Vol.XVI No.XI Pg.4
January 1980

Nature Of The Assembly

Robert F. Turner

We have been handed a paper headed "Nature of the Assembly," and asked to comment upon it. It is more than three pages, single-spaced, so we cannot reproduce it here, but will try to give a fair gist of its content.


All form or ritual that God has instituted has deep meaning and is ordained for our good. He wants us to be happy, mature, and beautiful, and all his work in our behalf is to this end. He does not exact responses from us to see how near we can come to measuring up to his demands. The assembly must be seen in this light. It is not simply a response to some command or duty. The primitive church did not have to be begged, threatened or dragged into attending. It was a natural expression of their devotion to Christ and love for one-another.

There is no indication in scripture that the saints gathered to worship. Worship was the whole of their lives; a day and night devotion and dedication to their Lord (Heb. 12:28; Rom. 12:1). Neither of these passages have any connection with the assembly.

There are therefore no acts of worship. Running errands for a neighbor is as much worship as partaking of the Lord's Supper. Paul seemed to think so (Col. 3:17). One who "misses worship" to help a stranded motorist may render a more acceptable service, which is what worship means, than if he spent that hour sitting in church.

Where did we get the idea that certain perfunctory acts constitute worship? I say perfunctory for they are usually just that. We begin to sing, and ipso facto, just like that, worship has begun; for that is one of the acts that constitute worship. We should learn better. Such acts as breaking bread or reading scripture are worship only in the sense that talking, feeding the dog, and all the rest of daily activities are worship. It is our very selves — our bodies, minds, spirits — that are offered as a living sacrifice. This is the only worship known in the scriptures. (See Heb. 13:15-16) The scriptures know nothing of "five acts of worship" in or out of the assembly.

We do not assemble to perform acts of devotion. It is to be with Jesus and his Body, to be built up in faith, encouraged, and instructed in truth. Mutual edification is the principle to be applied in and out of assembly. In assemblies, the Body is to build itself up through mutual sharing. We are without scriptural authority when we split the assembly into one speaker and a silent body of listeners. We have come to equate silence with reverence, thus by-passing spontaneous ministry that builds, encourages, and informs. This is the atmosphere conducive to "the fellowship of the Spirit," the sharing of the common life in Jesus that we must seek to achieve. This is the nature of the assembly.


The above paper was unsigned, and it was only after I had made notes for reply, and was in process of typing them up, that I learned the author. I am now told his initials are Leroy Garrett; but I still do not know where the paper was published.

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