Assembly Truth: Assessing Its Place7 min read
Though it may be obvious that truth itself exists – even assembly truth – one might still ask “Is it that important to uphold? Is it a big deal if we don’t get it right?” Or an even more sensitive question might arise: “Do I have the right to judge the practices of certain denominations just because their pattern is different than mine?” It is fully granted that these are real questions to many and that they should not be dealt with insensitively. But in answering them we must consult the Word of God. After having done that, though these questions may not have been directly answered, the doctrine derived from that consultation should give us proper perspective in the place assembly truth should have in our lives. What place should it have?
A Logical Assumption
Before fully delving into our texts, we need to begin on the right basis. We need to start with a few obvious statements that should set us straight on assembly truth.
- The God of the Bible exists.
- Thus, God is to be feared, authoritative, absolute, holy, etc.
- The assembly is God’s house (1 Tim. 3:15).
- If it is God’s house, by nature it must be approached His way. Otherwise, it ceases to be His.
- If it must be approached His way, all other ways are wrong ways.
- In Scripture, we have God-breathed words as to what His way is.
- Thus, since God has spoken at all, we must conclude He is concerned with that pattern.
- If God is both concerned with His pattern and willing to have us know it, we are without excuse when it comes to both understanding His way and following it.
These things coincide logically with one another, and based on their simplicity and fundamental nature it really shouldn’t be a question in our minds whether or not assembly truth is essential. To question whether or not we need assembly truth is rooted in a misunderstanding of what has been so clearly laid out in Scripture as to God’s very nature. If we are to support a high view of God we must support a high view of His dwelling-place. It is only logical, and we must approach the following Scriptures with this assumption: It is God’s house God’s way.
2 John 1-4 – Truth in General
The beginning of 2 John contains five mentions of “truth,” providing a number of implications of that concept which he as well as others assumed to be right. We should be very concerned with what Scripture assumes to be right, for to ignore or demean the value of what should be obvious in our lives is to show willful ignorance and disregard for what God so clearly wants. This is the case with the concept of truth. Notice what is unquestioned in John’s minds as he writes on the subject:
- Truth is the only basis for love: “Whom I love in the truth.”
- Truth is his obvious basis for unity: “…all they that have known the truth.”
- Truth has a cause: “For the truth’s sake.”
- Truth is immanent and central in our lives: “[Truth] dwelleth in us.”
- Truth is unchanging and absolute and unbreakable: “And shall be with us forever.”
- Truth demands a walk: “Thy children walking in truth.”
- Truth is a basis for great rejoicing: “I rejoiced greatly….”
- Truth’s value and substance is ultimately defined by God Himself: “as we have received a commandment from the Father.”
Interestingly, John did not say “the truth of salvation,” “the truth of resurrection,” nor “the truth of God’s existence.” Rather he referred to truth as one body and one concept. So then, regardless of whether we are speaking of truth on a creatorial level, or whether we are speaking of truth on an assembly level, these factors inevitably apply. Without them, we lack what truth brings: love, unity, cause, standard, consistency, joy, a proper walk, etc. Surely, then, assembly truth must be essential!
Galatians 5:7-10 – Truth in God’s Assembly
Having completed a great portion of his Galatian epistle, Paul boils down his concern for the assembly as to their rejection of Christian liberty. In doing so, he emphasizes the assembly’s danger in their rejection of clear Biblical truth by saying “You did run well; who hindered you that you should not obey the truth?” Ironically, in a section dealing with Christian liberty, truth is given pre-eminence. (Obviously Christian liberty doesn’t include self-set standards as some would think.) Why? Because the effects of its neglect are devastating. Notice what Paul had to say, and ask yourself “Do I really want to be the one guilty of dismissing God’s truth?”
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [Obviously, without truth, the assembly is hindered.] This persuasion cometh not of him that calls you. [Christ, then, will never support a neglect of truth]. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. [Denial of truth will result in collective testimony collapse]. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: [It is a commendable thing to hold fast to truth] but he that troubles you shall bear his judgement, whosoever he be. [Truth has tremendous accountability]
1 Timothy 3:15 – Truth as a Vital Assembly Characteristic
“But if I tarry long, that you may know how it is necessary for one to behave himself in the house of God, which is the assembly of the living God – pillar and ground/support of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 3:15
This verse should really “seal the deal” as it were in terms of our view on assembly truth. Why uphold assembly truth? Because the assembly upholds truth. That is its purpose. That is its nature. It would be nonsensical to even vaguely claim to be an assembly of truth when truth has not been given priority in it. It would be like a government system in which there was no government: they could not rule the people if they could not rule themselves. It would be like publishing a newspaper without any expertise in current events. It would be like trying to advertise tuxedos in swim shorts. It would be like a man giving marital advice without any experience in marriage. These are all obvious in how foolish of situations they would be. There is no question in our minds about it: unless one lives the cause he is supporting, he cannot rightly claim to be for it. It is no different with the assembly, especially since it is the living God Who owns it. To be an assembly by Scripture’s definition (which is the only definition that matters) there is no option but to have truth be primary in every aspect. Otherwise we just serve as an example of self-contradiction to the world. We have an obligation to assembly truth. If the doctrine of the assembly is “non-essential,” as some would categorize it, all other aspects of truth are demeaned, for if we don’t get the pillar and ground of truth right, what basis will we have for accurately passing down salvation-pendant doctrines? We must be faithful to our “cause,” which is truth. Thus we must be faithful to truth in its entirety. It is our obligation if we want to be part of an assembly at all.
In light of all these things we have considered, when it comes to assessing the place of assembly truth we really have no choice but to say it’s place is very eminent and high – that is, if we are honest about what Scripture says. It is essential to consistent Christianity. It is our obligation to the living God. It is our safe-guard against collapse. Do we really want to trade that with our preference? Is that a choice we are prepared to make, even in light of its consequences? Let us, as believers, be concerned about that which God is concerned with. Let us not be afraid to find God’s pattern and stand on it, for “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” Is assembly truth a priority in your life? And are you willing to act on it?