THE VALUE OF THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY
Why were the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed? Usually the answer given to this question is that they were destroyed because of immorality. This is correct but only half of the answer. For, if there had been only ten righteous men and women the city would have escaped destruction.
God's wrath is revealed not only against individuals but also against entire communities who reject Him. God's holy people, like Abraham, have the privilege of going to God on behalf of those condemned by disbelief. We must allow God to set us apart in holiness. Then we can intercede on behalf of our cities, our society, and our families for God's mercy in the midst of His just wrath.
Also there must be a remnant of the righteous lift in the city on whose account God will deliver it. For Sodom and Gomorrah it had to be ten. The absence of righteousness, the absence of ten godly men and women brought upon the cities exactly what they deserved.
The fact that unrighteousness abounds in the city centers across the country should not shock us. What else can sinners do but sin? The tragedy is that the righteous, who are the basis of God's mercy to those cities, are difficult and sometimes impossible to find.
The Christian assembly is desperately in need of an overhaul. How can we have so many assemblies, so much preaching and praising, so many programs, and at the same time so little impact?
Unfortunately, many assemblies in the city are as badly deteriorated as the community of which they are a part. An assembly, which is called Christian, should decry the injustice, poverty, and oppression of the world at large. However, when we look into the activities of many assemblies, we see the poor going unattended, sin widely tolerated, and each assembly ministering to only one race and/or social class. In order for our communities to change and be spared God's just wrath, the assemblies in those communities must change so that God has a remnant with whom He can identify.
1. A Christian assembly must emphasize sound Bible teaching.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1,2
2. A Christian assembly must not depend upon the government.
The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. With great power, the apostles gave their testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Great grace was on them all. For neither was there among them any who lacked, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet, and distribution was made to each, according as anyone had need. Acts 4:32-35
3. The assembly must move beyond tradition.
Be careful that you don't let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8.
4. The assembly must effectively use the spiritual gifts of the body.
For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members don't have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:4,5.
5. The assembly must disciple its members.
"Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things which I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Matthew 28:19,20.
6. The assembly must address sin.
But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don't even eat with such a person. For what have I to do with also judging those who are outside? Don't you judge those who are within? But those who are outside, God judges. "Put away the wicked man from among yourselves." 1 Corinthians 5:11-13.
7. The assembly must become a community.
They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer. Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together, and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47.
8. The assembly must become united.
Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you loved me. John 17.20-23.
9. The assembly must move from programs to ministry.
He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13.
10. The assembly must move from mediocrity to excellence.
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him were all things created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things are held together. He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:15-18.
In order for the cities to change, society to change and families to change our assemblies must change. We cannot do business as usual if we expect to see God reverse the trend of destruction that is the inevitable result of rejecting divine authority. However, the Bible clearly teaches that when the enemy comes in like a flood, God will raise up a standard against him. The local assembly must be that standard. The standard, however needs to stand firmer and higher above the world.
Secret-agent Christianity does not benefit the people of our cities. If the assembly ever becomes the righteous people of God in the city, not only will God spare it, but by His grace He will reverse the trend. The power to resist Satan's will to destroy the city and the ability to introduce beneficial changes belongs to us as faithful believers.
The question for today is: Can God find ten righteous in your city? Can He find ten in your assembly?
They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer. (Acts 2:42 WEB)
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Revised June 2000. Scriptures changed to The World English Bible.