There is a vast difference between professing one's relationship to Christ and one demonstrating the reality of one's relationship to and faith in Christ. Paul in writing to Titus (Titus 1:16) speaks of a group of professing Christians and says, "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." What Paul is saying is that they profess to be saved, but by their lifestyle, the habitual practices of their life, their lips lie. However, their actions tell the truth about their spiritual condition. In Hebrews 10, Paul presents the argument that one of the evidences of being a child of God is a love for the things of God and an active participation within the body of the family of God along with an accompanying transformation. Many have their name on the roll of a local church but that does not mean that they are an active part of the family of God. This point is clearly demonstrated by a study that was conducted by the Strategic Information and Planning Department of the SBC's Sunday School Board that reported only 37% of members in SBC churches attend the primary worship service of the church and that only 12.3% of the membership attend something more than a once a week meeting. This does not even address how few actually serve within the church. There is a vast difference between being a member of a local church and being an active member within the family of faith. An active member is one who has committed him or herself regularly attend and participate in a local New Testament, Bible preaching, Christ honoring church, unless they are prevented by circumstances beyond their control. Just having one's name on the membership list of a local church falls far short of God's expectations. In looking at Hebrews 10, I would like you to see an exhortation, an expectation, and a admonition or warning.
I The Exhortation - Stimulating and inciting others to live for Christ
A. Hebrews 10:24-25 "let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
B. Here we are not given the command to love one another and do good works but to live lives in such a way that others will be stimulated and incited to live for Christ.
C. This stirring one another up to love and good deeds ought to be motivated by a sense of our Lord's imminent return. Each day closer to His glorious Second Coming should serve to motivate us to pour ourselves into acts of love toward one another.
D. John Piper has an interesting comment on this section writing that stimulating one another...is the focus for your life. Here is what you aim at from morning till night as a Christian. Notice carefully: it is not what you might expect. It is not: consider how to love each other and do good deeds. That would be Biblical and right. But it’s different: “Consider how to stimulate each other to love and good deeds.” Focus on helping others become loving people. Aim at stirring up others to do good deeds. And of course the implication would also be that if others need help and stirring, we do too, and so we would be aiming at what sorts of ways we can think and feel and talk and act that will stir each other up to love and to do good deeds. The aim of our lives is not just loving and doing good deeds, but helping to stir up others to love and to good deeds. - John Piper, Consider Each Other How to Stir Up Love, April 6, 1997
E. As the Body of Christ we are to come together in order encourage, exhort, admonish and even when necessary to rebuke other believers to press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, to fight the good fight of faith, to run the race with endurance, and to finish well. You cannot do that by staying away from or infrequently being with the church.
F. John Wesley once said, There is nothing more unchristian than a solitary Christian.
G. It is interesting that the word that is translated "admonishing" or "encouraging" in verse 25 is the Greek word parakaleo - which means to call one alongside. Again the idea is the necessity of helping each other to live for Christ.
H. Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
I. The world will try to pressure us
To fit into its godless mold;
That's why we need encouragement
To keep our hearts from growing cold. -Sper
II The Expectation - Living consistent and obedient lives for Christ
A. Hebrews 10:25 "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
B. The expectation of Paul in verse 25 is that living that a consistent and obedient life for Christ which incites others for Christian living includes being an active participant in the local church. He states unequivocally that we are not to forsake or neglect the assembling of ourselves together as believers, as is the habit of some people.
C. The assembling together is the Greek word “episunagoge,” which refers to the gathering together of God's elect - the redeemed.
D. “People have been deceived. They have been told that it is possible to make a commitment to Christ apart from a commitment to the church. The reality, however, is that it’s biblically impossible to follow Christ apart from joining his church. In fact, anyone who claims to be a Christian yet is not an active member of a church may not actually be a follower of Christ at all.” David Platt, Follow Me – A Call to Die A Call to Live
E. "For a Christian to fail to participate in the life of a local church is inexcusable. In fact, those who choose to isolate themselves are disobedient to the direct command of Scripture... The Bible does not envision the Christian life as one lived apart from other believers. All... are to be actively and intimately involved in local assemblies.” - John MacArthur
F. The only way that we will ever stimulate others to live for Christ is through living consistent and obedient lives for Christ.
G. Example is greater than precept. A gentleman was seeking the directions in a strange city, and the person of whom he inquired was vague and unsatisfactory. Another, coming up and seeing the stranger's perplexity, asked him where he wished to go. On being told, he replied, "Just come along with me, I am going that way myself."
H. We are expected as believers to demonstrate the validity of our faith by our actions.
I. Righteous living is not the root of salvation, but it is the fruit of genuine salvation.
J. Matthew 5:16 " Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
K. What do your actions or deeds "say" about who (and "Whose") you are?
L. Spurgeon said, "I would not give much for your religion unless it can be seen. Lamps do not talk, but they do shine."
M. Dietrich Bonheoffer once said, "Only the believing obey, only the obedient believe”.
III The Admonition - Pending punishment/chastisement for disobedience
A. Hebrews 10:26-31 "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
B. If we deliberately and willfully keep on being disobedient, choosing to live for ourselves rather than for Christ. Paul says that if indeed we are believers we can expect some form of judgment from God.
C. Hebrews 12:6 " For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
D. In discussing this judgment, we must remember that one’s eternal destiny is sealed forever the moment he or she places faith in Jesus Christ.
E. John 10:28 "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
F. Hebrews 10:27 underscores the point that they could expect a very severe judgment from God. (a certain fearful expectation of judgment)
G. In Hebrews 10:35-36, Paul speaks about the time when rewards will be dispensed and about those who endure faithfully so as to receive “the promise.” What Paul warns hear is that when we fail to love consistent lives for Christ we will be held accountable and may receive temporal punishment (perhaps a premature death), as sometimes happened to certain erring Christians in the NT (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 11:28-31; and 1 John 5:16) or some other form of chastisement. Or they would be facing the judgment seat of Christ where " “each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work." (1 Corinthians 3:13)
H. The disobedient rebellious Christian who “sins willfully” will be a subject of the kingdom, but he will have forfeited the precious inheritance he could have had. - J Paul Tanner
Hebrews 10:32 - Return and get active