Sprague: Not Forsaking the Assembling

Published 10:30 am Saturday, June 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

It is tempting to find verses that seem to say exactly what you want them to and use them to strongly assert points you feel are important. It is especially enticing to preachers! When we recognize issues and needs, we should study the Bible to find solutions and answers. The problem comes when we see a word or phrase that seems to address what we are thinking of, then it is all too easy to grab it and share it with a confidence and conviction that may not be supported by its context. There is a place for brief references to verses to make clear points. However, such practices must still use verses consistently with the rest of the Scriptures. If preachers fail to qualify their application of the Bible’s text too often, they are prone to be unclear, misunderstood, or even wrong. For example, look at how Hebrews 20:25 is often used.

“… not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching” (Unless otherwise stated: Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Used by permission. All rights reserved).

“The Bible says, ‘don’t forsake the assembly,’ so don’t miss church.” Have you ever heard this proclaimed, attempting to motivate truant church-goers to greater faithfulness?

Email newsletter signup

This verse was about more than the Sunday morning gathering. The writer of Hebrews had just spent ten chapters talking about how Jesus and His way is better than the Old Testament Law. He taught that the Jewish covenant is obsolete (8:13). It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (10:4). God changed the law, according to His plan, and Jesus offered Himself for sins (7:11-12; 10:11-14). Therefore, since there is no other offering that can take away sin, the author encouraged his audience to hold fast to God’s promise in Jesus, their confession (6:13-20; 10:23). They were giving in to pressures to go back to their old lives, under Judaism, but there was no salvation in it.

New Christians were being pressured to leave the church purchased by the blood of the resurrected Messiah and go to an old religion that had fulfilled its purpose. Missing the worship assembly might have been a symptom of the “forsaking” spoken of in Hebrews 10:25, but this passage was concerned with a larger problem, presented a deeper conviction, and provided a perfect solution.

He wasn’t concerned about missing a time of praise, but abandoning the One worthy of all praise. More than being motivated to make “a meeting,” we should be compelled to seek any opportunity to serve the One who met our greatest need, forgiveness of sin. When we go after Him with all we have, we can encounter discouragement, but God designed the body of believers, the church, as a source of mutual encouragement. So, if we are coming together consistently, we will strengthen and embolden each other through whatever times of tribulation we may encounter.

While the point of this passage isn’t “come on Sunday,” understanding it better should give us a greater desire to assemble with the Lord’s church because of what He has done for us.

Van Sprague is an evangelist at the Church of Christ at Houston Park. He has a wife and three children. Come Visit! Sunday morning Bible class is at 9, with worship after, at 10 and 5 pm. Wednesday night Bible class is at 6.