Thesis: Regular church attendance is a foundation for spiritual growth.
1. If you resolve not to make a New Year's resolution this year you are not alone.
a. Gallup survey for 1992 revealed over half--54% refused.
b. One possible reason--22% say past ones lasted less than 1 week!
c. However, 16% (Nearly 1 in 5 making them) are able to keep them permanently.
2. What New Year's resolutions have you made this year?
a. Lose weight, read Bible thru, quit smoking, spend more time with your family?
b. Challenge: regularly attend church services this year.
1) Dialectic: "Oh no, here comes another tired sermon on church attendance! Another guilt-producing rendition of Heb. 10:25--just what I need to start the new year out on a positive note."
2) Purpose: Not to run up the institutional "body count," but to present regular church attendance as a foundation for spiritual growth.
c. Yes, our text is going to be Hebrews 10.
I. THE CONTEXT OF HEBREWS 10:25.
A. Law couldn't cut it (10:1-4).
1. Therefore, Jesus came and dealt with sin once and for all (10:5-18) ......... A NEW COVENANT!
2. There's a right way and a wrong way to respond to what Jesus has done.
B. The Right Way (10:19-25).
1. By drawing near to God (22).
2. By holding unswervingly to hope we profess (23).
3. By spurring one another on to love & good works (24).
4. How do we do this? BY NOT GIVING UP MEETING TOGETHER!
C. The Wrong Way (10:26-31).
1. By continuing to sin willfully (26).
2. What happens when we continue to sin willfully (27-31).
3. Forsaking assemblies may be symptom of deeper problem-- an improper response to sacrifice of Jesus.
4. No way to escape the teaching that to be faithful to New Covenant one must be involved in life of the church.
5. Involvement in life of church involves reg. attendance!
II. MOVING FROM THE THEOLOGICAL TO THE PRACTICAL. (Why should we attend church regularly?)
A. You need it.
1. Virtually impossible to be a Christian in isolation.
a. NT clearly teaches X'ty is a communal experience.
b. While there is a strong personal element, the X'ian faith was not meant to be practiced alone!
c. No Lone Ranger Christians (even LR had Tonto!)
2. Why is that? Because there is strength in numbers!
a. Illust. Bundle of sticks cannot be broken; one stick can be. Log burns bright & hot when close to other burning logs; goes out when alone.
b. Illust. Can you go to heaven and not go to church? Pointless question. Can you get to Washington D.C. without driving or riding a train? Yes, but why would you even want to try?
B. I need it.
1. Because what the individual does/doesn't do affects the group they are a part of.
a. Illust. Closest thing in our families to an "assembly" is our evening meal. What if one or two of your family members missed supper 3-4 x per week and you never knew why? They never called, just didn't show up. Would it affect family?
b. Illust. Picture life as a heavyweight boxing match and "church" as the time between rounds. Picture a fighter after a particularly rough round. Bloody, bruised, losing on points. Crawls to corner seeking encouragement only to find trainer missing. Someone at ringside: "He'll be back after the next round. He just went to get some popcorn." Affect?
2. We come to church to "give" as much as we do to "get."
a. Note contrast in Heb. 10:25.
b. "Not forsaking the assembling...but exhorting OA."
c. If you're not there you can't encourage anyone.
C. The community needs it.
1. Something powerful & appealing about a devoted group of X'ians who meet together regularly (cf. Acts 2:42-47).
2. Illust. "And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were NOT all gathered together in one place. They had intended to be there but so many things interferred. Actually only 76 of the 120 could make it, and for some very good reasons too! Peter and his wife had bought a camping outfit so they could get away from the city on weekends, and they had gone to Lake Galilee. John just couldn't put off painting his backyard fence another day. Nathaniel needed to catch up on the books of his fig-brokerage business and Matthew was behind in his tax-collecting, having wandered around with Jesus for so long. Martha felt like a headache was coming on and she needed to do some house-cleaning anyway. James heard something like a mighty rushing wind, so he was afraid it might rain. So, you see, what with one thing and another, the crowd was just a bit sparse on that particular first day of the week. Of course, that really shouldn't have hurt the church, because Philip, along with Thomas and Thaddaeus and several others showed up and carried on valiantly. The multitude did recognize them as men who had been with Jesus and they did admire their devotion. However, the multitude also noticed that there used to be a lot more besides these, but evidently, this Jesus wasn't much of a Messiah since about half of his followers found other things more important than obeying his commands. Still, about 1700 people were baptized and, following the example of many of Jesus' disciples, 941 of them continued more or less steadfastly in some of the apostles' teaching, and occasionally breaking bread and praying from time to time. A few even sold part of their possessions and gave them to the poor. But a dispute arose about whether or not they ought to care for the Grecian widows and Stephen, who had been a real leader for a while, got so disgusted that he applied for a professor of history position at the Univ. of Jerusalem. The last I heard, O Theophilus, they've dwindled down to about 456, but this number is divided into 4 or 5 groups, none of which has anything to do with any of the others."