FULL ACCESS TO FULL LIVING
People have a thousand reasons to
stay away from church.
“But, church should be your excuse
for missing everything else”
Unfortunately this wasn’t a new problem to the early church. The early church had a falling away in attendance due to persecution, excommunication, apostasy and arrogance. Today it’s no different Excuses people make today?
“This is my only family time.”
“This is my only day off.”
“My mother made me go as a child.”
“Too many hypocrites are in church.”
“I can get better preaching from a podcast.”
“I can worship just as well out in God’s beautiful world as inside some church.”
“I can worship as well on the golf course or at my favorite fishing hole.”
“I can watch another gathering online, or listen to the message later.”
One of the biggest excuses I came across was, “There is no command that says I need to go to church every Sunday.” Mark Dever, in his book “What Is A Healthy Church” he says, “Except for the rarest of circumstances, a true Christian builds his life into the lives of other believers through the concrete fellowship of a local church. He knows he has not yet arrived. He’s still fallen and needs the accountability and instruction of that local body of people called the church. And they need him”
Here is another reason! “Gatherings are too long.” What do you say about the time of Nehemiah? “And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” Neh 8:1-3
Nehemiah 9:3 says, “And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God.”
What about the early church? “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed……” Acts 20:7-12
Your time should never be the determining factor! As one churchgoer said about the importance of being together. “Considering the greatness of God, the command for preaching, the need for our souls to be replenished each week as we are drained, the joy of worship, and the one another commands, longer than shorter Sunday gatherings is realistic. One and a half to two hours is entirely reasonable. And, weekly gatherings for home/small groups is no less needed.”
I think one of the most grievous excuses I came across in my study was this one. “Some hard things have happened and I need space.” I understand life is tough, and it can be very cruel at times, but to separate yourself from the people who love you, is equally dangerous. The church is to be God’s channel of support and strength. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, "Where is your God?" These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” Psalm 42:1-4. The place of public worship, is where he had often gone, with great pleasure and delight in times of struggles. His grief reminds him of the need and desire to gather with God’s people.
The church, imperfect as she is, plays a vital role in your life and in mine. This past year has been an absolute roller coaster ride and it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Many churches are remaining closed despite the opening recommendations by the government. Andy Stanley, who I would never recommend; recently said over the course of this past year when restrictions started to loosen up in a home video. “You can finally get your hair cut, finally get your nails done, you can even get that tattoo, but you can’t come back to church.” They have suspended all in-person worship services until further notice into 2021.
Is the local church really that necessary
for the Christian life?
Aren’t there better, more relevant ways to thrive
spiritually as a Christian?
We find the answer to those questions in text that is before us this morning. The greater context to this chapter is the confidence to approach God through the Lord Jesus Christ’s and the completed gospel. It these truths we enter in together in corporate worship. The understanding of this passage is that we are entering the sanctuary drawing on the model of what was perfected in Christ as our High Priest.
The church enters…..
Through His precious blood.
Through our Great High Priest.
With a true heart and full assurance.
With a clean heart because of God’s faithfulness and promises.
“Koinonia” true fellowships, as we anticipate Christ’s glorious return.
“Therefore brothers” (v19) indicates those who share in the heavenly calling through the covenant of our Lord Jesus Christ. (v16) This is the defining mark of those who are in Christ. Heb 3:1 says the same thing. “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling..”
What is our calling? “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” last stanza answers that question.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
While God is marching on.
It’s this truth we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus. “Confidence before God” … this confidence is…free and fearless, cheerful courageous, bold, and full assurance. (Heb 3:6; 4 :16; 10:35-39). A confidence in the freedom we have, and access we have been granted, as we enter into His courts. As Paul said, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Phil 3:10-12 This is absolutely good news! Considering the alternative before this was fear, and exclusion, that keep people out of God’s presence under the Old Covenant.
This is why the church matters;
this is why church is essential.
As God’s children, we grow in grace, we study His attributes, and His great works; to the application of these truths for our lives.
Doctrine to duty
Creed to conduct
Precepts to practice
Instruction to exhortation
This is how…. Christians ought to live out their lives daily. The New Testament clearly reveals that our following Jesus is supposed to involve care and concern for each other. Christians are never to self-centered or self-focused, which is our natural disposition. The more time we spend together under the perfect work of the gospel we will see that more clearly. (How? The opening of Hebrews 10 1:1-17). This is why the Hebrew writer expresses to us that we are to invest our lives, our families into one another.
And in return allow others
to invest in you.
Some theologians call this text “The Lettuce Patch” because we see the writer say “Let us” more than once throughout this passage. This sounds like a really bad “Dad joke” The writer wants us to understand how important that being together plays an important role in the fellowship. Why? Being here gives you and me an opportunity to get involved in each other’s life…. in caring love. As John wrote in his first epistle. “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18. The Bible calls this “Doing life together” the church of the “called out ones” as we saw in Acts 1:15. We saw that clearly laid out in Acts 2:42-47…doing life together for the glory of God on the grounds of Christ our Lord. We cannot have full confidence and full assurance of faith apart from the church….meaning you can’t endure in isolation.
Each Christian desperately needs
the body of believers.
As Paul said “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Cor 12:26. A dynamic church will be involved in the lives of its people and you cannot do this from the sidelines or in isolation. Its members cannot merely come in, sit down, leave and say “That they are involved in the church” Being here involves tremendous responsibilities for all Christians, to minister to one another in the body of Christ.
