During these days of Covid-19 madness, the gathering of the saints has been challenged; but this is nothing new in America. We have been through this before; yes, during the times of slavery.
Not all the slaves were believers, but they were allowed to attend their master’s services; some were even allowed to preach. However, it was all fully controlled by their masters. The masters told them what to preach and what the meaning of Scripture was according to their own selfish agendas. These were truly dark pages in our history! But there were slaves who got a hold of the true gospel. Even as, for the most part, they did not know how to read; they did get a hold of the Spirit of God and prayer.
Some slaves had enough sense to know that what the masters were presented to them was a distorted gospel. Those slaves started holding their own secret services. However, it is important to point out that, “Slaves forbidden by masters to attend church or, in some cases, even to pray, risked floggings to attend secret gatherings to worship God.” Oh, they were not allowed to preach the truth; the truth got you killed. There was no constitution to protect slaves; religious freedom did not apply to them, after all, they were not considered by science to be all human.
“Provisions allowed southern states to count slaves as 3/5 persons for purposes of apportionment in Congress (even though the slaves could not, of course, vote), expressly denied to Congress the power to prohibit importation of new slaves until 1808, and prevented free states from enacting laws protecting fugitive slaves.”
As you can see, slaves got it a little tougher than we are today. However, the devil is the same in his attempt to stop the church, in general, from gathering.
The Coronavirus is providing the best argument ever against the gathering of the saints. The question we should be asking is, do we have any biblical justification to stop our gatherings? The slaves risk their lives, what are we risking today? It is nauseating to see churches closing and jumping into this wagon of fear and lies.
In an effort to encourage my brothers and sisters, I want to take my time and discuss 9 reasons why, biblically speaking, we can’t never… ever… STOP GATHERING. Hebrews 10:19-25 tells us,
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (New American Standard 1995).
- The gathering of the saints strengthens our confidence in the power of the blood of Jesus. (Hebrews 10:19) Beloved, the Scripture also tells us in Revelation 12:10-11, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (NASB 1995) If we do not gather, we will miss the encouragement found when we hear the testimonies of what God is doing in our brothers and sister’s lives. We also see in these verses that a believer is to never be concerned with death, the Scripture tells “…and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Without the gathering of the saints and in isolation in our homes, what do we consume our days with? Where do we get our information? From CNN, Fox, Netflix? That explains why many, including believers, are walking around scare of Covid? It is in the gathering of the saints that we find confidence in God; it is there that we are reminded of who He is and who we are. Speaking about the power of God via Zoom is not really trusting the power of God.
- The gathering of the saints teaches us that we have a great Priest over the House of God.(Hebrews 10:21) Have we forgotten about Jesus? Have we forgotten about His power? Have we forgotten about the power of the Holy Spirit? Is Jesus not more powerful than a virus?
- The gathering of the saints helps us to draw near to God. (Hebrews 10:22) We have a responsibility to find God in our secret places; but we also have a responsibility to draw near to him corporately as a family. As a father I love to talk to my children individually; but how beautiful it is when I can have all of them around the table talking to each other, smiling and having a good time. That’s the way is supposed to be with God.
- The gathering of the saints strengthens our full assurance and faith in God. (Hebrews 10:22) Again, there is something about that corporate anointing that strengthen our faith. The devil wants to take that away from us and take us to a place of isolation to make his attack easier.
- The gathering of the saints helps us to hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering. (Hebrews 10:23) What we are witnessing today in some local churches is folks not holding on to the confession of our hope. They are wavering; they are scare, they have lost hope. So, either they never had that hope or, they are victims of the devil’s schemes.
- The gathering of the saints helps us to stimulate and grow in love. (Hebrews 10:24) Jesus took the whole Law of Moses and summarized in two commandments; to love God and to love one another (Matthew 22:37-40). We will never learn how to love without coming together. We will never fulfill the “One Anothers” in Scripture without coming together. “The phrase “one another” is derived from the Greek word “allelon” which means “one another, each other; mutually, reciprocally.” It occurs 100 times in the New Testament. Approximately 59 of those occurrences are specific commands teaching us how (and how not) to relate to one another.”
- It is within the gathering of the saints that we learn and fulfill ministries of good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24) Every ministry should be connected to a local church; it is within the contents of the gathering of the saints that we learn good deeds.
- One of the main reasons for the gathering of the saints is to encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:25) The word encouragement is the Greek word, parakaléō; Meaning “To call. To aid, help, comfort, exhort, to call for, beseech or implore.” Without the gathering of the saints we can’t fulfill our divine call, we can’t receive the spiritual aid we need, we can’t be truly comforted, and we can’t receive that divine push we all need to do what God is calling us to do (Exhort). Beloved this is the magnitude and importance of encouragement.
- The gathering of the saints prepares us for the increasingly difficult days to come. (Hebrews 10:25) We all have bad days, don’t we? We are constantly moving towards even more difficult days as we approach the Great Tribulation; those are terrible days. In Matthew 24:21 specifically Jesus tells us, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.” (NASB 1995) Again, we as Christians are not called to isolate, we are a part of a family and must function in the contents of that family. We are also a part of an army, we are not called to be Rambo Christians. The gathering of the saints provides the training necessary to endure what is coming. If a virus with a 99% survival rate was enough to scatter us, what would happen when a virus with a 100% mortality rate comes? The question many of us are asking is what have we been preaching that so many in the Body of Christ are paralyzed by fear of the Coronavirus?
Under no circumstances are believers called to stop our gatherings. We must also remember that we are not the first ones to face such challenge. Satan has tried to stop us from gathering since the beginning of the church; much blood has been shed over such attempts. Even today, in many countries around the world, the gathering of the saints is illegal. America has been blessed for some time now, but we are about to see an America that will be unrecognizable, an America that will not only resist and reject the gospel, but an America that will make it illegal, an America that will detest us as Christians, an America that will also come against Israel and, a constitution that will be filled with amendments that will make such hate possible. Like never before we must remember the words of the Psalmist and encourage one another with these words,
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. Psalm 121 (NIV)
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
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