Don't Go to Church on YouTube
Hebrews 10:19-25 • Jeff Crotts • Why attending a local church matters.
Technology, especially smartphones, has made our world smaller and accessible.
- I assumed this technology burst 10 years ago, would make Alaska an easier move.
- We network on levels like never before.
There has never been a time in church history for the Gospel to be heard around our world like today.
- I have sat under live preaching from most of my favorite preachers.
- I enjoy the energy when being taught live.
- At the same time, through technology I have constant exposure from preaching and teaching heroes both living and dead.
- This is our privilege. Listening to anybody from anywhere free.
- Recorded or livestream.
Still, this positive also brings negatives. Technology brings a temptation to isolate. “I’ll go it alone!”
- The consumer’s approach to church.
- “You should not go to church on YouTube.”
Being tempted to isolate yourself plays in to a Christian spirituality called “piety.” Piety is a good thing that can also tempt toward a morbid introspection.
- For decades cultivating a stronger personal piety has been taught as the answer to our sins.
- Mastering spiritual disciplines.
- A side note, leading the home has been a major theme in church culture.
- Neither emphasis is wrong and both are right.
- Still, there is a missed priority.
Scripture mostly describes Christian experience in terms of corporate rather than individual.
- Many more plurals over against singulars.
- I argue that most instruction on piety is corporate.
The practical focus on family has de-prioritized involvement as a family inside the church.
- A chief concern for your family is if and where your family attends church.
- When your child leaves and marries or stays single, “Where will he or she join?”
Verse 25 describes a sin happening from the church’s earliest stages.
“Why is going to church important?” “What’s at stake if you leave church?”
“Neglecting to meet together” – “Forsaking gathering ourselves together” (v. 25).
- This is a simple sin and one we are very familiar.
- “The habit of some” or “custom of some.”
We know many believe missing church even regularly is not that big of a deal. Even skipping church for long seasons.
- “My walk with the Lord is personal.”
Hebrews makes this disconnection with church very serious!
- Attendance or lack thereof is tied to Christian perseverance or its opposite apostasy.
- Hebrews 12:1 themes the book as running “with endurance the race set before us.”
- The opposite? Not running but falling out of the race!
Earlier warnings such as: “drifting” (2:1) and “neglecting” (2:3) and “hardening your hearts” (3:8) and “going astray” (3:10) and “unbelieving…falling away” (3:12) and “not entering [God’s] rest” (4:3) and “fallen away” (6:6) and “holding him up to contempt” (6:6) and “worthless and near to being cursed” (6:8).
ESV 1 John 2:19 aThey went out from us, but they were not of us; for bif they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, cthat it might become plain that they all are not of us.
The problem with missing church its effects are subtle while powerful and determinative!
- Functional drift becomes a new habit.
- Not a matter of routine but normalizing falsehood verses truth.
- Normalizing a “no-accountability” life.
- Normalizing secular relationships verses fellowship.
- Normalizing non-contact with the Word of God.
Chapter 10:19 makes a strong shift toward applications from chapters 1-10.
- Hebrews challenges a refocus on applications!
- Think in terms of applying truth in terms of the body.
- Rather than merely as an individual.
- All biblical applications begin in an individual’s heart.
- At the same time, applications are meant to involve someone’s Christian community.
“In terms of what you do with church!”
- When someone strays, they often say, “Yeah, I’ve gotten away from it…” “You’ve gotten away from what…?” “Church.”
- As generic and unspiritual as this sounds, this is shoe leather reality putting it this way.
- We are talking about what it means to gather!
You see this theme (assembling) in the phrase, “a great priest over the house of God” (v. 21) and “meeting together” (v. 25).
Prop: Applications for going to church
Corporate Worship is wide open for believers (vv. 19-21)
I am using “Corporate Worship” to describe going to “church.”
The word “church” [ekklesia] in the Greek New Testament means “called out.”
- Being “called out” from the world, used throughout Acts to mean, “assembling.”
