A Suggestion or Necessity?

Hebrews 10:25 –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.

I have heard this for years, from one extreme to the other, and  had not really studied it out because it seemed self-explanatory to me. Legalistic people make you feel like you will go to hell if you miss a church service, while extreme grace people will live a Que sera sera life and say- you can worship Jesus at home-, no need to be there all the time – you just do you.

However, the Apostle Paul speaks of this in the word of God. After noticing so many people who do not regularly attend church, for whatever reason, and pondering on this, I decided to dig a little deeper and see what the Lord says regarding this and why. Is Hebrews 10:25 a suggestion or a necessity?

First, I think most of us can agree and have a better understanding of, how vital corporate worship is after the pandemic we just came through!  What a privilege it is to gather with like-minded people to worship our God! Once something is taken from you, it is easier to appreciate!

So, as I began to re-read this verse today, I decided to see what was being said before  and after verse 25 to get some context for the content.  Let’s take a look starting with verse 16:

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I will write them,”

He then says,

17 “And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.”

18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

So, to paraphrase, we see that the Apostle Paul is reminding us that God gave us a better covenant with the sacrifice of Jesus and His blood on the cross, and that His sacrifice was the final one for all time.  (What great news!) And now that we can enter the holy place by Jesus’ blood, we have a new way of living.  In other words, we no longer have to go through an earthly priest and stand with a separation between us and God, we can go right into the Father through the shed blood of Jesus.  Paul also says let’s do this sincere in heart (honor the sacrifice) and full of faith (confidence in the word of God) with a clean conscience! (not living with sin in our lives)  He goes onto say that we are to hold fast to the confession of our hope (faith) without wavering.  (We should not doubt, but remain steadfast on the promises of God) Because He who promised – Our heavenly Father – is faithful. This is really good news!

Paul is reminding us that He who promised is faithful!  But he doesn’t stop there – let’s keep going.  In verse 24 we see that we are  to consider how to stimulate one another to love and do good deeds… in other words, let’s cheer each other on!  We are to empower one another in the word, pray for each other and be a helper to our brothers and sisters.  Again, he says let’s – let us consider how to stimulate one another to good deeds, stirring up good works, then comes verse 25 and he adds NOT forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, but ENCOURAGING one another all the more….

Folks, stirring one another up and assembling together is part of the same sentence, the same thought. The verse connotations are there simply for easier reference, it is all one thought.  It is not an idea out there on it’s own, nor is it a suggestion, but it is one part of our part in the body of Christ. Paul doesn’t say I think or I suggest, but he is including this with very matter of fact statements all through this chapter.

If we are to hold fast to the confidence that we can go into the presence of our God without hesitation or a veil between us, if we are to stand firm on His promises, and  encourage each other, stirring up good deeds among each other, building up our faith, then we are to also by this same exhortation assemble and not forsake it.    The word encourage in this passage means to admonish, exhort, comfort and teach.  THIS is what happens when we attend, assemble together in church! THIS is why the Apostle Paul is saying do NOT forsake the assembly of ourselves, as some are in the habit of doing!

There is a deep well of encouragement, exhortation, comfort and teaching found when the saints of God gather together! There is great synergy of faith, agreement, and love.  There is wisdom and encouragement, correction and instruction for the times we live in.   (As long as you are in a church where the pastor teaches un-compromised truth and allows for the Holy Spirit to move!  I have to put that disclaimer in there!)

 

NOT forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, but ENCOURAGING one another all the more….

Let’s see what else Paul has to say…

…and all the more as you see the day drawing near.  What day?  The last days.  You know the ones that Timothy speaks about in 2 Timothy chapter 3.  Perilous times.  Are we in perilous times?  No doubt!

Does this mean we go to hell if we miss church?  No, of course not.  What Paul is saying is, look, we need to hold fast to our confession of  faith and we need to encourage, comfort, exhort and teach one another because we are living in perilous times.  So, go to church and build each other up!  Don’t forsake this!  Especially in perilous times.

