My Thoughts. . .
Thursday, April 9, 2020
Due to the rapid spread of the Corona-virus (Covid-19), warnings have gone out from Local, State and Federal governments instructing churches to take steps to protect the welfare of all members. Churches were asked to close their doors during this outbreak. On a church forum one person asked if Hebrews 10:25 didn’t make it a sin for people to stay home rather than attend services on Sunday? One lady replied with an emphatic “YES.” Apparently the lady considered her reply biblical and it was her duty to condemn anyone who disobeyed her view of Hebrews 10:25. In her opinion it was better to die from the virus than to lose one’s soul by being absent from a gathering at the church building Sunday morning.
Hebrews 10:25 is usually quoted making any absence a sin if you fail to go to the church building Sunday. The idea is also advanced that one sin will send you straight back to the devil’s domain. Such claims made by quoting that passage are out of context. Hebrews 10:25 is not addressing absentees during a major pandemic that threatens lives. Neither does it condemn someone fleeing from persecution. It does not condemn someone staying home due to sickness whether adult or tending a sick child. It does not command the church to withdraw from someone who has been called in to work. What Hebrews 10:25 reveals, for those who are interested in context, is “who” is being address as the ones doing the “forsaking”? Those guilty of that sin are the members who have (1) set aside God’s new covenant and have returned to the Old one for their salvation. (2) It is for those who have trampled underfoot the Son of God. (3) It is for those who have considered Jesus’ blood as unclean. (4) It is also for those who have insult the Spirit of grace. That verse is not being directed at the sick, persecuted, one called into work, or taking a medical emergency serious. When we take a passage out of context, we are either adding to God’s word, or subtracting from it! Usually those who do such adding or subtracting believe they are justified in doing so. They aren’t!
The Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to heal a man on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10). Jesus asked if one of them would not rescue a sheep that had fallen in the ditch on that day (v.11). Phariseeism did not cease in the first century. It is doing quite well today in our churches. I’m sure someone would “righteously” accuse Jesus of thinking more of a sheep than he did of keeping God’s word! Jesus told his crowd that the Sabbath was made for man, man wasn’t made for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Some, like the Pharisees, need to understand that man is not made for the Sabbath or the first day of the week.
There was a time when members met from house to house because church buildings were a third or fourth century addition. It was man that decided to add Sunday night and Wednesday night assemblies, not scripture. Has anyone noticed that the Troas church met in the evening and continued that assembly after midnight (Acts 20:7-11)? Are we less spiritual because we don’t follow their example? The day the church began, they met every day. Are we less spiritual because we don’t meet as often as they did? When persecution hit, did they continue meeting every day, or did many of them leave town (Acts 8:1-2)? When they forsook those daily meetings, did it mean they were guilty of losing their spirituality? Man has a habit of making his own religious laws, binding them on others, and then swelling up in with pride that he is meticulous in keeping his own laws. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for that type of thinking (Matthew 23).
We may pride ourselves on how close we are to being like the first century saints, but in actuality, we have surrounded ourselves with so many practices which they never thought about. We do not imitate their assemblies nor match their growth. Perhaps the only area where we are alike is in being sinners as they were.
The first century church had Pharisees who were members that preferred the Old Testament way of doing things rather than the New. They would not agree to the concept that God added a Gentile to the body of Christ in an uncircumcised condition (Acts 15). They elevated the Old Testament over the New one. They made a law which God did not bind. They quoted the old law on circumcision but ignored the New. Hebrews 10:25 is applied by some to actions that God never considered “a forsaking” violation. If we are not careful, we will become the modern heirs of Phariseeism in our interpretation of Hebrew 10:25.