Over twenty years ago we heard a sermon that God does not want lone ranger Christians. God established His Church and each and every believer is responsible to be part of His Church. It was based on a very principle of God’s Word. And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer. Hebrews 10:24, 25
This principle of unity or meeting together in the assembly is based in the Law, used for over 1,500 years in Israel, Jesus joined the assembly in synagogue services and at the temple. The very word church, ekklesia, εκκλησι´α is the word “assembly”. Jesus said, “That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:21, 22
So with these examples and commands of assembly, where do lone prophets such as Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Amos and John the Baptist fit in God’s Plan? We can add Christians who stood alone such as Martin Luther to the list, but the question is the same. How do we reconcile “Here I stand. I can do no other” with the command to gather together in my name?
Samuel said, “Does the LORD delight as much in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the LORD? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 (ISV) Sacrifices were both commanded and done in the assembly as the most important aspect of public worship, but Samuel pointed out that obedience was more important. Obedience is an individual choice.
The responsibility of the prophets was to proclaim the Word of God, even if that meant opposing the assembly. “And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.” 1 Kings 13:1-5
The entire chapter of Hebrew 11 lists men and women who stood alone for God against assemblies of wickedness. The important points are that they were called by God and were obedient to God’s revealed Word. They did not simply neglect the assembly because they were lazy. The assembly departed from God’s Word and left them.