IS ONLINE STREAMING EQUAL TO ASSEMBLING TOGETHER AS A CHURCH IN ONE PLACE PHYSICALLY?
We have a SCRIPTURAL responsibility to not neglect assembling of ourselves together in a functioning church. Heb 10:25 “Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.” AMP
The early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, of breaking of bread and prayers together (Acts 2:42-47), as Christians together. The earliest Christians met together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the preaching of the gospel.
OLD TESTAMENT AND NEW TESTAMENT PRINCIPLE
The Old Testament people of God assembled together over and over. They gathered to hear the Word read and taught. In the book of Nehemiah 8, Ezra and his fellow companions were preaching the Word of God. They read from the book and then they explained its meaning.
In the New testament the word synagogue was used to mean; “the gathering together.” Not the temple, but a place where Jewish people gathered together for teaching and for prayer.
IMPORTANT TO THE EARLY CHURCH
In Acts 2:1 on the day of Pentecost Christians had gathered themselves together in one place. Note; Matt 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This does not necessarily mean two or three make a church, but that where any gather and speak of Christ and his Word, Christ is there.
In 1 Cor 14:26 they came together with their spiritual gifts to use for edification, of which Paul was setting in order. And on the first day of the week (Sunday) disciples came together to break bread and hear the preaching of the Word.
The New Testament church (ecclesia, called out ones) was made up of believers gathered in obedience to the LORD Jesus Christ. They gathered to hear the Word preached, take up offerings and to formally do the ordinances that Christ left to the church: Water Baptism, the LORD’S Supper and Footwashing. This included worship as in singing and hearing the Word of God Preached, which was led by a Bishop (Pastor), deacons (1 Tim 3) and other prophets and teachers (Eph 4:11, Acts 13:1-2).
THE CHRISTIAN REFORMERS AND MESSENGERS BELIEVED IT IMPORTANT TO ASSEMBLE
This type of worship, by assembly, was understood not only by the early church but by the reformers throughout history. The Christian church should at all cost remain faithful to this tenet of our faith, established by the fathers of our faith, and must be one that is properly restored. Even more so as we near the end of all things and more importantly during the time of stress and difficulties! The church always has, and many have, sacrificed their lives to faithfully do this. In some Countries many believers still suffer greatly and put their life and others at risk, just to meet together and have church, as we would call it!
There should only be extreme rare exception to the regular gathering of believers together for this Biblical purpose!
Question: Is worshiping online the same as being in church in the flesh with others? Social media does not replace what Christ intended to be a local church, regardless of who is preaching. How could you experience the same things scriptural without obeying the scriptures.
We think differently together than we will think alone, we are by God social creatures. Hearing and seeing a preacher preach while you are together, with other believers, is much different than hearing one alone. Never make the mistake of believing that you are doing the same thing and you are having the same effect on others, whether you are listening or preaching on social media as opposed to being in the body, in the flesh, in the same place!
Yes, I am thankful for social media and for those we have been able to help that we would not have been able to help otherwise. And for those in the local church, that perhaps are even at home today for reasons, and are able to watch the service live. Technology can be used for the work of the LORD! But it will never be the same as being bodily present, assembling together as the habit of some!
Without assembling together, we would never be able, in love, to join our hands together, at the end of a service and sing; “God be with us till we meet again!”
Pastor Bill Ivy, Living Word Tabernacle – Gibson Missouri