Archive for January, 2011

I was examining Hebrews 10 this morning and was moved again by vv24-25: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 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.”

Now, for clarification, the phrase “assembling together” is the word episunagoge, and it simply means “to gather together at one place”….and not as a solitary instance, mind you. Rather, episunagoge refers to the regular and common gathering together of God’s people for corporate worship or related activity.  Further, the writer to the Hebrews makes it a point to call attention to the fact that it had become “…the habit of some” to forsake this gathering.  “Forsaking”, as you might have guessed, means simply to abandon….so that the force of the meaning here is that it had become the habit of some professing believers to abandon, to some degree, the regular gathering together of God’s people for corporate worship and activity.  In doing so, as the writer tells us, such Christians actually abandon their brothers and sisters in Christ.  Even more dreadful, by forsaking the gathering of the brethren, they actually betray their attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ by having avoided their personal responsibility and duty to be continuous, regular, and active influences in the body of Christ. 

In short, the Christian’s neglect to gather consistently with that assembly to which God has entrusted him/her is a shameful departure from the word of God, and a gross demonstration of selfishness.  After all, a selfish heart finds it rather easy to neglect our assembling together because, by definition, a selfish person’s only perceived duty is to that which gratifies himself.   And therein lies the cancer, beloved.  Those who only occasionally or inconsistently assemble with God’s people haven’t an adequate concept of duty to Christ, and therefore, haven’t an adequate concept of commitment to His body, the church.  They’ve lost sight somewhere of the realities of their “…entrance into the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (v19).  That is to say that when a person commonly forsakes the meeting of the saints, it is a sure sign of declining faith; the fruit of which is a decaying love for God’s people.

Now, there are legitimate reasons (though few) that may interrupt one’s participation in the assembling of the saints. “Being tired” for failure to adequately order the previous day’s events is not one of them.  The Lord’s Day may bring may bring 65 degrees under partly cloudy skies…..excellent conditions for a round of golf, to be sure….but a miserable excuse for failing to “…devote yourself to fellowship” (Acts 2).  The committed, invested, dutiful, and godly life requires a great measure of prioritization and discipline.  The Apostle Paul gave a similar exhortation to Timothy, stating “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim 4), which means to say that we are to refuse those things that hinder our effectiveness, and influence for the Lord.  Secondly, it requires that precepts like “…not forsaking our assembling together” become the structure around which we build a disciplined, productive, influential Christian life. 

Listen, godly influence cannot emanate from a low view of Christ. To love Christ is to love His Church.  Therefore to be a consistent participant in our assembling together requires an attitude of committed service and duty born out of a love for both.  Such love, the writer to the Hebrews states, “…consider[s] how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…..and encouraging one another” (vv24-25).  Love and good deeds are the very fruit that God wants to see manifested in His people.  And note, the context here implies that we influence in this way most effectively when we are….what? In the presence of “one another”.  Paul echoes this same sentiment in Romans 1 where he says “I long to see you, so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, so that you may be established and I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine” (vv11-12).  Paul’s great desire was to be among God’s people.  Why? So that he might be used as an instrument for their continued edification and fruit-bearing.  Rest assured, Paul was selfless, and subsequently would allow very little to hinder his communing with the saints.  Paul was always “considering” the means by which he could contribute to and stimulate the sanctification of his brothers and sisters in Christ.   That is exactly the message to the Hebrews.  Let me tell you – The “Legacians” ought to commit to the same.  That is, we ought to commit ourselves to being expended for God’s people, and to resist anything; any trifle activity that would only serve to disrupt our duty and influence among the people of God.  

Hebrews 10 closes with the exhortation that believers assemble in order to encourage one another “…as you see the day drawing near” (v25).  This is a reference to the return of Christ, and is a clear call that we invest ourselves in assembling with and influencing the people of God, by His Spirit, in light of the fact that Christ’s return is imminent.  Let me ask you:  When you depart this transitory world will you repent of having been TOO devoted to the body of Christ? Do you think you’ll wish you had taken more opportunity to sleep-in, swing a golf club, chase a few deer, or be preoccupied by some other vain amusement for that matter? If not, then on the next trifle occasion that tempts you to “…abandon our forsaking together” ask yourself which activity will yield the greatest benefit to God’s people, and spend it in that way. 

Remember that every gathering that passes is one less for you to influence, and one more to account for.  Do you believe Christ is present with His assembled disciples? Thus believing, is it your position that you may neglect to be present with them? Do we not assemble for worship, and for prayer, for hearing of the Word, and to commemorate the dying love of Christ at His table? Which of these deserve to be neglected?  And yet, all are by those who would forsake assembling with God’s people.

Grace to you,



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