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Your Place in the Spiritual Temple

Is the Assembly Important? Do You Have a Place in it?

   Just why some 80 million Americans refuse to affiliate or even take part in "organized churches" was brought to light by Lutheran writer Russel Hale. He listed the following as typical among those who won't get involved:
The Anti-institutionalists—those who see the church as primarily interested in its own self-preservation, meddling in secular affairs, and showing undue concern for finances or property. "I don't have to attend church to be a Christian, it is between G-d and me."
The Boxed-in―those who feel the church stifles their independence to do their own thing. "I am an independent and I make my own decisions."
The Burned-out—those who felt the church wanted too much of their time and too much money. "All they want is me to work and give."
The Cop-outs―those who never really got involved and are apathetic to spiritual life, and are uninformed and indifferent. "Why all the fuss about attending church so much and joining up?"
The Happy Hedonists—those who find fulfillment in a succession of momentary pleasures. "I come first."
The Locked-outs—those who feel rejected, neglected or discriminated against by religious institutions. "What have they ever done for me?"
The Publicans—those who view church people as hypocrites and frauds leading double lives; pious in church, outside like everyone else.
The Scandalized―those who are disgusted with the church's disunity and denominational rivalry, backbiting one another.
   While other classifications might come to mind, author Hale has undoubtedly touched upon some types you have noted over the years, or even may have identified with yourself. Those who want to can easily find an excuse for steering clear of religious groups.
   Being separate, however, is not Yahweh's way or desire. The Bible warns,
Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another―and all the more as you see the Day approaching, Hebrews 10:25, NIV.
   Even ancient Israel was commanded to meet in "holy convocation"—that is, a set-apart calling together of His people,
For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to Yahweh in all your dwellings, Leviticus 23:3 NASU.

Collective Worship Necessary
   Israel had the Temple and priesthood among them to guide and keep them in the way of righteousness. The laws of offerings, sacrifices, and washings were a part of that system.
   Today, our offerings and sacrifices are the praise of our lips,
By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to Yahweh continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name, Hebrews 13:15.
   The sacrifices of our bodies that we present to Him are to be as obedient and living examples of faith,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Yahweh, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto Yahweh, which is your reasonable service, Romans 12:1.
   The Levitical priesthood has been set in abeyance. Today, our worship has taken on a deeper, spiritual aspect as we are guided by Yahweh's Holy Spirit. But it still involves interaction with others.
   To help the saints overcome the world, our flesh, and the Adversary, Paul tells us that when Yahshua ascended to the Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit was poured out and He gave gifts to mankind,
Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men, Ephesians 4:8.
   These gifts were the abiding of the Holy Spirit within, empowering qualified men, chosen by Yahweh, to become the guides and leaders of the assembly.
   In Ephesians 4: 11-13 NIV, Paul explains,
It was He Who gave some to be Apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare Yahweh's people for works of service, so that the body of Messiah may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of Elohim and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah.
   Since the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., the followers of the Bible no longer have a central place to worship. Instead, Yahweh sent His Spirit to this earth at Pentecost in 31 C.E. His Holy Spirit does not dwell within the Holy of Holies in a Temple at Jerusalem. Rather, after the ascension of the Messiah, His Spirit came to earth to indwell repentant believers.
   This is the promise Yahshua gave to the Apostles and to us in John 14:16-17 NIV:
   And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept it, because it neither sees it nor knows it. But you know it, for it lives with you and will be in you.
   The Holy Spirit is to be with us forever (verse 16) and dwells with those who are called (verse 17). The Spirit is implanted within the believer who answers Yahweh's call and is baptized into Yahshua's Name,
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahshua Messiah for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.
   Those called and chosen are expected to be faithful unto the end,
   Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life, Revelation 2:10.
   Those called and chosen should also keep their bodies a fit place in which the Holy Spirit can reside.
   Paul put it this way,
Know you not that you are the temple of Elohim and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3: 16).
   Paul adds that the body of Messiah is
Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yahshua the Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone, in Whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in Yahshua: in Whom you also are builded together for an habitation of Elohim through the Spirit, Ephesians 2:20-22.

