I. THE CHURCH BEING THE ASSEMBLY,
THE GATHERING OF THE CALLED-OUT ONES
As a basis for realizing the importance of the meetings and how to meet, we need to see that in the most basic sense, the church is the assembly, the gathering of the called-out ones. The term church in Greek (ekklesia) means a kind of called assembly. In ancient times when a city called its people together for a certain purpose, this was always called an ekklesia, which was an assembly, a gathering of the called-out ones. The Bible uses the word ekklesia to indicate the church because it really corresponds with the meaning of the church. The church is a gathering of God’s called-out ones. We have been called out of the world, so we gather together. Whenever we gather together, that gathering is the church.
We need to point out that the Lord Jesus mentioned the church twice in the Gospels—once in Matthew 16:18 referring to the universal church and once in Matthew 18:17 referring to the local church. When the Lord Jesus mentioned the church the second time in Matthew 18:17, it was in the local sense and it indicated the matter of meeting. In verse 20 the Lord said, "Where there are two or three gathered into My name, there am I in their midst." When the Lord Jesus mentioned the matter of the church in a local sense, He pointed out the need of the gathering, the meeting. If we are going to have the Lord’s presence, surely we need to meet together.
II. TO MEET BEING TO WORSHIP GOD
AND TO SERVE HIM
We have already said that to meet is to worship God and to serve Him. But we need to stress again and again that if a believer does not come to meet with the church, that means he does not worship God and serve Him in an adequate way.
III. TO MEET BEING TO MINISTER CHRIST TO OTHERS
To meet is to minister Christ to others. This point is very crucial. Most Christians have the concept that to come to the meeting is to receive the help. They do not have the sensation, the consideration, or the concept that they need to minister Christ to others. Every believer should have something of Christ. Thus, when we come to the meeting, we come to share Christ with others, to minister Christ to others, either by our prayer, by our testimony, or by our word as a short message. We always have to get ourselves prepared to minister Christ in the meeting. We need to speak more on this point to impress the young ones and the new ones among us. Their wrong concept needs to be corrected.
Even we ourselves have been in the "garlic room" of wrong teachings too long. Because of this, we do not have the sense that it is absolutely a deficiency to come to a meeting without ministering Christ to others. According to the type in the Old Testament, God charged His people not to come to the meeting empty-handed (Deut. 16:16). When you come to the meeting, you must have something to offer. Also, if the priest in the Old Testament did not offer something on the altar, he could never get into the tabernacle. Without anything to offer to God, we can never enter into the tabernacle, so this is a must. If we do not offer something to God, and we try to enter into the presence of God, this is a great deficiency.
(Basic Lessons on Service, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)