What is the purpose of the Church? Most people think of church as buildings and worship services, in which case the goal of church is obvious: to praise and worship God, and to hear the teaching of His word. But while there is unquestionably a time and place for these very important things, that is not the primary pattern and purpose that we see in Scripture for gatherings of the Church—the Called-Forth. On the contrary, the believers’ gathering has another, more fundamental collective purpose—one that tells us how we’re meant to function together as the Body of Messiah.

While there are many scriptural details that offer a glimpse into the true purpose of the Called-Forth gathering, the most succinct description is found in Hebrews 10:23-25.

May we hold fast to the unwavering profession of the hope (for He who promised is faithful). And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and to good actions, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as is the custom of certain people, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day [of Adonai’s judgment] coming near. (mjlt)

This stunning characterization of the believers’ gathering unfortunately bears little resemblance to what we normally see in our churches and congregations today. The author’s exhortation comes in the context of holding fast to our profession of faith and hope. He does not want us to be discouraged concerning the promise, the present, and the future that we have in Messiah. Rather, he is encouraging us to take action in order to fend off this discouragement—yet not for our own sake (so that we may feel more spiritual or confident or closer to God), but for the sake of one another. The author urges us to provoke each other to love and good actions: to contend with each other, to challenge one another, and to behave outwardly in the ways of love and good. He also says to exhort one another in this—to encourage and warn each other to not let go of the faith, and to continue walking according to the righteousness that is dictated by that same faith.

And the physical setting in which all of this converges is in the gathering of ourselves together.

This is why were are told to not forsake the gathering of the believers. To fail to gather in this way is not to forsake the worship and teaching that takes place in a building, but to forsake the provocation and exhortation from one another for the effective building up of the Body of Messiah. The purpose of the gathering is not simply to strengthen you in the assurance and hope that you have in Yeshua, but to cultivate a communal edification that refuses to allow us all to continue in our sins and selfish, fleshly behavior. It is an up-building meant to provide a layer of protection for you personally (and therefore all of us collectively) to keep you from being weak in your faith, your walk, and your testimony for Messiah. Indeed, this is precisely what Hebrews 10 goes on to say to us in the following two verses.

For if we keep willfully sinning after the receiving of the full knowledge of the truth, then there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain kind of fearful expectation of judgment and fiery zeal, about to devour the opposers. (mjlt)

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So the gathering of the believers, then, through our provoking and exhorting of one another for the building up of the Called-Forth, is so that we will not be brought down by our continual, willful sin. The gathering is not supposed to be a passive, theatrical performance, but a godly mechanism of mutual accountability to help guard us against the sinful behavior that nullifies Yeshua’s sacrifice and puts us in danger of judgment as opposers of God.

The purpose of the Called-Forth believers’ gathering isn’t to meet together just for any individual, spiritual purpose—biblical or otherwise. The gathering’s specific purpose is for the collective building up of Yeshua’s Body—not through services and sermons, but through our face-to-face provocation and exhortation one to another.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

WATCH or LISTEN TO the full teaching on The Biblically Correct Podcast!

Go to https://www.biblicallycorrectpodcast.org/ep55

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