Last week I blogged about making the word “comeback” my keyword for 2022. I shared the challenge from Scripture that we should seek to do everything in Jesus’ name, and look for ways to glorify God through what we do, as we’re instructed in Col. 3:17 and 1 Cor. 10:31. Today I would like to talk with you about a different kind of “come back”. The challenge that I would like to share with you today is to “come back” to church in order to grow together in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The writer of the book of Hebrews gives us some very practical and godly instruction regarding this matter when he writes, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as we see the Day approaching,” (Heb.10:24,25 NIV).
First, the writer tells us that “we should spur one another on toward love and good deeds”. This “spur one another on to love and good deeds” is in the context that means to be stimulating or inciting people to do the good things that he’s mentioned. When we work together and share in ministry service, we are doing what the writer instructs us to do in this passage. When we take care of one another and reach out with words of encouragement, maybe writing notes of blessing or thank you notes, we are fulfilling the idea of spurring one another on. I’m reminded of Paul’s writings to the Galatians where he tells us, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you fulfill the law of Christ,” (Gal.6:2 NIV). I think when we carry each other’s burdens and come alongside one another during difficult times and struggles we are spurring one another on toward love and good deeds. The church – the body of Christ, functions best when its members work together for common good. In the church, we are members of one another and so being able to connect with each other on a regular basis is critically important. The writer of Hebrews was giving the example of a mutual effort of encouragement in the midst of persecution that was found in their culture. We live in a culture that is hostile to our gospel witness and so it is important for us to be fellowshipping together and connecting with each other’s lives for the spiritual health of all of us.
The writer of Hebrews then continues to instruct his readers to “not forsake the assembling of themselves”, as some were doing. Collective and corporate worship is a critically important part of our spiritual lives. When we pass through spiritual struggles and difficulties or perhaps even persecution, it is the very working of the Holy Spirit of God that is ministering and moving in our worship experience. I know some have been missing worship over the last two years out of health concerns with legitimate reasons to avoid being around people, but I know others have just become comfortable and it’s much more convenient to stay home, sleep in and watch the service from your living room couch with a cup of coffee. However, the writer of Hebrews is exhorting his readers to continue to reach out and be part of one another’s worship experiences. I think there is a spiritual dynamic that takes place when we make the effort or struggles as the case may be, to be with our brothers and sisters for Sunday worship. Now I know over the last two years that I have truly enjoyed watching the church services while I have been away on vacation. I don’t have to find a church for worship, I can just join the NDC streaming service and be blessed. But that is not the norm of how we should be worshiping in preparation for the next thing that the author reminds us of.
The writer states that we should be regularly worshiping together “all the more as we see the Day approaching”. There is an eschatological urgency in the author's expectation that takes the form of encouragement, comfort, warning, and strengthening. The Day he is referring to is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you, but from my perspective, that day seems to be approaching rather rapidly. “That Day” is the day when Jesus Christ comes to judge the world. At the bema seat of judgment for believers (1Cor. 3:10-15) our works will be evaluated on the basis of our faithfulness and our response to the opportunities that God has given to us in our lives. For the unbeliever, it will be a day of great judgment where they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, even though they no longer have the opportunity to receive Him as their Savior. We should all be aware of the signs that seem to be indicating that the day of the Lord is near at hand. The writer of Hebrews gives that as an exhortation as to why it’s so important to “come back”. Being together and fellowship with one another in corporate worship is one of the most important things we can do for our continued spiritual health, growth, and development. So, you see “come back” is another important phrase as it relates to our personal spiritual growth and health and the health and growth of the body of Christ at NDC.
In the King’s service,
Pastor Rich Sivo