Sermon #48                     Hebrews Notes


     Title:       How Important is Public Worship?

     Text:       Hebrews 10:24-27

     Readings:     David Burge and Bob Poncer

     Subject:  Perseverance

     Date:       Tuesday Evening – March 27, 2000

     Tape #    W-33a



     Our text tonight will be Hebrews 10:24-27, but I want us to begin at Psalm 5:7. I want to put a question before you, which I hope you will lay to heart. This is the title of my message. – How important is public worship?


     With all the pressures put upon us in this world, all the cares and responsibilities we have, we must, if we are wise, put first things first. We must get our priorities in order, making certain that the most important things receive our greatest care and attention. If we neglect anything, let us neglect matters of lesser importance. In the light of these things, it is most reasonable for us to ask and seek to answer this question, finding our answer in the Word of God.


     It is obvious to all who are familiar with the Word of God that the single most important thing in this world is the worship of God.

·        To call upon the name of the Lord is to worship him.

·        To believe God is to worship him.

·        To fear God is to worship him

·        To trust the Lord is to worship him.

·        To walk with Christ is to worship him.

·        To glorify God is to worship him.

Believers are men and women who worship God.


     Now, let’s look at Psalm 5:7 briefly. Then we will get to our text in Hebrews 10.


{Psalms 5:7}  "But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple."


     David, the man after God's own heart, found great pleasure and satisfaction in daily prayer and meditation. Daily, private, personal worship was a characteristic of his life. With the rising of the morning sun his heart was lifted up to God. Every morning he directed his prayer to the throne of grace and looked to his Lord with a heart of faith. Every evening he gave thanks to God and laid his head upon his pillow in the sweet rest of faith.


     That is the way to begin and end every day! Blessed is the man or woman who worships God in private. Let all who know and trust the living God worship him daily. Let all who follow Christ in the path of faith and obedience follow him also to the solitary place of private prayer. I would do everything within my power to promote and encourage private worship among the saints of God. Let every priest of God offer the daily sacrifices of prayer and praise to the Lord. But there is something even more important than private worship.


     Does that last statement surprise you? I know that most people who are genuinely concerned for the glory of God and the worship of God rank personal, private worship above all things in the life of faith. But I am convinced that public worship, if it is true worship, is even more important than private worship. Let me show you why I say that.


     David, the sweet singer of Israel, gave the highest possible regard to the matter of public worship. Without neglecting private worship, he said, “As for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.”


     He could not force others to worship God, and would not if he could. “But,” he says, “as for me, I will come into thy house.” That is to say, “I will come into the place of public worship in the assembly of God's saints, to worship the Lord my God.” And when he came into the place of worship with the saints of God, David was determined truly to worship the Lord. He says, “In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.”


     David was resolved in his heart, at every appointed time, to come with God's saints into the place of public worship, so that he might worship God in heaven, in the temple of his holiness. May God the Holy Spirit graciously and effectually apply David's words to our hearts, making his resolve our own, for Christ’s sake.


     I will come into thy house.” -- The house of God is the congregation of the saints, wherever they gather in public assembly to worship God.


{1 Timothy 3:14-15}  "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: {15} But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."


     I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy.” It is not enough merely to “go to church”. We must come into the house of God in faith, trusting the Lord's mercy. And there are a multitude of mercies with God in Christ. Sinners need mercy. We must come to the place of public worship as sinners trusting God's abundant mercy in Christ. If we do not come as sinners seeking mercy, we will not worship. But sinners looking to Christ for mercy always find a multitude of mercy in him (Luke 18:13-14). In him we find:


·        Everlasting, covenant mercy (Jer. 31:31-34)

·        Sin-atoning, redeeming mercy (Rom. 3:24-26)

·        Effectual, saving mercy (Micah 7:18-20)

·        Immutable, preserving mercy (Mal. 3:6)

·        Daily, providential mercy (Rom. 8:28)


Truly, “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22), and every worshipper in God's house finds it to be so.


     And in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.” We must come to the house of God with reverence and godly fear to worship him, that is, to see him, to hear him, to adore him, to praise him and to obey him. This was David's resolve. May it ever be yours and mine. May God give us grace to make public worship our delight and enable us truly to worship him in the assembly of his saints.


Proposition: I make this statement without fear of contradiction. Public worship is the single most important aspect of the believer's life.


     When David was banished from Jerusalem, the place of public worship, he envied even the sparrows who made their nests in the house of God. His heart longed not for the throne, the riches, or the power that had been taken from him, but for the assembly of God's saints in public worship. When the blessed privilege of public worship was taken from him for a short time, nothing was more important or precious to God's child (Ps. 84:1-4).


{Psalms 84:1-4}  "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! {2} My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. {3} Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. {4} Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah."


