Sermon Text: Hebrews 10:24-25
Sermon Theme: God has designed us to need community. Community allows us to experience life trans-forming grace, protects us from the hardening and deceitfulness of sin and spurs us on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews deals with the powerful role the Christian community and fellowship play in encouraging Christians to grow and persevere in their faith. God has designed us to need one another. Often, we are unaware of how great that need is until we actually experience true Christian community – community that propels us forward in our holiness, ministries and walks with Christ. As a plant grows strong and healthy in good soil, God has designed us too, in such a way, that we will only grow spiritually strong and healthy within the soil of a close-knit group of Christians.
As Christians we have a corporate responsibility—we must help others who stumble and falter. We must concentrate on the needs of others and not on our individual salvation only. Hebrews calls us to lead others to a practical expression of love and an attractive display of unselfish deeds. For we must look to the three important virtues of faith, hope, and love that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:13—Faith provides assurance; Hope promises an incentive to obedience; Love provides a foundation for prodding believers to godly living. The way in which public worship as Christians causes spiritual vitality is manifold on the account of God, who has appointed it, who approves of it, and whose glory is concerned in it; and on the account of the saints themselves, that they may be delighted, refreshed, comforted, instructed, edified, and perfected; and on account of others, that they may be convinced, converted, and brought to the knowledge and faith of Christ. For there is encouragement in hearing of others’ struggles and victories in their walks of faith; there is motivation that comes from hearing the Word of God and learning insights others have into the Scriptures; and, in a less tangible way, there is the experience of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in and through the lives of others, which fans the flame of the Spirit of God in our own lives.
Therefore, assembling together should not to be forsaken; for it is a forsaking of God and their own mercies, and such are like to be the forsaking of God which we do not know the full extent of what is truly lost by this attitude. For the readers of Hebrews knew that the day was approaching; either of death, or the last judgment, or rather of Jerusalem’s destruction, which at the writing of this epistle was near at hand, and was an affair that greatly concerned these Hebrew. Though persecution may have led some believers to drop out of the fellowship, the remedy they needed was to begin meeting again. The verses following in Hebrews 10:26-31 showed the final outcome of neglecting to meet with other believers. Such careless living could produce a contempt for Jesus and a renunciation of Christianity.
- What is one of the best ways to hold fast to the things of God—the real things of God that are found only in the new covenant of Jesus Christ? Is there any greater place to be then in the fellowship of His people, where we can love and be loved, serve and be served? Is there any better place to come all the way to faith in Christ in this hostile world, or to hope continually in Him, than the church, His Body?
- Why do you think Jesus looks to meet certain needs only through His body, the church? Hebrews 10:25 exhorts believers to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” because we are all in the habit of doing it. As these life-giving relationships are only found in community, Satan tries to “deceive” us into thinking we don’t need to get together. He often uses our fears, insecurities and the distractions of our busy lives to lure us into living independently. Yet, a Christian life lived in isolation will always lack the spiritual health and vitality of a life lived in community. For Paul compared the church to the human body, explaining, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). Every member of the body of Christ—God’s family—is essential and valuable. Through Christ, God puts believers together “like living stones” to be “built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood” with Jesus as the foundation stone (1 Peter 2:5–6).
- The word “consider” means to ponder, observe or study. “Stimulate” means to spur or excite to action. Who are the people God has placed in your life to observe and think about?
- What could be some reasons for someone not wanting to speak into the lives of others by “considering” and “encouraging” them?
- What are the encouragements and benefits of meeting together as Christians that we cannot get on our own? Consider the following verses:
- Has there ever been a time in your life when someone else’s encouragement protected you from turning away from God? Have you ever been there for someone else?
- What was the last thing you did to encourage someone? Who is someone who could use your encouragement this week?
- Satan often uses fears, insecurities and a busy schedule to lure us away from Christian community. What typically tempts you to avoid “meeting together?”
- Where have you felt your heart hardening or becoming less responsive to God? Being known in all of our weakness, insecurity, and hidden sin, and yet being loved and accepted is critical to our lives being transformed by grace. Because we cannot visibly see God, He has designed Christian community to manifest this grace so we can truly experience it.
- Fellowship can be reduced simply to a social time. Are you intentional in considering how, in the context of meeting together, you might encourage particular individuals to press on in their walks with the Lord? To the believers in Philippi, Paul stated, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). God calls Christians to look out for their brothers and sisters in Christ. It is not just for our own good, but for the strengthening and building up of the whole body of Christ that Scripture tells us, “Do not give up meeting together.”
- What happens when we abandon our own assembly? Are there other believers left in the lurch and thus depriving those brothers and sisters of needed support? We need each other. We need to be in fellowship with each other. For the New Testament lends no support to the idea of lone Christians. Close and regular fellowship with other believers is not just a nice idea, but an absolute necessity for the encouragement of Christian values to mutually strengthen each other and encourage each other.
- Would God’s service ever be dishonored by empty houses of worship were all Christians possessed of such faith?
- Have some believers used one of the following causes for neglecting public worship:
- some may have been deterred by the fear of persecution, as those who were thus assembled would be more exposed to danger or ridicule than others,
- some may have neglected the duty because they felt no interest in it – as professing Christians now sometimes do,
- it is possible that some may have had doubts about the necessity and propriety of this duty, and on that account may have neglected it,
- or it may perhaps have been that some may have neglected it from a cause which now sometimes operates – from dissatisfaction with a preacher, or with some member or members of the church, or with some measure in the church.
None of the causes above suggested should deter people from this duty. With all who bear the Christian name, with all who expect to make advances in piety and religious knowledge, it should be regarded as a sacred duty to assemble together for public worship. Religion is social; and our graces are to be strengthened and invigorated by waiting together on the Lord. There is an obvious propriety that people should assemble together for the worship of the Most High, and no Christian can hope that his graces will grow, or that he can perform his duty to his Maker, without uniting thus with those who love the service of God.
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