRESENCE. Do we really believe His promise that He will be in the midst of us? That we can come into His presence with thanksgiving; worshipping Him in Spirit and in truth, expecting the Living Saviour to be powerfully present in all that we say and do? When we consider the lackadaisical approach all to often taken to worship in our contemporary world, we are made to wonder if those who come together really see themselves as being in the presence of the awesome and mighty God of this universe.