We see this clearly laid out here, by not “forsaking” the one another’s. “Forsake or neglect” …this is referring to "an abandonment." The ESV translates this term as "willful neglect," since it implies a failure to do something one ought to be doing. We see this when the Father turned and could not look upon His Son. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,… "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matt 27:69. This same word was used by Paul when he said in reference to Demas “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me….2 Tim 4:16. And the writer said, “Habit of some” was doing this….willfully isolating themselves, away from the encouragement, exhortation, correction and reproof of their brothers and sisters in Christ. They are endangering their spiritual growth and encouraging spiritual regression. This leads to falling into unbelief, disbelief, or discouragement; becoming lukewarm or succumbing to carnality and falling short.
Inability is not willful neglect,
but constant “excuse making” is.
D. L. Moody was visiting someone when the idea of church membership and involvement came up. “I believe I can be just as good a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it,” the man said. Moody said nothing. Instead, he moved to the fireplace, blazing against the winter outside, removed one burning coal and placed it on the grate. The two men sat together and watched the ember die out. “I see,” the man said. Being connected demonstrates your commitment to Christ and His bride. Being connected gives you the opportunity to serve and encourage one another.
Are you doing that?
Being here is a glorious privilege and an honor to serve, as we encourage one another, especially in times like these. Being gone for long period of times can strain and deeply affect the spiritual relationship in a negative way if you’re not careful. I can attest that Brent, Steve, John and I would get together each week to pray, to open our church; and that we wouldn’t be complacent with doing church online. For this reason! The longer your away the easier it is to stay away and lose contact. And in the end you’re not doing what God called you to do.
This chapter reveals why we don’t forsake as some do, those who have fallen to apostasy….(v26) this is clearly evident in one’s profession. We have full access to full living based on the ground of what the writer pens at the opening of this chapter. The gospel perfected so that we can enter in; not once a year, but continually because of His great sacrifice. Mark Dever wrote “If Jesus is committed to the church, should we be any less committed to it?” We should be in the habit of stirring up one another through encouraging and challenging words found in Scripture.“Stir up” …..here is used in a pleasant, a positive sense of “prodding one another” towards love and good deeds. This word can be used in a negative way, to cause “strong disagreement” as we see in Acts 15:39 over Paul’s displeasure of John Mark. “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus,” See! How you use a word can have a negative or a positive spin on the conversation.
For example! The word “Deserve” Said with humility and gentleness “I don’t deserve you people.”
Sounds nice and comforting. But said with a sinister tone “I don’t deserve you people!”
Doesn’t sound nice at all.
What the writer is conveying is that…. We should stir each up positively, not destroy the unity of the body, for the sake of a few.
We are to look out for
The purpose is to stir up, or spur up, by encouraging one another, not causing division or tearing down. As Prov 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Stir up one another to “Love and good deeds”…this is an agape love for one another; that is the unconditional expression that God show you and me. It’s a love that produces in you and me, a volitional, selfless love for God’s family. Paul summarized this demonstration of love and deed towards the fellowship. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Rom 12:9-18
What is my calling as person of
Calvary Baptist Church?
Christ calls you and me, to bring out the best in each other. We must be actively stirring one another up to love and good works. This is Kingdom building for His glory as we prepare for His glorious return. By doing this we are living examples of the grace that we have in our lives through Jesus Christ. Ignatius said, “When ye frequently, and in numbers meet together, the powers of Satan are overthrown, and his mischief is neutralized by your likemindedness in the faith.” By doing this we are reminding ourselves of His great sacrifice of our great God and King. By doing this we are to remind each other of the promises we have in His “once and for all” (v12)
We know we can enter in, so why wouldn’t
you want to be here?
Because according to the writer there are some… who don’t. (v25) Indeed, the local church plays a principal role on almost every page of the New Testament. As one theologian said, “It is through, not apart from, the ministry of the church that Christ and His benefits are efficaciously communicated to the elect and received through faith. A serious Christian, then, does not craft a mosaic of personalized spirituality outside the church. No, true faith believes Christ’s promise to feed His sheep through the faithful ministry of a biblical church.”
These truths are what keep us together through the
storms of this life as we wait for the next.
We were never created to be alone…single possibly; but never alone, when it comes to the family of God. Yes! The Bible says we can worship and pray privately as seen in Matt 6:6. But that will never be the fullest, deepest, most joyful experience of God for us. That’s reserved for Christ’s unified body, His bride, His church. That’s the most profound reason we are not to neglect meeting together. Why? “The Day draws near” is a day of judgement and wrath. (v26) A day that Jesus said would happen. “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matt 24:1-14
Jesus designed the Church to function together in the goal
of telling the world about Him.
The Church Matters, tecause the Gospel Matters. We are a community of believers where God’s story is read, interpreted, and believed, and lived out. All this for His glory and our growing in His grace. The Church matters, Because the Gospel Matters… Because it is the community where we discover our brokenness, our giftedness, our needs, and our talents to serve one another. All for His glory and our growing in His grace.
John MacArthur said as a summary to this passage. “The door is open; the way is made available to enter into God’s presence. Come in and stay and fellowship with His people, and enjoy God’s company forever.”
Grayson Gilbert wrote, “We gather with the saints each Sunday, not simply out of obedience, nor even because of all the wondrous benefits found therein. We convene with the local church each weekend because we are betrothed, not as individuals, but as a body, to our Lord, Jesus Christ. We assemble together because He has assembled us together. We gather while it is still called “today” because we will be gathered together in His great halls with the believers of all time.”
We enter this place with
full access to full living.