The Church is “A Clean Place”
Section #1: Introducing The Church as “A Clean Place”
Section #2: The Assembly
Section #3: The Congregation
In the Old Testament – how it was
“And Mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” -Ezek. 13:9
“The assembly” of Israel exists by “writing” (as Ezek. 13:9 states, “written in the writing of the House of Israel”). By writing, the scriptures signify God’s election of individual persons for salvation (“my people” –Ezek. 13:9), every one of them – named in the Book of Life (Ex. 32:32-33, Ps. 69:28, 87:6, Isa. 4:3, Dan. 12:1, Hos. 9:3). This is, my reader, not the writing of man but God. This is God’s writing in heaven’s Book, and the earthly assembly follows suit. Election can be temporary or eternal, depending upon the elected people’s behavior, therefore in the case of promise-breaching sin, God said, “him will I blot out of My Book” (Ex. 32:32-33, Rev. 3:5). Take note of the scripture references, my reader. When God first spoke of The Book of names which specifically identified God’s heavenly selected people who were made up Israelite assemblies, the Lord was speaking in reference to the whole assembly of God’s people (Ex. 19:17) who came out of Egypt and passed through the Red Sea to assemble before GOD at Sinai (see Exodus 32:32-33). This whole assembly of people – ALL OF THEM (Deut. 32:7-14) – were saved by God to be brought into the Promised Land of Israel, according to the Covenant (see Chapter 1, Chapter 2, & Chapter 3). The Land of Israel was, in other words, their typological heaven, thus those who inherited it did so by the empowerment of saving faith (Heb. 3:19-4:2). Those who did not inherit it were those who were blotted out of The Book of God because of their sins (Ex. 32:32-33).
When God blotted men out of The Book, they were blotted out of the assembly of God’s people via death (Deut. 4:1-4). This is because in the Old Testament, the assembly of the whole congregation of Israel was The Church (Acts 7:38) – an assembly which began pure (Jer. 2:1-2) – and from thenceforth and forever GOD sought to keep it pure through every act of judgment that He brought upon Israel. Ezekiel 13:9 expresses a historical act of judgment in which God sought to fulfill the Divine prerogative that, “All Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26). In Israel’s nativity, all Israel was saved (at least at the beginning; Isa. 63:7-11), thus it is written of Israel’s consummation, “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26). In every age which leads into the consummation, God sought to fulfill the promises of the Covenant which stated that, shockingly, all of Israel would be saved! The ages of time which lead into the consummation convey to us the reasons for which God’s glorious promises were prolonged from their fulfillment (Ezek. 12:25, 28), but in the process of time the Divine prerogative to fulfill the promise was repeatedly expounded and pursued, yea, and temporary ages of inferior fulfillments transpired, but seeing that in the end all the promises shall be fulfilled, and, that, in the meantime, God spoke and pursued their full performance, the saints of the Last Days have been left with a vast reservoir of scriptures which declare to us this final and glorious END wherein all the promises of God will be fulfilled! Ezekiel 13:9 is one of those verses. This “assembly” is therefore God-called and God-gathered, and whosoever gathers on earth among what God calls, “My people”, “the house of Israel”, and “the land of Israel” (Ezek. 13:9), were gathered together because of a heavenly selection, just as it SHALL BE PERFECTLY FULFILLED IN THE END (see Isa. 4:2-6). Historically, the Lord sought to fulfill this purpose in the Regathering of Israel in the days of Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah, in the 1st Advent of Christ, in the Gentile Church Age (Spiritual Israel), but most of all, at last, at the 2nd Advent of Christ!
We have thus far noted that, in the Old Testament, ALL OF ISRAEL was to be holy, clean, and truly converted, but what happened when Israelites fell into non-damnable uncleanness? In the case of non-damnable uncleanness: (1) there were more and less holy places, (2) and in the locations of lesser-holiness confinement areas of uncleanness were designated (like wards) into which the unclean might abide untouched by the clean until they were ceremonially clean again, and therefore depending on where you are in Israel the use of the word assembly changes in meaning. It was not always addressing the collective whole of God’s people (all of whom were, by law, the regenerate, except for their children who were not of age) but various assemblies of different sizes and persons who would gather (i.e. for religion, ceremony, judgment, or war, by city, tribe, nation, or office – see for example, Num. 10:1-10). Different locations in Israel were more or less hallowed, but at the location which was least holy there remained the criteria of separation that God’s people were to be regenerate (and as for Israelite families which contained unconverted children, they were sanctified and made clean by their parents [1 Cor. 7:14] because, note: the Israelite children were under the covering of the Passover Blood, abiding within and partaking of the Passover Feast, walking through the baptism of the Red Sea waters, standing before the holy Mount of Consuming Fire, hearkening unto the commandments which were heralded from thence, participating in all the holistic ceremonies which were applicable, and so on… they were eating the manna and drinking the waters which gushed from the Rock, all because they were under the covering of their parents).