I said all of that to say this:  I look around and I see people who are hopeless and they need Jesus.  And if I, a Christian, walk around weak, disheveled in the spirit, without an exhortation of the hope that lives inside of me, how will unbelievers find out there is a better way?  What will draw them to want to know my Lord?  The Bible says it is the goodness of God that draws men to repentance!  (Psalms 33:5, Romans 2:4)  The way to stay filled and encouraged is to stay connected.  How will we find the courage to live in these trying times?  How will we keep our peace and hope alive? How will we win others to Jesus?  What about our lives would even make them want to live like we do? We must stay personally connected, daily in the word and in prayer with our Lord, and Paul says we must stay corporately connected.  Paul specifically put this admonishment after explaining our new covenant and before explaining the result of insulting that covenant.  (I encourage you to read and study the whole chapter!)

Let me tell you, this whole global season has made me so thankful for my local church.  So grateful for a pastor who does not compromise truth and allows the refreshing of the Spirit.  I KNOW there is a connection to my faith, encouragement, hopeful outlook and the assembling of myself with other believers.  The corporate worship, the fellowship with like-minded people, the encouragement and hope given, the word taught, these things are invaluable to my life and to my call!  These build my faith and empower my hope.  Why just the other day during a prayer meeting, I was given and word that was and is a huge encouragement to me to keep pressing on!  To not give up!  And had I not been at that meeting, I would not have received that word!

Also, let’s not forget the scripture one puts a thousand to flight and two puts ten thousand to flight (Deut 32)… can you imagine the impact of our prayers and praise when we come together?  God has set us up to win!  He always works with a remnant! His desire is for His church, (His Ekklesia – which is ruling body) to govern with His decrees and declarations.  We are to agree with Him and release it!  WE – not just one, but all!  In Bible times, the Ekklesia ruled the earthly law, not the other way around, but that is another lesson!)

Everything in the Bible is there for a reason.  And just because this directive from the Apostle Paul is not one of the Ten Commandments, doesn’t mean it is to be ignored or taken lightly.  I have shown you what the word says, and I have shared with you how it impacts my life.  I now exhort and encourage you today to make church attendance a priority, and if you don’t have a church, pray and ask the Lord to direct you!

(PS – I know a great one…..hint hint! )

 

Let’s pray –

Father God, I pray for the person reading right now.  I break off any negative connotations of control and legalism that may be associated from their past and ask You to give them fresh eyes to see and understand this principle and the importance of it in their eyes.  May we hold fast to our faith, encourage each other and stir up the gifts You have given us in this day.  Thank You for godly shepherds and for assemblies that  gather to worship and to learn about You and to be equipped to harvest the lost.  May every one be strengthened and enriched in these days. May every pastor preach truth and may the hope in Your word speak to all who read this and may we be hearers of this word in Jesus’ Name.  AMEN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor’s Blog 6.18.20

What happens to the urgency of evangelism when there is no real threat of someone dying in their sin or experiencing eternal judgment? What happens to the urgency to pray for souls when one does not believe a soul is in danger?

 

I was praying recently and I heard these words, “they will die in their sins”. I immediately went to John 8 where Jesus spoke these words and was prompted by the Holy Spirit to wake up to a new urgency for those who think they are secure, but in fact are under false security.

 

After Jesus rescued the woman caught in adultery he said:

 

John 8:10-11 TPT Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her, “Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?”

Looking around, she replied, “I see no one, Lord.”

Jesus said, “Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.”

 

As Pastor Greg Nangle has been saying: “Jesus said go and sin no more, not go and sin some more!”

 

Most of us older folk are blown away at the fact that in the last fifteen years the church has so freely changed the conditions of salvation from repentance and embracing the Lordship of Jesus in our daily lives, to just simply saying, “I believe”. This has occurred primarily because of the practice of proof-texting the word of God. What is meant by proof- texting?  It’s when people take the scriptures and cut them out of context and end up changing their meaning altogether.

 

I began to see this fallacy back in the 80’s and 90’s in the charismatic movement concerning pet doctrines around the “prosperity and healing message.” I want to be doctrinally sound and have the integrity to rightly divide the word of truth. There are what I call “stand alone principles in the scripture and then there are truths that must be contextualized. “God is good, God is Holy, God is the most high God”, these are indisputable and stand alone.

“Jesus said go and sin no more, not go and sin some more!”

Let me show you an example of truths that need contextualized. The angel said to the Shepherds, “Peace on earth good will toward men”.