- In English, our synonym is “church” comes from a Scottish/German dialect, from the term “kirk” meaning “house.”
Church is not a building.
- Buildings and architecture are not opposed to “church” but are its expression.
- Church history describes the “church” as large and small local gatherings over the centuries for worship!
- Symbols, art, furniture, and even high ceilings express of the family that gathers.
- Houses are not the family but are what a family needs and values.
- You learn about a family by the house. Its design, function, and decorations.
Hebrews describes how to approach “the house of God” (v. 21).
Verse 19 builds on the foundation laid down up through chapter 10.
- The “once for all sacrifice” (vv. 10, 12, 14) and inner transformation by the Holy Spirit (v. 15), personal engagement with God (v. 16), and full assurance for sins “forgotten” – “never to be remembered against us!” (v. 17).
Now, we come to worship God with “confidence” (v. 19).
- A word used throughout the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles primarily for being verbally “outspoken.”
- Being plain spoken, clear, with joyful expressions.
The disciples affirmed Jesus speaking this way declaring them who he was!
ESV John 16:29 His disciples said, "Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not ausing figurative speech!
Striking how “confidence” is used for coming before God!
- Early Jewish Christians had been trained to fear of God.
- Different than mainstream American Christianity.
The next section brings warnings back up.
“Fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume…adversaries” (v. 27) a “worse punishment” (v. 29) “Vengeance” (v. 30) and then verse 31 “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (v. 31).
- This is God. God toward those who do not believe!
- Believers have an entirely different Fatherly relationship.
Think of the difference between how you would be greeted by your father if he thought you were an intruder in the middle of the night or coming home for Thanksgiving!
I had this experience when a friend and me, drove home from college on a whim and unannounced. I started my four-hour drive home late and was thus jiggling my key in the front door, probably 1:00 in the morning.
I came in and saw a streak go across the top of my stairs. It was my dad, no doubt armed with his 45 pistol. He glanced who I was and literally in relief flopped face first down on the carpet!
Two entirely different receptions. Family verses foe! “I’m glad my dad looked first, to shoot second!”
“Where does this Fatherly acceptance come from?”
Verse 20 calls this “the new and living way” (v. 20).
- “What’s new?”
- The old way was the Old system of offering sacrifices.
- Coming with your offering in episodes.
Keeping favor like an employee who stays right within his job by meeting expectations. Deliverables.
- This was the level of normal intimacy within this system.
This “new…way” is coming in faith through Christ!
- In Acts, Christianity was called “The Way” (Acts 9:2; 18:25; 19:9; 19:23; 22:4; 24:14; 24:22).
- “By the blood of Jesus” (v. 19).
- This commitment is as deep as the Son of God’s “blood” (v. 19).
- Entering your “Father’s” presence with a “New” or “fresh” understanding.
- You are adopted in.
When someone is adopted into a family, at an older age, this young boy or girl has to work through certain real or perceived barriers hindering someone’s guard from being let down. Hesitant to come to the dinner table! “Will I mess up?” “Can I be myself?” “Will I offend and be rejected?”
Theses truths work to dispel our like-trepidations coming to our Father’s house.
- A death has occurred.
Verse 20 ties this “Newness” to what symbolized the ultimate barrier!
- “The curtain” (v. 20).
- What was very clear to the Jewish mind.
- Thick, high and heavy woven barrier.
- The symbol of separation from God’s presence.
- Physically impenetrable, a foreboding barrier.
- Untearable by human hands.
- This curtain separated two rooms of the tabernacle known as “the Holy place” (9:2) and “the Most Holy Place” (9:3).
- This place was off limits!
- For any who inappropriately went behind this curtain it would mean instant death.
Christ’s death transforms this symbol to Jesus’ “flesh” (v. 20).
- The curtain is Jesus’ flesh.
- When Jesus’ died, this veil was torn the top to bottom.
