Christianity 201

April 18, 2016

Skipping Church

NIV Heb 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

CEV Heb 10:25 Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.
ICB Heb 10:25 You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing. But you should meet together and encourage each other. Do this even more as you see the Day coming.

I don’t know of a verse which is more timely, especially in view of recent reports that regular church attendance is now considered to be once or twice per month.  We covered this topic a few months ago, and listed several benefits that come with faithful church attendance.

But some of that is fairly elementary, and this is after all, Christianity 201 not 101, so I want to share something today from a writer who takes this in another direction.

Thinking about this verse, I came across the blog 1014 Experience Street. Writer Phillip Pratt points out that the context here is not about clinging to a particular local church or congregation but about clinging to Christ. Of course, this is a two-sided coin: Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, but wanting to be with Christ’s people can be a reflection of your devotion. But Phillip sees a potential for abusing this verse when we forget the larger context.

You can click the title below to read this article at source.

Hotspots: Hebrews 10:25 Part III

So what does Hebrews 10:25 really mean then? The book of Hebrews has a theme & it is not about religious attendance but about clinging to Christ, specifically the hope of Jesus Christ (verse 23).

Other verses that speak of this great “hope” of Jesus Christ and His return:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
“Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave].”

Titus 2:13

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ

So lets break Hebrews 10:25 down then revisit the overall picture:

“Forsake” in Greek is egkataleipō = quit, leave entirely, abandon completely, desert, to give up or renounce

The same word is found in Matt 27:46My God, My God, why have You forsaken (egkataleipō) me? & also in 2 Tim 4:10 for Demas has forsaken (egkataleipō) me

Now, is someone who attends a church service once a month or once every 3-4 months completely abandoning or renouncing anything?

Hebrews was addressed to persecuted Jewish Christians who were completely (or considering) abandoning “faith in Christ”.

“Assembling together” is a one word phrase from the Greek word episunsgoge or episynagoge = to be gathered together but to who or to whom?

It can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together (episynagoge) unto Him…

This verse is telling us to cling to & “gather ourselves unto Christ” & don’t be shaken. It has nothing to do w/ church attendance & everything to do w/ persistence to stay focused on Christ & His return.

Check out these other verses regarding our “hope” = gathering unto Christ: Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34, Mark 13:26, Mark 1:33, Luke 12:1.

The book of Hebrews is all about not casting away the hope or confidence in Christ & His return, it is not about weekly church attendance; it is a command to hold fast to our profession of faith/hope, that was promised by Jesus that upon His return we will be gathered unto Him.

Verse 26 is a warning about what happens if a person forsakes the hope of gathering together w/ Christ: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.”

This is encouragement not to turn away from the faith & hope of Christ coming to fulfill His promise lest they be cast into judgment as there is nothing more to be done for the remission of sins.

So, the writer of Hebrews is encouraging people throughout the entire book to hold fast, to not forsake their faith/hope/promise of being gathered unto Christ yet he takes a break in the middle of ten chapters, changes the subject & commands them to go to church every Sunday? That’s quite a stretch..

Again, is it good for Believers to get together & encourage one another on a regular or semi-regular basis? You bet it is. Is Hebrews 10:25 talking about mandatory, weekly church attendance? You bet it’s not and that’s pretty clear from the Greek study.

Is there any doubt that Hebrews 10:25 is one of the most abused & misrepresented Scriptures ever?

If more people would just take the time to study not just the content but the context, the Greek & Hebrew words and to actually be Berean regarding what they are taught we would see much more freedom and effectiveness in the Body of Christ today.

I usually let the writers we feature here have the last word, but I know today there will be some of you who feel that in this commentary the pendulum swings too far in the other direction. In his “about me” section, the writer shows where’s coming from on his personal journey and how he has a low tolerance for

  • religiosity
  • christianese
  • traditions/rituals
  • power trips
  • titles

In a previous post, he mentioned the idea of people attending weekend services out of guilt. I get that. But as I said in the introduction, I think there are many blessings that occur when we do meet together. It’s a matter of coming to maturity and finding the place of balance.

Actually, I am going to let Phillip have the last word. You may have noticed in the title that this is a ‘part three;’ here are the links to the other two sections:

Hotspots: Hebrews 10:25 Part I

Hotspots: Hebrews 10:25 Part II

 

1 Comment »

  1. The writer raises an important point, but its importance has been lost with the understandings of some Biblical truths and of the purpose of attending church.
    The church has a very special and particular purpose. It is to encourage believers in a righteous walk. The writer of Hebrews has stated: “Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instructions about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” That is, he is saying that although these are foundational; they are “milk” (5:13) issues, the doctrines that are the basis of a believer’s life. He presents that “solid food” is teachings about righteousness. Often the church feeds the congregation milk as nourishment. Perhaps people are failing to find further relevance in the teachings that are being presented and need to be drawn face to face with the importance of a righteous walk and with the role of the church (including others) in its development.
    In the following verse, he talks about the problem that requires attention after one has grown up and can eat solid food. That is, if he “falls away” (6:6) it is impossible to bring him back to repentance. The “solid food” is being ignored because the church has accepted the lie of Satan that the believer cannot fall away and is not warning or teaching about this possibility. The consequence of current teaching is that once a “believer” has uttered a profession of faith he is left with “doing” church. It has very little relevance for him. There is a large unseen church developing and perhaps it is for this very reason. Should people attend for the sake of attending?
    There is another very real issue that needs consideration. Every believer has been “gifted” for the purpose of serving the body. Could it be that professionalism on the part of hired personnel has been accepted as a replacement for using the gifts given to the body? This is very important because all will be judged according to their contribution to the kingdom. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) The issues of judgment and failure to incorporate the giftings of the body will be felt by most on the day of Christ’s return.
    Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “It was he [the Lord] who gave some to be prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to th4 whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 11-13) People are to be prepared for works of service. Any church, large or small, should be able to evaluate their success, by the number of people who have been built up and using their gifting for service. Professionalism” is robbing the church of spirit-engaged ministry on the part of congregations. How well are evangelists, prophets, pastors and teachers doing their God-ordained tasks?
    People will continue to leave churches as long as they feel their irrelevance to it. The church needs to accept that people leave for a reason and that reason is probably that they no longer feel a need for it. Perhaps the diet of milk has grown weary. The need for a walk of personal righteousness and of a commitment to building the kingdom must be understood.

    Comment by Russell Young — April 18, 2016 @ 7:30 pm | Reply


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