This was the newsletter I sent to my Christian-history.org newsletter list:
|I was asked yesterday what I thought the best denomination was. I had a chance to address that at the “Heaven’s Family Reunion” in Pittsburgh in August. I focused on Hebrews 10:24-25.
One of the lines in that passage says that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Everyone knows that line, but it seems that almost no one knows what the rest of the passage says. What are we supposed to do instead of forsaking the assembling of ourselves together? Does the Scripture say, “Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together, but be sure to sit in a pew, hear a sermon, sing some songs, and help pay rent and salaries?”
You know it doesn’t, but I bet you don’t know what it does say to do.
That passage says that we should “know,” “consider,” or “understand” one another so that we can provoke one another to love and good works. The specific sentence says, “Not forsaking …, but exhorting…”
Exhorting is a big word in Greek, and Bibles translate the word “parakaleo” as beg, plead, comfort, console, exhort, and other similar words. It covers everything we can say to help a brother or sister walk in the will of God. A good definition of “exhort” might be found in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, where we read, “Warn the unruly, comfort the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
When you assemble yourselves together, do you go to warn the unruly, comfort the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient as you do so? Are you prepared to do these things because you have “considered” how your brothers and sisters are doing so that you can “provoke to love and good works”?
That is my answer to real church. “Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” is in the Bible, at 2 Timothy 2:22. These sorts of things are biblical commands, and they are what should be done rather than forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. There are no commands to go to Sunday school or listen to sermons every Sunday morning.
If your leaders have not trained you to do the work of ministry and edify the church, they have not done their job (Eph. 4:11-16). Until everyone is involved, we are not doing “real church.”
Those are my words and my teaching from Scripture, but Francis Chan has come out with some very similar teaching from the same passages. He recently released _Letters to the Church_ that talks about how he began to realize that his megachurch, Cornerstone, was not a biblical church. I would recommend the book.
Finally, I mentioned the Roman Catholic Church in the heading of this email. That’s because I only recently realized I had written a page on the origin of the RCC that I really like. Of course I really like it because I wrote it, but I also wrote my Roman Catholicism page, and I don’t like it. I am going to completely change it soon.You can read the good page at https://www.christian-history.org/when-did-roman-catholicism-begin.html.
Grace, peace, and mercy to you as you focus your life on the divine Son of the living God, Jesus Christ our Savior.