the weblog of Alan Knox

But I have perfect attendance…

Posted by on Jul 18, 2007 in edification, gathering, scripture | 13 comments

I’ve read several blog posts lately that have stated that believers are commanded to assemble with one another. Usually, these posts reference Hebrews 10:25 as proof that Scripture commands believers to assemble with one another:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

I’ve discussed this passage in detail previously (see the post “Not forsaking, but encouraging…“); however, I thought it would be beneficial to look into this again. Specifically, what are believers required to do according to this verse?

The command in this passage (actually, an imperatival use of the subjunctive) is “let us consider”. The purpose of “considering one another” is to stir up love and good works. Thus, the author of Hebrews expects believers who have the freedom to enter the presence of God (Heb 10:19) and who have Jesus as their high priest (Heb 10:21) to demonstrate that by thinking of ways to exhort others toward love and good works in their lives. This is the command, not “assembling”.

So, what part does “assembling” play in this passage. It plays a secondary role. The author of Hebrews recognizes that we cannot exhort one another towards love and good works if we never meet with one another. Similarly, we cannot stir up one another towards love and good works if we do not encourage one another. The two participles (“not forsaking” and “encouraging”) play an important, but secondary, role in the requirement of considering one another in order to provoke love and good works in each other’s lives.

So what? We’re still supposed to assemble together, right? Yes, in fact, according to Scripture, believers will want to meet together with other believers. Assembling together is not required in Scripture, but it is expected. However, attendance alone does not meet any scriptural requirements. It is possible to meet together with other believers and never fulfill the purpose of thinking about how to spur one another on towards love and good works, and then exhorting them towards that goal. A “perfect attendance” award means nothing to a believer.

If we meet together in a way that precludes us from encouraging one another toward love and good works, then we are not meeting in a way that Scripture prescribes or describes. Similarly, if we require attendance, but do not allow believers opportunities to exhort one another toward maturity, then we are not helping people to follow the teachings of Scripture.

Instead of someone saying, “I don’t think I’ve seen you around here in the last few weeks”, what if they said, “I noticed that you haven’t encouraged anyone around here in the last few weeks”.

Yes, I know. It is much easier to count noses. It makes us feel better to have a “full house”. But, attendance means nothing if people are not exhorting one another toward maturity in Christ.

Yes, I know. In our mega-gatherings we cannot possibly know whether or not people are encouraging or being encouraged. But, is the answer to the situation to change the scriptural responsibilities of believers?

Yes, I know. Some will suggest that we have “small groups” in order to encourage one another. The only problem with this answer is that Scripture only gives one reason for believers to gather together, whether there are a large number of people or a small number of people: edification.

So let’s continue meeting together – whether in large or small scheduled weekly meetings or in large or small spontaneous meetings. But, let’s come together for the right reason: not to count noses and record attendance, but to consider one another in order to stir up one another towards love and good works.


13 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-18-2007

    Alan,

    I thank God you can exhort me and E-gather with me every day even though we are 2000 miles apart.

    Jeff

  2. 7-18-2007

    May it be!

  3. 7-19-2007

    Alan,

    I’m exhorted and certainly encouraged by you and others who respond to your blog. I am abundantly blessed. I, very weakly, seek to reciprocate.

  4. 7-19-2007

    Aussie John,

    “very weakly”?? My dear brother, I beg to differ. You have been a tremendous blessing to me and the readers of my blog as well as here on Alan’s blog.

    Thank you for taking us “younger” guys in to your heart and encouraging us. I have yet to see a comment or post from you that was not encouraging.

    steve :)

  5. 7-19-2007

    Jeff,

    You’ve inspired another blog post about “e-gathering”… thank you!

    Lew,

    Amen!

    Aussie John,

    I second Steve’s comment! You have challenged me to not only think carefully about what I believe, but more importantly about how I live.

    Steve,

    I agree.

    -Alan

  6. 7-19-2007

    Good post Alan!

  7. 7-19-2007

    Thanks especially for your last paragraph.

    And while I love and enjoy e-gathering with you, let us all be reminded that it is an added blessing, not a substitute. There’s no good way to break bread together over the internet. One of the most scriptural elements or the church is the potluck.

  8. 7-19-2007

    Alan,

    I realize it’s probably impossible to count modems. But, if you could I would be willing to bet there are, in addition to the 20-30 that I’ve seen post here, hundreds if not thousands if not millions of people being encouraged by your blogs and by other peoples comments. I monitored this blog for several months before I was brave enough to comment. Keep up the good work!

    Jeff

  9. 7-19-2007

    Alan,

    I needed a “Barnabus” this morning. There were two. Yourself and Steve.
    Thank you Lord!

  10. 7-19-2007

    Raborn,

    Thank you for the encouragement!

    David,

    I agree – especially the “potluck” part ;)

    Jeff,

    I appreciate that. I don’t know who reads, but my prayer is that what they read here points them toward maturity in Christ and encouarges them to rely on God and his grace only.

    Aussie John,

    I’ll second that… Thank you, Lord!

    -Alan

  11. 7-23-2007

    Alan,

    You said…”I appreciate that. I don’t know who reads, but my prayer is that what they read here points them toward maturity in Christ and encouarges them to rely on God and his grace only.”

    It does….way more than you know.

  12. 2-11-2012

    We call it counting cows. It’s the same principle. They quit being people and turn into a number. I just used the phrase “herded and converted” in a satire piece this week.

    The last paragraph was dead on. Good words.

  13. 2-11-2012

    Ken,

    “Herded and converted”… or “converted and herded”… seems to fit. Also, “herded” but never “heard” would fit as well.

    -Alan

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