In the Old Testament, the Greek word for “assembly,” is ekklesia. That is the same word the New Testament uses when speaking about the local church. It is simply the term for “a gathering”.
After Israel was rescued from Egypt, Israel gathered themselves together at Mt. Sinai to hear God’s law. In Deuteronomy 9:10 Moses called it “the day of assembly”. From then on throughout the bible, we see the nation similarly gathered as an “assembly” before their covenant Lord. (Judges 20:2, 1 Kings 8:14, 1 Chronicles 28:8)
Assembling ourselves together, however, isn’t just something Christians do. It is what we are. God first saved us as individuals to form and shape us into a corporate assembly, more commonly known as “a corporate man.”
Why is it important for Christians to gather together?
There are many reasons God called the saints to gather together. Christians gather as “an act of bearing witness.” (Acts 10:43) So, when we are deprived of gathering, we lose the opportunity to bear witness to one another, and to the world. The whole goal and purpose of Christians gathering together is to become one corporate man and unite as one in the worship of God in Jesus Christ.
We see in the New Testament, churches doing things that can only be done by meeting together, for example, teaching and admonishing one another; singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another. (Colossians 3:16.) We read Scripture publicly. (1 Timothy 4:13) and we encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:24–25) We share the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 10:17) None of these can happen alone.
When we gather together we experience tangible things. As minuscule as it may first seem, the public presence of church life, with its people entering in and spilling out, cars in the parking lot, the sound of praise resonating from within, people greeting each other with an holy kiss, are just a few things that are a witness to the Christian hope that one day a great multitude from every tribe and tongue will assemble in adoration of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Revelation 7:9 “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”
When we gather together we see Tami’s adoration for God as she tears up when singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” We see Lucien’s face shine when Pastor Cesar preaches about the Salvation Life we have in Christ Jesus. We hear Chuck from the back of the room, agreeing with an “Amen.” And we watch as Jean arrives late, due to her hectic schedule, worn from the trials of her week, join us and settle into calmness, joy, and peace.
We are called to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep”. (Romans 12:15) After seeing all of this, now we can better understand why we feel such deep grief when we are not able to gather together. Just as the sight of his new bride makes a groom’s heart swell with love, church members should overflow with affection for one another when they behold the assembly.