The following article is provided courtesy of the website ChristsOwn.WordPress.com (original article published on June 3rd, 2016)…
This is a question that, I am sure, we have heard many people ask, and even many of us have asked from time to time. I have come across various answers to this, many of which fail to deal with the issue effectively. So, then, what is the right answer? How can we ever know, and how can we help someone else who is looking for the answer?
Hebrews 10:25 (William Tyndale’s Translation, 1526)
The following was taken from a letter I wrote to someone a long while back about the subject of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25), which is a common verse cited by many Christians who believe that if you’re not attending weekly religious meetings of some sort or plugged in to a church organization that you are somehow out of sync with Scripture and, for all practical purposes, “backsliding”. Some refer to the “out-of-church” crowd as isolationists, rebels, or walking wounded and this verse is often given as the prescription. But is “attending church” really what the author of Hebrews had in mind here? I don’t think so. For those interested, I thought I’d share my (not so) little rant.
P.S. Much of the information in this letter is drawn from other articles I have written as well as books and resources from other researchers and friends who have written on this topic.
My desire is to embrace God’s truth (not just for truth’s sake, but because I love Him and desire to grow evermore close to Him) and I, quite honestly, do not care if the traditions of men (even my own) are offended by His truth. If a person is honest, they will have to admit that when flesh is confronted by the Spirit of the Living God and the truth of Scripture it often resists submission and humility. But my response to that conviction of Christ and His Word must be to repent and yield, otherwise I only end up hardening my heart and increasing in stubbornness as well as blindness. I want to see clearly with spiritual eyes and walk full in the grace and liberty of Jesus Christ whose precious blood was shed for me.
We Christians tend to throw around a lot of terminologies as well as operate under a lot of religious mindsets that are, quite honestly, the primary product of human tradition and not biblical design. This is not to suggest that all organization is “evil” but sometimes it is counterproductive to true and essential spiritual growth. Sometimes our traditions can make God’s Word to seemingly have no affect and can even move us to actually reject His commands. Jesus Himself noted this reality. Just as we read in Mark 7:5, so are there “Pharisees” today who are asking the question of those who refuse to follow erroneous traditions at the expense of biblical truth: “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders?” You know well, I’m sure, Jesus’ bold reply:
Mark 7:6-9 – He told them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites. As it is written, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is empty, because they teach human rules as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your own tradition!”
Before I can answer the question of what I believe Hebrews 10:25 specifically has in mind concerning “assembling”, I feel it is important to look closer at what “assembly” is all about in the body of Christ as Scripture presents it. Too many Christians have been raised with a traditionally-inspired definition of some of these terms and this has served to make them embrace many Biblically-inaccurate concepts. First I would like to look closer at the popular concept of the word “church”as it is understood today in comparison and contrast with the biblical meaning.
Hello to all my family in Jesus out there… I want to thank all of you for visiting the website and, more than that, thanks for the letters of encouragement and the prayers. Thank you for letting me know that God has touched you in some way through the articles we’ve put up here and the heart to give freely what the Lord has given to us.
One of my desires has always been that God would use this website as a testimony to those still overwhelmed by traditional religious mindsets that it really is possible to share the testimony of Christ and His truth without charge. I have so often heard professional pastors say that they couldn’t continue serving the Lord in the capacity they do without receiving a full-time paycheck and collecting donations besides so they can carry out “the world of the Lord.” That’s when I have the privilege of telling them about a certain website that has reached hundreds of thousands of people, blessing them with free articles, ebooks, and resources all without ever asking any of them for a donation or charging a fee, and the website author works a full-time job and has a family besides. It’s true I take great joy in being able to show even this one small example of how it really doesn’t take a mega church with millions of dollars in expenses and a professional pastor who begs for money from the pulpit each week and sends out newsletters each month with donation envelopes asking for “love gifts” so that they can effectively share God’s message with people and see folks receive a genuine touch from God wherever they may be. I absolutely LOVE proving that religious stereotype wrong.