By title, the assembly was: “the assembly of the upright” (Ps. 111:1) or “the assembly of the saints” (Ps. 89:7). Therefore those without uprightness and saintliness were excluded, my reader. Also by title, there exists a contradicting and antithetical assembly called, “the assembly of the mockers”, with whom God’s people were forbidden to join (Jer. 15:17)… an assembly which exists during seasons of apostasy. This assembly was God-forsaken because they were “vile”, and those unmixed and separated from them were “the precious” (thus Jeremiah was commanded to “take forth the precious from the vile” –Jer. 15:19). The precious persons who “sat not” in the assembly of the mockers, they were commanded to have no reunion with the mockers unless they stop mocking - replacing their vile and rebellious ways with precious and obedient ways (thus Jeremiah was commanded, “let them return unto thee but return not thou unto them” –Jer. 15:19). “In the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1), the God-accepted assembly obeyed these commands of separation and holiness. My reader, do you “understand the fear of the LORD” (Prov. 2:5)? It is hidden, you know… it must be searched for to be found (Prov. 2:5). How happy is the man who has found it! For God said, “wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Isa. 33:6)! Then would our Sunday gatherings be full of saintliness, fear, and reverence, as it is written: “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of them that are about Him” (Ps. 89:7)! Oh, my reader! What are God’s rules for His assemblies, as He called them – “all Mine assemblies” (Ezek. 44:24) – do you know? They are centered on one theme: the exclusion of those whom God forbids to be in His assemblies (Ezek. 44:7, 9). Church officers were appointed to establish this holy segregation in the assembly of God. God, speaking of them, said this: “they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to My judgments: and they shall keep My laws and My statutes in ALL MINE ASSEMBLIES; and they shall hallow my Sabbaths” (Ezek. 44:23-24). How is it in your local assembly?
In the Consummation – how it will be
Speaking of the 1st Resurrection and the Millennial Reign of Christ, it was written,
“In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, SHALL BE CALLED HOLY, even EVERY ONE that is WRITTEN AMONG THE LIVING in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon EVERY DWELLING PLACE of mount Zion, and upon her ASSEMBLIES, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” – Isaiah 4:2-6
Here is the obvious fulfillment of Ezekiel 13:9-10 (with superiority over any former revivals of the Covenant existing throughout history), the “day” when all those who remain alive in Jerusalem are “HOLY” (Isa. 4:3). God spoke of them with specificity, saying, “even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem” (Isa. 4:3). Hallelujah! This is because, “All Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26). This is because, God said, “…they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10). “Behold, He cometh with clouds and every eye shall see Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him” (Rev. 1:7), “And His feet shall stand in that day upon The Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east” (Zech. 14:4).
Speaking of the population which exists on earth after the Final Resurrection, it was written,
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” – 1 John 2:15-17
“Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.” – Psalm 104:35
The population of people who will abide forever will live to inherit a new earth, wherein dwelleth no unrighteousness of any kind (2 Pet. 3:10-13): either in persons or personalities. After all the dead are resurrected and judged (Rev. 20:11-15), and after all people who were “unbelieving” are cast into “the Lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8), “the Holy City New Jerusalem” shall come out of Heaven itself (Rev. 21:2), descending upon a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1), to be inhabited by the population of persons (the believers) who survived The Judgment of God because, yet again, their names were “found written in The Book of Life” (Rev. 20:15)! Aye, this is the final and most glorious assembly of all time, consummated and fixed, thereto remaining without change forevermore! This is the day when, shockingly, all sinners are consumed out of the earth and the wicked are no more (Psalm 104:35, Prov. 2:22)! Indeed, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5, Ps. 37:11)… the new earth!