 

But then Jesus said:

 

Matthew 10:34 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth . I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  NKJV

 

These messages seem to contradict each other as do many things in God’s word until you read the whole thought and context.

 

While we find the words that seem to say “only believe and you will be saved”, it takes more than simple acknowledgment, which is how most modernly define belief.

 

Romans 10:8-13

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”   NKJV

 

Now let’s look at this verse in the Amplified Bible translation which actually defines the word believe…

 

Romans 10:8-11

8 But what does it say? The Word (God’s message in Christ) is near you, on your lips and in your heart; that is, the Word (the message, the basis and object) of faith which we preach, [Deut 30:14.] 

9 Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation.

11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed. [Ps 34:22; Isa 28:16; 49:23; Jer 17:7.]   AMP

 

So we must adhere to (or obey) Jesus’ teachings to be saved not just acknowledge them.

 

Most public funerals today are a total mockery of the truth of eternal life. I will not preach someone into heaven just to comfort their grieving loved ones, but it happens several times a day by Pastors in funeral services all over this community. Who wants to believe their loved one is in the devil’s hell?

 

Jesus called out religious leaders in John 8 and told them they were the devil’s sons and not God’s sons! He told them they would die in their sins!

 

I don’t have a “dog in this hunt.” I am not concerned about being right for my sake. I am concerned with those who have been falsely secured with a half truth from a half presentation of a gospel message. There is a reason Apostles were tasked with judging doctrine. Evangelists seem the most prone to minimizing the requirements of salvation and I think their gift of preaching good news sometimes overshadows the truth of the message of repentance from sin and dead works.

 

I have locked horns with many Evangelists and their desire just to get a person to “pray a prayer” and then telling them “your OK”, when it is obvious that the person (that just prayed) had no true commitment to the Lord. A prayer can save you but a prayer may not save you. It depends on the heart of the person, not words repeated by a person. I am typically very clear on the presentation of the Gospel that there is an expectation of repentance from sin by God for their acceptance by God.

 

It pays to read the whole thought when reading the Bible, so before you repeat a promise, check the context and make sure you are not creating your own Gospel.

 

Remember a deceived person does not know that they are deceived!

 

Be blessed!

 

Pastor’s Blog 6.3.20

What are you filled with today? Our nation is overflowing with all sorts of emotions isn’t it? Outrage is being demonstrated at levels we have not seen in decades. From the Covid 19 lockdown, to now the protest and riots happening in our communities, I am reminded of the following words in the Bible. “Is there not a cause?” These words were spoken by David and then the Son of David , Jesus, said “For this cause I was born” as he spoke before Pilate.

What cause are you filled with? There are many causes, some righteous, some not. At one point a man asked Jesus to come and be the arbitrator in an argument over a division of family inheritance, Jesus refused.

 

Luke 12:13-21

13 The Parable of the Rich Fool Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” 

15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” 

16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 

17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 

18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 

19 And I will say to my soul,”Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”‘ 

20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 

21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” 

NKJV

Jesus exposed that the real issue here was greed in the man asking. There is a fruit of the Spirit and directive of the Kingdom that most believers do not listen to or want to submit to. It’s called “turn the other cheek.” Most people find an amendment or way to justify or exclude themselves from this “way of the Master.”

I think a lot of people who are inflamed right now in the body of Christ need to take a moment and read the Beatitudes again. A violent response to evil is not the way of Christ when we are being treated unfairly or even unjustly. Love doesn’t overcome with violence it overcomes by demonstrating a higher way that Jesus himself demonstrated. He was innocent and killed, but loved and forgave. Peter took the other approach in the Garden of Gethsemane, like some are with rioting and looting, and how did that work out for him?

 

Matt 26:47-56

47 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.”

49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 

53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 

54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” 

55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. 

56 But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.  NKJV

 

Luke 6:27-36

27 Love Your Enemies (Matt 5:38-48) “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 

28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 

29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 

30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 

31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. 

32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 

33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 

34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 

35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 

36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.   NKJV

 Taking the high road goes against all out self-defense mechanisms and as much as I hate to say it, many of Jesus’ disciples are still ready to “cut someone.”

 

Stay sane and blessed!

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