Question:

In the last couple of years, I have come to believe that the assembly is for believers. I haven't seen any examples that non-believers were ever invited to the first of the week assembly. Have you any thoughts on the matter?

Thanks.

Answer:

"In the Law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me," says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (I Corinthians 14:21-26).

In a discourse on the use of spiritual gifts during the worship assemblies, Paul mentions that one consideration is how the unbelievers perceive the activities of the brethren during worship. Yes, worship has meaning to Christians and is required of us by the Lord, but it does not mean unbelievers were excluded. Rather, worship is a time to teach both the believers and any unbelievers who happen to be present.

Question:

Thanks, Mr. Hamilton

I do agree with you that it’s probably not a sin for non-believers to be at the assembly. For me, Paul is just using an example of if a non-believer is present, not when. Just like we have an advocate if we sin not when (I John 2:1).

Is there any place in Scripture that tells Christians to invite non-believers to the assembly? My understanding is we are to evangelize out In the world and then bring them to the assembly with the saints.

What are your thoughts on the example of the temple in the Old Testament? Only priests could approach God, no one else was permitted in the presence of God. Since God cannot be around darkness/sin it makes sense to me to keep the assembly as pure as possible. As you know, the assembly is to worship God and edify the body. If the lessons are geared to non-believers to convert them, then the body doesn’t receive the meat of God’s Word. I also don’t know of any example where listeners were asked to come forward. I’ve found that if someone wants to repent and be saved you probably don’t have to ask them.

I only reached out to you because your group seems to believe that the word teaches: we are to walk without sin and it is possible. Most will agree the word teaches that, but most also believe it’s impossible because we’re human. I have not been able to find a faithful group in my area. Around here most believe “man cannot not sin.”

I would appreciate any of your thoughts. We should all be searching for the truth.

Thanks for your time.

Answer:

"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" (I John 1:5-2:2).

John tells us that to claim to be without sin is a lie. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and we will likely sin again in the future. But John is not saying that we are continually sinning. Instead, he warns in I John 1:6 that if we walk in darkness (are continually in sin) then we have no relationship with God. The Christian's walk is one of walking in light, knowing that we occasionally stumble. The big difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the Christian refuses to remain in sin. He seeks a way out through the forgiveness offered by Christ.

The Old Testament Temple was a place dedicated to God and, thus, was to remain holy. This concept was replaced in the New Testament the individual Christian. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Thus, the Christian is motivated to keep sin out of his life because God's presence is to be seen in the Christian.

There is a sense that all Christians build up a temple of God. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22). But here we are talking about the church universally since the foundation is the apostles, prophets, and Jesus Christ. Paul is not talking about the local congregations.

Therefore, your comparison of a local church's assembly to the Temple under the Old Testament does not stand with how these ideas were used in the New Testament.

The goal of teaching is that the whole counsel of God is presented, or as Paul said, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God" (Acts 20:27). Fundamentals should not be focused on entirely (Hebrews 6:1-3), but it does not mean they are never taught either. Even among mature Christians, there is a need to teach how to teach the elementary teachings. "Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you" (II Peter 1:12). The New Testament is for Christians, but it also contains lessons on how to become a Christian. These lessons must be taught.

I demonstrated that non-believers did come into the assemblies. You then added assumptions that it was a rare occasion -- something that is not in the text. You added assumptions that these who came were not invited -- something that is not in the text. Stick to what the Bible says without adding your opinions to it.

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