(Psalm 111: 1)
We need to learn certain matters that will help us in our spiritual growth and in having the mind of Christ. We need to learn the divine matters through the Holy Spirit who reveals to us the spiritual treasures and riches.
In Psalm 111: 1, we read: ‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.’
Of course, each one of us can praise the Lord on his own. Yet, according to the divine purpose, worshipping within a special spiritual group, by the Holy Spirit, results in spiritual growth in a multiplied way compared to what can happen as a result of the worship on the personal level. In other words, the spiritual work that takes place in us when we are gathered together is multiplied compared to what one can do alone. For example, if we have two groups in the church and both groups are at the same spiritual level. One group listens to the preaching, the meeting ends, and they go home. The other group listens to the talk and then they pray together for a sufficient time. After some months, the latter group will have grown more in the spirit. Why is that? The talks were the same and their spiritual level was the same. What is the difference? The difference is that one group worshipped together regularly while the other did not.
‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.’
Why is that?
It is because in this assembly and congregation, the Lord does great things: ‘The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them’ (Psalm 111: 2).
In the midst of this assembly and congregation, the Lord shines with His glory and honour at times; at other times, His work of redemption overflows in their midst; and at times, He offers them special spiritual food. Notice what is mentioned in the verses that follow in the same Psalm:
‘His work is honourable and glorious…He has given food to those who fear Him…He has declared to His people the power of His works…He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever…A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.’
We can thus see that in the assembly of the righteous and in the congregation, the Holy Spirit does and releases a certain work which is according to the need. We pray and then we listen to the talk; and though it is the same talk and there are different needs in our midst, each one would hear the words personally to him/her –as though it is only him who is present and the Lord is speaking to him personally. After the meeting, each one would say that this talk was specifically for him and the others would say the same thing. On the general level, the words of the talk are for everyone; yet, each one heard a personal message from the Holy Spirit. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
We now understand that the Holy Spirit looks upon us as the assembly of the righteous. We therefore need to give Him more chance to work in our midst.
We need to wait and long for this time of gathering because it is a time of edification and building up, receiving a new energy that carries us through the days that follow, and each one hears a personal message.
Not only do we long for such gatherings because of the reasons we have just highlighted, but also the Holy Spirit Himself waits for this meeting because He is the Person of the Trinity responsible to prepare us as ministers for the Lord.
The whole group may have one general work and ministry in the Kingdom of God; yet, at the same time, each one has his own personal work and calling within the general calling.
To illustrate, this is similar to having a group of people who want to serve a certain district by having a hospital that would provide medical services to this district. This is the common general vision and purpose of these people. However, within this general vision, each person will have his specific work, role and subspecialty.
Similarly, on the spiritual level, each person has certain gifts and talents granted to him in order to carry out a special calling and work in the Kingdom of God within the general calling and purpose. The Holy Spirit gives one general purpose to this group of people who have come together; yet, within this general purpose, He specifies a special aim and calling for each one.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of the glory of Christ in this region and the establishment and growth of the true Church of God: ‘the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1Timothy 3: 15).
This verse signifies that the truth of God should be lifted up on a pole/pillar, proclaimed to the whole region and heard by everyone, the Christians and the non-Christians because God’s words can never be fruitless. This is also like what happened in the days of the Prophet Samuel. It is written: ‘So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground’ (1Samuel 3: 19). Then it is written: ‘And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord’ (1Samuel 4: 20).
The Church of Christ is the pillar and ground of truth where the truth is deeply rooted and at the same time it is lifted up and proclaimed.
God’s name should be known ‘for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4: 12). This name, Jesus Christ, is the hope of every living creature on earth.
Whose responsibility is it to make this name known?
It is our responsibility!
Many people suffer great humiliation and destruction because they have not been visited; yet, ‘the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save’ (Isaiah 59: 1). His arm is mighty and His grace is rich and He is able to do above all the needs of everyone.
Yet, who would release His arm to save and who would speak about his saving grace and communicate this to others who are in great need for it?!
God wants to work with us and through us much more than what we have experienced so far; all what we have experienced are but the beginnings.
We were learning, understanding and receiving foundational matters so that we may be spiritually built up and edified. When we have a true spiritual building, we can then discover the will of God and carry it out in a generation which is in great need for the grace of Christ and for transformation.
Apostle Paul wrote some of his highest theological teachings in his letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians.
He wrote to the Colossians saying:
‘As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 2: 6, 7).
How many stages or levels do we have here?
