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Going It Alone

Is “going it alone” a good way to worship?

   In seeking the truth of the Bible, one can find nearly anything one is looking for. Churches abound in most cities and towns. Church pages in newspapers are filled with notices of Sunday's sermons. One can easily find the "church of his choice.”
   The problem with many is that instead of looking into Scripture with an open mind, they seek out a group that is teaching the doctrines they already believe. And those tenets do not necessarily need to come from the Bible. Many cherished beliefs popular today are not found in Scripture at all but are perpetuated by tradition alone. Some of these include the ideas of going to heaven upon death, rapture, immortal soul, trinity, ever-burning hellfire, and many more.
   Others are not so concerned with religious teachings but seek a group with prestige or one with an accessible parking lot, air conditioned sanctuary, beautiful choir or a variety of other criteria that have no bearing on what will be taught or done there. Bible truth is hardly a consideration for them.
   A religious affiliation for many is only for convenience. For others, it is used to enhance their image in the community, as the politician who lists a church membership in order to appear good and upstanding — even though he never attends.
   Perhaps you have searched for a group that endeavors with all its being to remain true to the Bible. With some 450 different religious groups all purporting to teach from the same Bible, almost any doctrine can be found being taught in these United States and around the world.

Why People Leave Organizations
   Some, however, have become disillusioned with religious groups in general. Perhaps they trusted a man who they believed was honest and called to the ministry. Later, they found he was trying to build an empire for himself. Or perhaps they in some way were hurt by one of the members and as a result reject all association.
   A number of people become disenchanted when the organization they had affiliated with turned out to be less than expected. Their chagrin may have been caused by an ambitious individual who tried hard to dominate rather than guide the assembly. Perhaps they didn't like one of the members or visitors in the group and felt he didn't live up to their standards. Bickering and dissension possibly arose between members. Or it may simply have been the failure of human nature to exhibit the qualities expected of such a group professing to follow the Messiah. Occasionally, an unscriptural and hitherto hidden doctrine suddenly surfaces.
   For whatever reason, many are simply turned off at religious organizations. They might say that worshiping with a group is simply a crutch. Going it alone is their new ambition. "Just you and me, Yahshua, just you and me," they seem to say. They often pride themselves in their determination to worship alone.
   Should we reject organizational worship? Are we to worship separately? What does the Bible teach about becoming a part of a group?

Yahshua Established an Organization
   Hebrews 10:24-25 clearly tells us to assemble. We should join in assembly, encouraging and prodding one another to good works and sacrificial love by word and example. We must consider the Savior's words about those called out from the world to be a part of the Body of Messiah. It is obvious that He expected His followers to become believers whowould associate closely with one another.
   Yahshua said there would always be a group of True Believers on earth teaching the truths He magnified and brought to light,
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My assembly; and the gates of hell (hades - grave) shall not prevail against it, Matthew 16:18.
   He established an organization, built on Peter's confession that Yahshua was the Messiah. If we seek salvation, we must become a part of that Body.
His assembly was to continue until His return,
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of Yahweh: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the evangel of Yahweh? (1 Peter 4:17).
   Teaching the truth of Scripture, His Body would be the physical representation of Him on earth. This Body would be the repository of His truth.
   The writers of the New Testament, and especially Paul, also shared the concept that Believers must join as a body whenever possible.
   Acts 2:42 (
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.) relates that after Yahshua's death the early apostles continued steadfast in fellowship and prayer.
   The apostles were in constant fellowship with one another throughout the Book of Acts. They were aware persecution was soon to fall on them, and they used every opportunity to encourage one another and preach the Word wherever they could.
   We also do not have much time to get the message of salvation to the world. It is up to us to learn all we can and encourage those who are helping to proclaim the Good News, for we are all considered to be teachers and guides of others searching for truth,
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light, 1 Peter 2:9.
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? (Romans 2:21).

