By Jady W. Copeland
Sometimes in reading passages of Scripture we read over simple words with profound meanings that could teach us much if we stop to consider the implications of these simple words. In my case the word “together” was such a word. We may speak of being “together” in a place (Matt. 13:2). We may think of being “together” as regards agreement in thought or belief as Ananias and Sapphira “agreed together” to try the Spirit (Acts 5:9). It may take on the form of “relationship” as when God joins husband and wife “together” in the sacred relationship (Matt. 19:6). It may refer to sameness as to the element of “time,” as when two runners were “together” as they broke the tape in a race. Or the idea may involve sameness with reference to both place and time, as when we meet a friend for a cup of coffee; you have to be at the same place as well as at the same time. But the word “together” always takes on the idea of sameness. For a church to function, there has to be agreement to work, means by which they work as one and therefore work “together” as a unit.
Christians have accepted Christ as a common Savior. They are “together” in him. That is, having a proper relationship with Christ (they are saved), having a common Savior, having accepted a common faith (the gospel) and having agreed to work “together” with God, they therefore are “one” in Christ. This sameness began when they were “baptized into the death of Christ” (Rom. 6:3-6). We were baptized “into” Christ (entered into the right relationship with him), having put off the old man and put on the new. We entered the new life. So we were “united” with him in the likeness of his death, and therefore in the likeness of his resurrection. What a grand thought that he gave us the opportunity to be with him in a proper relationship that leads to being “together” with him in the resurrection. We were buried in baptism, raised to a new life and have the hope of the final resurrection because we have life in him. Thank God, we are free in him.
Having been raised to a new life, we are “together” with him and with fellow saints as we work in unity and “dwell together in unity” (Psa. 133:1). The early church demonstrated that unity in their actions as they sold their possessions and gave to all who had needs (Acts 4:32-35). They had mutual concern, love and a willingness to show such togetherness by their sacrifices. None lacked. Nothing in this life can be sweeter, more satisfying, pleasant and downright enjoyable than to see brethren dwelling together in a congregation with great love one for another, and willing to come to the aid of each other in time of need. And I think nothing can be more unpleasant than to see brethren bickering, fussing, gossiping and giving evidence of division, especially when that which divides is immaterial in nature. Paul’s illustration of the body in 1 Corinthians 12 so beautifully describes the “togetherness” of brethren under the one Head as they are “tempered” together. When one suffers, they all rejoice. All are important; none are unimportant. To me it seems a real shame, and an improper attitude when we make such a big “fuss” over a wealthy person and scarcely notice a poor person who has little of this world’s goods. I have seen wealthy or highly educated persons praised and pampered in a congregation and the poor and uneducated person overlooked almost entirely. Is not one soul as important to God as the other?
Then we as saints meet “together” for worship on the Lord’s day (Acts 20:7). This is important in that we remember the sacrifice for our sins. While there we usually engage in prayer, singing, study, etc. What a glorious blessing is received when we lift our voices in praise “together” in singing songs, hymns and spiritual songs! What a wonderful blessing the spiritual man receives when we fervently pray as one thoughtful brother leads us in thanksgiving, praise, petitions and adoration to God our Father! And what a disappointment when we leave the building to hear one criticize the good brother for making a grammatical mistake in the prayer. Is there a Christian who does not leave the place of worship with more fervor, more zeal and more love for God and brethren when he has engaged in such spiritual worship to the Father “together” with other saints?
Having been put together into one body (in Christ) we worship God in spirit and truth, but there is also work to be done, so we are “God’s fellow-workers” (laborers together with God, KJ). Under God and his”direction we work. In a “together” way, we pool Jur resources and talents (abilities) in the relationship which we call the “local congregation.” The early Christians put “together” their efforts and means to relieve the needy saints (Acts 4:32-35). They also put “together” their funds to support the preaching of the gospel (Phil. 4:15). But this is all under the direction of God and his will (1 Cor. 3:9). We belong to him, and we serve him as directed, and no “working together” is acceptable without his directions. Epaphroditus was Paul’s “fellow-worker” and the messenger of the Philippians to supply Paul’s needs (Phil. 2:25). Euodia and Syntyche were Paul’s helpers for they “labored with me in the gospel” (Phil. 4:3). During his life on earth Jesus taught that “we must work the works of him that sent me” (John 9:4), which is to say that there are assignments that God has made for us and it implies several things. First it says that we must “work his works” – we are not to supply our own works. But next it says that we must “do” something. “Work” is a verb and denotes action. I once saw a sign on a country store which read, “If you have nothing to do, don’t do it here.” That’s good advice for God’s people. If we think that God’s people were saved merely and only-to be finally glorified in heaven, we are mistaken. We have work to do as his saved people. There are others who need saving and we (like Timothy) must “continue in these things for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).
Then after a faithful life of service we will be forever with the Lord (together). Paul says, “Then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17). What a glorious thought to be “with God.” What a horrible thought to be eternally separated “from God” in the life to come. Eternal death is eternal separation from God. But it requires a “togetherness” with him (in the proper relationship) in this life in order that we may be with him in eternity.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 9, pp. 262-263
May 5, 1988