- Receiving Christ
This is the very beginning, the first step when they received the saving work of Christ
- Walking in Him
The second step is to learn to walk in Christ, to walk in the spirit. The sphere of the spirit is in Christ while the sphere of the flesh is in Adam. We need to get rid of our habits and conduct that is fleshly and of Adam and enter into the sphere of the spirit. If we are in Adam, we will walk according to the flesh, but, if we are in Christ, we have to walk in the spirit.
- Being rooted, built up and established
This is a stage of spiritual foundations and building; this is a very special stage and it comprises within it several levels and stages. When one is built in the spirit, his building will be rooted and established.
- Established in the faith
After one is filled with faith and continues to be filled again and again, he becomes established in faith. When one is rooted and built up, he becomes established in faith.
‘And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people’ (Acts 6: 8).
If one is filled with faith and established in faith, he can do great wonders among the people of God and fulfil the needs; he would ‘know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary’ (Isaiah 50: 4). A person may be confused and perplexed and then this minister of God would come and help in bringing light; and so things become clear for that person.
- Abounding in it
This refers to something that is filled and then it overflows and is poured out outwardly. The human vessels that are truly filled with life should continually overflow with life to others around them, according to a specific plan of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit sends those individuals, whom He had filled with life and faith, to different places and uses them as new seeds that establish new churches in various places. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He sends people to spiritually dry lands where they would sow and plant the seeds of life and establish churches.
Do you know how the Church of Colosse began and was established?
Let us read the following references:
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow labourer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house’ (Philemon 1: 1, 2).
Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea’ (Colossians 4: 16).
‘…as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit’ (Colossians 1: 7).
In Asia, there was an area called Colosse and an area called Laodicea. Philemon was in these areas. Apphia is probably the wife of Philemon. Archippus (probably their son) served the Lord with them.
The word of God extended from Colosse to Laodicea and there were ministers of the Lord serving this area including Philemon, Apphia and Archippus.
Epaphras is one of the spiritual children/disciples of Apostle Paul. He heard the word of God from Paul and he spread it to other places.
When Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians, he had not yet been to Colosse. In Colossians 1: 4, we read: ‘since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints.’ This signifies that Apostle Paul has not gone to them yet, but has heard of their faith.
Paul was ministering in Asia and Epaphras heard the word of God from Paul and his heart became full with zeal for the Lord; he went to Colosse and ministered to them. In Colossians 4, we read that Epaphras ‘has a great zeal’ and he ‘always labours fervently for them in prayers’. Who gave him this commissioning and enabled him to do this? The Holy Spirit gave him this commissioning and used him in this way.
Then, Paul found out that there are many people in Colosse who are receiving Christ. Who has preached them? It was Epaphras who had earlier heard Paul preaching and had received Christ. Epaphras then went out and preached to them.
Epaphras received Christ first, then his household also believed; this then extended to their neighbours and they started to gather together. Paul then sent them Timothy; someone who is spiritually more advanced to help them.
Colosse grew and became a Church. So, Paul sent them a letter and told them that they need to be built up and established. He told them about things they need to pay attention to, some wrong teaching that they had. He drew their attention to some important matters and he adopted them into his pastoral care. Also, from the day he heard about them, he started to pray for them.
The one who established this Church was one of the spiritual children of Paul and so Paul took responsibility of this work and he prayed for this church. He followed them up through his letter until he got the chance to go and visit them.
Do we think in such a way? Do we think of extending the word of Christ to others?
We are often absorbed in ourselves, seeking blessings for ourselves. We need to change our way of thinking. We need to acquire the mind of the New Testament, the mind of God. By this, our Church will be the ground of truth and the truth will spread out of this church to others.
This truth will be a source of true life, light and blessing for a generation which is so confused and perplexed because of the darkness that surrounds it.
Some of God’s people may be given a fair amount of a distinct light which is not available for others. Wouldn’t it be their responsibility to take this light and extend it to others? Indeed this is in itself a responsibility and at the same time, it is a biblical principle required from each one. The biblical principle is that one should grow spiritually and extend.
When a person is granted more gifts and abilities, a greater responsibility will be required from him. He needs to grow and extend; and this is required from everyone. But if this person is also entrusted with a distinct light which is lacking in other places and not available for others, it is the responsibility of this person to carry this light to others. Inasmuch as he carries it and transmits it to others, this light increases in him. Inasmuch as he keeps it for himself, it becomes weaker and dimmer. In the Christian life, everything increases and multiplies when it is given not kept to oneself: ‘he who waters will also be watered himself’ (Proverbs 11: 25).