Reasons Many Give for Need to Fellowship
   There are a number of reasons for Yahweh's people to congregate to study His Word. The Book of Acts is filled with examples of conversions to Messiah. The Apostle Paul, himself, was struck down on the Damascus road in Acts 9, actually hearing and speaking to the risen Messiah, verses 1-6.    It should be noted that although Yahshua spoke to Paul, He did not Himself tell Paul the entire program.
   Instead, the plan of salvation was to be found by going into the city and letting those in the ekklesia (assembly) tell him what had to be done. Yahshua had given the keys to the Kingdom to His called-out ones, and although He could just as easily have told Paul what to do directly, that was the job of the ekklesia. It still is today.
   The early assembly was busy showing the way to those who were seeking the strait gate and the narrow way. The Ethiopian treasurer was trying hard to understand the Book of Isaiah, Acts 8. Philip explained the Scriptures to him and brought about his conversion and desire for baptism. This is a prime example of Yahweh's Spirit working through His people to help others find the way of salvation. That truth is lodged in the Body of believers.
   Yahweh could just as easily have spoken to, or in some way moved, the people He was dealing with to do His bidding. Instead, He used those who had prepared themselves and were qualified to help others seeking truth. It is up to the Body of Messiah to preach the Good News of salvation as Yahshua said in Matthew 28:19.
   Although signs, visions, and miracles were used on occasion by Yahweh in the New Testament Assembly, the message of salvation was given and expounded to others by those in the ekklesia—the ones called out.

Members Are to Use Their Gifts
   Another reason for the necessity of gathering with others of like faith is that all those placed in the Body of Messiah have a particular gift that is to be used to edify andbuild the assembly,
For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of Yahweh, one after this manner, and another after that, 1 Corinthians 7:7.
   That gift is to be used for the ekklesia, and is not for personal glory,
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the assembly, 1 Corinthians 14:12.
   We are placed in the Body of Messiah as living stones making up a spiritual temple. Each member of the Body has been selected to be a part of that temple and is even in this life being fitted for an individual place in Yahweh's spiritual temple. The chipping, shaping, and fitting of each of the called-out ones goes on as we live our lives and change according to His Word.
   Yahshua is the chief cornerstone of the entire living, spiritual temple. He is not a lone rock on the seashore. We are to be formed collectively into a spiritual house, founded on Yahshua,
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of Yahweh, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Yahweh by Yahshua Messiah. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the Stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 1 Peter 2:4-7.
   The gathering of Yahweh's people has a purpose. We are to use whatever gift Yahweh has given for the edifying of the temple. If we never associate with others of like faith, how can we exercise the gift that has been given us? It is only through interaction with others that we are able to subjugate our own desires and set our goal to be of help to others.
   The chipping and shaping of the "living stones" is done through contact with other living stones so that the finished, polished pieces fit together in a harmonious building where Yahweh's Spirit dwells.
   As an individual member of the Body of Messiah begins to pattern his life after that of the Messiah, he stops committing acts that he learns are sinful and against Yahweh's way. He starts following a course in accord with Yahweh's way of life. His mind is stayed on the Messiah. He no longer is taken up with satisfying his former way of life. He now longs to please the Heavenly Father and no longer indulges in wickedness of the lower nature such as fornication, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, witchcraft, quarrels, jealousy, passionate anger, intrigues, selfish ambitions, envy, drunkenness, and other vices given in Galatians 5:19-21,
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh.

Fruits Exhibited in the Assembly
   Associating with others of like faith gives the believer the opportunity to exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which begin with love and joy as shown in Galatians 5:22-23,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
   It is in the ekklesia that fruits are grown and nurtured, and matured.
   Examples of the kind of people we are to become should be visible in each assembly. Here we can meet with those who are also trying to become more like the Messiah, growing in His likeness and stature. This is not possible in our daily life in the world, but we should always try to live as if the Messiah were living in us.
   It is by the fruits of the individual that he shall be known,
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them, Matthew 7:20.
And when He saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (Matthew 21:19-20).
   Just as Yahshua sought fruit from the fig tree, so we should be bearing fruit not only for Him, but also for the brethren.

