Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WHY GO TO CHURCH? (Hebrews Chapter 10)

Hebrews 10:19-25, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

In this passage the believer in Christ is exhorted to give attention to certain things on the basis of the tremendous advantage that has been availed to him by Jesus.  The phrase “since we have” speaks to the privileged access to God we enjoy (Cf. Hebrews 10:19).  The three “let us” statements speak to how we should respond: “let us draw near” (Cf. Hebrews 10:22); “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope” (Cf. Hebrews 10:23); and “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Cf. Hebrews 10:24).  It has been noted that the three “let us” admonitions deal respectively with the heart, the mouth, and the hands.

It is in this context that we find the oft-quoted reference to the need to be “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25).  The context is relevant to the exhortation.  The believer in Christ is one to whom privileged access to “the holy places” has been availed by the blood of Jesus (Cf. Hebrews 10:19).  Not all share in that.  The unbeliever has neither desire nor ability to enter in (Cf. Romans 3:10-11; Ephesians 2:11-12).  But the believer, on the other hand, possesses “boldness and access with confidence through (his) faith in Him” (Ephesians 2:12).  The sin-rebel turned worshiper possesses a Spirit-borne instinct to avail himself of the right of entry Jesus has “opened for us” (Cf. Hebrews 10:20).  The privilege won for us individually is shared by others and together we yearn by the Spirit to worship God. Such was the example of the earliest believers.  Having trusted in Jesus (Cf. Acts 2:41), they henceforth “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship” (Acts 2:42).  Put simply, they loved Jesus and devoted to themselves to those things associated with Him (i.e. His Word and His people).  

The other “let us” admonitions are likewise relevant to the “Why go to church?” (i.e. “why meet together”) question.  There is the need to “hold fast to the confession of our hope” (Hebrews 10:23).   Why do people stop attending church?  It is indeed “the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25).  We’ve all seen it happen.  Have they not wavered in their “confession of hope?”  They had previously enjoyed the fellowship of believers, but something worked to dissuade and discourage them.  They counted the cost associated with the maintenance of fellowship and deemed it to be too costly.  Tragically, in forsaking fellowship they forsake that very thing that could work to encourage them to “hold fast” (Hebrews 10:23, 25). 

The worshiping community is exhorted to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).  A healthy church is characterized by such practices.  And a sure sign of pending disability in the life of a believer is the failure to apply oneself to these practical aspects of worship.  There is joy to be experienced in the authentic worship which is characterized by serving Jesus in serving others.  The professing believer who is not thereby stirred up is likely to stagnate unto disappointment. 

Why go to church?  Because you, as a believer in Christ, love Jesus and church is the place where you gather with others to worship Him and serve Him.  Why go to church?  Because you love Jesus and that is the place where you go to hear His Word that you might grow in Him.  Why go to church?  Because you love Jesus and you love to meet together with His people.   Fellowship with other like-minded believers is not an obligation to be disdained or avoided, but a privilege to be eagerly taken advantage of.  In these troubled times it is necessary “all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

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