     The fact is, all who are born of God love the assembly of God's saints in public worship and love the ministry of the gospel. There are no exceptions. God's people will not willingly absent themselves from the worship of God. It is true, there are many who very strictly attend, and even love, the outward service of public worship, who do not know the Lord. Their outward worship is nothing but a show of hypocrisy, for they never worship God in private. They do not worship God in their hearts. They do not worship God in spirit. They only observe and find satisfaction in a mere form of godliness. But I will guarantee you this -- Anyone who willfully neglects and despises the public assembly of the saints for worship also neglects and despises private worship. And those who do not worship God do not know God.


     Most people are very busy with all kinds of things. The cares and pleasures of life in this world consume almost all their time and attention. When it is convenient they attend church, give God a little tip and sing, “Oh, how I love Jesus!” But any time something more important comes up (a good football game, a special television show, a visiting relative, or a sick dog!), they absent themselves from the house of God with little regret. They say to themselves, “I can always go to church next week. The Lord knows my heart.” Of that much you can be sure: the Lord does know our hearts, and he will judge us accordingly!


     Those who are truly God's people love the house of God and the worship of God. They arrange their lives around the worship of God. Nothing ever comes up, over which they have control, to keep them from the house of God. They see to it that when the saints of God gather for worship, they are among them, unless their absence is genuinely unavoidable.


     Our faithfulness in the matter of public worship is much more than a matter of duty. It is our delightful choice. Public worship is the single most important aspect of the believer’s life in this world. Nothing is more important to the children of God in this world than the public assembly of the saints for worship; and that public assembly of the saints for worship is the local church, the congregation of the Lord, the house of God.


     Why do God's people place such importance upon the public worship of the local church? Here are five reasons.


I.                   This is the place where God meets sinners in saving mercy.


     Yes, God uses personal witnessing, tracts, tapes, books and other instruments of gospel instruction to call his elect to life and faith in Christ, but generally God saves his sheep in the congregations of his saints when they are gathered for worship (Acts 2:1,37-41).


{Acts 2:1}  "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."


{Acts 2:37-41}  "Now when they heard this, (Peter’s message of redemption accomplished by the death of  Christ) they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? {38} Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. {39} For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. {40} And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. {41} Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."


·        Sinners in need of mercy would be wise to seek mercy where mercy is always found in great, overflowing abundance; and mercy is always found in the house of God.


·        God's saints know themselves to be sinners in need of mercy; so they come, with all their needs, to the house of mercy, seeking the Lord.


II.                This is the place where our family gathers.


     Every true local church is a family of believers. When the church gathers for worship, it is the gathering of our family for sweet and blessed fellowship in the gospel. Family members need each other, comfort each other and help each other, because they love each other.


III.             This is the place where the Lord Jesus Christ meets with his people.


     Our Savior promised that, wherever his people gather in his name, he would be with them (Matt. 18:20).


{Matthew 18:20}  "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."


     To gather in Christ's name is to gather by faith in his name, for the honor of his name and to worship in his name. If only two or three gather to worship the Son of God, he will meet with them. The old man, Simeon, found God's salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the temple, the appointed place of public worship (Luke 2:25-32), and if we would see Christ we must come with his saints when they gather in the place of public worship.


IV.            This is the place where God deals with men.


     Each local congregation of believers is the house and temple of the living God (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Tim. 3:15).


{1 Corinthians 3:16-17}  "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? {17} If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."


     God reveals his glory, gives out his law, makes known his will, bestows his blessings and instructs his people in his temple, his church. It is in this place that God speaks to men by his Spirit through his Word.


     In all ages the people of God have been known and identified by their public gatherings for worship. Wherever God has had a people in this world, he has had a congregation to worship him. Sheep are always found in flocks. The only sheep who are alone are either lost or sick. And God's elect are sheep. No matter how few, they have always gathered together in public worship. In the public assembly we bear public, united testimony to the world of our Savior's grace and glory. As an assembled body of believers we strengthen, cheer, comfort, encourage, edify and help one another by prayer, praise and the preaching of the gospel.


     From the beginning of the Bible to the end there is a clear line of succession in this matter of public worship.


·        Adam and Eve worshipped God at the gate of Eden.

·        Cain and Abel came to worship God in a public assembly.

·        Noah's first act after the flood was an act of public worship to celebrate God's saving grace.

·        Wherever the patriarchs pitched their tents in days of old, they erected an altar for worship.

·        Throughout the Mosaic economy, the Jew who did not worship God in the tabernacle or temple was cut off from the congregation.

·        Throughout the book of Acts, wherever God's children were scattered by persecution, they soon gathered in public assemblies for the worship of God.


     Public worship is one identifying mark of true believers. With David, every saved sinner is resolved to worship God, saying, “As for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.” By this let us each examine ourselves. Those who willingly and habitually absent themselves from the worship of God do not know God. A person may be outwardly faithful to the church of God who does not know God, but no one is faithful to Christ who is not faithful in the public assembly of his church for worship.


     Now, I want you to turn with me to Hebrews 10:24-27; and understand this fifth, sobering fact.


