Summary: We should gather for fellowship with God’s people with eternity in view.
Our Accountability for Fellowship (READ VERSE 25)
“and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The Day to which the writer refers to here is the Day of Christ’s return. The writer tells us to be faithful to gather together with God’s people with eternity in view. Why? Because . . .
1. We will be rewarded in eternity for our gathering together with God’s people.
On that Day when Jesus returns, every believer will be rewarded for their faithfulness to the Lord in this life and for the degree to which they reflected Christ in this world and lived to bring glory to Him.
Since, as we have noted, fellowship with God’s people is one of the primary vehicles by which we can be encouraged to become more like Christ, it stands to reason that on the Day of judgment, we will be held accountable for our involvement with the people of God.
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” - 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (NIV)
At least two things related to fellowship will impact our degree of reward in eternity:
A. Our commitment to the fellowship.
The writer emphasizes this in the first part of verse 25 - “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.”
A life rewarded in eternity will be one lived as an expression of love for Christ, which is revealed, according to Scripture by one’s love for their brothers and sisters in Christ. In short, you participation in the fellowship of God’s people is a solid indicator of your love for God.
“On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.” - Kent Hughes
Don’t kid yourself. No desire to meet with God’s people indicates your walk with God isn’t what it ought to be. No matter how you persuade yourself or others that you can be right with God and avoid fellowship of His people or how you are better than those “hypocrites” down at the church, on the day of judgment, all will be revealed - the truth about your walk with God and who is the hypocrite and who is not. On that day, it will not matter what you have to say, but what Christ has to say.
B. Our contribution to the fellowship.
The writer emphasizes this in the second part of verse 25 - “but let us encourage one another.”
You may be pretty regular when it comes to participating with the fellowship, but how to you participate? Are you seeking to encourage others? Are you investing in the fellowship of God’s family?
Too many church attending Christians approach their involvement in the fellowship of God’s family like the hitchhiker. A hitchhiker says, “You buy the car, pay for repairs, the upkeep and insurance, fill the car with gas - and I’ll ride with you. But if you have an accident, you are on your own! And I’ll probably sue.”
In the same way, many Christians say to their church family: “You go to the meetings and serve on the committees, you grapple with the issues and do the work of the church and pay the bills - and I’ll come along for the ride. But if things do not suit me, I’ll complain and probably move on - my thumb is always out for a better ride.”
On the day of judgment all will be revealed - including the truth about what we contributed to the fellowship. People don’t want preachers to know what they give. That doesn’t matter. God knows, and one day all you have given, or more accurately, all you could have given, not just in terms of treasure, but time and talent, will be revealed. On that day, it won’t matter what you have to say, but what Christ has to say.
“Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will be judged not by how much I have done but by how much I could have done! In God’s sight, my giving is measured not by how much I have given but how much I have left after I made my gift. Not by its size is my gift judged, but by how much of me there is in it. No man gives at all until he has given all! No man gives anything acceptable to God until he has first given himself in love and sacrifice.” - A. W. Tozer