ESV Matthew 27:50 And Jesus acried out again with a loud voice and byielded up his spirit.
51 And behold, athe curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And bthe earth shook, and the rocks were split.
The tearing of Christ’s flesh through crucifixion “opened” the way in!
- This is the “new and living way” (v. 20).
- Priests, on the Day of Atonement would enter with their sacrifice behind the curtain; the people would wait for him to reappear.
- When Christ entered the Heavenly Temple, he did not return.
- He opened the curtain, exposing the Holy of Holies, so that we could follow him in!
- Christ as High Priest ripped down the old way and beckons believers to follow Him inside to worship!
- The Word says, we should join him and “Come inside!”
- We have “a great priest over the house of God” (v. 21).
“Church” is a safe place to come with “confidence” because the head of the church is our Christ! “You are in!”
Corporate Worship is providing deep intimacy with Christ (v. 22)
The first command begins with “let us” (v. 22).
- This is a corporate command; Hebrew’s author is addressing the group!
- You come as an individual worshipper within the assembly.
This is the call for every believer to live within 2 worlds!
- “Draw near” is a favorite call of writer (cff. 4:16; 7:25; 10:1; 12:18,22)!
ESV James 4:8 aDraw near to God, and he will draw near to you. bCleanse your hands, you sinners, and cpurify your hearts, dyou double-minded.
ESV Psalm 73:28 But for me it is good to abe near God; I have made the Lord GOD my brefuge, that I may ctell of all your works
- As you approach the front door you called to “draw near” (v. 22).
Intimacy rises from within. From “assurances” or “certainties.”
- Your “heart [comes] in full assurance of faith” (v. 22).
- Intimate worship on the inside flows out corporately among those on the outside, within the assembly.
- Not a show, not feeding pride, but where true worship originates.
- True worship comes from a “full” knowledge.
- Where there is no doubt.
You know your heart is “sprinkled clean” as if ceremonially washed.
- However, this cleansing is from your High Priest, Jesus who washing you thoroughly.
- Spiritually clean in the inmost thoughts and desires.
Your “conscience” was “evil” meaning hardened.
- Modern media in our “world” hits our consciences now the moment we arrive to the moment we leave.
- This is unprecedented.
- Just breathing the earth’s air, we breath what is toxic.
- Anesthetized, frozen, and numb.
- Our former heart condition was “cold-blooded.”
- The good news is that we were not left to ourselves.
We were “washed with pure water” (v. 22).
- This pictures the ceremonial washings necessary for priests to conduct ceremonies.
- Priests were constantly washing in basins.
- Hands, feet, heads.
- For everyone else, basins were regularly placed by the front doors of homes.
- Physical washing was the norm.
Having four boys we know how necessary washing can be! When my boys were babies, like many of you, we made tubs filled with dawn liquid. It took this for our boys to come clean.
- Leviticus 15 speaks to a “bodily discharge” such as untimely blood secretions or from menstrual cycles were to be washed and cleansed.
- Beds, saddles, skin!
- Whoever comes in contact with what makes unclean must be washed!
“How about an evil conscience?” It had to be washed!
ESV Ezekiel 36:25-27 aI will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from ball your uncleannesses, and cfrom all your idols dI will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you aa new heart, and aa new spirit I will put within you. aAnd I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27 aAnd I will put my Spirit within you, zand cause you to walk in my statutes and cbe careful to obey my rules.1
ESV John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born aof water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
ESV Titus 3:5 he saved us, anot because of works done by us in righteousness, but baccording to his own mercy, by cthe washing of regeneration and drenewal of the Holy Spirit
When you know you are clean, you come with confidence.
Corporate Worship is committed to Truth (v. 23)
The central focus for any corporate gathering is on Truth.
- When truth is not central, anything goes for the assembly.
- People gather in the name of Christ without defining whom it is they are calling “Christ.”
- When Truth is not central, people say their experience is on the Lord but you really have no idea what focus is.