V.               The neglect of public worship is the first step towards total apostasy.


     Seldom do men and women turn away from Christ and the gospel of his grace suddenly. Usually the charms of the world take men by degrees, gradually. Apostasy is usually so gradual that those who forsake Christ do not even realize they have forsaken him.


     How many there are who never attend, or seldom attend, the worship of God, who yet foolishly presume they are children of God! But their continued forsaking of the assembly of God's saints is proof that they never really knew the Lord Jesus Christ in saving faith (1 John 2:19).


{1 John 2:19}  "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."


     Those who willfully neglect the assembly of God's saints for public worship, though they may mentally know the truth of God, tread underfoot the Son of God, count the blood of the covenant a useless thing and despise the Spirit of grace. Let’s see if that is not what the Holy Spirit tells us in Hebrews 10:24-27.


     This passage is pressing upon us the necessity of perseverance in the faith, and the need for each of us, by every means we can use, to encourage one another to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.” Look at the admonition and warning here given by our God to all who profess faith in his dear Son.


{Hebrews 10:24}  "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works."


     May God give us grace ever to consider one another, to encourage and be encouraging to one another, for Christ’s sake. If we devote ourselves to loving, caring for, and serving others, we will have less time to feel sorry for ourselves and complain about being neglected by others. And, as we serve each other, we provoke others to love and good works, kindling in them a desire to serve to rather than be served.


{Hebrews 10:25}  "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."


Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together – This is talking about our regular gathering together unto Christ (1 Thess. 2:1) the act of meeting together in one place to attend our Lord’s worship, the ministry of the Word, and the ordinances of divine worship.


To "forsake" such assembling refers to willful infrequency in attending the gathering of God’s saints. Many ramble from place to place, never really committing themselves to the building of God’s church and kingdom, but ever seeking personal gratification. This abandoning of God’s church is an abandoning of the God, the gospel of his grace and the glory of his Son. It is apostasy, departing from the faith, letting go our profession.


It is both our highest privilege and greatest duty in this world to assemble with God’s saints for public worship.

·        Our heavenly Father has appointed it and approves of it. His glory is concerned in it. And his gospel is advanced by it.

·        Both we and our brethren need it, that we may be revived, refreshed, comforted, instructed, edified, and enabled to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

·        Sinners need our faithfulness in worship as well. We ought to maintain the worship of God for their sake, as well as our own, that they may be convinced of the gospel, converted by the grace of God, and brought to the knowledge and faith of Christ.


John Gill wrote, This “assembling together ought not to be forsaken; for it is a forsaking God, and our own mercies, and such are like to be forsaken of God; nor is it known what is lost hereby; and it is the first outward visible step to apostasy, and often issues in it.”


“As the manner of some is” – As in those early days, so in our day, it is the practice of many who profess faith in Christ to absent themselves from the house of God, showing by their neglect an utter contempt for Christ, his church and the gospel of the grace of God. I know that is strong language; but that is the language of this passage. Read on.


“But exhorting one another” – Rather than abandoning one another, let us exhort and encourage one another to prayer, to attend the worship of God, to adhere to Christ, and the faith we have professed. Let us ever encourage one another to consider Christ and cling to him.


It is in this way that we most effectually serve, comfort and edify one another. Here we share (in conversation, prayer, preaching and praise) our experiences of grace, the doctrine of Christ, and the things of God. Here, in the house of God, we put one another in remembrance of God’s faithfulness, his promises, our responsibilities, and of our Lord’s coming. Look at the next line of verse 25.


“And so much the more,  as ye see the day approaching” – Do you see the day approaching? -- The Day of Death? – The Day of Christ’s Advent? – The Day of Judgment?


{Hebrews 10:26}  "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins."


     When a person abandons Christ, when he abandons the worship of God, when he abandons the gospel, he abandons hope. Sinners have no hope but him! If we were to leave him, we have nowhere else to go!


{John 6:66-69}  "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. {67} Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? {68} Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. {69} And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."


     Those who abandon Christ abandon everything, except the wrath of God. There is nothing left for the apostate…


{Hebrews 10:27}  "But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."




     How important is the worship of God? It is just this important. The worship of God displays faith in Christ, love for Christ, devotion to Christ, and great need of Christ. The forsaking of the assembly of God’s saints displays contempt for Christ.


{Hebrews 10:28-29}  "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: {29} Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy (common, ordinary, contemptible) thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"


     My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us cling to him as a drowning man clings to the life rope. With every apparent slip of our hands, let us grip more firmly than ever, knowing all the while that we must be held by him if we are to hold him. Yet hold him we must!


     Blessed Savior, keep us by your grace, for the glory of your own great name.


·        Keep us from the world.

·        Keep us from the evil one.

·        Keep us from ourselves!


“God of our salvation, hear us;

Bless, O bless us, ere we go;

When we join the world, be near us,

Lest Thy people careless grow.

Savior, keep us, Keep us safe from every foe!


In the day of Thy appearing,

When the trump of God shall sound,

May we hear it, nothing fearing,

Though all nature sinks around,

By our Savior Raised, and then with glory crowned!”