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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 The Gathering and Gatherer of the Saints

[size=xx-small]By Robert Wurtz II[/size]
Part 1

[i]Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.[/i] (Hebrews 10:25)

The Book of Hebrews was written at a period when persecution of believing Jews was in full swing. We gain biblical insight of the intensity of this persecution as Paul was one of the persecutors chasing believers even unto strange cities and compelling them to blaspheme. Believers had been put out of the synagogue for believing in Christ during and after the time of His earthly ministry. By the time we reach the latter part of the first century the Believing Jews were being cursed in the Jewish daily prayers (Birkat ha minim).

Persecution made it difficult for believers to assemble at all. At first they had assembled at the Temple, in synagogues, and from house to house. But having been put of the synagogues and in 70AD the Temple being destroyed; all was left was meetings from house to house or gathering spots of various sorts. Gathering became exceedingly dangerous, especially in and around Jerusalem. The believers foes became those of their own household.

Along with the fear of assembling, the temptation for the ‘Hebrews’ was to return back under the Mosaic system in order to maintain [i]harmony[/i] with their fellow unbelieving Jews. The Pharisees had helped do the work of turning the peoples hearts against Christ in order to retain their own significance. Reverting back to the Old Covenant was the primal danger addressed throughout the epistle of the Hebrews. The writer spends tremendous efforts demonstrating that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and that the New Covenant is an exceedingly better covenant than the Old.

By the time we get to chapter 10 the writer exhorts the believers, [i]Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.[/i] The word ‘assembling’ is the Greek word [i]episunagOgE[/i] (ep-ee-soon-ag-o-gay') and it means, “to gather together into one place” and is only used twice in the NT. The word is not a verb- it is a noun, meaning that the writer is referring to the ‘event’ itself of gathering into one place. The word is used also in II Thess. 2:1 to describe the ‘gathering’ that will take place at the Second Coming of Christ.

In both cases the words is a description of the [u]event[/u] itself. The concept is one of ‘collecting together’. Obviously if there is a collection there is a collector. That collector is the Holy Spirit. The ‘collection’ or ‘gathering’ is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is a most important detail. The Holy Spirit gathers the Saints together in Christ’s name and because of that- there He is in the midst of them. In every gathering [i]He[/i] is gathering the Saints together for a purpose. There are specific things that He is wanting to do. The need for this coming together cannot be overstated- especially in days of apostacy and persecution.

Robert Wurtz II

 2007/7/10 9:02Profile

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re: The Gathering and Gatherer of the Saints

[b]Not Forsaking the Gathering[/b]
Part 2

There have always been reasons to forsake the gathering. In our times we could list a multitude of reasons why folk have simply stopped assembling. Fleshly people and fleshly programs have created in many cases a stigma for gathering at all. This is no doubt the enemies strategy. The common thread we see happening around the world even to this day is to get members of the body to [i]forsake the assembling of themselves together[/i].

For the Jews and later on even among non-Jewish believers gathering together was a dangerous proposition. This is true to this day in many parts of the world. Yet, the local church (ekklesia) continues to function as an 'assembly' even in settings that don’t appear to be as organized as we in the West are used to. In fact, most of the world cannot relate to our “Western style” of Christianity. So understanding Hebrews 10:25 can be a tremendous challenge for us.

In Muslim and Buddhist countries converts to Christianity are often beheaded or poisoned if they submit to Christian public baptism. Gathering together even for a bible study can cost believers their lives. It the recent past behind the Iron Curtain believers would gather together in underground churches. And such was the case also during the writing of the epistle to the Hebrews. We read, [i]Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.[/i]

Perhaps it is safer to be a Christian silently and not make our profession fully public under persecution? We cannot understand such a situation. Yet we can understand other forces that are at work to get us to forsake the assembling. In the first century there was a danger for the believers to get in the [i]habit[/i] (manor) of forsaking. This implies a pattern. It implies something that is regularly happening.