Over the years I have received so many emails from people, sharing how God has set them free. I’ve also received letters from pastors that were encouraged by something they read on the site and actually sought to allow the Lord to transform their heart and mind and then put that into practice – no matter the cost to them personally or to the churches they are involved with! That encourages me greatly. I’ve seen at least two church organizations completely drop the false doctrine of tithing and many others, even those who are still involved in institutional religious organizations, open up their hearts to allow the Lord to set them free in their thinking and infuse their lives with the joy of the Lord and a new conviction to turn their hearts fully to Him and yield to His process of transformation in their lives.
I am sincerely humbled and amazed as I watch God work so incredibly through willing vessels who just simply yield to Jesus. I’m telling you, all the religious programming in the world cannot mimic or produce what God accomplishes divinely by the power of His Holy Spirit.
The following is an excellent article, authored by our friends at ecclesia.org.
Why Believers should not attend Church
[Note. There are many godly people who attend church, and there are many positive things about attending church. Many people have discovered and accepted Christ in a church. This article is not putting down churches as far as a place to gather and hear the word of God, because it does not matter where one hears God’s Truth, as long as they hear it! However, this article deals with the topic of “how” we are to worship God, and addresses the belief that one must worship God in a physical building called a church. There is a difference between going to a place to hear God’s Word, and going to a place to worship God.]
Galatians 4:30-31 – There is a Scripture that tells us what to do: “Expel the slave mother with her son, for the slave son will not inherit with the free son.” Isn’t that conclusive? We are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
Matthew 24:1-2 – And Jesus went out of the Temple, and on the way his disciples came to him, pointing out the buildings of the Temple. But he, answering, said to them, “See you not all these things? truly I say to you that here there will not be one stone resting on another, which will not be pulled down.” (In other words… “Not impressed boys!”)
Acts 7:48-51 – “However, the Most High doesn’t live in a house built by humans, as the prophet says: ‘The Lord says, “Heaven is my throne. The earth is my footstool. What kind of house are you going to build for me? Where will I rest? Didn’t I make all these things?”‘ “How stubborn can you be? How can you be so heartless and disobedient? You’re just like your ancestors. They always opposed the Holy Spirit, and so do you!”
Okay folks, so I’m not especially brilliant with the titles I come up for blog posts sometimes (haha)… I’m even worse with book titles. I would never make it as a pastor (thank God)… Well, except for the long sermon part. By-the-way, someone asked me if this post could be made available as a PDF eBook, so here you go – just CLICK THIS LINK. I might add that this will be a bit of a lengthy rant (and everyone who knows me said, “as usual” – ha), hopefully not too redundant – although I admit I tend to reiterate things a lot when I am impassioned about something and really want people to sense the intensity of the conviction I believe the Lord has given me. I NEED AN EDITOR! That might have to wait until I get Truth-For-A-Small-Fee.com published. Hey, I’m kidding you! Hopefully some will find this affirming and also encouraging. May God highlight the truth and whatever may be more of me than Him, I pray it will not be a distraction from His truth.
I’ve also got my helmet on today in case of flying bricks (grin)…
To me this is a subject (i.e. “church” & “religion”) that is so “settled” now for me (because of my own journey that I have traveled), yet I continue to get emails about it and occasionally run into discussions with Christians who take great offense at some of my conclusions (or at least are disturbed by them and want to argue). The subject regards whether or not Christians need to (or whether or not they should) attend church. Most of you who frequent this site already know my thoughts on this for the most part. I have heard arguments on both sides of the issue; however, in my personal life, I refuse to let it be an issue at all anymore, since I truly believe that Scripture is so very clear on the matter and God truly has set me free. Nevertheless I will share (or rather I should say “reiterate”) some of my personal convictions on this matter.
