“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and 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.” Hebrews 10:23-26 (NASB)
A frequent response to the question about whether attending an assembly of believers on a regular basis is necessary is that one does not need to attend a “church” in order to be a Christian. Yes, that is true. Being a Christian, a Christ believer and follower who is saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and has the life of the risen Christ within them, does not require regular attendance at a gathering of believers. It does not require attendance in any way. Mostly because a true believer cannot not be apart from the church since he or she is a part of the church wherever they are. So, why does the writer of the book of Hebrews say that we should not forsake out own assembling together?
Think about it.
Why was this instruction given to us?
First, let us agree that creating a “new law” or invoking some “old law” we have lived under is not to anyone’s benefit. We do not need to re-energize any legalistic system of equating spiritual life with simply the act of regular church attendance. No – such systems are bondage and we are seeking freedom in Christ and to know why this instruction is given to us because it was not given to become a law over us.
Gathering together around the common belief that we are saved by grace has merit to such a degree that we are instructed to do so no matter how we have rationalized or reconciled our non-attendance. We gather because we need one another for encouragement, for stimulation toward love and good deeds. Can we do that by ourselves? If conditions exist where there is no possibility to gather with like-minded believers, God is faithful and still meets our needs. But where we can come together and support and share with one another, we should because we are humans and humans need this kind of support. We were not created to be solitary.
There is much that can be explored about this but today, the point is really to emphasize the one reason we really do need one another.
You see the day drawing near.
What day is that?
For believers in our day and time, there is a day coming (and it is already here for some believers) when we will be tested – our faith will be tested and we need to be ready to give an account of why we believe. We need to be strong and courageous and not tremble or be afraid. We need to be ready because Jesus promised that in this life there would be tribulation, trials, and testing. That if they persecuted Him, they will persecute us. Some will face the prospect of death because we believe. Some will lose family, some will lose businesses. Most certainly we are in a time when Christians in our country (USA) are losing the rights of religious freedom – to believe, act, speak, and operate our businesses guided by our faith. We need to be about the business of supporting one another.
The enemy of our souls is capturing the attention and affections more and more of those who hate God and despise Jesus Christ. A political movement in the guise of a religion has cloaked itself in lies about it’s mission of peace while flagrantly killing, raping, and destroying the lives innocent people. The leaders of our country in both parties seem more complicit than alarmed. We seem to have learned nothing from history of despots and evil dictators who practiced genocide. Appeasement and accommodation is again the word of the day.
Even good Christians are confused and in an effort to show the love of God they are influenced by the calls for “compassion” and “equality.” Believers are blinded by the world’s reasoning which stands in direct contrast to the Word of God and they try to find common ground which does not exist between our one true God of love and the false god of hate and violence.
These are not imaginations, these are things happening right now and only a few are standing up for what they believe. And they are paying the price.
We truly need one another at this time as we have always needed each other. We need to be in contact with others who love Jesus and follow the one and only God Almighty.
We need to be on our toes and we need to help each other be aware and alert. We need to be salt and light and that takes a covenant community.
We see the day drawing near for us and at it is even here for some – we need to be able to encourage and get encouragement from one another. We need to be spiritually integrated with each other in the love of Jesus Christ.
This is why God gave us this instruction. We need each other. Do not forsake the gathering of ourselves together to worship, teach, learn and encourage each other in the word of the Lord.