The inference we glean from this is that if one can get in the ‘habit’ of forsaking- one can also get in the habit of attending the ‘gathering’. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is the gatherer of the gathering. This is more than a religious exercise. This is a people with an inward hunger for God coming together for the purpose of mutual edification. Not just 'showing up' to the gathering, but coming with an [i]expectancy[/i] that God is going to move and edify the people. It has been said that 'expectancy' is not the same as an [i]expectation[/i]. People have their own ‘expectations’ of how they think gatherings ought to go but that is not for us to decide. God has an agenda He wants to accomplish. It is our job to discover that. Most ‘expectations’ are fleshly and have nothing to do whatsoever with what God is wanting to do and are often a serious hindrance to the gathering. People come to a meeting with an 'ax to grind' and end up grieving the Holy Spirit and hindering what God wants to do because of their bad spirit.

Our desire should be that the Holy Spirit will do His will; while an expectation is a recipe for faultfinding and complaining that grieves the Spirit before anything even starts. Expectancy is built upon faith- faith in God's word and the revelation that God's desires is to build-up His people.

Was it worth it for the early church? I mean, what about the continual persecutions and cursing and even beatings and death they risked by assembling together? What about the harassment the took from family and friends? What about the challenges that existed in the gatherings themselves? What if the believers at Corinth decided the people were too carnal and forsook the assembing? Would non-use be the solution? This is why Paul wrote a letter of correction. The answer was not- not assembling- but proper assembling- decently and in order.

There is a purpose in gathering together that transcends the dangers and the challlenges. And that purpose is found in the ministry of the Body one to another individually. This is not optional. Hebrews 3:13 and 10:25 demonstrate the necessity of individual edification one to another. The enemy knows this. And whether it be confusion or persecution his objective is all the same; cause the people to forsake the assembling that they desperately need.

Robert Wurtz II

 2007/7/11 8:54Profile

 Re: The Gathering and Gatherer of the Saints


Thank you for this article. It ministered to my spirit.... perhaps a confirmation of something I was unsure is scriptural.

 2007/7/11 15:05

 Re: Not Forsaking the Gathering

Mal 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

Robert, thank you.

 2007/7/11 15:12

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri


Thanks for the encouraging words Linn and Annie. :-)

Robert Wurtz II

 2007/7/12 8:14Profile

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri


[b]Exhorting One Another[/b]
Part 3

Imagine a gathering in which everyone gathered together with an [i]expectancy[/i] that God might just use them to exhort or edify an individual or the gathering as a whole? Seem odd? Not to the churches of the scriptures. It was normal. In fact, it was as normal to expect to be used of God for them as the masses today expect [i]not[/i] to be used of God. What did the writer say? [i]But exhorting [u]one another[/u]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.[/i] This is universal involvement- even beyond the four walls of a building.

If the passage had said, “love one another” we would take that to mean- as opportunity arises express your love to each other. We understand the passage to mean everyone without exception. Can it be any different with “exhorting one another?” Earlier in Hebrews we have a more compelling commandment; [i]But exhort one another [u]daily[/u], while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.[/i] (Hebrews 3:13) Is it possible that genuine Born Again believers would need such attention? Surely they can stand alone? Not according to Hebrews 3:13.

Judgment is more near than any of us realize. It seems the enemy would have us forget this fact. [i]What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a time and then vanishes away."[/i] and again... [i]It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.[/i] If we comprehend this fact why do we not see more exhorting one another to walk the path of holiness? Anyone, so the passage seems to suggest, can be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Can a new heart become hardened again? I am gripped with the reality that the Born Again experience is not an [i]end[/i]- it is the beginning. Perhaps this is why we have so many epistles?

