Hebrews 10:25, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together". Obedience means ...

Attending every service of the church on Sunday
11% (1 vote)
Attending every regular service of the church held during the week
0% (0 votes)
Attending every service, every meeting, organized by the church
0% (0 votes)
Attending as much as possible when it doesn't conflict with other obligations (like employment, travel, family needs)
89% (8 votes)
Total votes: 9
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There are 10 Comments

Jim's picture

Hebrews 10:25 has been "the hammer" verse about attending ever service ("it takes three to thrive", et cetera).

Believers are to be part of a local assembly. The purpose of that assembly is overall "to glorify God". The local assembly fulfills that purpose by the teaching of the Word, the practice of the ordinances, prayer and the fellowship of the saints.

This is seen in embryonic form in the very first days of the 1st church: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers .... So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42, 46-47).

In my mind to apply Hebrews 10:25 to mean "attend every service of the church" is a stretch. It's a popular stretch ... but a stretch.

 

 

 

 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

There are some questions that have to be answered to determine what this verse means-

What does it mean to 'forsake' something? To not take part in every single gathering of believers, or to give up on ever assembling again with other believers?

What does the author mean by "assembling"? Is this talking about 'church services', or the idea that believers should gather together regularly? So then, how regularly? Does this verse imply how often, where, when... Which passages in Scripture mandate the time, the day, and the frequency with which believers should meet?

What is the context? Hasn't the author been expounding on the superiority of the New Covenant to the Old Covenant? What does this mean for today's believer and the purposes and manner in which we gather together?

The entire passage, from the beginning of the statement to the period, is

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

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.

wkessel1's picture

I am closest to four but depends on how you define obligation.  Too  often any conflicting event takes precedence over church services.  Aunt Mays birthday party or Billy's soccer game are too often used as excuses to skip church.    As Christians we are to be involved in one another lives and the church is major part of that.  I think the context of verse 24 and 25 taken together points this out.  Edification, encouraging and uplifting each other by worshiping God, through song and listening to preaching is a major part of the purpose of the church. 

When looking at the why of church life we need to include verse 24 in the analysis.  The idea we are there not only to worship God but also to provoke one another to good works (ie sanctification), church life takes on a new perspective.  We shouldn't be looking to see how little I can be there, but how often can we get together and build each other up.  If we are neglecting church we can't be involved in one another's lives the way the Bible tells us to be.   When we stop looking at church as something we do and start viewing it as something we are part of and something we need, it will change the way we view church attendance. 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I tried to clarify 'obligation' in the poll by describing it as 'employment, travel, family needs'. Not 'soccer, parties, or Aunt Sally sneezed'. Biggrin

I've heard pastors attempt to shame people from the pulpit for not being at every church service regardless of their circumstances. Families who drive a long distance may not be able to afford several trips a week to church. There may have been a family crisis that has left the family physically and emotionally drained. There may have been sickness and they believe it would be prudent to stay home. Their job demands may require them to miss midweek services or special meetings, and in today's world, many businesses are open on Sunday. 

None of these qualify as 'forsaking', IMO. 

But the question is still "Are these verses talking about church services?" How do we apply these verses properly without abusing them?

 

Jim's picture

The key, in my view, is the word "forsake"

Quickly and without detailed study it seems to mean to abandon. Source

Other versions:

  • ESV: "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another"
  • NIV (1984): "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing"
  • HSCB: "not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do"
Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

would it be fair to say that 'forsake' means completely abandoning the concept of being part of a local assembly meeting with other believers? Not an occasional absence with reasonable cause?

Nord Zootman's picture

Could forsake have the idea of a decisive action? A decision to not continue to fellowship?

pvawter's picture

I can't give a lengthy response from my tablet, but I would say #4, as you limited the reasons, Susan. One interesting thing to not in v.25 is that "not forsaking" is a participle, not a verb. The earlier context provides the verbs, but it should begin with v.19 to get the author's entire reasoning and instruction. The passage seems to be focused on the mutual benefit and responsibility we share with those who have been brought into such intimate fellowship with God. The instruction in v.22 is without object. To what are we to draw near? To God? If so, and many if not all commentators say it is so, how does this verb relate to the next two commands?
I would suggest that we are to fulfill these three commands (let us...) in the context of our local church. This means, I believe, that the flow of our lives ought to be toward the church, not away from it. Does that mean there might not be conflicts that would legitimately keep one from a particular meeting of the body? Of course not. But I agree with wkessel1 that for many Christians, the tendency is to look for almost any excuse to miss the assembly.

Ron Bean's picture

I've experienced this hammer with statements like, "people who love the church come Sunday morning, people who love the pastor come Sunday night, but people who love the Lord came to prayer meeting." I am beginning to appreciate "assembling" outside of and in addition to corporate worship. I'm finding the intimacy of small groups and face to face Bible study and prayer is beneficial, especially having been in churches where these things were opposed as cliques and new-evangelical.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I just don't believe that the correct teaching or application of this verse is that it is requiring attendance at church services, and if that isn't the correct application, then it shouldn't ever be used as a specific proof text for faithfulness to services.

We know that regularly gathering is important, for fellowship, discipling, equipping, etc... and I don't think anyone with two brain cells to rub together is going to argue with that. 

Is there a NT pattern for the 'correct schedule' of services, as in day of the week, time, and frequency? Should there only be service on the first day of the week, or are there patterns and principles that support many meetings throughout the week? And when I say 'meetings', I mean formal meetings sanctioned and organized by the church. 

It seems contradictory to me to command one's congregation to be evangelistic and organic, and then schedule so many services, activities, meetings, and potlucks so that the only people we ever have time to socialize with are in our own congregation. 

We also have a duty to our families- to love, nurture, disciple, and fellowship with our spouses, parents, and children. It isn't selfish to make time for family, or to use one's gifts in ways that don't involve a specific church ministry. IOW, I can minister to the deaf since I know ASL, but most churches don't have a deaf ministry, and I'm not going to sit on my hands (pun!) because the church hasn't given me 'permission' to go out and minister to deaf people.