“On The First Day of the Week When We Gathered Together..”
This article is for every Christian who has ever wondered about the question; Is it a sin to miss just one, first day of the week, worship assembly of the church? The answer to that question depends upon the reason, for missing one worship assembly. No one is immune from sickness, and so it’s obvious that at some time or another, a person might be sick when the first day of the week comes around, and so they will be physically restricted from attending the worship assembly that week.
Sometimes one’s job will force them to be working on Sunday, and therefore they will not be able to attend the worship assembly. Still other times, a person might be traveling, and be unable to be close enough to a meeting place of the Lord’s church, so as to be able to attend a worship assembly on that Sunday.
So we can see that there are at least three perfectly rational reasons that a person might not be physically ABLE to attend a worship assembly of the church of the Lord, on EVERY first day of the week. And I’m quite sure that no one would contend that it would be a sin to miss a worship assembly, if you were not physically capable of being there.
But I don’t want to focus on these occasional hindrances, that might keep us away. I want us to think about just one scenario. And that would be the scenario where a Christian has no physical reason why they cannot attend the worship assembly, but they simply choose not to attend.
That’s our question then; When there is nothing restricting a Christian from attending the worship assembly, except their own choice, have they committed a sin? And is it a sin to make that choice, just one time, or does it have to be repeated a number of times, before it becomes sinful?
No matter what the reason is, is it wrong to do it just once, or even once in a while? There’s only one factor by which to decide, and that is, what does God say about it in the bible? If nothing is said, then it’s our choice. But if God has given His word on the matter, then that’s what we must abide by. Isn’t that how we judge any activity in our life, by what God has said about it? Is it right to do, or is it sinful? It simply depends on what God has ordained.
What’s the answer? Is there a clear answer in the bible, or is it simply a matter of the opinion of each individual Christian? Is it up to us to decide whether or not it’s sinful, to willingly miss the worship assembly, so that we can do something else instead? That “something else” could be anything. It could be that we’d rather go out camping, or fishing, or engaging in a sport activity. It could be that friends or family has come to visit us, and we’d rather stay home with them. It could be that we’d rather go shopping, or even do the laundry (hey, some people would rather do anything than go to worship) , and maybe we just don’t want to get dressed and go out.
What does God says about it? First of all, let’s consider something that God has said, that’s serves as a principle to live by, as well as a command to be followed. It’s found in Mathew 6, verse 33; “But seek FIRST, the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” The things which will be added unto us, are the necessities of life, as mentioned in verse 31; “Do not be anxious then, saying; What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, With what shall we clothe ourselves?” (I guess that leaves out shopping as an alternative choice, rather than assembling together)
Don’t worry about those things; Our Father knows that we need them, and He’ll see to it that we have them. Instead, be concerned with “the kingdom of God, and His righteousness”. That was Jesus speaking, and He commands us to seek the kingdom of God, before anything else. Do you know what kingdom Jesus was referring to, when he said, The kingdom God? Let me give you a hint. Both John the Baptist, and Jesus Himself, began their preaching with these words; “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mat 3:2 for John, and Mat 4:17 for Jesus)
Jesus said to Peter, in Mat 16:18; “I will build My church..” And he said in verse 19; “I will give you (Peter) the keys to the kingdom.” Jesus said; “The kingdom of God is at hand”. He said; “I will build My church”. And He said; “I will give you the keys to the kingdom.” The kingdom of God, that Jesus was speaking about, is the church which He Himself built.
Listen again; The kingdom is at hand; I will be the One who builds the kingdom (the church); And I will give you, Peter, the keys to the kingdom, so that you can tell everyone how to enter the kingdom.
And in Mat 6:33, Jesus commands us to seek first His kingdom! In other words, “Seek FIRST, My church!” Do you really think, that the way to “seek” the church that Jesus died for, is to make the willing decision to NOT assemble for the worship of the church? Do you really believe, that choosing to miss the assembly, even one time, is “seeking FIRST His church?
Certainly, if we make the deliberate choice to not attend the worship assembly, on the first day of the week, then something else has come FIRST in our lives, on that day! Maybe we don’t truly understand the significance, of the worship assembly taking place on the FIRST day of the week, instead of on the second or third or fourth day of the week. What’s the significance of the FIRST day? Aside from the fact that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, it’s always been significant that we give the first of everything to God. In Israel, the first-born male was consecrated to the Lord. The first fruits of the harvest went to the Lord. For the Christian, the first of our earnings goes to the Lord. And on the first day of the week, our worship goes to God. There’s a significance in that, and when we fail to give God our worship upon the first day of the week, that make a clear statement to God, about how we feel towards Him, and what our priorities are.
A child of God has always had responsibilities toward God, and the first day of the week assembly is one of those responsibilities. How can we possibly be seeking His church, when we make the conscious choice not to gather with the church? God has given us a command, and a principle, that should ne governing our lives. How are we responding to that command?
