“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
There is a teaching “out there” that says something like this: all I need to do, to be a strong Christian, is to sit at home and watch a service on TV. My faith is a personal one, anyway, and I can get everything I need by sitting in front of the TV, and hearing about it from the preacher there (whomever the preacher may be, be it John Hagee, John McArthur, Ravi Zacharias, Tony Campolo, Billy Graham, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, some lesser known person, or whomever).
Well, there is a place for “staying home” sometimes. But may I say that those places are far and few between. For example, if you’re sick, stay home. I remember my wife did that once, and she ended up watching a show on TV, and was very blessed by it. In retrospect, you might have even said that God wanted her to stay home that day, because of the profound teaching she received on the television. Or if someone’s out to shoot you, you may want to consider staying home, as well! (Or, be bold like Jesus, and take your whip out, and cleanse the church!) But, by and large, you do not want to stay home. Trust me.
First, the Bible COMMANDS US not to forsake our own assembling together. There is a good reason for that. God knows our needs better than we do. We have been specially designed by our Creator to NEED fellowship with other believers. It is an inherent NEED that has been BUILT IN to our very system! When we forsake that, and decide to stay away, we ROB OURSELVES of something very important indeed. People who work inside all the time, and particularly people who work in very dark places (like coal mines) must be careful to get enough sunlight. If they don’t, they will suffer. It is the same with Christians. If you don’t get enough fellowship, you will suffer.
Some Christians can “make it on their own” under UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES ONLY. It is a SPECIAL GRACE that God gives during certain times of need only. As an example, a person has been imprisoned because of their faith. There are no other believers around. They may even be in solitary confinement. At such times as these, God gives a SPECIAL GRACE to be able to endure the circumstance. This is highlighted in 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Thus, if you find yourself suffering in the midst of some circumstance, where your perceived needs are not getting met, well, then, you either need to go out and make sure those needs are met (like going out and fellowshipping with others), or, you need to rely upon the fact that God has provided for your need via His special grace. Only one of these two conditions will apply. Generally speaking, how do you know which of the two conditions applies? Here is the answer (I think). If you are locked up in some type of prison, and unable to communicate with the outside world, and are simply dependent upon God’s grace in your situation, then SPECIAL GRACE takes effect. But if you have ANY POWER AT ALL to do anything (like get up and go for fellowship), then you are expected to do that.
Let’s examine this for a moment, shall we? Think of Jesus, when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Did He roll away the stone? No. He did not. In John 11:39, we read, “Jesus said, ‘Remove the stone.'” And a few verses later, “So they removed the stone”. Now it’s a good thing they rolled away the stone, because that provided the way for a great miracle to occur! Lazarus was then raised from the dead – WOW! Are you looking for a miracle in your own life? Then you, too, must DO WHAT JESUS HAS SAID! He has said, in His word, to NOT FORSAKE assembling together with other believers. There must be a reason for that! The bottom line is that He has said that you must do that, and so you should. And in the same way that NO MIRACLE OCCURRED UNTIL THE DISCIPLES HAS OBEYED THE VOICE OF THEIR MASTER, so too should you not expect that any great miracle will occur in your own life, either, unless you obey the Lord in this very crucial area.