What is the Church to do? Gather! - Part 3
We are to get together as a church on a regular basis.
But what for?
After reminding us why we gather in chapter 10, verses 19 through 21, the writer of Hebrews, draws out three implications for our life together as a church in verses 22 through 25. And I think those three implications give us a good grid for what’s supposed to be happening when we gather as a church.
The first purpose we get together has to do with God.
He writes in verse 22, “Let us draw near.”
If we have the right to free access to God and that right has been purchased for us at such a high price, the blood of His Son, then we ought to use it.
That’s the point.
Can you imagine if God had said to Adam after he was kicked out of the garden of Eden, that he had the right once again to go back into the garden, where he would enjoy that special access to God, what would Adam have done, of course he would have gone back in?
And can you imagine and Israelite, walking around the tabernacle and being told, he could enter into the holy of holies in order to enjoy God’s special presence, what he would have done? He would have been frightened I think, but what a privilege.
And the writer of Hebrews is saying in a sense, that is what God has done for us through Christ, he’s made it possible for us all to enter the special presence of God, through the work of Jesus and of course, with this kind of privilege open to us, we should use it.
We gather together for God-centered reasons. We gather together to commune with God, to approach Him, to worship and pray.
We need this more than we need anything else in our lives, we need to be with God, to draw near, and how we do that, exactly?
A big part of how we do that is through community. That’s why these commands are tied together here. It’s not just drawing near in your prayer closet, though you need to do that, but here it’s us drawing near.
Now, that I hope should be pretty obvious.
But, what I like as I look at verse 22, is how the writer gives us some specific instructions on the way we should approach God as we gather.
Let us draw near with a true heart.
Let us draw near in full assurance of faith.
With our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
In other words, when we gather to approach God, our worship should be sincere.
Draw near with a true heart tells us that we are not gathering together to manipulate or fool God into giving us what we want through our religious activity.
This is a drawing near that should start with a sincere desire for God and a willingness to obey Him.
I would hope that would mark our weekly get togethers, that we are coming to God with people who are done with playing games.
Second, our worship should be confident.
Draw near with full assurance of the faith tells us that we are not gathering together because we are frightened about God’s attitude towards us.
This is a drawing near that is motivated by a confidence and certainty that God is for us because of what we know is true from the gospel.
And third, our worship should be based on a genuine, existing relationship with God.
He says, draw near with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, and honestly that is a little bit of a complicated phrase, what does it mean, but at the very least, notice it is past tense which means it is something that is done and it is imagery, we are talking about people who are forgiven – their hearts have been sprinkled clean and who have been identified as Christians – their bodies have been washed with pure water – which may mean the same thing as hearts sprinkled basically, it could be synonymous, or it could mean they have identified themselves with the body of Christ through baptism.
Obviously, we love if people who aren’t Christians come and join us on Sundays, that is great, they have a chance to hear the gospel, but this gathering, is primarily for Christians.
Our goal isn’t to get a lot of non-Christians to like what we do on Sundays, instead, the first reason we come together as believers is to worship God and to be changed by God so that we can go out from here to share the gospel with the lost and make disciples.