1.) John 4:20-24 – Review and Introduction
In review of the OT history, we saw how that Jerusalem was a place characterized by these distinctions:
- It was characterized by the Lord’s name being there.
- It was a place for worship.
- It was a place where binding decisions could be rendered for God’s people.
- It was a place for prayer could be made collectively in connection with what God had raised up at Jerusalem.
This testimony was maintained despite failure and weakness. In the NT, we see a feeble company that still recognized faithfully Jerusalem as God’s center (Mary, Simeon, Anna, Zacharias, Elizabeth, etc).
There is a certain conclusion of this with the Lord’s words in John 4, speaking to the woman at the well:
“…The hour is coming when ye shall neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father…But the hour is coming and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth…”
What did not change was that the Father continues to seek worshippers, but now that geographic center would cease to be the gathering center for God’s people. Despite the ways changing with God’s people, the principles DO NOT CHANGE. What God would now introduce, would supersede Jerusalem.
2.) Matthew 16:13-18 – The Assembly
The Church simply means Assembly. It does not ever refer to a building or to a particular denomination of professing believers. Sometimes in the Bible, it refers to the Assembly made up of every true believer on the face of the earth. In other instances, it refers to the local expression of the whole (for example, those in Galatia, Corinth, etc).
“Which Church do you belong to?” — To the same one to which you belong.
In this passage, the Assembly here is something completely new, and to be established. The Lord Himself would do it: “I will build my assembly” (vs. 18, JND).
3.) Matthew 18:15-20 – The Lord in the Midst
This makes the second mention in the gospel by Matthew of the Church.
The principles previously explained are seen here where decisions are made at the place where the Lord’s name is. We might also see that collective prayer is here seen in that it reads, “whatsoever it may be that they shall ask” (vs. 19).
“Gathered together unto my name” (vs. 20).
No geographic place, no temple, etc., but a promise: The Lord’s own presence in the midst.
The name is again identified with the place, where the Lord has placed His name, and where He has promised to be in the midst — gathering two or three unto Himself at the center that He has established.
His name sets aside any other name. His name eclipses any other name of man. It is the place characterized by His honor and glory.
4.) Acts 2:1:4, 41-42 – The Day of Pentecost
That which the Lord spoke of in Matthew 16, has become an established fact.
Matthew 18, spoke to us of what would characterize His assembly.
Now, the Holy Spirit has come down into the world to live as a divine Person, and on this day was created something that never existed before: The Body of Christ, made up of all true believers, indwelt by the Spirit of God.
What were they, then, going to do?
“And they persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in breaking of bread and prayers.”
“Teaching and fellowship of the apostles” = the truth, the acting and directing that they had received from the apostles
“Breaking of bread” = the institution that the Lord established with His own, to remember Him and His death
“And prayers” = they met collectively for prayer
Were those added to join some founded organization?
The Assembly is NOT an organization, but an organism, which the Lord had already divinely established since Pentecost, and we see the Lord going on by the power of the Spirit adding more to the same company: “and the Lord added to the Assembly daily those that were to be saved” (Acts 2:47).
5.) 1 Corinthians 12:12, Eph. 4:1-4 – The One Body
Paul explains what the Spirit accomplished on the day of Pentecost. They were united together into One Body, with the glorified Head up in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. “But all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ!“
If saved, then you are sealed and made a member of the One Body of Christ.
It is not a question of “there was one body,” but even today there is one body — and this is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit when souls are saved. He continues adding to that one body.
The testimony of that truth is barely visible today and has waned since Pentecost due to man’s schisms, divisions, and denominations — despite this failing testimony, it does not invalidate the truth of God concerning His Assembly. Simply because mankind has ceased to walk in the good of the truth, it does not mean that the truth no longer exists. Thus, the word is still binding on us today as when Paul wrote it: “Using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” Notice that this unity is not one we create of ourselves. It is a unity that has already been created since Pentecost by the Holy Spirit! Our role is to submit to it and walk in the good of it.
6.) 1 Corinthians 10 – The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper — Acting on the truth of the One Body and showing it practically.
In the Lord’s Supper, we see the one loaf which speaks to us concerning that very truth. We all partake of that one loaf on the grounds of the very truth of which it speaks. In the loaf, we see all members included who are members of the one body.
7.) 1 Corinthians 11 – The Lord’s Supper (Cont.)
In the previous chapter, prior to moving on, it would be noted there that it is the Lord’s Table (not tables). It is there that we partake and we have fellowship collectively with Him. The One who has invited us there is the Lord Himself.
When it speaks of the tables of demons, it was in reference to believers who had partaken of that which sacrificed on these. We should not think that a believer, because they do not meet on the principle of the One Body, are thus seated at tables of demons.
Paul receives the revelation of this institution especially as he was not present with the twelve on the night the Lord was betrayed. This speaks to the importance of this institution.
8.) One Testimony Owned of God
At Corinth, there was much apparent that grieved the heart of God. Paul writes to them to give them to see that in acting according to the Scriptural order — partaking of the one loaf, partaking of the cup — the showed forth the Lord’s death until He comes. They showed out in those emblems, the truths that they express. Then, Paul also showed them the solemnity of partaking in these things and walking in sin. “Let a man prove (or examine) himself, and thus eat of the bread, and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28).
“Eat of THE bread, and drink of THE cup” = According to how there is only one truth, there is only ONE moral testimony of the one truth. It may be found in multiple locations, but each location geographically reflects the same one moral truth in each case.
“That they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21).
This was the Lord’s prayer and His desire. We ought never to expect the Lord to do that which would frustrate His own purpose and His own prayer. He still makes Himself the sole gathering center for His assembly — where they can partake of ONE LOAF and express that they are ONE BODY.
Check out the 4th part in this series. Click here.