The Lord, by Himself, creates and sustains all creation (Ps. 104:1-33). In this thought the psalmist declared: “how manifold are [His] works!” (Ps. 104:24) Indeed, God does “send forth [His] Spirit” to create and renew the face of the earth (Ps. 104:30), but He does also, furthermore, endeavor to consume all sinners out from the earth. An elaborate declaration of how God creates and sustains all life on earth does, by necessity, conclude the final act of judgment whereby God fulfills the prayer: “Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be NO MORE. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 104:35). While meditating upon this final conclusion, the psalmist said, “My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD” (Ps. 104:34). “Behold, the Day of the LORD cometh cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners out of it” (Isa. 13:9).
In the New Testament – how it is
“To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” – Heb. 12:23
“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.” – Heb. 10:25
The age or dispensation between the Old Testament and the Consummation is, namely, the Gentile Church Age. The Covenant of this age is, the New Covenant. According to Hebrews 12:23, “the assembly” of the Church is a company of persons who are gathered there by birth (“The Church of the Firstborn” -Heb. 12:23), whose Divine-gathering was manifested because of election (“written in heaven” -Heb. 12:23). Take note, my reader! Like as the Old Testament assembly and the consummated assembly, the New Testament assembly exists by God’s “writing” (Heb. 12:23, Lk. 10:20, Php. 4:3, Rev. 13:8)! Even so, in the case of wrath-provoking sin, as in the Old Testament (Ex. 32:32-33), God can and will, He says, “blot out his name out of the Book of Life” (Rev. 3:5). This assembly’s entire population is saved, and if expelled… the man is damned! All scriptures considered, firstly, it is a Divinely-selected gathering. Therefore those whom God assembles, let THEM assemble locally! In a higher unseen assembly God’s will is done, therefore, “as in heaven, so in earth” (Lk. 11:2), God calls for His will to be done in the local Church assembly. If God’s call goes forth in the heavenly assembly, God’s voice will be heard in the earthly and local assembly! If the earthly and local assembly perfectly images the higher and unseen assembly, the saying is fulfilled: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Lk. 11:2). “Heaven” is the place where Christ has gone, and we in Him, relate to God from where Christ is and what Christ is doing (Rom. 6:8-13), and if the position of this heavenly arena is the spiritual realty of all nine of these places and persons, then because we are positioned at the location of this all-encompassing arena whose reality is all shadows, our lawful and spiritual coexistence with Christ in heaven makes us, by location, as the nine places and persons. In this way, heaven is the title which is all encompassing of every reality, because heaven is where Christ is, and we in Him. From heaven is the Spirit of salvation, our birthright, and conversation (John 1:12-13, 3:3, Php. 3:20). Heaven is how we became a “holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9) of spiritual Israelites (Rom. 9:6, Gal. 6:15-16, Eph. 2:12-19) who are the “seed of Abraham” (Gal. 3:29), thus we are the inhabitants of Israelite Lands, congregations, and assemblies in all seven places (The Temple, Tabernacle, House, or Sanctuary of God, The Kingdom of God, Mount Zion, and The City of God)… praise God!
The NT assembly, as seen in Hebrews 10:25 (“the assembling of ourselves together”), is a local gathering of individuals who are collectively identified as “brethren”. Take note, my reader, these are real brethren! Brethren who, by a previous and God-empowered “profession of faith” (Heb. 10:23) became “sprinkled” and “washed” by Christ (Heb. 10:22). They were made holy by “the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19). Therefore, lo, unto these individuals belongs the blood-bought path, the “New and Living Way” provided by their “High Priest” (Heb. 10:20-21), whereby they, through a ceremonial justification wrought in heaven, have been made able to “draw near” with “boldness” into “The House of God” (Heb. 10:19, 21, 22), and because this is their heavenly standing (by Spirit and Law), they are commanded to congregate on earth in the local assembly known and reputed as The House of God on earth (Heb. 10:23-25). Just as those who are assembled in heaven are in the House of God together, so on earth, “not forsaking the assembling of OURSELVES together, as the manner of some is” (Heb. 10:25), the brethren are commanded to gather. Forsaking this gathering is, according to Hebrews 10:24-29, an unpardonable sin (when it is committed with willful continuance). My reader, biblically speaking, forsaking this gathering is forsaking Christ. Christ, “being assembled together with them” (Acts 1:4), was the center-focus of the Church, and as the saints related to it (the assembly) they related to the Person of Christ who said, “there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).