It may be necessary to anticipate the question "Exhort them to do what?" Perhaps the word could mean, "give one another courage," "strengthen one another," "cause one another to have courage," or "cause one another to have strong faith". The word can mean "to encourage by words," "exhort," or as perhaps in Heb. 3:13, where the RSV has "exhort" the TEV has “help”. (UBS Handbook) . We must ‘encourage’ one another to hold fast in the faith and lay aside any weights that may be bringing them down. Exhorting covers a lot of different areas in which we are to help one another.

The Greek word translated as ‘exhort’ is [i]parakaleo[/i]. It means "to call near". I can almost see a loving brother coming alongside with concern. But coming alongside for what? Many times the word is translated as ‘beseech’ as in Romans 12:1. This means to 'ask eagerly' or ‘to beg’. It can mean to comfort or to intreat. In all cases the word carries the idea of [u]serious concern[/u] for the person. This is more than a superficial ‘encouragement’- it is a willingness to be concerned for others with earnest. This may mean asking the hard questions or giving a strong word of caution. How have you been doing? No, I mean, how have you [u]really[/u] been doing. Cain asked God if he was “his brother’s keeper?” Hebrews 3:13 and 10:25 give a resounding ‘yes’. At least to an extent.

In our day of such universal selfishness and standoffishness we need to return to the closeness and love that characterized the New Testament believers. Folk have a tendency to want to be personal and sometimes it is a front for some serious issues. Nobody really [i]knows[/i] the brother or sister on a deep close personal level. This is how scandal develops. This is how folk isolate themselves to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. The pattern of the New Testament is to some extent keep each other flushed out into the open. Into a place of visibility.

Robert Wurtz II

 2007/7/12 8:33Profile

Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri


[b]The Life of Christ[/b]
Part 4

When we talk about ‘exhorting’ we are talking about a mutual sharing of the Life of Christ one with another. This is universal involvement of the gatherers. God has placed many gifts in the local church for the edification of the Body.

As churches have gotten more and more ‘organized’ the tendency has been to have a few ‘exhorters’ and a whole bunch of [i]recipients[/i]. But this is not at all the design of Christ for the church. Is it possible that Christ wants [i]everyone[/i] involved at some level contributing to the Spirit vitality of the Body? I believe so. This means God wants to use the janitor, the nursery workers, the bus drivers, the teachers, the ushers, and anyone else that He might put His finger on to use in a given situation.

Romans 12:5, 6b sums this up; [i]So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.[/i] So we all have some gifting from the Holy Spirit. And those ‘giftings’ are to be used as the Lord calls upon them for the edification of the Body of Christ.

Some may wonder; how does that play out? Will this all result in chaos? Don’t we need leaders to keep a tight grip on things? Not if things are done biblically. this takes more than sound bite teaching- but some real examination and application of the scriptures.

We continue reading, [i]whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that leads, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.[/i]

Notice that the idea is to [u]prefer[/u] one another. This is key. Notice this did not say to ‘honour one another’ (exalt one another) in the sense that the Pharisees did that ultimately kept them from believing in Jesus for fear of loosing their position or because they feared man more than God. This is edification from a heart of love and not a jockey for position.

Jesus said to the pharisees in John 5:44, [i]How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?[/i] Church life could never have worked among the Pharisees because they were too worried about getting the glory for what went on. They were to worried about being in control of everything. If fact, some didn’t even think God knew what [u]He[/u] was doing.

It has been said that the Body of Christ is not a [i]multi level business opportunity[/i]. It is not a corporation in which folk back stab each other to gain position. In the Body of Christ the way 'up' is 'down'. The pharisees loved the chief seats and top be seen of men. They loved the attention they received. If they lived today their actions, attitudes, and lifestyles may well resemble the CEO’s and CFO’s of Fortune 500 corporations. This is the epitome of what we call ‘worldliness’. More than fashion or the latest new styles and it is the enemy of the true Body ministry of Hebrews 3:13, 10:25 and I Cor. 14:26, etc..

The Holy Spirit has a purpose and that purpose is to edify the assembled body. In this type of environment folk are interested in what God wants more than what they want. Their focus is expectancy based and not expectation based. It flows from a heart that says, "Lord, not my will- but thine be done."