People Form a Spiritual Temple
   Paul reveals that the assembly of gathered believers is now the spiritual temple wherein Yahweh's Spirit dwells.
But each man has his own gift from Elohim; one has this gift, another has that, 1 Corinthians 7:7 NIV.
   That is to say, each member of the Body of Messiah is given a special gift to complement and function as part of that body:
   There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:4.
   We learn that we have all been immersed by the Holy Spirit into one body no matter what our nationality, origin, or sex is or where we reside,
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, 1 Cor-inthians 12:13.
   Yahweh has given each believer a function to perform in the Body of Messiah, verses 18-27.
   In His wisdom, however, Yahweh has gone a step further. To help guide the body of believers, Yahweh has set leaders in the Assembly. These include Apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, healings, helps, governments, and diversities of languages, verse 28.
   Paul repeats the establishing of spiritual guides to the Assembly in Ephesians 4: 11-13,
   And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 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 fullness of Messiah.
   He alludes to Yahshua as being the One Who had ascended to the heavens, after which, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent to this earth.
   The Apostles were given special power or a gift of the Spirit to be used to build and edify the Assembly, verses 7-8:
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Messiah. Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
   These are the offices of Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher, to prepare Yahweh's people for works of service as they continue their growth unto maturity, verse 12.
   Whenever reference is made to the Body of Messiah or the Assembly, it is always as a unified and cooperative body. It is not a disorganized group of individuals all going their separate ways. The Body of Messiah is likened to a human body, all members working together for the common good of the body, all striving for that goal of spiritual perfection.
   Each may have a different function,
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Messiah, and every one members one of another. 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, Romans 12:4-8.
   Thus, the whole Body is closely joined and knit together through contact with the Source of its life, Yahshua, from Whom we derive the power to grow.
   We are not all going to have the same task to perform, nor will we all have the same position. Our desire is to take whatever talents and abilities Yahweh has bestowed upon us and use His gifts for His honor and glory by being an active member of that collective body. We are to help and encourage those brethren who are also striving to overcome, and be a compelling force in the world as well.

We Each Have a Role
   First, we individually assume our responsibility of obedience to Him as we daily walk in the good works He has previously prepared for us:
For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yahshua unto good works, which Elohim hath before ordained that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2:10.
   We are to pattern our lives after the righteousness of the Savior.
   Second, we are to collectively show our love for the brethren, esteeming others better than ourselves,
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others, Philippians 2:3-4.
   In humility, we are to serve one another and be an example to those around us. It is difficult to see how one can consider oneself a follower of Yahshua, contending one is a part of the Body of Messiah, and yet keep aloof from others striving to be a part of that spiritual family of True Believers.
   The relationship and loving concern each fellow believer has for the others is to be a sign to the world that this is the assembly that wholeheartedly is living the commandment given by Yahshua:
You love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples if you have love one to another, John 13:34-35.
   As our society continues to deteriorate and love of many grows cold, the True Believer stands in stark contrast to the grasping, selfish, hedonistic population bent only on enjoying the immediate pleasures of this world now.
   Instant gratification and freedom from all pain, poverty, and frustration seems to be the goal of the day. Few desire to wait and save for the nicer things of this life and acquire only what they can afford. This Instant Generation wants everything now, and does not really care whether they step on or hurt others to satisfy their wants. Those who follow the Bible are looked on as being a bit odd and out of step with this high-tech, liberalized, hedonistic world. Indeed, they are.
   Merchandising has played a big part in creating the "I need it now" attitude. Immediate relief from headaches and other hurts are pushed by drug manufacturers for those who don't have time for the pain.
   For a minimum down payment, one can make a fantastic deal with Honest Charlie and drive a new car home today. If you don't have the cash, a credit card will do for what- ever your heart lusts after.

Promises Lacking Substance
   The closer we get to the truth, the narrower the pathway becomes, and the fewer who accompany us along that way. Surely, Yahweh's Word will bring separation according to the commitment and uncompromising zeal one has in following truth.
   Many will give lip service to the Bible, and a few will even contend that they live by the Book. The vast majority, however, will exert but a minimal effort, hoping to meet minimal standards and expect Yahweh to be happy with that!
   Precious few can honestly say they strive to live by every Word of Yahweh,
And Yahshua answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of Yahweh, Luke 4:4.
   Those who indeed adhere to the Savior's words of Matthew 4:4 to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh are to be commended. This should be the goal of everyone of us.
   We should make the Bible a part of our very nature so that we live His law, while His words come to life as we put them into practice daily. But does everyone who alleges that he lives by the Bible sincerely do so?

Truths We Have Learned ― The Sabbath
   Many of us came out of nominal churchianity when we learned that the Sabbath was the seventh day, not the first. We discovered that the Sabbath will yet be observed in the Kingdom and is a sign between Yahweh and His people,
Moreover also I gave them My sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am Yahweh that sanctify them, Ezekiel 20: 12.
   We found that the first day of the week is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament, and did not necessarily refer to a gathering for worship.
   We could find no place where the Sabbath was set aside and no command to replace it with the first day of the week. Nor is there even a suggestion that it has displaced the Saturday Sabbath.
   Convicted of this truth alone, we had to leave Sunday-keeping churches.