As always, I invite each reader to consider these things in the light of prayer, your own study of the Bible, and to lean assuredly on the voice of the Holy Spirit who is the One that guides you into all Truth (John 16:13-15). I would not wish to presume God’s will for any person, but these are my sincere thoughts. To some this will sound like I’m “preaching to the choir”. But since, most of the time, the choir resides in a church service, perhaps that’s exactly who needs to hear this. Absolutely, lean on God and follow His instruction for your life according to the path He sets before you, day by day. With that introduction I offer this as food for consideration for those who have ears to hear. If you would like to respond (whether in agreement or total disagreement), please feel free to do so at the close of this posting.
So let’s get right into this…
Back in 2006, Wayne Jacobsen did an interview with some folks from Dublin Ireland (Collin Langran and David Rice) who felt God leading them out of the church building (and the traditional church mindset) and into a relational family life with Christ at the center. More than 25 years later and they are still functioning together as a simple family, without the need for institutionalized structure and mindset. They meet together as a family and there are no “pastors” the way we know pastors today. There is no ministry staff on salary either. I encourage you to listen to their story and discover how it is possible to experience fellowship as a family without any religious trappings. While so many of today’s preachers tell us that “it won’t work” without a building, without tithing, without pastors on salary, these are guys are proof that the traditional thinking is WRONG! Jesus designed His body to function (and function WELL) as a Family. –Dave (TruthForFree.com)
To listen to the audio file below, just click the link. To download the entire file, right-click on it and choose Save Target As.
by David Y.
Fair warning here folks… Long-winded blog post comin’ at ya. 🙂 Over the past few months a lot has been going on in my heart, undoubtedly because a lot has been going on in my life. My wife, who is from Australia, finally was able to make the move here at the end of July (2010). Then, in August, we found out that we have a baby on the way. Like all of you, I have my daily concerns about things, such as where the money is gonna come from for everything. Yes, times are a little rough (I’m sure many of you can relate). In my heart I know that God will provide (just as He always has) and I know that Jesus said that if I seek His kingdom first, everything else will be taken care of. He also said that worry doesn’t help anyone and cannot add a single moment to our lives so flush it (my paraphrase of Matthew 6:25-34 of course – hehe); the day’s trouble is sufficient, so why waste the effort worrying about everything else? I love the sign I once saw that said, “If life give you lemons, KEEP THEM, because hey… FREE LEMONS! As funny as it sounds, I like that attitude. Certainly this is sometimes easier said than done (to look at life’s challenges in this way), but ever since about three years ago when I had a major panic attack (something I’ve blogged about before), something changed in my heart and I’ve learned to be more relaxed and more trusting of my heavenly Father.
by Wayne Jacobsen
When 20 years of countless prayers didn’t fix it, I had to conclude either that God was ignoring me, or that I was asking for the wrong thing. Anxiety used to be my constant companion, and quite honestly he was no fun to hang with. He used to punch me in the pit of the stomach when I least expected it and his ravings kept me awake at night.
Every time a circumstance emerged that caused him to appear, I begged God to change it so I would not be anxious. Rarely, if ever, did he answer those prayers. Finally, I concluded that the circumstances were not the problem, but the anxiety itself was. My prayers changed. I stopped begging him to fix my circumstances and instead asked him to remove my anxiety. It only took a decade this time for me to realize these prayers weren’t working any better and I grew incredibly frustrated at God’s seeming indifference to my concerns.
I didn’t know then that in God’s heart my problem was not the circumstances that allowed my anxiety to emerge, nor even the anxiety itself. The problem God wanted to fix was the fact that I didn’t trust him to work in my circumstances to accomplish his purpose. My desire to be in control of my own life and achieve the success I thought I needed to prove my worth to him, and ultimately to myself, was the real captor.
As believers in Messiah, we are a body of related members; therefore, it is quite normal and necessary that we not live in isolation one from another if possible. Many of you desire true fellowship with other believers, but know that God has called you out of the organized, corporation church system. Even while in it, you found little true fellowship if any. As was the case for many years, my wife and I found very few people who wanted to “be” the body of Messiah with us unless we were connected to one of those Things we call church. So, what are we to do?