: Last week I spoke to you about ‘waking up’. Ironically, that is exactly what the Lord did to me Sunday night / Monday morning.
I sensed His leading into what is now becoming a series I am entitling ‘Moving On Up’.
: If that reminds you of George Jefferson, I’m sorry!
: I’ve covered ‘waking up,’ ‘growing up,’ and Richard my brother covered ‘standing up.’ My last instalment is ‘showing up.’
‘My heart is really not shaping this message as a rebuke but rather as a hope to encourage/teach/motivate.’
: This week we will look at Hebrews 10:25,
“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…”
This passage is often cited to rebuke those who “miss church,” but is that really what the writer of Hebrews had in mind?
How the Passage is Often Read
This passage is often used to compel church attendance. We are told that missing a Sunday or Wednesday service – without an adequate excuse – is
“forsaking the assembly.”
I will end with my response to this at end.
But is that what the writer of Hebrews meant? Did he really just mean, “Don’t skip church services”?
It sounds like to me this letter was written to Christians who experienced the “great persecution against the church in Jerusalem” (Acts 8:1).
The book of Hebrews is written to prevent believers from getting distant and disconnected, and from the possibility of falling away
The Immediate Context
It is only in the context of words and phrases like these that we can understand what it means to “forsake the assembly.”
The Meaning of the Verse
Hebrews 10:25 is often quoted by itself, but it is actually not even a complete sentence. The whole sentence of Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV) says:
‘And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching
The word translated “
” is used several other times in the New Testament:
As you can see, the word “forsake” carries with it the idea of “abandon” or “desert.”
And that makes perfect sense in the context of being told, abandoning Jesus would be the worst mistake anyone could make.
It seems that some of the Christians in that congregation had already made it their manner of life to abandon, turn their back on, and desert the church.
: But I do not believe it is fair to call missing a service, “forsaking the assembly.” There are plenty of people who’ve abandoned Christianity and abandoned their church family, but occasionally missing a service is not the same as “forsaking the assembly.”
: Think about it this way: I have a lot of work to do at the office today and I will probably have to miss dinner with my family this evening. It is disappointing, but it does not mean I have made it my custom to
“abandon eating with my family.”
There are certainly some men who have abandoned, forsaken, or deserted their family togetherness, but occasionally missing dinner does not qualify. In fact, it would be
to accuse a husband and father of abandoning his family in a situation like this.
Similarly, it seems a vast exaggeration to accuse someone of “abandoning” congregational meetings because they were not present one week.
: Does this mean it’s ok for church togetherness to
be a priority in our lives? Absolutely not.
Being together with our church family should be of utmost importance to us.
And perhaps the more we focus on making our meetings a place where people are encouraged and stirred up to love and do good works, the more people will desire to come together.
: We are told that missing a Sunday or Wednesday service – without an adequate excuse – is
“forsaking the assembly.”
I will end with my response to this at end.
So, to me it comes down to a few questions:
: Back in the day, (even at my conversion) I went to church probably 5-6 times a week!
: Can you and should you read and pray at home? Of course, but it’s not the same is it?
: What are we missing when we don’t gather?
: How many of us have felt ‘weaker’ when not connected to church life and church family? How many individuals do you know who away from the fellowship of the church find themselves vulnerable and compromised? How many (if any) do you know who have altogether, not said, ‘I don’t believe’ or ‘I don’t love God,’ but who have by nature of dislocation or disconnection not being able to aptly be the over-coming, more sensitive, more spiritually motivated because they’ve forsaken together the assembling of one another?
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