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!
- Date - June 22, 2020