Let us learn to have images of faith, even if in reality we are still not able to see them happening. They will not be imaginary things because they will be based on God’s mind revealed in the many references we discussed and it will also be based on God’s will which is apparent in our generation.
There are great needs in our generation that are crying out around us. At the same time, the word of God reveals to us that the spiritual growth should move in a certain direction. Based on the foundations in the word of God regarding our spiritual growth in addition to the need in the generation, we can form the images of faith. The Holy Spirit then turns these images of faith into an actual reality.
In other words, there are the biblical foundations of how a Christian should live and grow spiritually and at the same time there is a cry and a need in our generation. From these two aspects, each one should form the spiritual picture he should live by. In the Church and with the brethren, one would grow spiritually. Then, the images of faith which cannot be seen and which may seem impossible or even an imagination are turned by faith by the power of the Holy Spirit into an actual reality. By this we become a blessing to others and glorify God.
When the Holy Spirit is in our midst, He does the true work in the Kingdom of God which glorifies God.
The people who are destroyed, hurt, bound or have gone astray will be visited, restored and truly freed.
We can sum up the main points as follows:
We need to know that our time together is an important time that we need to long for and wait for because we need to grow and establish our faith. We need to be built up.
We have already received Christ, but we need to learn to conduct ourselves and walk in the correct way within the spiritual building.
Therefore, we need to understand and perceive the value of our time together. If we perceive the value of this gathering, we will all come in time and never miss it.
There are two parts in our gathering. Part of it is to receive the message that should enlighten our minds and give us correct understanding of the spiritual life. The other part is to learn to worship together, as the Psalm says: ‘I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation’ (Psalm 111: 1).
We need to have an extended time of prayer and understand that it is a special time to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our inner spiritual building. In such an atmosphere where our hearts are seeking Him and our minds and purposes are united, the Holy Spirit can work in our spiritual building matters more than what can happen if one is worshipping on his own. This is because this is ‘the assembly of the upright and the congregation’.
In such an atmosphere, God can do His great works. One may need power, freedom, spiritual release, etc. Praying in such an atmosphere can change the circumstances of a person –who has been praying on his own for a while, and nothing was happening. God wants to hear this person and work with him, but sometimes God’s hands can seem as though tied up. Prophet Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 14: 9): ‘Why should You be like a man astonished, like a mighty one who cannot save?’ This is actually due to certain reasons that hinder God’s hand from being stretched out to save. However, this atmosphere of worship together gives a chance for God’s hand to reach the person.
One can be praying a lot about a certain matter and would say: ‘Lord, I have prayed a lot; why did you not answer me?’
God will answer saying: ‘my child, from the very first time you prayed, I was near and I heard you; I desired to stretch out My hand to you; but, there was a barrier between Me and you; and you were not able to do anything about it. But when you went in the midst of your brothers and sisters and cried out the very same cry and prayer, the reproach was lifted up because this prayer was united with the prayers of your brothers and sisters; and so My hands reached you and performed My will in your life and granted you what you desired. You were suffering; but I was also suffering more than you.’ It is written: ‘In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them’ (Isaiah 63: 9).
Therefore, in such an atmosphere of worship together, the Holy Spirit works in our spiritual building, in our prayers and requests, and in our ministry much more than what one can receive when he is on his own.
If we want to enter a further deeper stage together where we learn how to grow spiritually, be built up and be established in the life of the spirit, we need to give great importance to our gathering together and our prayers together.
We need to listen to the spiritual messages and pray with them together so that the Holy Spirit can tailor them to each person in the form that suits him. For one, it will be gold and for another it will be silver because one is in need for the work of redemption and the other is in need for the fellowship of the divine nature. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
After a year or so we look back and see that we have changed.
What has happened?
The Holy Spirit had bound our hearts together. We have been learning together, receiving the spiritual messages together and our minds were being renewed. As a result, the Holy Spirit worked within us and transformed us into a different form.
After binding us together, He dwells in our midst. When we come together, a spiritual house is being built.
If one is on his own, things around him may form a barrier that hinders the Holy Spirit from drawing near. However, the Holy Spirit keeps His eyes on us, desiring to reach out to us. He waits for us to come together so that He would come in our midst, healing the wounds, restoring every soul, fulfilling His will, and shining with His brightness.
 Isaiah 55:11
 Romans 5:12-19; 1Corinthians 15:21
 Acts 5:19, 20
 In Biblical studies, ‘gold’ usually refers to the ‘divine nature’; while ‘silver’ refers to the ‘redemptive work of Christ’.
 Ephesians 2:20 – 22