Is A Physical Assembly Really Needed

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Hi R____,
Thank you for your comments.
I have written many times in the past that “where two or more are gathered in my name I am in the midst” is just as true today as it was when it was first written. So the size of a congregation is no measure of where Christ is.
Many things in the Old Testament have been changed. Some things which were required in the Old Testament, like circumcision and animal sacrifices, are no longer required under the New Testament. Both are fulfilled in Christ. The same is true for the sabbath and all of the holy days.
On the other hand, there are many parts of the Old Testament which, though superseded by the spiritual application of the New Testament, are still to be kept as mere physical demonstrations and shadows of the much higher spiritual truths. We do not, for example, have other gods before God just because the Old Testament ten commandments tell us not to have other gods before God. And the same is true for every other commandment of the ten commandments except for the sabbath commandment, which as I pointed out above, we are specifically told, Christ fulfilled (Heb. 4).  Of all of the other commandments we, with the apostle Paul, can say when talking about them ‘thou shalt not make unto you any graven image to bow down to it, as also saith the law. Thou shalt honor thy parents, as also saith the law, thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, bear false witness,  or covet, as also saith the law.’ When we outwardly honor our parents, are faithful to our wives, do not kill our brothers, do not steal or covet we are showing nothing but love to both God and our brothers “as also saith the law:”

Rom 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Rom 13:9  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [ there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Rom 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [ is] the fulfilling of the law.

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbor” has now become a spiritual truth which, under Christ’s new covenant, makes every man we ever meet, including our enemies, our ‘neighbor.’
When the “change also of the law” is a complete about face of what Moses taught Christ makes this principle clear, with all of His “but I say unto you…” changes. Each and every time Christ says “but I say unto you,” he is changing dozens of laws in what Christ called “the law of Moses.”

Luk 24:44  And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Coming together for fellowship is indeed a physical act just like loving one’s enemies and not committing adultery are outward actions. But these outward actions are accomplished only through spiritual principles and influences:

Eph 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [ places].

It is God’s spirit which has inspired  Heb 10:1:

Heb 10:1  For t he law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

But verse 24 is, of course, after verse one and clarifies verse one. There is in ‘Adam’ a ‘lone ranger’ in each of us who feels no need of anyone. Knowing this, the Holy Spirit has inspired verses 24 and 25 of Heb 10:

Heb 10:24  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We are still in this world, and that being the case, we still have physical needs like physical food and physical  fellowship. 1 Co 12 speaks to this same subject:

1Co 12:12  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [ is] Christ.
1Co 12:13  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [ we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [ we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
1Co 12:14  For the body is not one member, but many.
1Co 12:15  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1Co 12:16  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1Co 12:17  If the whole body [ were] an eye, where [ were] the hearing? If the whole [ were] hearing, where [ were] the smelling?
1Co 12:18  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
1Co 12:19  And if they were all one member, where [ were] the body?
1Co 12:20  But now [ are they] many members, yet but one body.
1Co 12:21  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
1Co 12:22  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
1Co 12:23  And those [ members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [ parts] have more abundant comeliness.
1Co 12:24  For our comely [ parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [ part] which lacked:
1Co 12:25  That there should be no schism in the body; but [ that] the members should have the same care one for another.
1Co 12:26  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
1Co 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

When God is all in all, then all these physical needs will no longer be an issue. But until that day we “ought not to forget to assemble together… to provoke to love and good works.” The fact we are given specific instructions on this subject proves that we need physical fellowship.
I appreciate what you see in the connection between the trades of Christ and Paul. I just don’t want to see any more of us using the spiritual understanding as opposition to the “as also saith the law” statements in the New Testament. And physical assemblies were indeed part of the Old Testament law of Moses which we are encouraged to “forget not…”
You ask: “What could the assembling be a shadow of?”
Physical assemblies are an outward shadow of our unity and love for one another and our coming together in Christ just as much as a wife submitting to her husband is an outward shadow of her submission to Christ.
I think we are seeing this with the same mind. Let me hear your thoughts.
Mike>

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