The Church is not our idea but God’s. It is an assembly formed by and under the word of God (Deut. 4:10). Moses would look back to the day the first church was formed at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19-20 and call it “the day of the assembly” (Deut. 9:10; 10:4; 18:16). He would look forward expecting all Israel in the future to come under these preached words (Deut. 5:1).
That day formed the pattern for the subsequent assemblies of God’s people. It is in fact a kind of reversal of what happened at Babel in Genesis 10. God came down no longer to scatter but to assemble a people for Himself, a people created and gathered by His word.
The alternative to hearing and obeying God’s word is to paddle to our own desires. At Sinai, the people heard God’s voice but saw no shape or form. When they tried to make a god according to their preference, with a form they could see and touch, out came the golden calf. A god shaped by the desires of our hearts is an idol.
Hence, in our church gathering today, God’s word must not be just another part of the worship programme. It must take the central place.
It is the word of God that enables us to worship God not according to our imaginations and likings, but in accordance to the truth of who He is.
At Sinai, the Law was given through Moses so that God’s people may live in harmony with God and with one another in the new nation God had formed. In the New Testament, grace and truth came through the Lord Jesus Christ so that we can live with one another in God’s presence. The Law is thus reworded by the Lord Jesus to call us to love one another as He has loved us, that others will know that we are His disciples, His church.
The truth of who He is and what He has done for us, calls us to submit to Him in deference to one another, considering the interest of others above our own (Phil. 2:3-5). Only as we hear and submit to God’s word in such a way, a true church community that truly worships God can be built up.