All of us know that the Bible says, “… not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together.” Why, then, do almost none of us know what it says to do instead?
We all think that instead of forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, we should sit in a pew, sing a few songs, pay some money, then listen to a sermon. At least, that is what we seem to think. We all do it, and if we don’t do it, then someone will tell us that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
Hebrews 10:25 has a different alternative to forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. Instead of forsaking the assembling, we should be exhorting.
Go ahead, look it up.
Did you exhort last Sunday morning?
And who said it was talking about Sunday? There are arguments—some weak biblical ones and some strong historical ones—that we should assemble ourselves on Sunday. But where does the Bible suggest we assemble only on Sunday? In fact, that same book of the Bible says we are to exhort one another every day! How long should we continue exhorting one another every day? As long as it is called today (Heb. 3:13).
Let’s take a moment to define the word exhort. It is one of the most awesome (and most used) words in the Bible. The King James Bible translates it as “beseech” 44 times, “comfort” 23 times, “exhort” 21 times, “desire” 8 times, “pray” 6 times, “intreat” 3 times, and four other miscellaneous translations. Young’s Concordance says it can be translated address, speak to, call upon, exhort, entreat, comfort, instruct, admonish, beg, console, and strengthen.
Exhort is a big word. Thirty years ago, I looked up all the uses of “parakaleo” (the Greek word for exhort and all those other words), and chose “to say something to get someone else to do something” as the definition.
That definition works really well because immediately before “… not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together,” in Hebrews 10:24, the Bible says, “Get to know one another so that you can provoke to love and good works.”
The alternative to forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, biblically, is to get to know each other so that you know how to exhort, plead with, encourage, console, admonish and thus provoke each other to love and good works.
Did you get to know your brothers and sisters in Christ last Sunday, thinking about how to provoke them to love and good works? Did you beg them, plead with them, encourage them, console them, admonish them, and in whatever way possible come alongside them to help them to love and to do good works?
If not, then you have been forsaking the assembling of yourselves together.
There are examples of people who are not forsaking the assembling of themselves together. Many are small, but some are very large. For example, there is Francis Chan’s “we are church” movement in San Francisco. There is Torben Sondergaard’s “Last Reformation” movement. Whether you agree with their theology or not, they are definitely exhorting one another day by day. Our own Christian community, Rose Creek Village, is very small compared to those movements, but we are begging, pleading, encouraging, consoling, and helping one another to do love and good works day by day rather than forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.
You can do the same. It would be great if the leadership of your Sunday “one-guy-exhorts-everyone-else” meeting would encourage you in doing this. Even if he does not, though, you can begin pleading with, helping, and consoling your brothers and sisters today. Maybe someone will see your example and do the same.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (1 Thes. 5:14)