Here’s another command from God that we should all be familiar with, Hebrews 10:23 thru 25; “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful! And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day approaching.” The “day” which is approaching, is the day of judgment. Verse 23 had said; “He who promised is faithful”, and so God will give us the reward of eternal life if WE remain faithful! The question is; Will we be faithful? We can see the day approaching.
Here’s what it means to “hold fast the CONFESSION of our hope, without wavering”. The word “confession” literally means.. “to speak the same thing, together.” It implies “a collective agreement among Christians.” An agreement in what? It’s an agreement in what the Lord says. He says to seek FIRST His church. Are we in agreement with that? In Hebrews 10, verse 25, the Lord tells us to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together..” Are we inn agreement with that? Verse 24 commands us to “consider how to stimulate one another to love, and good works.” Are we in agreement that we canNOT stimulate one another when were apart?
You know, these are very basic tenants of Christianity. Togetherness, agreement, unity.. basic tenants of Christianity! Is it a sin, to forsake the assembling of ourselves together? Well, here’s what the bible says, Verse 25; “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some..” And then verse 26 says; “For if you go on sinning willfully..” Do you think there’s no connection between those two verses? Of course there’s a connection there. There’s a contrast being made; You either do NOT forsake the assembling of ourselves together, or you DO go on sinning willfully. It’s our choice, we either do one or the other.
But then someone says; Well, I don’t interpret it that way. So just to give someone the benefit of the doubt here; We’ve been talking about willfully missing just one worship assembly; Is it a sin, when you simply choose not to assemble, just because you don’t want to, or because you have something else to do that day, something that comes first, before God? And so someone says; Well, forsaking the worship assembly means quitting for good, or at least for a long time. It doesn’t mean missing just one Sunday, from time to time. I wonder if that’s true? I wonder what “forsaking” actually means?
So, the word “forsake” has a pretty straightforward meaning. It means.. “to leave behind, or to abandon, or to leave in a condition of lacking, to allow something to remain.” But there’s really no time limit assigned to the meaning. In other words to “forsake”, or “abandon” doesn’t imply that you’ve forsaken something forever. As a matter of fact, in this verse, Hebrews 10;25, the word is sued in the present tense, meaning that right now, I’m forsaking something. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to forsake it tomorrow, or the next day, or the next week, but for right now, I’m going to forsake it.
So then that really sheds some light on what it means to NOT forsake the assembling of ourselves together. It means for right now, for this specific time when the assembly takes place, DON’T forsake it! I wish everyone would just believe what the bible says, instead of always trying to “interpret it”. It means what it says, and it says what it means. If there’s an assembly coming up, (and there’s always another assembly coming up) don’t forsake it. That’s all, don’t do it!
You know, when you preach things this plain and simple, people somehow think that you’re making it up. Or maybe they say that you’re “twisting the words”. But far from “twisting” the words, all we’re doing here is learning the meaning of the words, and then believing them! This is simply what the bible says. I can’t help it, that’s what it says.
Here’s one more thought for you. The Lord’s supper is a “communion” isn’t it? At least that’s what it says in 1 Corinthians 10:16. It says; “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless, a communion in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that we break, a communion in the body of Christ?” The word communion means “sharing”. It means, sharing something together. 1 Corinthians 11, verse 20, clearly implies that at least one, of the purposes of our assembling together, is to partake of the Lord’s supper. The purpose is to “share” in body and blood of Jesus. And the church assembles for this purpose, every first day of the week. How are you going to share in the Lord’s supper, if you don’t assemble with the rest of the members of the Lord’s body, as they partake of the Lord’s supper?
1 Corinthians 10:20 says; “Since there is one loaf, (or, one bread) we who are many, all partake of the one loaf.” We who are MANY, ALL partake! How ya gonna do that, if you’re not here?
Here’s the questions we should be asking ourselves; Since the Lord commands us to “Seek FIRST His kingdom (His church) and His righteousness”, is it s sin to not do it? Since the Lord commands us to “Not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some”, is it a sin to forsake assembling? Even if we just forsake it for one Sunday? If we forsake it just once, by our own willful choice, have we not forsaken it for that day?
When Jesus hung on the cross dying, how long did He hang there? There was darkness for three hours, was He on the cross for four or five hours? At the end of the darkness, about the ninth hour of the day, according to Mathew 27:46, “Jesus dried out with a loud voice; My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Jesus was “forsaken” in the sense that He was “left alone” to die for the sins of mankind. But how long was He left alone for? Four or five hours? And then His Spirit returned to God.
You can forsake something for just a few hours, or you can forsake something for one day, or for one week, or for a whole lot longer sometimes. But the fact is; When you willfully miss just one worship assembly, because you put something else, FIRST in your life, you have “forsaken the assembly”. And “if you go on sinning willfully, after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.”
I wish everyone would just believe what the scriptures say! And obey what they say!