Abandonment Issues (No. 3 in Series)

As we continue our discussion of Heb 10:24-25, we should remember how the exhortation began: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”  One of the primary ways we do this is by, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.”  The “assembling of ourselves together” can mean more sharply, “our own assembly” (Cockerill, 480).  The word “assembly” is the word for a gathered group of people.  It is the local church that the preacher has in mind.  We are not to abandon the local church.  It is not “church attendance” in general that we are not to forsake but the actual people.

There is Old Testament background to the idea of abandonment.  In the Greek version of the OT, the word “forsake” is a covenantal term which is used 170 times and often refers to Israel abandoning the Lord and His ways (Deut 28:20; 31:16; 32:15, 18; Judg 2:12, 13, 20; 10:10, 13; 1 Sam 8:8; 12:10; also see 2 Tim 4:10, 16).  To “forsake” the assembly is to neglect the Lord’s expectations for us, but it is also to “abandon” other believers and deprive them of needed support.  One scholar has put it this way, “The first negative concern is prerequisite . . . those who absent themselves from God’s people can do nothing to ‘provoke one another to love and good works’” (Cockerill, 479).  If we are to love one another and encourage others to be loving, then we must be together.  Again, let it be said, we can never truly minister to one another if we keep each other at a distance.  This abandonment has tragic results because encouragement cannot take place in isolation.  You see, you do not go to church just for yourself.  You go to church for others.  You go to church to share with and support other Christians.

Our own local church cannot be all that God wants it to be unless we individually and as households decide to make a commitment to gather together on a regular basis for worship and fellowship.  “[T]he author [of Hebrews] sees their discontinuance of common fellowship and worship as fatal for perseverance in the faith” (Guthrie, 345).  The local church is at the very least damaged by lack of attendance and may even be destroyed without a covenantal commitment of its members.