The Assembly and Our Lives
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh (Hebrews 10:24-25).
The Hebrew author demonstrates for us the importance of the assembly: it is something we should not forsake (Hebrews 10:25). When there is a desire to demonstrate why we must assemble, this verse is always cited.
It is very important for Christians to come together in the assemblies. The assemblies represent an opportunity for believers to thank God and make petitions to God in prayer (1 Corinthians 14:15-17), to speak to and teach one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16), to remember the Lord’s death in His Supper (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), to give as we have desire and ability (1 Corinthians 16:1-3, 2 Corinthians 9:6-11), and to hear the Word of God preached (Acts 20:7, 2 Timothy 4:1-2). Yet why do we come together? For what greater purposes do the assemblies serve?
Hebrews 10:25 is not written in a vacuum. Instead, Hebrews 10:25 represents an opportunity for believers to accomplish what the Hebrew author encourages them to do in Hebrews 10:24: we are to consider one another and how we can provoke one another to love and good works, and part of the way we fulfill this is through our assembling together.
This is consistent with the purpose for the assembly that Paul establishes in 1 Corinthians 14:26, that everything to be done in the assembly is to build one another up. We can see that the assembly involves stirring up one another to love and good works, encouraging one another, and building one another up.
Yet to what end? Why do we need to encourage one another, or build one another up, or stir each other up to love and good works? All of these things are necessary because they represent the role of the assembly in the life of the Christian: it is to be the time of refreshment and renewal in the midst of living the Christian life!
All believers are to reflect Christ in their lives (1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 John 2:6). This means that they must serve others just as Christ did (Matthew 20:25-28, John 13:13-17). At work they must provide proper service to their employers and customers (Ephesians 6:5-9). At home they must sacrifice for and serve their spouses and children (Ephesians 5:22-6:4). They must promote the truth of God in Jesus Christ in word and deed (Matthew 5:13-16, Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 1:16). When they are maligned or slandered, they must still love their fellow man and not do them harm (Luke 6:27-36, Romans 12:21). When given the opportunity, they are to do good for all men (Galatians 6:10), and look for opportunities to show the love, mercy, and compassion of God to others.
These are very challenging responsibilities, and Christians require constant strengthening to continue in them. A good portion of that strengthening is to happen within the assembly. The acts of the assembly are not to be mechanical rituals but opportunities for encouragement– to strengthen one another and remind all of us who we are and what we are trying to accomplish through song, prayer, lessons, and the Lord’s Supper!
Yet Christianity is much, much more than the assembly. Christianity must be a way of life, and the assembly must play its part in the whole. The assembly is really the easy part: it is where we are built up and refreshed. The challenge of Christianity lay in the rest of life: reflecting the love of God in Christ to a sinful, rebellious, and tempting world (Ephesians 6:10-18). Let us assemble and build each other up so that we may have the strength necessary to advance the Kingdom of God in our lives!
Ethan R. Longhenry