The Value of the Church | Part 3
Topic: The Church Verse: Hebrews 10:23–10:25
Theme: Those who truly love Christ will inevitably love the Church.
As our world increasingly regresses into biblical illiteracy, one of many issues that are lost is the awareness of a proper ecclesiology. “Ecclesiology” is the doctrine of the church – the essential work of Christ – described in the Scriptures as the “household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15). It is too often relegated to a social club – or even a political party, committed to a democratic process. It is marginalized by many families as something to be “fit in, if possible.” They see it as a drain on time that the family desperately needs given how busy everyone is.
There is a need for saints to gain a biblical perspective on the priority and value of the church on many levels. The church is designed by God to be essential to the vitality of a person’s individual faith; of a couple’s marriage; and of a family’s spiritual well-being. Without the church, the Gospel would be adrift. It is through the church that you are equipped as a servant of Christ in every venue – marriage, home, community, work. Coming to church must not be relegated to attending a service. Proper involvement in the church is not something you merely do. It is something that you essentially are – you are the church.
As the church is the Body of Christ, you cannot love Christ without active participation in the church. As the church is the Bride of Christ, you cannot love Christ without engaging in the church. As the flock over which Christ is the Good Shepherd, you cannot love Christ without flocking under His leadership. Hence, those who truly love Christ will inevitably love the Church.
I. The Standard for Our Stability as a Church – v. 23
A. A Confession that Perseveres
- The mark of the genuine believer is a perseverance in their devotion to Jesus Christ.
- We are told that this perseverance is the common characteristic of those who truly follow Christ – John 8:31.
- The word “confession” [ὁμολογία] – literally means “to say the same thing”- as the statement of allegiance by all those who are the followers of Christ Jesus.
- It is that to which we all cling – or “hold fast” [κατέχωμεν] or “to have down” as the foundation of our faith.
- This is the notion of that which we will all confess and for which we will all die – that the Lord Jesus is our King and Master – cp. Romans 10:9-10; Philippians 2:11; 1 Timothy 3:16.
B. A Confidence in the Promise
- What generates this tenacious, persevering “holding fast of our confession?”
- It is our confidence in the Word of God – “… for He who promised is faithful.”
- The “promise” of the Lord is what convinces us that He is worthy of our following Him – cp. Acts 13:32-33; Romans 4:19-25.
- We are convinced, through the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit – that we have eternal life in and through Jesus Christ – cp. 1 John 2:25; 5:11-12.
- Thus, the Church becomes essential to our identity as those who have been redeemed by God’s grace alone – through faith alone - in Christ alone – by the ministry of the Scriptures alone - to the glory of God alone.
- As such, we are truth lovers – people of the book, people of faith, people who celebrate grace, people who are devotees to Christ – and people who love the church – 1 Timothy 3:15.
- It is through engagement as the church that our confession of faith in our Master & Lord is gained, explained, ingrained, maintained, and sustained.
- In this sense, to distance oneself from the church is to distance yourself from Christ Himself.
II. The Stimulation of Our Service throughout the Church – v. 24
A. The Vision for Service – “Let us consider how …”
- How should we “conduct ourselves in the household of God?” – what is the vision for your involvement in the church?
- Our text tells us that we individually as well as corporately must have a vision for our participation in the church – it's a “jussive” form in Greek emphasizing a “hortatory” exhortation – “Let us …” as in “we all ought to consider how …”
- This puts us all on the hook for what is being exhorted here – none of us – who are holding fast our confession – can say, this isn’t important for me.
- This is not a “one size fits all” notion – it is something that each of us must “consider” [κατανοέω] – contemplate or envisage – conveying that idea of considerable thought going into a decision.
- It assumes that you will have to think through your schedule, your family, your work, your interests, your gifting, your relationships.
- It is needful for each of us – who are uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit – to determine how we are to be involved in helping others love and serve Christ more – not if we will be involved!
- A practical way that you can tell whether you’ve given enough thought to this – whether you have “considered” this adequately is to ask this question: “How would things suffer here at GBC if I were removed from it?”
B. The Vitality of Service – “… to stimulate one another …”
- The specific focus is on “how to stimulate one another …”
- “stimulate” [παροξυσμός] – refers to stirring it up – or “rousing to activity” – this is the heart of the elders’ vision of Grace Bible being a church where everyone will be intentionally helping another follow Christ more.
- A sense of apathy, detachment, remaining aloof, or indifference to the engagement with other believers within the context of the Church is a disease that will destroy the faith of the disinterested and will obstruct the faith of the church.
- Far too often, believers have the idea that they come to church “to be stimulated” in their faith without any sense of obligation to be involved in arousing the faith in others.
- Such ego-centrism in the church is a cancer that must be radiated by the glory of Christ to enable the health of a Christlike “others-mindedness” to prevail.
C. The Virtues in Service – “… to love and good deeds”
- Attitudes [Mentality]: The first virtue that must be “stirred up” in one another is that of the attitudes of “love” [ἀγάπη] – the quality of warm regard for and interest in another – cp. John 13:34-35; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
- Activities [Ministry] – The second virtue that must be “stirred up” in one another is the activities of ministry - “good deeds” [καλῶν ἔργων] – cp. Titus 2:14; 3:8 and it involves the exertion of effort or energy.
III. The Support of the Saints within the Church – v. 25
A. The Priority of Assembly
- So how are you going to successfully find opportunities to do this – to stimulate one another?
- Clearly, the strength of each individual part is heightened by means of the whole – a synergy wherein in coming together, each part is strengthened.
- Thus, God informs us that in order to be faithful and to hold fast our confession, and to stimulate one another we can “not [be] forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some …”
- “forsaking” [ἐγκαταλείπω] – carries the idea of abandoning, or deserting and refers to the deliberate decision to neglect something – cp. Matthew 27:46; 2 Timothy 4:10.
- In our text, it is held in contrast with the faithful gathering together for the purpose of stimulating one another toward greater righteousness – it refers to the negligence in gathering.
- Rather, regular engagement in gathering with other saints – first as the “general assembly” for worship that occurs on the Lord’s Day for the purpose of “speaking to one another” in singing, as well as hearing the preaching of God’s Word.
- However, beyond this, faithfully gathering on the Lord’s Day in the general assembly provides a yearning to be engaged in gathering in smaller “assemblies” for even more familiar stimulation through Community Groups.
- Likewise, participation in Community Groups, when effective, will motivate believers with a desire to celebrate Christ within the “general assembly” on the Lord’s Day.
- It has been asked how we can help cultivate a sense of commitment to the gathering in community groups – and my response is always: foster an environment of unconditional love, mutual edification, and stimulation of on another to good deeds and they’ll not want to miss.
B. The Power in Assembly
- When a church is properly engaged in “assembling together,” there will be an ever-increasing desire – “… and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
- That is, as our awareness is heightened through our intimacies with Christ and the Body of Christ, there develops a greater yearning to gather with a view to the “ultimate” assembly in glory – cp. Hebrews 12:23.
- As we are sensitized to the glories of Christ and conformed to Him through the engagement in the church, the impetus to gather becomes increasingly intense.
- Similarly, as we grow cold and distant from Christ, we begin to develop habits of “intermittency” – “… as is the habit of some.”
Over the next four weeks, our community groups will be massaging these truths to gain even greater awareness of how we are to think on these matters. They will be conducting guided discussions on “what is the church;” “what does the church do?”; and two sessions on “what am I to do in the church?” We urge you to faithfully connect with a community group and participate faithfully in these small group meetings.