Robert Wurtz II

 2007/7/13 14:39Profile


If the passage had said, “love one another” we would take that to mean- as opportunity arises express your love to each other. We understand the passage to mean everyone without exception. Can it be any different with “exhorting one another?” Earlier in Hebrews we have a more compelling commandment; But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13) Is it possible that genuine Born Again believers would need such attention? Surely they can stand alone? Not according to Hebrews 3:13.

Wow Robert.... all of these posts are written by the Holy Spirit urgings & using you and we give HIM all the honor for it.

This quote above, though I don't like pulling quotes from excellent messages, but it moved me, because the Lord has been reminding me that "agape" is different from human love in that it is "an act of the will". Like Tozer wrote in his book about "the three loves".

Now you've added exhortation and it makes so much more sense.

How does one 'give' that Love, except through some "action" ?

Very good and very grateful you brought this out.

Correction is sometimes necessary, but whenever it is possible, exhortation does a better job at "helping people" than anything.

Praise GOD and thank you for allowing God to work through you and Exhort us all.
It's all been helping me to appreciate my Church, etc.. Thank you.

"Keep On", as Martin Lloyd-Jones always said. :-)

 2007/7/13 15:18

 Re: "We"







[b]1Co 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
1Co 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
1Co 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
1Co 11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
1Co 11:33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
1Co 11:34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
1Co 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
1Co 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
1Co 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.
1Co 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1Co 12:16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1Co 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
1Co 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
1Co 12:19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
1Co 12:20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
1Co 12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
1Co 12:22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
1Co 12:23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
1Co 12:24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked:
1Co 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
1Co 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.
1Co 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

[u]ONE BODY IN CHRIST ~ [/u][/b]

The vessel through which the Lord Jesus can reveal Himself in this generation is not the individual but the Body. " God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith " ( 12. 3), but alone in isolation man can never fulfil God's purpose. It requires a complete Body to attain to the stature of Christ and to display His glory. Oh that we might really see this!

So Romans 12. 3 - 6 draws from the figure of the human body the lesson of our inter- dependence. Individual Christians are not the Body but are members of the Body, and in a human body " all the members have not the same office ". The ear must not imagine itself to be an eye. No amount of prayer will give sight to the ear but the whole body can see through the eye. So (speaking figuratively) I may have only the gift of hearing, but I can see through others who have the gift of sight; or, perhaps I can walk but cannot work, so I receive help from the hands. An all-too-common attitude to the things of the Lord is that, 'What I know, I know; and what I don't know, I don't know, and can do quite well without.' But in Christ, the things we do not know others do, and we may know them and enter into the enjoyment of them through others. Let me stress that this is not just a comfortable thought. It is a vital factor in the life of God's people. We cannot get along without one another. That is why fellowship in prayer is so important. Prayer together brings in the help of the Body, as must be clear from Matthew 18. 19,20. Trusting the Lord by myself may not be enough. I must trust Him with others. I must learn to pray " Our Father . . ." on the basis of oneness with the Body, for without the help of the Body I cannot get through. In the sphere of service this is even more apparent. Alone I cannot serve the Lord effectively, and He will spare no pains to teach me this. He will bring things to an end, allowing doors to close and leaving me ineffectively knocking my head against a blank wall until I realise that I need the help of the Body as well as of the Lord. For the life of Christ is the life of the Body, and His gifts are given to us for work that builds up the Body.

The Body is not an illustration but a fact. The Bible does not just say that the Church is like a body, but that it is the Body of Christ. " We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another." All the members together are one Body, for all share His life-as though He were Himself distributed among His members. I was once with a group of Chinese believers who found it very hard to understand how the Body could be one when they were all separate individual men and women who made it up. One Sunday I was about to break the bread at the Lord's table and I asked them to look very carefully at the loaf before I broke it. Then, after it had been distributed and eaten, I pointed out that though it was inside all of them it was still one loaf-not many. The loaf was divided, but Christ is not divided even in the sense in which that loaf was. He is still one Spirit in us, and we are all one in Him.

