AN ANALYSIS OF THE  FORMAL ASSEMBLY OF GOD'S ELECT CHILDREN

Although there are many formats that would be appropriate when the Father's elect children assemble together to worship him, the following is meant to be an analysis of specific aspects of formal assembly formats that are common among various congregations of God. The purpose of this analysis is to show the logic of performing each aspect of a formal assembly of God's elect in a way that will conform to biblical instructions and concepts concerning the formal worship of God.

There are many reasons for the elect to assemble together in a formal, structured way; however, one of the primary reasons to assemble together during the weekly Sabbath and the annual observances and festivals is to give honor, respect, and praise to the Father and his Son, and to rejoice before them.

The historical biblical  evidence concerning the formal assembly of God's elect for the purpose of worship and praise to God shows us that it is extremely important to the Father and Jesus Christ that when the elect come into their presence,  it is for the right reasons and done in accordance with the law of worship. Therefore, the elect who participate in a formal assembly before God should be focused on the reason that they are there. Moreover, they should make an effort to present themselves in a way that is pleasing to the Father and his Son and in a way that is beneficial to others who are assembled with them.

An Important Understanding and Attitude

An important understanding and attitude that one should internalize if one wants  to please the Father and Jesus Christ during a formal assembly of God's elect is the understanding that, when the elect of God are assembled together, they are truly drawn directly into the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ. One should also understand that the reason for being in the presence of the Father and Jesus Christ is to manifest one's heartfelt desire to  praise, honor, and please them in a formal way. If one has this understanding and attitude, one's participation in the formal assembly will truly praise, honor, and please the Father and Jesus Christ.

ELEMENTS OF A FORMAL ASSEMBLY

A short study of the scriptures will show a clear distinction between praising and giving gratitude and other activities during or after an assembly of God's people; therefore, the following elements of a formal assembly are separated into two distinct categories:

1. Praise and Gratitude

2. Study and Fellowship

CALLING THE ASSEMBLY TO ORDER

Who is authorized to call to order  a formal assembly of the Father's elect children for the purpose of formally worshiping him: men, women, or children?

Although this may not seem to be a major point to consider, it is important because the scriptures clearly show that before, during, and after the advent of the Messiah, only men were placed in positions of spiritual leadership by God (e.g., the patriarchs, the priests, the apostles, and the elders). Therefore, it seems appropriate that an assembly of the Father's elect children that is held for the purpose of  formally worshipping him should be called to order by the male spiritual leader or a male member of the assembly who is authorized to perform this task for or in place of the spiritual leader.

APPROACHING THE FATHER  

Who is authorized to approach the Father and speak to him on behalf of a formal assembly of his children: men, women, children?

Although the scriptures show that those in positions of spiritual leadership within the congregations of God must be men and these men must exercise  leadership in spiritual matters, there is no specific instruction that would prohibit other men, women, or a young adult from approaching the Father on behalf of the congregation, as long as certain prerequisites are met. It must be remembered that only those of humanity who are of the New Creation are authorized to come into the Father's presence (Eph.2:11-19); therefore, it seems that only those who are considered to be among the elect should be allowed to approach the Father on behalf of an assembly of his elect children for the purpose of communicating with him.

Approaching the Father on behalf of an assembly of his children is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. Care should be taken to thoughtfully  prepare what is going to be said to the Father, in order to obtain a favorable response from him and in order for what is said to him to reflect the thoughts of the assembly. If the opening comments to the Father are sincere and appropriate, the entire assembly can concur with the words that are spoken on their behalf by saying amen (be it so).

Opening Comments

What should the opening comments to the Father on behalf of the congregation contain?

Almost all of the models in the Bible that show how one should approach God to seek an audience with him begin with an acknowledgment and declaration of his attributes, truth, and  works and they give honor to his greatness. The example of Solomon's approach and presentation to the Creator God (2.Chron.6:1-42), Jesus' model prayer (Matt.6:5-13) and instruction to ask in his name (Jn.14:13-14;16:23-24), and Paul's instruction to the Philippians about worship (Phil.4:6) show the following aspects of communication with God:

Solomon

Jesus

Paul

These three examples contain the three fundamental elements of communication with God—praise, gratitude, and supplication. Because there are many examples in the Bible of communication with the Creator God (Jesus Christ) and God the Father that incorporate these three elements, it seems appropriate that these elements should be a part of one's request to the Father for an audience with him and for him to accept his children's worship of him.

The following are some of the things that one might want to incorporate in each of the foundational elements of communication with God the Father:

Praise: Things to acknowledge and declare to the Father.