Truths We Have Learned ―The Feast Days
   Then came the Feast days. We discovered as we studied Leviticus 23 that the Feast days are mentioned along with the Sabbath, so they were to be observed as well. Leviticus 23: 14, 21, 31, and 41 say the Feasts are to be observed forever, for all time.
   There are always dissenters who want to have the appearance of obedience, but lack the determination to live by every word of Yahweh. Meal and animal offerings were made on the Feast days, during those seven annual holy seasons. But because these offerings and sacrifices are done away, dissenters argue, so are the annual Feast days connected with them.
   Such a stand poses a problem for the Sabbath-keeper, who must explain why he should keep the Sabbath when Numbers 28:9-10 points out that a sacrifice and offering are also required on every weekly Sabbath.
   We must be consistent. If the Feast days are abolished because the old animal sacrifice was required on those days, it follows that the weekly Sabbath was also done away. The reasoning would go like this: animal sacrifices are required for the Sabbath under the Levitical priesthood. But the Levitical priesthood is now set in abeyance, therefore the Sabbath is too.
   That's like arguing that because a couple gets divorced, that the institution of marriage is abolished as well! According to Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23, the Sabbath and Feast Days are for all time.
   Having proved we are to keep Yahweh's times (without animal sacrifices), we found ourselves even more alone as we continued to walk on higher, but narrower, ground. We may not have willingly accepted Yahweh's Name when it was first revealed to us, nor did we immediately begin calling upon the majestic Name Yahweh.
   After diligent search and inquiry, we proved it to ourselves and were impressed with the great importance Yahweh places on invoking His Name. When Yahweh showed us how important it is, we shamefully asked His forgiveness and gladly accepted His Name and clutched it close to our hearts.
   At this point the way really gets narrow and lonely.

Trials Strengthen Our Resolve
   At times we feel all alone. Perhaps we understand in a measure how earlier believers felt as they were driven from their homes in the middle of the night and persecuted by religious groups. Foxe's Book of Martyrs is an excellent example of the price paid by many who clung to the Bible as their guide. We have "not resisted unto blood" as did some of those martyrs, but we may at times feel ostracized and shunned by society as a whole because we keep the weekly and annual holy days and call upon our Creator by His exalted Name Yahweh, which He so lovingly showed to us. We gave up the more popular and man-made generic titles that have no basis in truth.
   Almost daily we become involved in situations that test our resolve and faith, and yet these experiences build character and per- severance. Often we have no one in our locality who believes as we do and with whom we can share our trials and get support from. At those times we need to go to Yahweh in ardent prayer, believing.
   If our situation is such that we are unable to worship Yahweh without the benefit of assembling with others of like faith each week, we will stand in good stead if we continue our dedication to serve Him. Conditions in our society will become increasingly difficult and even hostile toward those relying on the Bible as their guide for living and worship. We must prepare now to withstand by overcoming lesser trials.
   We do not conform to the popular concepts of our society's religions. They cannot understand why we do not keep Xmas or Easter. These two holidays, right out of paganism, are the most "holy" of the so-called "Christian" world. All we need to do is recall Yahshua's words:
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heav- en, Matthew 5:10.
   Persecution often comes in degrees. First, we are made uncomfortable. Then comes a period when we are avoided or ignored. Gossip and verbal attacks are next, followed by ostracism and perhaps vandalism of our property. Finally, physical harm. We have yet had to resist unto blood as many of the earlier be- lievers had to do,
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin, Hebrews 12:4.
   This is a strong possibility as we near the end, however,
And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of Yahweh, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Yahweh, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled, Revelation 6:9-11.
   That is one reason we must draw on one another's strengths through fellowship.
   It is important that followers of the Messiah maintain a close relationship with one another to show the world that we are indeed brethren, a part of the family of Yahweh.
   Through association with other believers, we are taught by them. Sometimes it is difficult to tolerate someone who might be crude or lacking in certain aspects of social graces. But we are told we are to love the unlovely, and esteem others better than ourselves. Thus, we are taught humility and compassion through interaction with others. Through lessons gained we take on the nature of Yahshua Who made Himself of no reputation.