This is the very opposite of man's condition by nature. In Adam I have the life of Adam, but that is essentially individual. There is no union, no fellowship in sin, but only self-interest and distrust of others. As I go on with the Lord I soon discover, not only that the problem of sin and of my natural strength has to be dealt with, but that there is also a further problem created by my 'individual ' life, the life that is sufficient in itself and does not recognize its need for and union in the Body. I may have got over the problems of sin and the flesh, and yet still be a confirmed individualist. I want holiness and victory and fruitfulness for myself personally and apart, albeit from the purest motives. But such an attitude ignores the Body, and so cannot provide God with satisfaction. He must deal with me therefore in this matter also, or I shall remain in conflict with His ends. God does not blame me for being an individual, but for my individualism, His greatest problem is not the outward divisions and denominations that divide His Church but our own individualistic hearts.

Yes, the Cross must do its work here, reminding me that in Christ I have died to that old life of independence which I inherited from Adam, and that in resurrection I have become not just an individual believer in Christ but a member of His Body. There is a vast difference between the two. When I see this, I shall at once have done with independence and shall seek fellowship. The life of Christ in me will gravitate to the life of Christ in others. I can no longer take an individual line. jealousy will go. Competition will go. Private work will go. My interests, my ambitions, my preferences, all will go. It will no longer matter which of us does the work. All that will matter will be that the Body grows.

I said: 'When I see this . . .' That is the great need: to see the Body of Christ as another great Divine fact ; to have it break in upon our spirits by heavenly revelation that " we, who are many, are one body in Christ ". Only the Holy Spirit can bring this home to us in all its meaning, but when He does it will revolutionise our life and work.


We only see history back to the Fall. God sees it from the beginning. There was something in God's mind before the Fall, and in the ages to come that thing is to be fully realised. God knew all about sin and redemption ; yet in His great purpose for the Church set forth in Genesis 2 there is no view of sin. It is as though (to speak in finite terms) He leaps in thought right over the whole story of redemption and sees the Church in future eternity, having a ministry and a (future) history which is altogether apart from sin and wholly of God. It is the Body of Christ in glory, expressing nothing of fallen man but only that which is the image of the glorified Son of man. This is the Church that has satisfied God's heart and has attained dominion.

In Ephesians 5 we stand within the history of redemption, and yet through grace we still have this eternal purpose of God in view as expressed in the statement that He will 'present unto himself a glorious Church'. But now we note that the water of life and the cleansing Word are needed to prepare the Church (now marred by the Fall) for presentation to Christ in glory. For now there are defects to be remedied and wounds to be healed. And yet how precious is the promise and how gracious are the words used of her: "not having spot "the scars of sin, whose very history is now forgotten ; " or wrinkle "-the marks of age and of time lost, for all is now made up and all is new; and " without blemish "-so that Satan or demons or men can find no ground for blame in her.

This is where we are now. The age is closing, and Satan's power is greater than ever. Our warfare is with angels and principalities and powers (Rom. 8. 38 ; Eph. 6. 12) who are set to withstand and destroy the work of God in us by laying many things to the charge of God's elect. Alone we could never be their match, but what we alone cannot do the Church can. Sin, self-reliance and individualism were Satan's master-strokes at the heart of God's purpose in man, and in the Cross God has undone them. As we put our faith in what He has done -in " God that justifieth " and in " Christ Jesus that died" (Rom. 8. 33, 34)-we present a front against which the very gates of Hades shall not prevail. We, His Church, are " more than conquerors through him that loved us " (Rom. 8. 37). ~ Nee

 2007/7/16 16:48


Reading all above and what's written below this photo ...

 2007/7/16 21:18

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