Sometimes people are reluctant to attend a gathering or function because they have no idea what to expect. None of us wish to stick out like a sore thumb or stand off as a fifth wheel. Perhaps that is true regarding Gospel Meetings (or for that matter any assembly of the church). In this paper I want to mention what you may expect when attending a Gospel Meeting.
A FRIENDLY WELCOME
Usually there will be someone (or a number of people) to greet you as you walk in the door. They may demonstrate the fact that you are welcome by introducing themselves and perhaps will inquire some things about you. This is not to be “nosey” but to get to know you on a personal basis. These are not professional greeters or for that matter they have not been chosen by the congregation to do this. They are acting on their own, desiring you to feel comfortable and at home as much as possible. I might add, that there will be some that will express their appreciation for your presence at the end of the service. You then may select any seat you desire as a place to sit, whether up closer to the front or nearer the back—the choice is yours. There will be no one to usher you to a seat; however, if for some reason you need help then some one will gladly assist you in any manner needed.
WHEN THE TIME TO BEGIN ARRIVES A BROTHER WILL ANNOUNCE A SONG NUMBER
You will notice in back of the pew in front of you a number of songbooks and some copies of the New Testament. You may select a songbook and turn to the number announced and join in the singing. Singing is very much a part of the Christian’s life in our daily affairs and when we gather as well. In the days of the Apostles and early Christians they always sang songs in worship (Heb. 2:12). There will be several songs during the first minutes of worship. Usually there will be different pre-selected brethren who will lead the congregation as we sing. You will surely notice that the singing has no mechanical instrument accompaniment. This is not by accident or oversight. It is practiced because upon reading through the New Testament we have been careful to notice that the Scripture enjoins upon us the responsibility to sing, but never commands anyone to play an instrument like the children of Israel did on occasion in the Old Testament (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16). It is our desire to do everything the Lord has commanded us, but at the same time we do not wish to try to improve upon anything found in God’s Word. Therefore, we do not add the instrument to our worship (Rev. 22:18-19). While we sing to praise God, giving thanks to Him in the name of Jesus Christ, our hearts are filled with joy in singing and our hope is that you too will enjoy singing the selected songs, hymns and spiritual songs.
THEN A PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE AND PERHAPS A FEW WORDS OF INTRODUCTION WILL BE GIVEN
The Word of God is the guide for Christians as we believe it is Divinely inspired and is above anything that men may say or write (II Tim. 3:16-17). The passage to be read is announced and you may find it in your Bible (if you brought it along), or a copy of the New Testament in the pew before you (I Tim 4:13). After the reading and any remarks the brother may make, all then will be asked to bow in a prayerful manner.
A BROTHER WILL PRAY TO GOD IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST
A brother selected before the service began will word a prayer for the entire assembly expressing our thanksgiving for the blessings we receive daily from God and asking for the things that we want or need (I Thes. 5:17-18). There will be supplication made for those who are in want or have sickness or mourn because of a death. Prayer for our leaders in government is often stated as well as for the preacher in our midst and for his family (especially if he came to us without them I Tim. 2:1-4). Other things may be mentioned according to the circumstances at the time. After the prayer we will sing another song.
THE PREACHER THEN WILL ADDRESS US
The preacher will consider different subjects from one night to another. Sometimes there will be a connection and sometimes they will be disjointed. At times a certain subject is the result of a request but the subject will always be Bible based and a number of passages will be used or referred too. Some in the audience will take notes for future reference, while others will turn to the various passages reading along in their own Bibles. It is fitting that you do either if you wish. There are a number of things that you can listen for, for example.
- He will discuss the things one must do to be saved from past sins. (a) To procure our salvation Jesus came to earth being born of a virgin. He lived a sinless life and finally offered Himself in a terrible death for our sins. He resurrected from the dead, ascended into the glory world and took His place at the Father’s right hand. This was God’s part in saving mankind (II Cor. 5:18-20). Proving Himself to be the Son of God gives reasons for all to believe in Him (Jn. 20:30-31, Mk. 16:16). This is the first step for one wishing to have his sins abolished. (b) Then the effects of sin on the world and each individual will be considered encouraging non-Christians to turn from their sins resolving to live a different kind of life. This is called repentance in scripture (Acts 17:30, Acts 2:38). That is the natural result of those seeking salvation through Christ. (c) It will be pointed out that those in New Testament times acknowledged their faith in Christ by confessing Him Mt. 16:16, Acts 8:37-39). Examples show us the simple expression of their heart was made in those olden times, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (d) Finally, he will preach the necessity of being baptized in water (Rom. 6:3-4, Gal. 3:27). Often the preacher will give more emphasis to this because there are so many that reject it by substituting other things for baptism in our time.
