Doesn’t Have To Be Said

Have you ever been reading something and suddenly, you’re like, “Boom! That’s it—that sums up the whole message?” I found this to be true when reading through the book of Hebrews recently.

 Through this epistle, the author has been tracing several themes: themes of Christ’s authority, His Priesthood, the Covenant, etc. He continues to build his argument, bringing in Old Testament Scriptures again and again. Then in Chapter Ten, he lets the hammer fall.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having 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 stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:19-25

That’s it. If you wanted a summary of the entire book, you have it in this paragraph. There are two if-type conditions, and three then-type responses. The author has shown beyond any shadow of a doubt that we do have this access and Christ is our High Priest, so the responses apply. But I really want to zero-in on the last one. There is a unique way it is written. Check it out.

“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:24,25

What is so interesting involves how we encourage one another. One way we do this is through coming together as local congregations, through “assembling together” (Hebrews 10:25).

But what adds such punch to this is the way it is stated—its assumed. This coming together is so vital to the believer, it is assumed he/she will gather regularly with a local church. And although this verse in Hebrews is the only command to assemble, it’s not the only place it is assumed that we will.

 In 1 Corinthians, for example, Paul often uses phrases such as “when you are assembled” (1 Corinthians 5:4; 11:18, 20, 33; 14:26).  He takes it for granted that this congregation came together regularly, and some can make the claim that it was a weekly occurrence from 1 Corinthians 16:2. We see a similar assumption of coming together as a congregation for the bodies at Colossae and Laodicea (Colossians 4:16).  Paul doesn’t command them to come together—it is an underlying assumption.

 This should tell us something. With all the instructions given in the epistles, there is not a single command that says, “Thou shalt assemble.” But throughout the New Testament, we see ample evidence that the churches did. I mean, just read the book of Acts. Paul tells the Ephesian elders that he taught them “publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20). We don’t see Paul or Silas establishing a church in Philippi, but after their release from prison, we read that they “entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed” (Acts 16:40). There were believers gathered together.

 There are other examples, but these illustrate the point. It is essential for believers to come together to hear the Word, to praise the Lord, and to encourage one another. I don’t think we really know how important this is, especially here in America where we do not face direct persecution. Yes, virtual gatherings are not the same as in person, but there is still an element of assembling. One way or the other, regardless of what governments do or do not do, the churches will gather. We will do this regardless of what it takes, though we do try to do it lawfully. If that means wearing a mask to do so, then so be it. We must lay aside our own personal preferences and remember how important this is for God’s people. In fact, it goes all the way back to Exodus, but that’s another post. For now, we need to see that for the New Testament believer, assembling with others as a local church is an essential part of our walk with Christ.

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