Monday, January 15, 2018

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 you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).

It is surprising how many misunderstand this verse.   Some believe if you miss one Sunday morning Bible class, but attend the following assembly, that you have forsaken the earlier assembly.  If you miss Sunday night, you are guilty.  If you miss an entire schedule on Sunday, you have just signed your soul over to Satan for an eternal partnership!  Is that what this passage teaches?

The writer addressed Jewish Christians who are leaving the faith.  Notice the first of two passages.

There is no use trying to bring you back to the Lord again if you have once understood the Good News and tasted for yourself the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, and know how good the Word of God is, and felt the mighty powers of the world to come, and then have turned against God. You cannot bring yourself to repent again if you have nailed the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting him, holding him up to mocking and to public shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6 TLB).

Is that what an individual does by missing Bible class, but arrives for the following service?  Is this what one does when missing Sunday night, or for some reason misses the three scheduled hours on Sunday?  If so, and that individual can slip back in without a public word of rebuke, the problem is not with the individual, but with what is allowed!  If the person returns the following Wednesday night or Sunday, he isn’t among those the Hebrew writer is describing.  Now, look at the second of the two passages!

If anyone sins deliberately by rejecting the Savior after knowing the truth of forgiveness, this sin is not covered by Christ’s death; there is no way to get rid of it.  There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible punishment of God’s awful anger, which will consume all his enemies.  A man who refused to obey the laws given by Moses was killed without mercy if there were two or three witnesses to his sin.  Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled underfoot the Son of God and treated his cleansing blood as though it were common and unhallowed, and insulted and outraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to his people” (Hebrews 10:26-29 TLB).

The person who misses a service, or a Sunday, but has every intention of returning, is not the individual being discussed by our passages.  The Hebrew writer is speaking of those who have totally rejected Jesus and have no intention of returning.  The writer states that if they keep that frame of mind, they can’t be forgiven because they don’t think it is necessary to return to Jesus.  They continue to reject him and shamefully display him with their disbelief!

Sometimes folks will have opinions, attach them to a passage, then quote those verses as if they teach the opinion.  Do that long enough and the number of people accepting that judgment grows, and the majority thought comes to rule as truth!

Recently, due to icy conditions resulting in one person’s death and multiple roadway accidents, several elderships decided to cancel the first day of the week assemblies.  Immediately some doubts surfaced.  The doubters believed Hebrews 10:25 demanded a Sunday assembly regardless of conditions.  Let’s say an eldership sends a message to their membership stating that the doors will be open at the usual morning hour for “those who can make it.”  Instead of the majority showing up, only 20% do, but with the possibilities of endangering their well-being.  There are a few hard falls, and a few fender benders.  Since most cars have a $500 to $1,000 deductible before insurance steps in, the “minor” accidents are not welcomed due to the unexpected personal cost.  Some who fell were fortunate, not suffering any broken bones or sprains.  However, a few do more than fall.  Due to that mishap, work is lost.  Co-pay is not cheap, and pain suffered causes the injured to not be numbered among “those who can make it.”  Did they forsake the assembly?   They weren’t there!  Remember, attendance is demanded regardless of conditions!

Let’s not overlook an important fact.  If Hebrews 10:25 is “a demand, regardless of conditions,” what passage allows an eldership to open the doors to “those who can make it” but allow the rest to remain at home while the 20% do not forsake that assembly?  Is that in Hebrew 10:25?  If the 80% may safely remain at home, because the eldership allows it, then why endanger the 20% who probably get out only because they feel they are sinning if they don’t attend?  Why jeopardize the 20% who attend because they believe it is required or end up in hell?  If it is a demanded exercise regardless of conditions, that eldership has gone beyond what is written and given the 80% permission to rightly disobey God’s word!  If it is demanded by that passage, then 100% of the membership is required to attend regardless of conditions.  That means no human being has a right to change that command, whether elders or preachers!  Break a leg?  Got to go.  In a car accident?  Got to go.  Why?  Hebrews 10:25 does not permit “excuses” nor give a “time out.”  Remember, attendance is demanded regardless of conditions!  The passage needs to be read to see who and why “some are in the habit” of no longer attending (v.25-29 NIV).

Since Hebrews 10:25-29 informs us who those practitioners of habit are, we need to ask if the 80% is numbered in that group?  Are they trampling Jesus under their feet?  Are they treating his blood as useless and unholy?  Are they insulting the Holy Spirit?  If so, then the eldership is guilty of harboring their sin by giving them their blessings by not requiring their attendance because their excuse is, “we can’t make it.”

Some will feel guilty, regardless of conditions, of not being present when the doors open.  Why do they feel guilty?  Are they among those who reject Jesus and despise the Holy Spirit?  No.  Never!  They feel guilty because of the misrepresentation of Hebrews 10:25, which has been erroneously taught for years, and swallowed as truth.

This misrepresentation creates another misunderstanding.  Those who ignore the conditions and do make it to the building, may look upon themselves as “the faithful few.”  Their willingness to go, despite the dangers to themselves and family, proves their spiritual position with the Lord over those who stayed at home.  In Acts 9, persecution caused members to flee from Jerusalem (Acts 9:1).  Since they ran, didn’t they forsake the local assembly of the Jerusalem church?  Did that cause them to lose a few spiritual points with the Lord?  Wouldn’t those who fled in Acts 9, be on a par with those who decided to stay at home due to icy conditions?  Some may assume that the fleeing saints attended where they fled to.  However, Luke doesn’t say that.  If attendance is demanded regardless of conditions, wouldn’t persecution, like ice, be a “condition”?

It is amazing how easily a misunderstanding is accepted as truth, the hold it develops over people of the book, and the doubt it creates concerning one’s faithfulness!

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1 NIV).