Learning to Value Assembly Fellowship – Hebrews 10:23-258 min read
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 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. – Hebrews 10:23-25
In this grand epistle to the Hebrews, the writer has pleaded both theologically and logically with his readers to stand fast in the faith which was delivered to them in hopes that they may not apostatize and to their destruction trod under foot the blood of the Son of God by openly rejecting Him. In pleading that they might commit once and for all to allegiance in Christ, the writer brings to them one of the most important factors in all of Christianity – faithfulness to the assembly and its fellowship. Not only that but he affirms that there should be increased faithfulness to it. Oh how this writer must have loved God’s assembly! Do we? And should we? Let’s think about this question and see what the assembly has to offer us as well as how we should respond to it.
The Assembly Provides an Anchor for our Profession
God identifies the local church as “the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” This is more than just a claim that the assembly is marked by truth; it is a declaration that the assembly is the center of truth in every community of Christians. It upholds truth. It delineates truth in God’s Word. It preaches truth. It lives truth. For God’s people in an assembly truth is not a facet: it is everything! It would make sense, then, that we would be directed to the assembly as a place to hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering. In a day when nothing is absolute anymore, when heresies abound, when ignorance is promoted as wisdom, we need a beacon of solid hope toward which we can press. We need a place that surrounds us with God’s unchanging truth, a place we know will hold us accountable to it, a place we know will take it seriously. How gracious of God to provide that in an assembly of God’s people who we love. Would we dare despise that? We have a great reason to love our assembly. Though the people may not be perfect (neither are we), let us appreciate it if it loves presenting the truth in love and never forfeits one for the other. This is God’s design to promote a faithful grip amongst God’s people. Do we want an anchor in life? Or do we really trust our deceitful hearts to stand for truth as lone rangers? If we are honest with ourselves, we will see an indebtedness to faithful assemblies that made truth and exposition of the Word a priority. This is a central reason to value continual assembly fellowship.
The Assembly is a Channel for Mutual Support
Where there is a common salvation and a common profession, there will be a fellowship that cannot be rivaled in any support group man has ever conceived. This is exactly what we have in a local assembly. We center around Christ, and because we are all found in Him we find a love for each other that reflects our very love for Him. But this is no stagnate love that simply remains nominal; rather it is a real love that burns within and drives us to build up one another to the central goal of glorifying Christ. That is why the writer to the Hebrews thought so highly of the assembly, because it was a center for support and stability, not only in doctrine, but in practical living. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” As fallen beings whose complacency often retards progress, we are in constant need of both accountability and reminders as to how a Christian must live. Going in and out of a worldly atmosphere daily, whether it be at school or work, we desperately need fellowship with God’s people whenever we find the opportunity. Iron sharpens iron, as the proverb says: whose grinding stone are we yielding to? When life has run its course, what will our finished product be? Will it be a masterpiece of usefulness to God? Or will it be a sad disgrace to one who holds the name Christian? These are quite solemn options. What will make the difference? Our devotion to God’s assembly. Surely a life of love and good works is a noble calling. If such is our view, so will a life lived in context of the assembly be a noble calling. Let us value assembly fellowship in that it has the potential to sharpen us into the image of Christ.
The Assembly is Part of Our Obedience
We have seen why fellowship with God’s people is valuable for us and our personal spiritual growth, both in terms of doctrine and practical living. But if these were our only motives, our picture of the assembly’s value would be incomplete, because it doesn’t begin or end with self – rather with others and with God Himself. This really brings us to two of our greatest motives for valuing assembly fellowship.
The first has to do with faithfulness to God. The first and greatest commandment is that one must love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. And here we have a simple command from the mouth of God that we must not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. As people who have owned Christ as Lord, our immediate response should be obedience for the sole reason that God has spoken. Abraham had no idea what God had in mind when He told him to sacrifice Isaac. If Abraham had a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, Genesis 22 would not exist in our Bibles. For us, the only formula for success in assembly living is the attitude “I am here because God wants me to be.” Yet when we approach the assembly, we have even more accountability than Abraham, because we have both a “Thus saith the Lord” as well as knowledge of specific blessings the assembly brings. Let’s not take these lightly.
But a second part of our obedience is seen in the general attitude of our passage. It is filled with “one another.” This really brings to us the second greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Yes, we are in the assembly for God’s sake. We are also in it for our sake. But let us never forget our dear fellow believers. We need to be there for them too. A good question to ask ourselves in this regard is this: “If every believer patterned their life after me, would the assembly thrive? And would I feel it is a unified, supportive assembly?” While we can’t control other believers, we can control ourselves. Let us make the assemblies we are in blessed for having us. Let God’s people go away encouraged from our presence and challenged from our devotion. The assembly is not only for us; it is for them.
The Assembly is Where Our Growing Desire Should Be
At the close of verse 25 the writer brings these words to us “not forsaking… but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Are we rapture-ready saints? Do we take seriously the Lord’s statement that we are to “Do this in remembrance of Me until I come”? If we do, then the assembly’s dignity and value should be growing in our eyes. To believe in an immanent rapture while being sporadic in our devotion to the assembly is to live a contradiction. If we see eternity in the near future, we should invest in it. If we see eternal fellowship with God’s people in the near future, we should invest in it now. And if we see a day close by in which we will give account of our Christian life, we should pay careful attention as to how we can maximize its potential and steadfastness. These things are done in the assembly. So then, as we close, are we “so much the more” Christians? Or do we think we have reached the epitome of faithfulness to God’s people? Could we do better? Then let’s do better! Let’s be at all the meetings. Let’s greet the believers with a smile. Let’s learn from the wise. Let’s teach by our example those who are more immature. Let’s do something to glorify God in an ever-increasing capacity. May we so delight in God’s assembly that being with it is not second-nature but first-nature, that it might no longer be a facet of Christian living but the very context in which we live it. That starts first of all by being physically present with God’s people.