When it comes to “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”, what does that mean?
Heb 10:25 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.
So many, even a great many, Christians read this single verse of scripture and claim that the writer of this letter to the Hebrews is talking about the physical gathering together of believers in worship. They accuse those who do not participate in a structured worship service of being in violation of the scriptures and this verse in particular.
Unfortunately, this is what happens when you take one verse of scripture and use it as a “proof text” without reading the whole passage in order to understand its context. Though I am not one to jump up and down yelling and screaming “context, context, context”, let’s at least consider the subject and context of this passage. Is the writer even addressing a physical gathering together of believers in worship? Or is this author trying to tell us not to forsake the fact that we have all been “gathered together” by baptism through one spirit into one body, the body of Christ? Pointing out that it is this “gathering together” of all men into “one body” that some were forsaking?
Let us look at the whole passage and not just one verse. Let us go back not only to the beginning of this chapter but to Chapter 9 which contains another verse of scripture (Heb 9:27) that I believe is often misused and misquoted as a “proof text” by those who want to prove that judgment comes after physical death, rather than “in the earth” (Pro 11:31), though the passage is not speaking about the deaths of all men, or each man individually, but the death of one man, Jesus Christ, of which it says “and after this the judgment”. And did Jesus not say: “now is the judgment of this world” (John 12:31)? But that is discussed in other blogs, so I will not dwell on that here.
If we look at this entire passage in Hebrews we can see that it is about the one sacrifice that was made for all through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, through which came the propitiation for sin and the reconciliation of the world. It is about “the law having a shadow of good things to come”. It is about the fact that “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” and the fact that “by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified”. It is about taking away the first (covenant) in order to establish the second (covenant). And didn’t Jesus say: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”?
How many times have we heard our Christian brothers and sisters, or even said ourselves, that while we are to love our neighbors as ourselves those “neighbors”, unless they are “believers”, are not a part of “the body of Christ”; that the body of Christ is made up of believers only; that all others are outside of “the body” and not a part of the “the church” of Jesus Christ; that only believers have been “gathered together” into this one body, the body of Christ, the church?
Certainly, especially today with all of our church buildings, when we think of “the church” we think of those “believers” who gather together in them; we think of those who identify themselves as “Christian”. In some cases we will even claim that not all Christians are “true Christians” and only “true Christians” are a part of “the body of Christ” or the “true Church”. But if all men have been gathered together into “one body”, whether bond or free, Jew or Gentiles, male or female, then can there be but ONE BODY? The “one body” into which all men have been “gathered together”?
Let us look at what the scriptures have to say:
God was in Christ reconciling THE WORLD unto himself, not imputing their (THE WORLD’S) trespasses unto them; (2Co 5:14-21)
Creating ONE NEW MAN (Eph 2:15)
Wherefore henceforth know we NO MAN after the flesh: (2Co 5:16)
For he is our peace, WHO HATH MADE BOTH (Jew and Gentile) ONE, having broken down the middle wall of partition between us; (Eph 2:14)
Reconciling BOTH unto God IN ONE BODY by the cross (Eph 2:16)
There is ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT… ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL, who is ABOVE ALL, and THROUGH ALL, and IN YOU ALL. (Eph 4:6)
The body IS ONE… whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free (1 Co 12:12-14)
Christ IS ALL AND IN ALL (Col 3:11)
That is only a small list of all of the verses that could be listed here. Paul was very clear that it was “when we were dead in sins” that God “quickened us together with Christ”, for it is “by grace” that we are saved:
Eph 2:4-9 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved); And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Paul also clearly tells us that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death. And having been baptized into His death we should also walk in the newness of life, knowing the power of His resurrection:
Rom 6:3-8 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
For we know that… if we be DEAD WITH HIM, we shall also LIVE WITH HIM!!
You see, even “the dead” are “in Christ”, for “if one died for all, then were all dead”. This is why those who are alive and remain shall not prevent those who sleep, for “the dead in Christ shall rise first”. It can be no other way, for all were dead and Jesus Christ is the resurrection!! It is “the dead” who are in need of “the resurrection of the dead”. Those who are “alive” have already PASSED from death unto life. They HAVE eternal life (that life that is IN THE SON) abiding in them (Christ in you, the hope of glory). They are “as the angels of God in heaven” and cannot die any more. They know THE POWER of HIS RESURRECTION (= THE FIRST resurrection and blessed and holy is he that hath part in it). They no longer walk in darkness being children OF THE NIGHT. They are children OF THE DAY, children OF THE RESURRECTION. But, again, that is covered in other blogs so I will not elaborate here.
Yet some will still claim that unless we “believe” or unless we have “accepted the free gift” of salvation that Jesus Christ offers us, then we are not only not a part of His body, having been reconciled to the Father through the Son, we may very well be on that wide road that leads to destruction, to unending torment (or annihilation, depending on their particular flavor of “eternal punishment”).
When it comes to “the body of Christ”, to “the church”, many are quick to claim that while they are a part of it the majority of us are not. They will say they love their neighbors, but they will not see them as or call them their “brothers” (or “sisters”) in Christ.
However, the scriptures clearly tell us that even when it comes to our “neighbors” we are “members one of another”
Eph 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Heb 10:24-27 … let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 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. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
So while that may be “the manner of some”, let us not be counted among them!
Let not the eye say to the hand or the head to the foot: “I have no need of thee”, as there should be “no schism in the body”. Let us remember that it is God who has tempered the body together and it is He who places us in the body, as He sees fit to place us. (1 Cor 12).
Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is!
All Blessings in Christ!