Should a believer be removed from fellowship if he stops attending meetings of the assembly?

How do the Scriptures look upon such as habitually absent themselves from the Breaking of Bread, and are seldom or never seen at the Gospel Meeting or the Prayer Meeting? Has Numbers 9:13 any application to them?

I do not think that we could apply Numbers 9. 13 to them, unless by way of pointing out from it how seriously neglect of obedience to God’s commands was dealt with under law, in any case where there was no legitimate excuse for it. It must, however, be understood that “shall be cut off from among his people”, does not necessarily imply that his fellow-Israelites were to slay him. See Leviticus 20: , where in various verses a clear distinction seems to be drawn between “shall be cut off” and “shall be put to death,” the former referring to action taken by the Lord Himself. Something similar is seen, even in the days of grace, in 1 Cor. 11:30, where certain members of the assembly had been taken away by death, not indeed for absence from the Supper, but for irreverence when present.

Where there is habitual absence from the meetings, something else lies behind it, the absence being merely a symptom of a deeper disorder. In some instances it means that the person concerned is beginning to turn away from all that he once professed to have and enjoy. In Hebrews 10:25-31 the “FORSAKING OF THE ASSEMBLING OF OUR. SELVES TOGETHER” seems to be viewed as the first manifestatior outwardly of a course which ends in apostasy; and the individual who is guilty of it may eventually prove to be an “adversary” (ver. 27). In other cases the staying away is due to some real or imagined grievance, and if there is any substance whatever in this grievance, an effort should be made to remove it if possible.

Between these two extremes lie many differing degrees of backsliding by which the trouble may be caused, and which should give scope for the exercise of any pastoral gift or activity there may be in the assembly. And in the course of this it may possibly be discovered that due allowance has not been made for the circumstances of the person, and for hindrances which may make regular attendance a difficult matter.

On the other hand, where absence from the meetings has been entire, and for a prolonged period, the point might require to be considered, whether the one concerned is still to be looked upon as a member of the assembly, or whether it should be made clear that he is no longer such. Otherwise, unnecessary reproach may be brought on the saints through his actions, even years afterwards.

W.R.