Doug Van Meter - 3 March 2019
Mission Unalterable (Hebrews 10:23–25)
Whatever situation we face, whatever pressures the church is under, whatever the adversary throws our way, the church’s mission remains unalterable.
Whatever blessings we experience, whatever sorrows we undergo, whatever our victories, whatever our defeats, whatever the condition of our economy, the mission of the church remains unalterable.
Whatever the hardness of hearts, whatever the “whatever,” the mission of the church remains unalterable. Specifically, the church is called to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, at home and elsewhere (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18–20).
The theme of WOC is precisely that: mission unalterable.
The times might be changing, and many things in our lives may be altering, but the task given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ is not. The message remains the same. The mandate remains the same. The means remains the same (praying, preaching, partnering). The Master remains the same: “Behold, I am with you” (Matthew 28:20).
We might be facing, and we have faced, tough times, but the task remains the same. Finances may have taken a knock, but the task remains the same. The needs are great, and the mission remains the same. The challenge facing us is, how will we respond? Will take the Scriptures seriously? The problem of sin seriously? God’s salvation seriously? Our Saviour seriously?
The recipients of this letter were facing the same questions. The writer exhorted them to answer the questions in the affirmative. Their God remained immutable and therefore their commitment to him was to remain unalterable. And it would seem, from chapter 11, that their task—seeking first the kingdom of God—remained unalterable.
But, what was required for this? Well, among other things, their commitment to Christ and to each other was to remain unalterable. The writer captures this truth in 10:23–25.
The corporate gathering of the church is a meeting for which much preparation takes place. A sermon is prepared, logistics are organised, musicians put much effort in preparing to lead worship in song, etc.
But a few things must come together for this to be a blessedly productive time together. And one of those is the gathering of the church to be exposed to what God is doing through his church—and thereby to be encouraged.
Further we must gather to be exposed to God’s word that we might be revived and further reformed so as to have a longer reach than before. We have already considered several one anothers from Hebrews 10, but in this study I want to focus on an implied one another: the need to gather with one another.
These believers were beleaguered and faced the risk of losing focus, losing faith, and therefore losing fortitude and fruitfulness.
The writer reminded them of their gospel, of their God, and therefore of the goal. But to keep this before them, they would need the meaningful, communal assistance of one another. They were not to run their race alone; they were not to seek the extension of God’s kingdom alone. They would need one another. They would need to gather together around the gospel, which is the gist of the letter. By doing so, the community of faith would be strengthened in the gospel and for the gospel.
A day of judgmeent was approaching, which meant the day for gospel opportunity would increase (see Matthew 24:29–31; Revelation 5:1ff; 7:9–14).
Therefore, they needed to confess with another in faith (v. 23). They needed to consider and to be constructively concerned for one another in hope (v. 24). All of this required that they connect with one another in love (v. 25). By doing so, they would be strengthened for mission unalterable.
I recently ran a race, over a far longer distance than I have trained for for some time. A fellow church member ran with me for most of the distance—though he eventually unchristianly pulled ahead and beat me!—and encouraged me to keep running. It was helpful having a fellow runner spurring me to endure. We need the same in the church.
Their message was unalterable, as is ours: the gospel of God. Their mission was unalterable, as is ours: to make disciples of the nation. Their mandate was unalterable, as is ours: Go! Their Master was unalterable, as in ours: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever (13:8). In other words, despite their very painful cicumstances, their goal, their gospel, and their God remained unalterable.
The same principle applies to us. We have the same responsibility. It is always essential that we commit to gathering with one another around and for the gospel. Refusal to do so is never beneficial and eventually leads to falling away.
The Christian life, and the mission we’ve been called to, is difficult. We cannot do this on our own, and we were never meant to. We are to engage in the above as a community. Hence, we need to gather together. The Lord’s exhortation to gather together also remains unalterable!
What can we expect if we choose to gather with the church?
We can expect to hear God’s word and therefore to grow in our relationship with him. This can happen as we are exposed to God’s revelation in his word, which points us to his Son (Hebrews 1:1)
We can expect to be reminded of what God is up to: building his church; his new temple, which is global.
We can expect to be reminded that God and his purposes are unalterable. Even when we are facing challenges. Perhaps, especially when we are facing challenges. This will help us to not draw away or to pull back, as we see various days approaching. Gathering in this way affords an opportunity for our faith to grow.
We can expect to be reminded that God is immutable (13:8). That is, gathering for worship affords us opportunities—perhaps at some times more than at other times—to hear how God is the same in other cultures and in other churches and that we are not unique. He answers prayers and blesses his gospel in other places!
We can expect to be challenged to sacrifice for the spread of the gospel and for the making of disciples among the nations. In other words, we will can expect to be stirred up to love and good works. What a blessing such a stirring will be!
We can expect growth in gospel unity. Brothers and sisters, do your part to fulfil this mandate. Great things can happen when the church gathers together. We might even find ourselves being “scattered” because we gathered!
Brothers and sisters, when it comes to corporate worship, make your schedule unalterable. That is, prioritise the weekly Lord’s Day gathering. Your church will gather every Lord’s Day. The date is set. Don’t allow lesser priorities to get in the way. Empty seats discourage; filled seats encourage
As we gather, we can each and all be exposed to God’s word, which helps us to be on the same page. As we gather, we can grow in corporate unity in our devotion and in our duty. If we refuse to gather, results can be harmful (cf. Numbers 32:1–23).
As we gather, may the Holy Spirit make us remember the gospel, the goal, and our God. And may we therefore both grow and go.