I have many unanswered questions about how we, as believers, should assemble together in the time in which we live. My questions are both theological (what does the Scripture teach about God's will on this issue) and practical (how should our gatherings look/work from a practical perspective). It seems like for every two people you talk to about the topic, you get three opinions.
As I have done with other issues I have struggled to understand, I plan to look at this issue in light of Scripture. I have found that the Scripture sometimes surprising clear (or surprisingly silent!) on many topics if we will just clear away our precommitments (to the extent that is possible) and allow Scripture to speak for itself, paying attention to what the Bible says as well as what it does not say. Only this type of searching (with prayer) will provide a good foundation, a solid anchor for our beliefs.
I wonder if any of you would be interested in exploring this topic with me, perhaps in a weekly or bi-weekly discussion format. My thought would be to start with Matthew 1 and just read the NT--no books, no commentaries, no third party opinions--just letting it speak for itself under the guidance of the Spirit. Our reading could be broken down into a schedule. We could open a discussion on the passage we read and what we learned, allowing each person to share what God has shown him or her through the passage.
If any others are interested, I would urge that we approach our studies with a spirit of mutual edification. Too often a spirit of one-upmanship can creep in and disrupt the unity of the faith. People are more interested in defending a preformed understanding than allowing the Bible and the Spirit to speak to them. I would want to be on guard against an unteachable spirit (especially in myself). I would also urge an absolute commitment to obey what the Scripture teaches (I wouldn't want this to be an academic exercise only, lest we be hearers of the Word but not doers).
Yeah! Let's not study scripture. Let's study stuff that is already working. Joel Osteen seems pretty successful. Jim Jones was kind of a simple church guy. There must be people out there that know all there is to know about doing church. Let's just do what they do.
Peace from the NN's of the Earth,
I would like to offer a few thoughts on this discussion.
The scriptural support, and thus mind & heart of the Lord, on this subject of, can I say, "gathering unto His name" is not a new one. Believers, somehow, have been doing it in various times and places for thousands of years. We're not the first ones to have discovered it. In fact, in America, I suspect we're the last. There are others who have come before us that have been given wisdom from the Lord God of Heaven and Earth on this subject for our edification and good. This wisdom, though, will come in the form of showing others what the Lord's mind is on a particular passage of scripture and not just some form of lofty opinion.
Wisdom from the scriptures was not meant for the learned, the high and mighty, or the elite of this world. It was meant for "those who have ears to hear, those who have eyes to see", for the "little children of the kingdom". It therefore is not complicated. It is, as the scripture emplores us to be, "in simplicity and sincerity."
And finally, "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace" and "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy." God's wisdom will never contradict God's wisdom. Sound simple right? Now apply that to your understandings. Does everything, I mean everything, you say that you believe agree with everything else you believe? Or, do you even contradict your own beliefs? God never does. God's wisdom comes from one mind, God's. So as we "build upon our most holy faith" we cannot add another brick to the building unless it agrees with ALL previous bricks of understanding. Otherwise, we are with "variance", with "hypocrisy." If we build our house of understanding in that manner, I believe our house will be "built upon the rock" and the storms can never make it fall.
I have found that if I maintain an attitude that "I could be deceived", and attitude of not already knowing before I've asked the Lord to show me, an attitude of being ready to confess my own error, THEN the Lord more quickly, clearly, and often add more wisdom to my faith. So many so-called "preacher=leaders" proclaim that they have found the right (and new & different) way, yet I've never heard one on the radio or tv (which I no longer have) confess any error whatsoever in their previous "sermons." Wow, they must all be perfect in doctrine. No, they're proud and to be avoided. We are instructed to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ." So our understanding moves from errors & absences to truth and filling. Let's agree that we all make mistakes, but we desire, as the scripture says, "to be of ONE mind" in whatever the Lord shows us.
But above all, everything God says, agrees with everything God says, so should we be.
desiring to know only His truth and the Truth,
P.S. I offer my first input on the topic " how believers should assemble" from Titus 1. The phrase "appoint" does not mean that someone higher makes someone lower an elder by saying so. It literally means "to point out." This is EXTREMELY important, at least to me. Elders are pointed out to other believers by teaching other believers what to look for. We are commanded to "know them that have the rule over you." If they are "appointed" then all we would need to do is look for the name tag, or for the guy that has the microphone or podium the most. No, that is not God's way. We are to learn what to look for (1Ti 3 & Tit 1), then keep our eyes attentive to finding those such qualified, and then submitting ourselves (without others telling us to) to them. All this can be done privately, individually by each person and guess what? If we alldid that, we would all come to the same conclusion, and be of the same mind. Wow, and without a program to guide us to that end. That would certainly be "peculiar", that would certainly confound the visitor who would wonder "how do you guys know who the leader is without a name tag, or special clothing?" We know by the Spirit, we know by the Holy Scriptures. Things like that would cause visitors to "fall down on their faces and confess that God is truly in you."
If I was too wordy, I apologize. That can be my foible. I pray the scriptures helped.