Essential Church

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23–25, NASB95)


First of all, let me preface these thoughts with the comment, “the Church is not a building, the Church is made up of individual people of the Body of Christ.” Having said that, one of the greatest threats to the Church today is the unseen infection of secularization. Apostasy is an obvious condition of falling away from the faith, but weak and wavering faith is just as dangerous and less apparent. Baylor historian Philip Jenkins comments on secularization in this way,

“Secularization is not the same as atheism or even a decline or destruction of faith. Rather it’s a decline of religious institutions, and a decisive shift in religious practice to individual and privatized forms.”

Thus, secularization changes corporate worship of the Church and public expressions of faith from essential to non-essential. The personal practice of faith becomes so individualizes and privatized that the person declaring faith forsakes the assembly of believers, quiets the gospel testimony, and weakens the Church.

The writer of Hebrews is exhorting the Church to have confidence in the hope of their salvation without wavering. In fact, he even encourages the Church to be others focused on how they might think about stimulating one another to love and good deeds over their personal preferences. The word “stimulate” has the idea of provoking an attitude of godliness and bringing encouragement. This kind of body encouragement can only be accomplished through corporate assembly with the Church body and engaging with other people. God did not save you to live a private faith that is personally disengaged from the corporate body. Christian faith and witness will flourish and grow in an atmosphere of Christian fellowship. We need spiritual stimulation from other believers to grow in our faith and testimony.

The readers of this letter were in danger of slipping away because the movement of Christianity was now established and not as fresh as it once was. Another issue was fear from a real threat of persecution surrounding the Church. Out of fear, believers stayed away from meeting together. Still, others just became lazy and distracted with life. Instead of “meeting together” as was the original practice, believers began to “forsake the assembling together,” thus weakening the corporate Church.

Is secularization a danger in our world today? Yes, consider Europe and how many great cathedrals that once held large groups of believers that are now shuttered because of the secularization of their faith.

If the Day of the Lord is coming soon and it is then instead of meeting less often to support and encourage the Church to love and good deeds, we should meet more often. Let us find ways to stimulate one another to love and good deeds as a testimony of faith.

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