Jeroboam led the ten tribes in rebellion against Rehoboam, he decided
to set up his own religion in the north. He said to the people, ' It is
too much for you to go up to Jerusalem', 1 Kgs. 12. 28. God had
commanded His people to go up to Jerusalem several times a year to
worship. But Jeroboam was concerned that this practice would weaken his
hold on the people. He would make a religion more convenient for them
with local shrines.
friend was recently visiting some families who used to be in fellowship
in a New Testament assembly. He suggested that they start meeting
together, break bread and form an assembly. Their response? 'It is too
hard!' For some time they have been going to large denominational
churches and had found it very comfortable and easy. They could be
absent, go fishing or hiking, and hardly be missed. The preacher was
hired to preach and to lead the worship; that was his job. It left the
men free from the need to be prepared to participate in the services.
Yes, it was easy to be a part of the group. Little was required except
to be faithful in giving so that the staff could be paid.
what does God want? What is the instruction and pattern of the New
Testament? To follow the model of the early church does require
commitment and enthusiastic participation. It requires New Testament
Christians, people so committed they are willing to die for their
faith. To those who are lazy and self indulgent, 'It is too hard!'
Shame on us if that is our attitude.
marked those early disciples? They were committed to meeting together
regularly. 'And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine
and fellowship, in the breaking of bread; and in prayers', Acts 2. 42.
There was joy and enthusiasm as they met together and deep love for one
another, Acts 2. 44. There was zeal in evangelism; souls were being
saved and added. There was freedom for the Spirit to lead and all were
expected to come to the meetings with exercised hearts.
'How is it then, brethren?
Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching,
has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things
be done for edification', 1 Cor. 14. 26. While sign gifts and working
of miracles passed with the death of the apostles, edifying gifts
remain in every age.
If the Lord's Supper is a
ritual led by the priest or minister, it requires little preparation by
the believers to participate. But if it is an open meeting, led by the
Spirit of God, it requires spiritual preparation all week. How rich
that time can be if hearts are all prepared and men stand up to lead in
worship, filled with the Holy Spirit. Yes, it is harder to function as
a New Testament assembly than just to be part of a large conventional
church with a pastor. But we grow as we participate and it is a great
stimulus to Bible study to have the opportunity to share the word. And
there is a richness to worship as various believers share their love
for the Lord and appreciation of what He has done. There is liberty for
the Spirit of God to speak to His people through various voices.
Yes, it is harder but it honours God and brings great blessing to His people.