Hebrews 10:25. — 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.
God in His all wise and divine providence brings forth all things that come to pass. It is not a mere coincidence that we, after years of studying the book of Hebrews, have arrived at this verse in the current climate and circumstances in which we are living and in which we gather to worship, even though many churches have not. Let us think on these things, examine ourselves and our local body and heed the Word of God. Last week we discussed that we should consider one another, provoking to love and good works, now – not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the habit of some, but exhorting one another and so much more as you see the day approaching.
At the time of the writing of Hebrews (1st century) what are some things that may have been a reason for believers to forsake assembling together for corporate worship?
The church of the Hebrews had been exposed to great trials and persecution. During this Hebrews is written and people are beginning to decline from their profession to such a degree that they are not assembling for Lord’s day worship. They were afraid that they may be taken away during a meeting. Or that the neighbors whom they knew were persecuting would see them come and go to and from their assemblies. It seems at the time of the apostle’s writing that there were many that had fallen into this sinful neglect, he seems to speak as though this is a well known thing among themselves.
Is there a time when we should not assemble together for corporate worship?
As we’ve discussed throughout the entirety of Hebrews this is also a time where there are great disputes about the continuance of temple worship, with its rites and ceremonies, which many of the Hebrews were entangled with. As that error prevailed in their minds many began to gradually neglect and forsake worship and the duties of the gospel. For many this ended in fatal apostasy. The prevention of this is the entire purpose of the writing of this epistle, which is filled with pleadings and clear, logical arguments against those things. This is a slow unbelief eventually leading to a departure from the living God. So we are given here in today’s verse a warning to stand for all believers. This forsaking of assembling together with the saints is the ordinary beginning of an entrance into final apostasy. And take note that it is not an occasional missing of them, such as in a time where we are providentially hindered, but this is the regular manner of some. The way in which they were accustomed of walking.
Are believers required to assemble for corporate worship?
Believers are called to gather together on the Lord’s day (the first day of the week) for public corporate worship. The actual local assemblies of believers are where worship that has been prescribed by God is to be carried out. We are to have prayer, preaching of the Word, singing of Psalms, and administrations of the sacraments which are baptism and the Lord’s supper. The local church is where discipline is exercised, where we are to watch over one another, seeing that we are becoming to the gospel and having no offense. We are to admonish, exhort, and provoke one another to love and good works. To comfort, establish, and encourage the persecuted and afflicted, relieve the poor, etc. It is by these assemblies where the church proclaims that Jesus Christ is its head and authority, and where all sacred worship is performed and God is glorified in the gospel.
Can there be a performance of corporate worship without assembling together?
Where the meeting together is neglected we proclaim that our temporal needs and safety are preferred above God being glorified. We would effectively say that we are more important than God. And we are deceived if we think that He will somehow bless this robbing Him of worship that He has ordained. The sacred assembling of ourselves together to present our members before God in worship are the life, food, and nourishment of our souls. We present ourselves to be instructed by Christ, disciplined, and give our obedience to His commands. For those that persecute the church it is not so much that we have faith itself, but the open profession of in assembling is what they hate, oppose, and persecute. So in all ages of the church, believers have risked their own lives to observe corporate worship on the Lord’s day, which makes us aliens and strangers of those whom neglect it. The neglect of the authority and love of Christ in the appointment of the means of our edification, will always tend to great and ruinous evils.
What are reasons today that believers may not gather together?
Many fear suffering, and many are spiritually slothful. Hence we are to stir one another up and fight against sloth fulness. Churches that are exposed to suffering and persecution, that continue to visibly evidence that they are subject to the authority of Christ, enrage the unbelieving world. This has continued in all ages of the church. Many in these times of trials reject persecution and withdraw themselves from their assemblies. Those that do this scripture calls ‘fearful and unbelieving’. People in these trials will give all manner of excuses to their life and their liberty, and promises to return when the storms have passed – or – plead that assembling together is not necessary and that God will be merciful to the, in their neglectful dereliction. All of these false reasonings carry them away to ruin. Those who put their houses, lands, possessions, relations, liberty and and lives above Christ, and the worship that is owed Him, have no part in gospel promises. Whatever they think themselves to believe, if they do not confess Christ before men, Christ will deny them, before His Father which is in heaven.
Is persecution useful for those that go through it?
We are charged to forsake not, but exhort one another. Christ has appointed the means of our edification and to neglect His authority and love will lead to evil and ruin. He requires of us to duly attend the means and ends to which He has appointed for His church and His glory is concerned in them. There have always been apostates, no church order, or outward profession can secure someone from apostasy. There is no church in this world that has perfection, freedom from offense, scandal, or ruinous evil, and we should not expect these things. So as we see those begin to decline their duty in church relations, should be marked and their ways avoided. The forsaking of church assemblies is usually an entrance into apostasy. Christ has given us everything needful to persevere in our profession until the end. Let us persuade encourage and exhort one another to be constant in our professions of the gospel. Let us be resolute and have fortitude of mind against difficulties, dangers and oppositions. For those of us who intend not to leave anything belonging to Christ, a state of persecution is useful in teaching us to do these things.