Encouragement in Love and Good Works
“let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”- Hebrews 10:24–25
The Christian faith includes both a corporate and an individual dimension. As individuals, we cannot count on the faith of other people to save us; rather, we must individually trust in the Lord to be saved. “Whoever believes in [Jesus] should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That refers to personal, individual faith in Christ; more literally, the verse in the Greek says “the one believing.” No one gets into heaven on the coattails of another person; if someone does not trust in Jesus, he will not be saved.
Most evangelical Protestants understand this individual dimension of the Christian faith well. We frequently talk about our need for a personal relationship with Christ. Regrettably, we can forget the corporate dimension of true biblical religion. We are saved by God through our individual faith in Jesus, but He does not leave us as individuals who follow Him on our own. In being united to Christ, we are united to other believers in the church, forming one body wherein we put others’ needs before our own (Eph. 3:6; Phil. 2:5–11).
Having addressed in Hebrews 10:19–23 the individual dimension of the Christian life by exhorting us to continually draw near to Jesus and to hold fast as individuals to our professions of faith, the author of Hebrews turns now to remind us of the duties required by the corporate dimension of the Christian faith. In light of the perfect work of Christ in atoning for the sin of His people, we are to continually “spur one another on to love and good deeds,” not neglecting to meet together (vv. 24–25). Human beings are social creatures, made for fellowship with one another. Without the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ, our love for Jesus can grow cold, and we are more likely to turn away from Him in the day of trial. We tend to take on the characteristics of the community in which we take part, and if we are not regularly participating in the Christian community we have in the visible church, we will find ourselves becoming more and more conformed to the world and not to Jesus. This is true in the day of ease, and it is all the more likely when we face significant pressure from the world to abandon the faith.
Regular attendance at corporate worship as well as at corporate Christian fellowship opportunities is a must. When believers meet together, we can remind one another of the greatness of Jesus and the futility of the world’s way of doing things. We are strengthened by each other to persevere.
We dare not think that we can go it alone in the Christian life. If we are not receiving encouragement from others and in turn encouraging them ourselves, we will find ourselves wandering away from the Lord. Let us not neglect meeting together, but let us join with one another as often as we can to spur each other on to love and good works.
Passages for Further Study