It is amazing how quickly the days are passing as we move into yet another year of the Roman calendar…2020, or about 6,024 years since the creation week in 4004 B.C., according to Archbishop Ussher’s chronology. Each day brings us a day closer to the return of Jesus Christ to reign upon the earth, for 1,000 years of peace, beauty, and prosperity upon a renewed earth, a literal Eden without the wars, sufferings, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, hatreds, and violence of this present world.
I find it hard to believe that this world has been hanging together as well as it has despite all of the above troubles, and now even more so amidst the political rivalries that are threatening to destroy the very fabric of our Constitutional Republic: impeachment trials, trade wars, ballooning debt, and so forth. Our founding fathers understood well that unless we as a people lived moral, upstanding lives, then our Republic could not survive.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
During these days of trial upon this aging, aching earth we need to more than ever find ways to encourage one another in whatever ways we can, encourage those who are our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ that are waiting patiently for the arrival of our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all the earth. This is a major theme that resonates throughout the Scriptures, in particular within the New Testament and in Paul’s writings. For instance,
“After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:17-18).
“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries in the Spirit. But he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification, encouragement, and comfort” (I Corinthians 14:2-3).
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
We as human beings have not yet been perfected, and as such fall prey to loneliness and discouragement. We desperately need the support of one another, since we are few amongst the millions of people around us who, for the most part, have no clue as to what is really happening in the world, or if they do have a clue do not have access to the correct solutions…solutions not to be produced by the efforts of man, but only by the intervention of the Savior Himself.
There is no better way to bring about this encouragement than by fellowshipping in the home environment, by gathering in the homes of brethren on the Sabbath as well as at other times when it is expedient. That may be difficult for those who live in areas that are sparsely populated, where your spiritual brethren may live 50 or more miles away. That is the case for my wife and myself, who live on the sparsely populated northern Great Plains. In our case we shun the corporate groups because they do not allow the free expression of spiritual gifts as God requires of us (I Peter 4:10, etc.), and by definition are organized in a top-down hierarchy which God hates (the Doctrine of the Nicolaitans; Revelation 2:6, 15), so that leaves even fewer brethren to meet with on a regular basis. As a result, we may travel up to 200 miles for a gathering, but I that case we may stay with brethren an extra day to allow more time for interaction. Each person’s situation is different, and we all have to do what works best for us personally.
I have striven over the years to promote the concept of the home fellowship, which in my understanding is the format by which brethren should fellowship on a weekly basis. The truth of this matter is made clear in God’s word, such as in I Corinthians 14. The early church met in homes not just because of the threat of being discovered by the police and persecuted, but because it is the loving center of family activity, it offers a pleasant environment for brethren to easily interact, and it is rent-free. Public or private meeting halls may at times offer such amenities, but not usually, and they generally cost something.
It is my hope and prayer that brethren will search the Scriptures and discover what I did: fellowship in the home is the very best place to dole out encouragement…and dole it out we must! Let’s make it our goal to meet in brethren’s homes and so fulfill the Father’s commands.