His attributes

His great works

What he has done and will do for his people

Gratitude: Things for which to give the Father gratitude

Supplication. What should one ask for?

Conclusion

Unless one has already said to the Father in one's opening comments that the congregation is coming before him through the authority of Jesus Christ (in Jesus' Name), it is appropriate to do so at this time and ask him to hear and honor the things that have been said.

The final statement should give the congregation the opportunity to concur with what has been said by saying, "We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ," or "be it so according to your will Father," or "in Jesus' name, Amen (be it so)."

SONGS

It is clear from many biblical references that singing as an act of praise and gratitude to God and rejoicing before him gives him great pleasure. Because singing songs to the Father is  not meant for the entertainment of the congregation, but is meant to be a presentation to the Father for his pleasure, the selection of congregational songs should be carefully made to avoid heresy. Moreover, the beauty of the music and lyrics that truly reflect God's ways and his children's worship and praise of him should be taken into account.

There are a number of questions that should be asked and answered when selecting songs for a congregation to sing:

There are many scriptures that will help to answer the above questions. Moreover, the  psalms are a primary source of  many excellent models for congregational songs of praise and supplication that are pleasing to God.

Other Presentations, Music, Songs, or Dance

The historical and biblical records clearly show that all formal worship and praise to and of God were done much as singers and musicians perform before an audience of people today. Therefore, the presentation of  music, songs, or dance by individuals or groups other than the combined assembly should be presented for the same reasons as congregational music and songs and should fulfill the same  requirements as congregational music and songs. It is important to clearly understand that these types  of  presentations are not to be presented for the entertainment of the congregation or for the personal aggrandizement of the individuals making the presentation. As with congregational songs, the focus should be on presenting something to the Father that will acknowledge his greatness and give him pleasure.

SERMONS AND SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Sermons

The scriptures clearly show that those in positions of spiritual leadership of the congregations of God must be men, and that these men must exercise  leadership in spiritual matters; however, there is no specific biblical instruction that prohibits the spiritual leadership from authorizing other spiritually mature and capable men to teach the elect in a formal assembly.

The teaching of the Father's elect children  is a responsibility that is to be taken very seriously and should be approached with prayer, study, and the attitude of humility with the goal of  presenting the word of God for the edification of those who are present.

Special Presentations Other Than Sermons

There are many things that can be presented to the elect in a formal way that can be spiritually enlightening  and beneficial. The following are some of these things:

Clearly there are some special presentations that should be given by the spiritual leadership or other men who are authorized by them; however, there is no prohibition against a sister in the faith or young adults presenting things of a spiritual nature that do not violate the letter or spirit of the law concerning spiritual leadership.

Testimonials

In this age, many view the giving of testimonials before the church in the light of  what takes place in many of the charismatic Christian churches; however, this is not the example that is put forth in the Bible. All the scriptural examples show testimonials to be God-centered, not self-centered. And they are shown to be witnesses to other people of the awesome power, goodness, mercy, and works of God. The examples of testimonies in the Bible are mostly  the relating of specific events to show what God has done or is doing in order to acknowledge his hand in the events, give him honor, and give encouragement to his people.

Many of the psalms relate situations in which God's hand is shown to be present, attest to his greatness, and to his care and concern for his people. In the New Testament, there are a number of accounts that are in the context of  testimonials, such as Peter and John's account of being released by the Jewish elders and chief priests after they had been arrested for preaching Christ and healing a lame man. Moreover, after they had related these events, the elect  that heard their report, praised God and were encouraged to continue preaching Christ (Acts 4:23-31).

ENDING THE FORMAL ASSEMBLY

The ending of the formal assembly should follow most of the overall guidelines that were given for approaching the Father at the beginning of the formal assembly with the following comments added as closing statements:

Unless one has already said to the Father in one's opening comments to end the formal assembly that the congregation is coming before him through the authority of Jesus Christ (in Jesus Name), it would be appropriate to do so at this time; then, ask that the Father to hear and honor the things that have been said.

The final statement should give the congregation the opportunity to concur with what has been said by saying, "We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ," or "be it so according to your will Father," or "in Jesus' name, Amen (be it so)."

FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship before, during, and after a formal assembly of God's elect should be conducted in a manner worthy of a holy people (1.Cor.14:40), because this is time that has been set aside to acknowledge the Father and his Son, to celebrate and  rejoice before them, to grow in grace and knowledge, and to speak of  things that pertain to the profession of a child of God.

By B.L. Cocherell, file b5w74