Are you aware that others are watching when you gather together with the believers? Would it change your attendance pattern, your preparation or your behavior? Read on to find out who is interested when we meet together.
When the saints are gathered together in assembly capacity, they are under observation in a special way. This will be seen from the Corinthian letters. The apostle points out the dignity of the assembly in order to correct things that were wrong. This is necessary because there were those that were looking on with a keen interest at their activities when the assembly was gathered together.
The first company of onlookers we would like to consider are the angels. We read this statement in ch 11:10, "Because of the angels." In this very important section of the epistle the apostle is dealing with the subject of headship displayed in the gathered company. The man has his uncovered head and short hair. The woman has her head covered and her hair long. This is rejected in many circles today as mere traditions. Man made traditions we reject. But traditions that are scriptural, as the truth of headship is, we accept without question. There are others that dismiss it as cultural, and being merely for that period. This is a convenient way to set aside the teaching of the Word of God and is really a reflection on the inspiration of the Scriptures. The feminist also rejects it on the ground that the woman is put in an inferior position to the man. We only have to consider the opening verse of this passage where we read, "that the head of Christ is God." We would ask reverently, 'Is Christ inferior?" Perish the thought. We are looking at a great truth that many fail to grasp. Where divine order is followed, it is to the glory of God. The angels, who are subject to Christ (1 Pet 3:22), are looking on the gathering.
They also veil their faces in God's presence (Isaiah 6). It is of great importance to these celestial beings to see fallen man now in subjection to God. According to 1 Peter 1, they are interested in every aspect of salvation.
We see further down this chapter that there is someone else who is looking on in the gathering of the saints. It is God Himself. The latter half of the chapter deals with the Lord's Supper, and the shameful behavior of the Corinthians at it. They had departed to such an extent that it had become a feast of excess. Some were drunken, others were hungry, and the purpose of the remembrance was lost. God Himself intervened, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep" (vs.30,31). Their failure to judge themselves before gathering resulted in God judging them. We cannot do what we like in the assembly. It is a holy place. The Lord is present. What an effect it would have on us if we realized this. These onlookers are unseen, and we may be unaware that we are under scrutiny from a heavenly sphere.
In ch 14:23-25, we see that there are others looking on who are more tangible and terrestrial than those above. We read, "when the whole church is come together." This is a distinct company. Then we read of the "unlearned and unbelievers" being present, occupying the room of the unlearned. They are observing the order and operation of the gifts as given by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of edification. If there is disorder, and everyone is vying to speak with tongues, the result is confusion.
Their conclusion will be to say that you people are mad. But if the Holy Spirit is sovereign in the gathering, the conclusion will be that, "God is in you of a truth," and falling down, "will worship God." Even today, people coming in and seeing the order of the gathering have confessed the reality of God's presence.
The final onlooker is of no less importance than the others, and has a great interest in the gathered company. It is Satan himself. He not only is interested in the unsaved to keep them in a state of spiritual darkness and blindness, but in the believer as well. His activity is very real in the second epistle of Corinthians. The apostle had a great concern for them, and went to great lengths to show his love and care for them. This concern is seen (ch 11:1-3) where he desires to present them as a chaste virgin to Christ, espoused to one husband. But he saw the effort of the enemy to corrupt them if possible, as he did with Eve. We read of him being transformed as an angel of light, with the intent to deceive. There were the false apostles who appeared to be ministers of righteousness, who were seeking not only to undermine the apostle but to corrupt the assembly as well. Satan's work goes on, and his attacks have not lessened. His tactics may be different and are directed at the saints in many ways. The home and the family fife of the believer is under siege today. We need to look continually to the Lord to preserve and keep us in the midst of a world governed by the devil. His aim is to spoil what brings glory and pleasure to God.