Tell someone you haven’t been going to church and they will most likely quote Hebrews 10:25 to you which says:
“not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Does this mean it’s a sin not to attend Sunday church services?
When we look at Hebrews 10:25 and get into the Greek, this assembling of ourselves has a much stronger meaning. It literally means: “The assembling together with our own kind.” That means no mixing believers with unbelievers as we see in the Christian churches today. The letter to the Hebrews was written to Hebrew people (Jews). We do not know if they were all believers, but hopefully most were. Yet, some were on the fence about following Jesus. There was fierce persecution going on. Many suffered loss of property and ill treatment. (Hebrews 10:32-34) They believed that the Tribulation was right around the corner. The Lord’s coming! There was much fear and chaos. The writer is trying to convince these Jews not to look back. To go all the way with Jesus. But what has always been their belief? Judaism. The Temple worship, animal sacrifices, observances of the Feast days, etc. These Jewish believers were having a hard time breaking from their old religious system.
There is nothing in the letter to the Hebrews about Sunday church. They are told not to forsake gathering to hear the Scriptures because the view was towards the very soon return of Christ. It is not addressed to Gentiles or the Church. There is nothing here about church doctrine. Nothing about salvation based on Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. It is a Jewish book. These people wanted to return to law keeping. They did not understand that by doing this they would be putting themselves under a curse. (Galatians 3:10) The writer, who may or may not have been the apostle Paul, explains that Jesus is the Son of God and He is their only hope of salvation. The law cannot save anyone. He makes the argument that although the law was good, God’s grace is even better.
So what was the purpose of this letter to the Hebrews? To lift up Jesus Christ. He is God the Son. He was their long awaited Messiah. To reject Him after coming to this knowledge, would mean there will be no more sacrifice for their sins. (Hebrews 10:26)
All of scriptures is for us, but not all is to us. Israel and the church are two separate entities. We certainly can learn from God’s dealings with the Jews, but they may not apply to Christians. Could Hebrews 10:25 be used to mean we Christians should go to church? Only if you’re assembling with your own kind. But, if your church is teaching false doctrines, if it is run like a corporation and the goal is money, if your pastor is unable to “rightly divide the word of Truth, or, worse, if he is unsaved, if you are sitting among unbelievers, then you have no business being there.