- Emotions, feelings, expressions spoken into the air.
- Left to ourselves we will focus on ourselves.
- Make no mistake, there is worship but it is worshipping self.
Without Truth, there is no guidance, no governance in Worship and no verifiable connection being made with God.
No connection means no “hope” (v. 23).
- No resting place only wind whipping in and out.
Verse 23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope” (v. 23).
- Holding on to Truth is proactive and deliberate and necessary.
- It is easy to compromise and let go of what matters.
- This is called the “confession of our hope” [tnv homologiav tns elpidos] what we know to be true and is our targeted aim.
The idea is that believers are gathered, speaking out loud what is on their hearts!
- Their “hope” is not a wish but resting place in on the Truth!
- What they know as final, what brings them safely to heaven.
- Gospel commitments both spoken and sung to God amongst each other.
Done so “without wavering” (v. 23). Not vacillating.
- Your worship reflects the robust “confidence” and “full assurance of faith” you came with!
This introduces the topic of “perseverance.”
- Introduced at the beginning.
- Coming to church is the key to persevering as a Christian.
- To keep running your marathon.
When running, cycling, or even swimming, it is important to learn that you are supposed to breathe the same amount of air in as you breathe out.
This kind of controlled training and exercise is so much easier to maintain when coached, even more so when training around peers, friends.
Church helps us to “breathe” to train to grow to be better. God uses others around you to develop you. Truth spoken guides and keeps you on track. Protects against wavering.
The whole issue of being filled in the Holy Spirit centers on holding fast your confession.
ESV Colossians 3:16 Let athe word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, bsinging psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, cwith thankfulness in your hearts to God.
ESV Ephesians 5:18-21 And ado not get drunk with wine, for that is bdebauchery, but cbe filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in apsalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 agiving thanks always and for everything to God the Father bin the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 asubmitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
- These equal dynamics.
- Focusing on rich Truth, yielding yourself to the Holy Spirit is synonymous.
- The overflow of corporate worship.
- “Admonishing, addressing, submitting, singing, and thanking.”
- As you talk before and after worship and sing, direct and indirect admonitions should be stirring in your hearts.
An article titled, Your Church Needs You to Sing by pastor Nick Aufenkamp captured this well:
“In my years as a worship pastor, I have found that the most powerful leaders of congregational worship are almost always found in the pews:
- The expecting mother who suffered a devastating miscarriage the day before, but through the tears sings out, “In Christ alone my hope is found; he is my light, my strength, my song.”
- The young professional who, because of his Christian convictions on sexuality, was fired from his dream job on Friday, but who arrives on Sunday and belts out, “How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent word.”
- The divorced woman, battling loneliness and depression, who declares, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him — how I’ve proved him over and over.”
- The 76-year-old husband and wife who recently buried their youngest daughter and two granddaughters, but still sit in the second row on Sunday morning — as they have for the past forty years — and cry out, “He will hold me fast. He will hold me fast. For my Savior loves me so. He will hold me fast.”
Corporate Worship staves off apostasy (vv. 24-25)
This leads me to our final and most important point.
To be clear, “Going to church staves off apostasy or curbs someone from walking away from the faith.”
Now, this of course comes with qualifications.
- I have said throughout Hebrews, that contact with God’s Word while in a hardened state is dangerous!
“The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay!” True!
Now, with that said, take verses 24-25 at face value.
This is the third and final command of this unit. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (v. 24).
- Positively speaking, “How do I get inspired to do something for someone else?”
- You see a real and legitimate need. You hear about a need. You talk about needs.
- To “consider” is literally to “observe” (v. 24).
- “If you see a need then you meet the need!”
- The best kind of service comes through spontaneity and inspiration!
- The blessing that comes from giving. A free-will offering!
We “stir” each other to do things!
I remember being 15 years old and my best friend looking at me and saying, “Why don’t do something with yourself!” The next day I signed up for lifeguard training at the YMCA which was the beginning of multiple lifeguard, water rescue, and swim teaching that opened for me over the next ten years.
