Forsaking the assembling

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.” (Hebrews 10:25)

This verse made my top ten proof text list. As I pointed out then, it’s often misquoted, with people talking about “forsaking the assembly.” It becomes about being in the building “at each appointed time,” rather than an exhortation for Christians to seek out chances to be with one another.

I don’t see the writer as approaching this from a legal standpoint. It’s no more a law than is “draw near to God” (verse 22) He’s not trying to establish a new commandment about attending church meetings.

I’ve compared it to the owner’s manual of your car saying that you need to change the oil. Not a rule. Not a law. But pretty foolish not to follow what it says.

So what’s the difference between a law and instructions on the best way to live? I see a difference, if only in how we react to such things. When we make a rule out of “not forsaking the assembling,” for example, we can get to what some do: show up, take the Lord’s Supper and leave. They’ve followed the rule. When we look at “not forsaking the assembling” as something that has a function in our spiritual walk, as a necessary something for our well being, we won’t have to be prodded to be there.

I’ve seen guys that were required to attend AA meetings. Few of them got anything out of it. Others choose to be there because they know they need it. They won’t miss if at all possible.

Teach your kids that the Bible is a bunch of rules and they’ll spend their lives looking for loopholes. Show your kids that the Bible teaches you the secrets of how to live and they’ll spend their lives looking for insight.

I believe in the importance of meeting together. I believe that Christians need to teach this importance to one another. But not as a law like those given at Mt. Sinai. It should be taught as what is necessary for keeping our faith strong.

16 thoughts on “Forsaking the assembling

  1. Keith Brenton

    I think Paul’s instruction to believers should be in the same category as “Don’t forsake breathing air” and “Don’t forget to drink fluids” and “Don’t neglect eating food.”

  2. Jr

    Again, it comes back to Religion vs. the Gospel. Religion says “I obey, therefore God owes me.” The Gospel says, “God has give me everything in Christ, therefore I obey.” Christianity is not a faith consisting of a moral code to keep. Instead, it is about a God who saves people who can’t keep the moral code.

    Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. It is not our works that get us approval, it is being born-again in Christ Jesus that gets us approval. Our righteousness is in Him alone and it is not found in ourselves.

    All this to say, Tim, that these difficulties come when people quite simply don’t understand what the Gospel is. When our faith turns into morality, or code, or law, or a checklist; the Gospel is lost. But it is there that you find the mentality of “ok, I just have to do this then leave and I’m good,” or, “if I don’t do this, I’m screwed.” But when our faith rests upon the Risen Lord who has done all things that are required by God’s law that we cannot and will not do; we understand the Gospel; and we are set free (therefore, we obey).

    Preachers, do not assume that your audience know the Gospel. Preach it often.

    The Acts29 blog put up a short read by Tim Keller recently. It’s worth checking out. (click on this sentence)

    Grace to you –

  3. Tim Archer Post author

    Keith: I agree.

    Jr: Yours is a very good point. Years ago, when I lived in Córdoba, Argentina, we were trying to coordinate the meeting times of two congregations so that some of us could attend both. One man asked, “Why? You don’t think you’ve fulfilled your duty by attending the smaller one?”
    Fulfilled my duty? It’s sad when we see attending an assembly as “fulfilling our duty.” I told him that I was not there to fulfill a duty, I was there to encourage my brothers and be encouraged by them.

  4. Trent Tanaro

    Great post and comments Brothers! I know many “faithful” Christians who have never stepped foot into a church building and they are doing just fine meeting in homes and everywhere else as they grow daily in Jesus and with one another.

  5. Trey Morgan

    “Teach your kids that the Bible is a bunch of rules and they’ll spend their lives looking for loopholes. Show your kids that the Bible teaches you the secrets of how to live and they’ll spend their lives looking for insight.”

    That, my friend, is a GREAT statement.