- He will point out the place of the church in salvation. More than likely he’ll show that the church of the New Testament was promised by Jesus and was built upon His name or by His authority (Mt. 16:18); was purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28) and makes up His body (Eph. 1:22-23). He will show that salvation and church membership come at the same time, therefore, everyone who is saved is then a member of the Church of Christ (Acts 2:47). He will show that the relationship that the church sustains to Christ is as a bride to her husband (Eph. 5:23-32), as a body to the head (Col. 1:18) and as a kingdom to the King (Col. 1:13). Everything that Christians do reflects our love for the Lord, as we are members of the church.
- He will remind us of the Lord’s Day as the day of worshipping God through Christ. This is the day that early Christians gathered to worship God by remembering the death of Christ and of contributing of their means to further the Gospel and help the needy (Acts 20:7, I Cor. 16:1-2). There seems to be an inherent desire within man to worship, however, many err by designing the means of worship. Looking back to the fall of man the offspring (sons) of Adam and Eve rendered worship to the Lord. One son’s worship was acceptable while that of his brother was rejected (Gen. 4:1-7). Later when the system God gave Moses containing the worship of priest for themselves and the people, the very household of Moses sinned and their worship was condemned by God (Lev. 10:1-2). Jesus pointed out to the woman at Jacob’s well that her worship and that of her contemporaries was not acceptable (Jn. 4:22). We are reminded of the danger of straying from the worship given by God (Mt. 15:9). God’s will in worship must be declared by inspiration then followed to be true worship (Acts 17:23, Jn. 4:23-24). If you are present on Lord’s Day for worship you will notice that in addition to what we do in other services, we will impose on your patience as we the members of the church eat the Lord’s Supper exactly as the Savior instituted it—in memory of Christ’s suffering (I Cor. 11:22-34). Also, as disciples we give of our means on this day (not at any other gathering), (I Cor. 16:1-2). This, the preacher will dwell on in a Gospel Meeting.
- The preacher will talk about how the Christian is to live his life here on earth. As everyone is aware the Christian conducts himself differently than people who do not recognize Christ as the Savior and Lord of their life. The preacher without a doubt will have some things to say for those of us that have named the name of Christ. While none expect the unbeliever or sinner to live the life of Jesus, still this admonition is worth the time spent in learning what will be expected when you obey the gospel. The Apostle writing to the Romans pointed out that when one is baptized into Christ he arises from baptism to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). That looks backward to our immersion where contact was made (figuratively) with the blood of Christ taking away past sins. Then looking forward to how differently we now conduct ourselves. To “walk in newness of life,” indicates that we have a new purpose, new aspirations and a new will. What we do from this point forward is to submit to the bidding of our new Master—Jesus Christ. The writer went on to admonish the Romans whose mind had been renewed to present their body as a living sacrifice Rom. 12:1-2. The mind involves the “spirit” within us, while the body is “the flesh.” There is no separation here, as the body does the bidding of the spirit or mind within us. A heart set on pleasing Jesus will do whatever the Lord asks (Col. 3:17). All Christians wish to make Heaven our home, therefore we welcome anything—everything the preacher can remind us to encourage a closer walk with the Master of our heart.
- He will extend an invitation to those whose lives are not acceptable to God.
He will in brief go over the requirements for one to obey the Lord so the Savior will take away past sins. At this juncture another song will be led so that anyone subject to the gospel’s call will have opportunity to make the good confession and be baptized into Christ. The baptism will take place as soon as possible. There will not be anyone going down the aisles to point you out, embarrass you, or drag you to the front of the audience. The decision to do so is yours alone.
DISMISSING THE ASSEMBLY
A few announcements will be made and then all will be asked to bow as a short prayer is offered to God. The service is over. Generally there is conversation engaged in by all.
11560 Lippleman Road
(Just West Of Chester Road)
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 7:30 P.M.
Saturday 6:00 P.M.
Lord’s Day 10:30 A.M. (and) 3:00 P.M.
Preaching By: Brother Ronny Wade of Springfield, MO