Going to Church as if Your Life Depended on it, Because it Does
When you woke up this morning and the reality of life came slowly through the sleep fog and you realised that it was the Lord’s Day and you had to go to church, what was your emotional investment in that thought? Today as we continue our series on membership I want to talk to you about the necessity of Church and strike a tone that scripture strikes when it speaks about the necessity of going to church. I have called this sermon: Going to Church as if your life depended on it, because it does. Too often when we think of church we think of boredom, burden, optional extra. We don’t think lifeline, life guard, life support system. So today we are going to be listening to the letter to the Hebrews as it talks to us about the necessity of Church.
The book of Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish believers who under a lot of pressure to give up Christianity and return to Judaism. Their faith was under fire and the letter to the Hebrews was written to equip them with the facts of Christ’ superiority to Judaism that they needed to know in order to cling to Christ, the warnings they needed to hear so that they would not forsake Christ, as well as instructions about how they needed each other in order to survive the pressure of these persecutions. The verses I would like us to begin with are Hebrews 10:24-25:
“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.”
Let’s fill in the context. The Book of Hebrews in general is about demonstrating the Superiority of Christ to the Judaism that they feel pressured to go back to. So the author goes about demonstrating how Christ is superior to the angels who were the mediators of the law, superior to Moses, a superior High priest as well as sacrifice. Chapter 10 is part of the argument showing how Christ is a superior sacrifice to any sacrifice in the OT.
- V1-4 remind us that the OT laws about sacrifice were types and not the reality, and so they were impotent to truly cleanse from sin.
- V5-10 show how Christ in fulfilment of Scripture is the sacrifice that does cleanse from sin.
- V11-14 contrasts the OT priests and their regular sacrifices with the Superior Christ who is both the offering and the offerer, who only has to be offered once to forgive sins.
- V14 is one of the great statements of the Bible that expresses our justification: ‘For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.’ Please notice the once off finished action of perfecting as well as the ongoing finishing work of sanctifying. So which is it, are we perfected once for all or are we being sanctified and the answer is, Yes. We are both perfected in justification by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, yet we are also undergoing ongoing sanctification by the indwelling Spirit. Simul Iustus et Peccator.
- Then v15-18 tells us that the OT was expected to be replaced with the New Covenant which has come. So we have a better sacrificed offered by a better High priest and are in a better covenant. Then the author of this letter pours on the application.
- V19-25 are structured around three repetitions of the words, ‘let us’. The section begins with a therefore showing how these duties are grounded in the sufficiency of the gospel, these are gospel informed imperatives that we are about to see. Let us draw near, let us hold fast, and the verses for our meditation today, let us consider….
- V26-31 give strong warnings to those who apostatise,
- And the chapter ends with further exhortations, v32-39.
I want to split our message into two parts, firstly, looking at how the church keeps us from apostasy, and secondly how sin leads us into apostasy.