"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together"

Grant Melville

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"... not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together... but encouraging one another, and by so much the more as ye see the day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:25

I don't want to talk about myself. However, occasionally I think it's perhaps useful to share a personal experience.

I am very privileged to walk in fellowship with many dear believers who love the Lord Jesus and are exercised enough to have a good deal of gatherings throughout the week, in the evening, as well as on the Lord's day. During the week, I often feel tired after work, or I have things I need to do, or I'm just being lazy, if I'm honest. So, quite often I don't find myself going out to the "weeknight meetings". I hadn't been to one for a number of weeks, until tonight.

The gathering we have on a Tuesday night locally is for what we describe as 'prophetic ministry'. Basically, two or three brothers will stand up and speak to us, sharing an impression they've received from God - and in my experience, it is very much His current speaking for us. It's a time of encouragement, admonishment, instruction and the stirring of hearts. I always enjoy these gatherings when I make the effort to go out. Tonight was no exception - the three 'words' were powerful. As often happens in these meetings (and in others), God addressed me personally, and each of the words the three brothers gave us were absolutely and clearly linked to scriptures and thoughts which had been going through my mind of late. There've been things I was puzzling over, perhaps getting a bit troubled about for a few weeks. Here, the Lord was speaking most directly to me, answering my concerns, clearing away my doubts, and admonishing me in relation to some other things. I came away from the gathering full of joy, at peace, praising God in my heart for His goodness and patience. A burden had been lifted off. It was as if the Lord said to me, gently rebuking and with long-suffering love, "If only you'd been here sooner..." Then the scripture I've quoted above came into my mind.

Assembling of ourselves together is not a rigid, prescribed matter. It's never a ritual, or formalism. It's a love matter, a heart matter. We assemble to the Name of the Lord Jesus, and we're drawn together, from various walks of life, from different strata of society, perhaps from different towns and cities in this scattered day, and what draws us together is Jesus. It's no shared creed that draws us, because a creed could never touch the heart. It can only be Christ. What does it mean then, if I forsake assembling with the brethren? I have to take the lesson to myself: really, it means my heart has cooled as to the Lord Jesus. Now, I'm not speaking about anyone else. I know that there are legitimate responsibilities that keep many of us from going to church as much as we'd like, and the Lord knows that and would give us something in our souls regardless. But if I can go and I choose not to... well, it's something I need to take up with the Lord, something I need to cry to Him in repentance about.

I believe that Paul isn't encouraging the brethren to keep on assembling because it's outwardly respectable to go to church. I believe he has a deeper thought in mind. It isn't a passive thing, assembling, it requires activity, and, having assembled, we exhort one another. We're to do it increasingly as we see the day drawing near. What day? I wouldn't say I know for sure, but I believe that the apostle is talking about the day of the Lord's coming again for His assembly, to take it to be with Himself. How can we see that drawing nigh? Through faith. We apprehend His coming, we know He is coming, soon. We don't know when, but we know it draws near. What better way is there for us to be found by our Lord, Saviour and Redeemer than assembled, encouraging one another?

Dear brethren, I'm the poorest exemplar of this truth, as my personal story here shows. But, notwithstanding that, I would like to encourage the brethren - and I need the most encouragement - not to lightly turn down any opportunity to be assembled with the people of God. Assembling with the saints is a precious opportunity, and I think we get a foretaste there of the atmosphere of heaven, where our beloved Jesus is, where we'll go in, and not have to ever go out again.
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