Brethren Help Light the Way
   The New Testament has many examples where a better understanding of the Bible was through another believer. Seldom did anyone receive a new revelation from on High all by himself. It was usually handed to him from another believer.
   Paul pondered the only Bible available to him, the Old Testament. But he gained insight into the Word as he spent a number of days with the disciples at Damascus following his conversion,
And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus, Acts 9: 19.
   To be sure, the Holy Spirit opened his eyes of understanding to perceive the great truths of the Old Testament being unveiled in the death and resurrection of Yahshua. Those who were with the Messiah learned directly at His feet. They could ask Him questions and He often explained truths that they understood immediately. At other times He spoke to them in parables and dark sayings, which they grasped at a later time,
And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, Luke 24:44-45.
   The Apostles later taught the Jews and Gentiles. Peter, for example, taught them in Acts 2, where he explained that what they witnessed in hearing others speaking in tongues was prophesied by Joel, Acts 2:16-39.
   The Ethiopian did not understand Isaiah 53, and asked how he could "unless some man should guide me?"
And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him, Acts 8:31.
   Philip began with that same Scripture and showed how these Old Testament verses spoke of the coming of Yahshua. The Ethiopian believed, and Philip immersed him.
   Another example is Aquila and Priscilla, who had the opportunity to meet Apollos, a man mighty in the Scripture. But he did not comprehend the message of Yahshua. So Aquila and Priscilla expounded to him the way of Yahweh more perfectly,
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of Yahweh; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of Yahweh, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of Elohim more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Yahshua was Messiah, Acts 18:24-28.
   As brethren gather, they discuss the Bible and are able to help one another come to a clearer understanding of the sense and meaning of His Word.
   Ours is not a new revelation or some entirely different message that was given out of the blue sky.
   The message Yahweh wants us to learn and follow is already there in His Word. It is up to us to prayerfully study it and comprehend what He means. Brethren can help us do that.

The Assembly — Yahweh's Focus
   Yahshua said that the gates of the grave would never prevail against the assembly. That is, there would always be the true assembly somewhere on earth. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul refers to that body as the "pillar and ground of the truth,"
   But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of Yahweh, which is the assembly of the living Elohim, the pillar and ground of the truth.
   It is the gathered Body of Messiah that will be given the gems of truth as they faithfully meet and praise Yahweh.
   One of the overlooked verses Paul wrote to the Corinthians tells of the assembled brethren meeting, and Paul is there in spirit. Together they have the power of Yahshua the Messiah among them to cast out the man involved in sexual sins too gross to even mention among the Gentiles.
   Yahshua said that where two or three are gathered in His Name, He would be there among them,
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them, Matthew 18:20.
   Do we realize that when we gather on the Sabbath that He is among us? His Spirit is there to guide us in praising Yahweh and giving us a deeper faith and understanding of His Word.
   Giving the excuse that one is "independent" and does not get in- volved in organizations is really a cop-out for lacking the zeal and de- sire to obey Yahshua in all things. Not being willing to exercise dedication in following the Messiah's command to have love one for another is definitely not the mark of the True Believer.
   Peter likened us to "living stones," 1 Peter 2:4-5, being built on the cornerstone of Yahshua the Messiah. The building of this spiritual temple is best done by interaction between the gathered believers especially on the days that Yahweh has set apart for the worship of Himself.
   The chiseling, shaping, and polishing of these "living stones" is taking place now. When the last of these stones, "elect and precious," is accomplished, the Master Workman will bring us all together in the first resurrection. The temple will then be filled with His glory.
   The present mission of the Assembly is the perfecting of the saints for the future work of service for the Master. We are to develop every grace and be Yahweh's witnesses to the world. Our goal is to prepare ourselves to be fit kings and priests in the next age, Revelation 1:6 and 20:6.
   It is next to impossible to partake of such a noble task by ignoring the Body of Messiah. Only by interacting and encouraging one another through whatever gift Yahweh has given us can we show that we are worthy of that heavenly calling. To love the unlovely is indeed difficult at times. Some of those called into the Body of Messiah have some mighty rough edges.
   Are you willing to have some of your rough edges smoothed out by associating with those who will be co-heirs with the Messiah in the Kingdom? Nobody said it would be easy nor will it always be joyful. Yahweh is building a spiritual house of believers who will one day live in His Kingdom. Those who have built physical houses know of the many trials and problems that accompany such an endeavor. How much more trying is it to build a spiritual house that is worth infinitely more than anything material we can put together on earth? Expect trials, but then overcome them. Your reward will be worth it all.
   How you treat those of the Body of believers is as if you are doing it to the Messiah Yahshua Himself,
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me, Matthew 25:40.
   Let Him shape and polish you to be a fit member of the Kingdom! Don't ignore the Body of Messiah, and therefore — don't ignore Yahshua.

-Elder Donald R. Mansager (deceased)

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