Study the Word: Bulletin Articles
“Forsaking the assembly”Categories: assembly, forsaking
What is “forsaking the assembly”?
Many of us are familiar with the text Hebrews 10:25, that states, “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.” The question is, just what does this mean?
Some contend that a Christian can skip a Sunday here and there, and since they don’t “abandon” church services altogether, these people cannot be accused of forsaking the assembly. Let’s take a closer look at this idea. The word forsaking in this passage means to leave behind, leave to desert. Does this mean that in order to forsake the assembly you have to leave and not return? It can, but not always.
Consider when Jesus was hanging on the cross. There is no question that he felt all alone. He uttered the words, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Mk. 15:34). This is the exact same word that the Hebrew writer used. This isn’t a discussion of whether God forsook Jesus, or if Jesus just felt that way. The point we need to see is, could Jesus really use that word in that situation? I mean, wouldn’t Jesus have to wait weeks or months to then use the term? No. One can forsake when a person is not where they ought to be.
If a child of God decides I am going to take a first day of the week off and I will gather with the saints next week, the scriptures are teaching they have forsaken to assembly. Why? It is a place where they ought to be (I Cor. 11:17-18; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2). If this is not true, then there needs to be a cry for consistency. If one can skip a first day of the week, then everyone can. If not, why not?
Also, this is creating a double standard. If one says I will be back thenext Sunday – are they not expecting/demanding that the church will be gathered then? So, he/she expects brethren to be there when they want, but they can’t expect the same in return. That isn’t right, and we all know it.
There is no question that such behavior of hit and miss, is a heart problem. When the Lord demands to be worshipped (Jn. 4:24), and they have a disposition of – I will do it when it fits into my schedule, you know the Lord is not pleased. On top of that we have to be mindful of the example and precedent this sets forth for their children and other members. Jesus said that we need to be lights in a world of darkness (Matt. 5:13-15). Just where is the example of seeking first the kingdom of God when we would rather to something else (Matt. 6:33)?
To help to understand that forsaking the assembly occurs when someone takes a Sunday off from worshipping when one could, think about a marriage. If a husband goes off with another woman for just one night, can you really say he forsook their wife? Yes!!! Even if they planned to go back to their mate the next day, he has forsook the vow that he made. Saints are described as being married to the Lord (II Cor. 11:2). Therefore, when we choose not to gather with the saints to honor our Lord, is that being faithful? We know it isn’t.
Even though we have clearly explained what it means to forsake the assembly, let’s look at yet one more example. In Mk. 14:50, it reads that when Jesus was arrested all his followers forsook Him. That word also means to forsake, to leave. Notice that this word was used even though very little time has passed. The point is made yet again that a Christian can be guilty of forsaking the assembly by taking a day off from worship.
This begs the question – what does it mean when someone does skip a day of worship? The answer is obvious, they need to repent of their sin (Lk. 13:3). Local churches may have a hard time knowing if members are guilty of such, since many are creative in coming up with “reasons” why they couldn’t make it. The fact is, you might fool mankind, but you can’t fool the Lord. After all, you don’t have to answer to man, you answer to the Lord (II Cor. 5:1).