  6. K. Rex Butts

    No God is not going to strike me down if I cannot meet with me fellow brother(s) or sister(s) in Christ today. However, if I am pursuing the call of discipleship that Jesus calls me to (which is a radical call against the backdrop of culture) there are not any good reasons I can think of why I would not want to meet…for in meeting with my fellow disciples I am strengthened not just from the Spirit which indwells me but also by that same Spirit which indwells them as we share (koinonia) our lives together with the Lord in various ways such as prayer, words of truth, song, etc…

    Grace and peace,


  7. Tim Archer Post author

    Thanks Trey. That came up in a discussion in the Yahoo group Berean Spirit. Someone said the Bible was more about guidelines for life than it was about rules. Someone else asked what was the difference. I tried my hand at explaining and… Voilá!

    As they say, even the blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  8. Tim Archer Post author


    I’ve said before that not meeting with other Christians isn’t the problem. Not wanting to meet with other Christians is the problem.

    Sort of like a fever… in and of itself, it’s not a bad thing, but it’s often the sign of a bigger problem.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  9. L B Lane

    Thanks for this post Tim. We have been studying this very subject in class and small group Bible studies which is a great assembly as well. Very encouraging that others feel the same way.

  10. Lisa

    Growing up, I saw that being at the church building for every meeting time was a rule. I am not saying my parents ever said that, or even had that attitude, that was just my perception as a child, young adult — “my Dad’s a preacher, of course we’re going to be there, it’s his job, etc.” I know now that my parents are the types that would be there, with their brothers & sisters, whenever they can, whether Dad’s the minister or not. It’s just their desire to be with fellow followers of Christ. I totally get that now, as I have that same desire. And I try to instill that in my kids, not just by making sure they’re always there, but by using words such as, “we’re going to be with our family, we’re going to learn about Jesus together, etc.” I try not to say: “you have to go to church, or else!!” :o) Thankfully, there are several other children in our congregation that my kids are close to, so it’s never been a problem (so far!!) to get them to go.

    However, I have one question/comment … how do you encourage others to learn to feel the same way – other adults or teens in the congregation? I have a tendency to look judgmentally at others who choose to engage in other activities at times when we’re meeting together, and while I wish I could find a way to react more lovingly about it, it really is disappointing to me that they don’t want to be there, with each other – not so much that I think they’re breaking any rules. I guess there are some people who grew up thinking going to worship was something just to check off their to-do list, and not something they looked forward to – is there a way to encourage a change in them?

  11. Tim Archer Post author


    As far as our own kids and people we’re close to, I see it like what I do with my kids about family meals. They know that when it’s time for a meal, we will all sit down and eat together. I remember being asked in junior high, “If you don’t eat with them, you don’t get to eat?” The question had never occurred to me. Our family ate every meal together, unless someone was gone.

    As regards other people, to me a lot of it is helping them see the value in being there. Like with your kids, relationships can be the biggest factor. If someone doesn’t form relationships at church, it’s rare for them to continue to come regularly.

    Moving past a rules mentality is tough. I’ve seen people who arrive late, then leave as soon as the service is over, without particularly talking to anyone. It’s hard for me to see a fulfillment of Hebrews 10 in that. “Letter of the law” maybe, but hardly meeting what the passage is talking about.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  12. Matt Carter

    In the context of the letter, he’s telling Christian Jews to not forsake meeting with other Christian Jews in favor of going to the synagogue with non-Christian Jews. They were in danger of going from “Christian Judaism” back to “nonChristian Judaism”, rather than into “total unbelief”.

  13. Jeanne M.

    Bless Lisa for her inquiring mind and desire to be all she can be. I grew up in a family that was always at the church building when the doors were open, and had fellow christians and non-christians in our home as often as possible. After marriage, when the children came, I really tried hard never to say, “We have to go to church now.” For one thing we don’t “go to church,” but to a building, house, under a tree, etc. We go to be with the church. Tim you are correct. Too many never develop relationships that encourage being together, but some of that is the fault of the “dedicated christian,” who doesn’t reach out to the lonely ones, but are satisfied with our own “clique.” I have been “just a member,” a deacon’s wife, an elder’s wife, and an evangelist’s wife, now a widow who is “just a member again,” but I try to get acquainted with visitors and newcomers, and speak to them before visiting with friends at services. I cherish my times with my brothers and sisters, and have joy in going to other places and meeting people who know people I know. One of the blessings on earth is seeing how connected we all are, and we need to remember that all the time.

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