by Rayola Kelley
Q: I am struggling over Hebrews 10:25 where it instructs me to not forsake the assembling together of the saints. It is my desire to attend church, but I cannot find a church where the pastor has a devoted heart towards Jesus, His Word, and His sheep, as well as a Body that is motivated by the love of God. Could you offer any suggestions or help me in my dilemma?
A: You are not the first person to write us with this struggle, and I suspect you will not be the last one. The environment in the world and the visible church is precarious. From the information we are receiving, it appears as if many of God’s sheep are scattering in every direction. This is not an unusual state of affairs. You can read about the plight of the sheep in the Old Testament prophets such as in Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 34. John 10 tells us the main reason that sheep scatter is because they cannot hear the voice of the true Shepherd coming from the pulpits. If the true shepherd is missing from the equation, there will be a wrong spirit in operation. The reason a wrong spirit is in operation is because hireling shepherds and wolves have taken over the pulpits and leadership positions of the churches.
What is a saint to do when he or she cannot hear the voice of the Shepherd? No doubt saints want to obey the Word of God, but on the other hand, they cannot come into agreement with a wrong spirit or support the destructive or indifferent leadership of wolves or hireling shepherds. We can best answer this question in light of what other saints do who are suffering in prisons and isolation for their Christian testimony.
Obviously, it comes down to whether there is an opportunity to come into a gathering place where other saints are truly worshipping the God of heaven and not man, doctrine or religious causes. It is important to understand the real intent behind Hebrews 10:25. God has designed a Body for the purpose of edification (Ephesians4:1-16). Edification means that people are being built up in their faith and life before God. However, to experience edification, people must come into a place of agreement. Agreement can only occur at the point of the Spirit. Obviously, if a leader or body has a different spirit, there will be no agreement, and any possible edification will be missing.
Another reason saints gather together is to worship God. Granted, worship is a personal matter of the heart. Since saints worship in spirit and truth, it is their way of sharing their love for God. There is nothing more edifying to a saint than to worship God with others who have the same spirit. Worship is not only a powerful place of agreement, but edifies the believer who has learned to come into intimate communion with the Lord.
The other aspect of agreement is that of fellowship. In most churches, there is very little fellowship. Most fellowship is done outside the confines of the meeting places. We attend “church” to be built up by the preaching of the Word, but the place of accountability and testing comes when we actually fellowship with other saints. Likeminded Christians need to have a sense as to where each believer is in his or her particular life before God. It is a way for believers to test their perspective to make sure that they are on the right path. In fact, this is where discipleship can occur. Too many Christians have been left to define Christianity on their own. This is why I believe Hebrews 10:25 is so important. It is for the purpose of challenging believers in their Christian commitment, devotion, worship, service, and walk.
However, if the foundation (Jesus) is missing, pure doctrine has been perverted, man, beliefs or movements exalted into an idolatrous position, the worship is fleshly, the spirit is wrong, and religion defiled, is it more dangerous to expose oneself to such an environment (or send people to such a church) than to walk alone? The Bible tells us that it contains the pure doctrine of God and that it is the Holy Spirit who is the teacher who will lead us into all truth, and Jesus is our bread that we must partake of daily to be established and built up in our Christian life. It is God who keeps us in the ways of truth and righteousness. Clearly, God has provided us with everything that pertains to life and godliness. We need to walk in such provision by faith and obedience.
In summation, if you have the means or opportunity to assemble with likeminded believers, you should do so. However, if such an opportunity has not been revealed to you or made available, consider it a spiritual wilderness experience where you will learn to lean on the Lord. Take the time to learn how to sit at the table of communion and learn of the character and ways of Jesus in a more personal, intimate way.
Above all, do not feel alone. Remember Elijah! He felt he was the only one who worshipped Jehovah God in idolatrous Israel. God told Elijah that 7,000 people had not bowed their knees to Baal. The truth is that God always has a remnant. For example, there are devoted shepherds that love the ultimate Shepherd, Jesus. There are sheep who will not respond to any other voice but the voice of Jesus. These precious saints may be scattered and dot the countryside, but they have not lost their way when it comes to loving their Redeemer. Keep in mind that one day you will meet all of these sheep in glory and there will be unhindered fellowship and worship before the throne of the One who deserves all glory and honor.