Truth is always under attack. The closing years of the 20th century and early years of this century have seen an unprecedented attack on the distinctive character of the local assembly, the church of God.
In eight carefully-crafted and Scripturally-based chapters, Michael Penfold has addressed not only the nature of the attacks, but the Biblical basis for assembly practices. The importance of doctrine is stressed in his initial chapter, laying a firm foundation for all that follows. In a society marked by intolerance and the rejection of ‘absolute truth’ in any sphere, it is difficult to overemphasise the importance of our adherence to doctrine in all that we do. Those who label assembly practice as mere ‘tradition’ will do well to read these chapters with care. The purpose of its very existence, the pattern for its design, the principles which guide it, and the practices which mark it are all detailed, and shown to have a Biblical basis. Careful distinction is made between the Lord’s omnipresence and His approving presence, defusing the argument raised by many that the Lord is everywhere and that we cannot claim His presence in some unique manner. Chapters dealing with the authority which is present in a local assembly are very helpful. Mr Penfold makes it abundantly clear that while men in leadership administer the authority, its source is the Lord and His Word. Responsibility for both shepherd care of the flock, and for the mutual care one of another is highlighted in a chapter which discusses the assembly as a haven for the care of believers. It is reminiscent of the ‘inn’ to which the Samaritan brought the injured traveller. All his needs were met; this is an often forgotten function of a local assembly.