Yahshua and His Body Are One
   While most of us fully recognize the great debt of gratitude we owe Yahshua Messiah, we often forget the most obvious way we can show our gratefulness for the price He paid that we might have life.
   The Apostle Paul got the message fast. Supernaturally struck down on the Damascus road, he heard a voice asking him,
"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" He asked who was talking to him. The answer came, "I am Yahshua Whom thou persecutest." Acts 9:1-5. Paul suddenly realized that Yah-hua felt so close to His disciples that anything Paul had done to them like "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples" (verse 1) was the same as attacking the Messiah Himself.
   Paul never forgot that lesson and on frequent occasions would mention that he — more than anyone — needed forgiveness because he had persecuted the Body of believers,
Concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless, Philippians 3:6.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the assembly of Yahweh, and wasted it, Galatians 1:13.
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief, 1 Timothy 1:13.
   Yahshua Himself revealed the deep feeling He has for His Body of believers when He spoke of the righteous saints who inherit the Kingdom, Matthew 25:34-40. He said that doing good to the Body of believers is the same as reaching out to Yahshua Himself. He likens His spiritual Body to His own body. When we do anything to a fellow believer we are in essence doing that same thing to Yahshua.
   In Matthew 25:41-46 He makes the same point with the wicked who have not shown compassion and love to the Body of Messiah. He spoke of not having cared for those who were hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and imprisoned.
   Some hunger after the Word. We should feed them. Some thirst for the Holy Spirit and should be taught Yahweh's way of life. Strangers should be taken into the camp and made spiritual Israelites wherever possible. They should be clothed in the robes of righteousness. If they are sick, they need healing and should be made whole. Those in prison should be freed from the captivity of sinful living.
   Yahshua identified the group of believers in Matthew 12:48-49 when He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said,
Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister and mother, Matthew 25:50.
   Keeping His words in mind will help us to think of one another in the ekklesia as brothers or sisters. Whatever we do to these followers of the Messiah we also do to Him, for He said that the ekklesia was also His Body. He refers to the ekklesia as the spiritual mother of the Body of believers. This is the same thought Paul had in referring to the spiritual Jerusalem as the "mother of us all," Galatians 4:26.

Strength Through Fellowship
   It is quite apparent that Yahshua expected the Body of believers to assemble together as often as they could. Not associating with the saints leaves much of the development of the spiritual aspects of our life unfinished. The interaction between the believers is necessary not only to help us become better followers of the Messiah, but also to learn from others who have many of the same problems. It strengthens us to see how others have overcome their problems and we can learn more of how they did so.
   Becoming associated with a group of True Believers allows one into a training ground or preparation for the work in the Kingdom. We develop talents or gifts that Yahweh has given us so they become ability. We use that ability to edify and build up the Body of Messiah. As we interact with other members, we not only help them but also perfect ourselves. It is difficult or impossible to develop and use the gifts Yahweh gives us if we are alone.
   Another purpose for assembling together is to make recommendations and judgments on the qualifications of the brethren. This was true in Acts 15:1-2 when the BRETHREN determined who would go to Jerusalem,
And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
   It was the brethren who decided the candidates for the role of deacon in the early assembly,
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them, Acts 6:3-6.
   In Acts 11:22 it was the ekklesia that sent Barnabas to Antioch. Later (Acts 15:22-23) it was the ekklesia that joined with the apostles and elders to send men they had chosen to visit the gentiles.

Decisions by Committee in N.T.
   All through the New Testament we find that the assembly played a vital part in the direction of the ministry. Decisions were made by committee. There is no such term as head elder or directing elder to be found in the New Testament. It was always by a plurality of people that decisions were arrived at. Further examples are found in Acts 15:25 and 40; 16:1-2; 1 Corinthians 16:2-3; 2 Corinthians 8:19 and Philippians 2:25.
   It is obvious that the brethren within the congregation are alert to the character and qualifications of their fellow members. They have been able to discern the fruits of each individual and are able to observe the abilities of many. The assembly is in good position to know who is most qualified for a position of responsibility and once selected, it was the apostles or elders who recognized the choice of the brethren and ordained the individual for a special task. He was set aside through prayer and publicly approved by the elders.
   Most of you can look back on your biblical pursuits and realize that you assimilated Bible knowledge by degrees. After you accepted one item of truth you went on to study deeper knowledge. We learn from Scripture that "many are called, but few are chosen," Matthew 20:16. Yahshua chooses those He wishes to be a part of His Body,
Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you, John 15:16.
   We are given an inner desire and drive to have a thirst for the Word,
Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Yahshua Messiah, Philippians 1:6.
   Perhaps one of the biggest thrills facing the ekklesia is in the time ahead when the Messiah returns and sets up His Kingdom. It will not be the individual who thought it was "just you and me, Yahshua." It will be those who have been faithfully keeping the commandments of Yahweh and living the faith of Yahshua day by day.

Some Avoid Responsibility Involved
   At times the reluctance to meet with an organized group is because of a fear of the responsibilities involved. It is much easier to "go it alone" and automatically be absolved of any accountability. In any organization obligations and duties befall some of the individuals for the good of the group. Any meeting needs scheduling. Arrangements must be made to ensure a rewarding and productive gathering. By pretending to reject groups or organizations, such responsiblities are avoided.
   A muscle that goes unused atrophies. Yahweh wants involvement from His people. They in turn will grow, strengthen, and be qualified for rulership. No one can effectively rule in the Kingdom if he has not learned to get along successfully with others now.