It is like this inside the church body. Someone will suggest joining a Bible study. Beginning a new ministry. Giving toward a specific need. Serving someone behind the scenes. Visiting. Taking food. Teaching children. A prayer ministry. Starting seminary or formal lay leadership training.
Most of your spiritual growth can be traced back to timely providential conversations! A spark!
Being “stirred” (v. 24).
- This is a strong term, the same used negatively when Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp disagreement” (Acts. 15:39) which changed the course of their lives.
- This same kind of life changing stimuli is packed inside of body-life conversations.
Books Don’t Change People, Paragraphs Do – Piper
I have often said, “Books don’t change people, paragraphs do — sometimes sentences.”
This may not be fair to books, since paragraphs find their way to us through books, and they often gain their peculiar power because of the context they have in the book. But the point remains: One sentence or paragraph may lodge itself so powerfully in our mind that its effect is enormous when all else is forgotten.
- The same is true within body-life!
So, with all the positive that comes from gathering corporately, there is still the temptation to stop coming! Why?
- So many excuses that rise up in our hearts that deter you from coming.
- “My workweek is hard and I need a break.” - TRUE
- “I have awkward strained relationships at church.” - TRUE
- “Preferences I do not like at church.” - TRUE
- “I am bored with church.” - TRUE
- “I want do enjoy something else on Sunday.” - TRUE
- “I just do not want to deal with a particular sin I am harboring.” – TRUE
- There are a million more reasons not to come!
- Satan feeds them to you – probably every Sunday morning while getting ready to come!
The Bible gives us an override switch for all of these excuses.
- You need to go to church because you do not want to leave the faith!
This “habit” or what becomes someone’s “custom” is spiritually lethal.
- This becomes their “habit” or norm.
- This “custom” is a word used to refer to Jesus’ regular teaching or Paul confronting religious “customs”
People straight up tell me they make it their normal to “go to the cabin” on Sundays. Then I hear of things falling apart in their lives.
This is like someone who becomes homeless. The homeless camps are filled with real people with real lives and real stories. Some which are tragic related to abuse, violence, addictions. Others who chose a new normal. They perhaps were raised by a good family in a good house environment but who one day decided that “to go it alone” with minimal responsibility would be better. Perhaps they had a family and left it. Leaving their household, they reduce their accountability to one, themselves. Left to fend for themselves, fighting the elements and starvation. The believer who walks away from corporate fellowship puts themselves in abject danger. Apostasy never means you lose what you once had but it reveals what you never had! Spiritually speaking, staying safe in your household of the faith is was keeps you from Apostasy!
ESV Hebrews 3:12-13 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from athe living God. 13 But aexhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by bthe deceitfulness of sin.
As someone put it, “Perseverance is not merely a private matter.”
- What is the antidote to someone drifting toward apostasy?
“…but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (v. 25).
- Simply put. The ministry of encouragement!
ESV 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
- The world is full of discouragers – Christianity is designed to be very different!
How powerful is this ministry? If you have ever needed encouragement, you know how powerful it is!
- Offering a listening ear or timely word to someone in need.
Encouraging in view of Christ’s return!
“This does not mean we bring up eschatology every time we ask someone where they’ve been on Sundays!”
- “The Day drawing near” speaks to the ultimate accountability!
ESV Romans 13:12 aThe night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us bcast off cthe works of darkness and dput on the armor of light.
ESV 1 Corinthians 3:13 aeach one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed bby fire, and cthe fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
ESV 1 Thessalonians 5:4 But you aare not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.
ESV 2 Peter 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, awhat sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness
Your conversations actually do have this gravity behind it.
- The “Day of the Lord” here speaks more to judgement than rescue.
- “Do not leave the faith.”
- “Do not be outside of the house when the hurricane hits!”
- Your shelter is the Lord and your heart is safer inside!