Which Organization Is The Right One?
   But the question arises, how can we determine which is the correct group? Does the Bible give us a clue to the characteristics of True Worshipers? How can we know which organization is teaching truth? Besides truth of Scripture, what are the other signs that identify the true assembly?
   Revelation 14:12 tells of the patience of the saints who keep the commandments of Yahweh and the faith of Yahshua,
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of Yahweh, and the faith of Yahshua.
   The saints, then, must be willing to endure situations that may not be pleasant. They will be hard put to stand fast in the truth. Conditions will be brought that will severely test their dedication and resolve to be true to the end. Much of their faithfulness will be tested as to whether or not they will keep Yahweh’s commandments.
   While the teaching is plain from Scripture that the Messiah came and fulfilled the sacrificial law and animal offerings of temple whorship, many religious groups have taught that all the Old Testament laws were abolished. Now we are obligated to follow only the New Testament teachings of the Messiah and the writings of Paul, they teach.
   But Revelation 14:12 and many other New Testament verses maintain that Yahweh’s law is still in effect. A careful study of those verses that purportedly teach the doing away of Yahweh’s law do not teach that at all; in fact, these verses teach the keeping of the law.

We Must Have Yahshua’s Faith
   The latter part of Revelation 14:12 tells of the saints who have kept the faith of Yahshua Messiah. Not faith IN Yahshua, but the same faith He had. They have the same faith that allowed Yahshua to withstand all His trials and persecutions and permitted Him to continue unwavering on the course that was set before Him, which led to His death on the tree. This is the same unyielding faith His followers are to exhibit and maintain unto the end. It is this group of believers that will give a resounding “yes” to the question raised by the Messiah in Luke 18:8:
When the Son of Man returns, will He find the faith on the earth?
   He also refers to those inheriting the Kingdom as “a little flock,”
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, Luke 12:32.

Characteristics of the True Body
   There are certain hallmarks that characterize the true Body of believers. Here are a few of the more obvious:
         • The true Body of Messiah is obedient to all the commandments of Yahweh, Revelation 14:12; 22:14.
         • They observe the weekly, annual, and Sabbatical sabbaths because these observations are a sign between Yahweh and His people, Ez 20:20.
         • His people will know His Name and use it, Isaiah 52:6; His people will be hated because of His Name, Matthew 24:9; but they will not deny it, Revelation 3:8.
         • His people will be humble and obedient and called by His Name, 2 Chronicles 7:14.
   If a religious group is not keeping all these signs of the true Body of Messiah, they are probably not His Body. This list is in no way complete, but will help to reveal those who are striving to declare the whole counsel of Yahweh,
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of Yahweh, Acts 20:27.
   The closer an organization adheres to the truth of the Scriptures, the fewer there will be in that group.
   While many claim to use the Bible as their guide, tradition plays a big part in many of the doctrines that are taught,
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, Mark 7:7.
   Others may essentially ignore entire sections of the Bible, such as the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation.
   But seek the Kingdom we must. The gate is strait, and the way narrow,
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, Matthew 7:13-14.
   Yahshua has set up His Body of called-out ones with individuals possessing talents to guide and lead those assembled. Paul wrote about these in 1 Corinthians 12:28 where he mentions first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, miracle workers, healers, helps, guides, and tongues. He further mentions the various parts or members of the Body in Romans 12:6-10:
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, 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 ruleth, 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.

Paul Lists Duties in the Body
   Paul became more and more mindful of the part each member of the Body played in becoming a part of the Body. In Ephesians 4:11,.he was inspired to write of the offices or jobs that would be available to those in the Body. He begins with apostles, then prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. Paul then points out that these were placed in the Body for the building up of the assembly. Each of us has a place in the Body and we are to unitedly advance to the oneness of the faith, to a fuller knowledge of the Son of Yahweh. Growing in the Messiah is both an individual and a collective effort,
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of Yahweh, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Messiah: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, Ephesians 4:12-14.
   Those claiming to go it alone are rejecting one of the most rewarding and necessary areas of growth. We all have a part to play, a role to fill in the Body of Messiah. We may not be the eye or the tongue, but if we are the toenail, we should be the best toenail the body has.
   To be a part of Yahshua's true assembly, we must find our niche and help the other members of the Body achieve their full potential.
   We must realize like Paul, that when we have helped another believer along the way to the Kingdom, it is as if we had done it to the Savior Himself. All members of the Body must work together to be a full-bodied assembly counsel of Yahweh, Acts 20:27.

-Elder Donald R. Mansager (deceased)

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