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 10:24-25)
One mark of a positive response to the gospel is love. The particular expression of love mentioned here is fellowship love.The Jewish readers were having a hard time breaking with the Old Covenant, with the Temple and the sacrifices. They were still holding on to the legalism and ritual and ceremony, the outward things of Judaism. So the writer is telling them that one of the best ways to hold fast to the things of God—the real things of God that are found only in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ—is to be in the fellowship of His people, where they could love and be loved, serve and be served. There is no better place to come all the way to faith in Christ, or to hope continually in Him, than the church, His Body.
The day drawing near could refer to the imminent destruction of the Temple, which brought all the sacrifices and rituals to a close. The Old Covenant simply could not function without the Temple, which, when the book of Hebrews was written, was about to be destroyed by Titus. But I believe the primary reference is to the coming of the Lord, which makes the passage apply to all of us. The only place where we can remain steadfast until He returns is with His people. We need each other. We need to be in fellowship with each other, as we mutually strengthen each other and encourage each other.
Some years ago, a young man sat next to me on a plane and we struck up a conversation. When he discovered I was a minister, he said, “I used to belong to a church, but it seems to me that a person’s relationship to Christ ought to be personal, not institutional. What do you think?” After thanking the Lord silently for providing such an open opportunity for witness, I said, “I certainly agree with you.” He then asked if I knew how he could have a personal relationship with Christ—to which I also answered in the affirmative. I thought to myself, “He certainly seems to feel his need for Christ,” and so I asked if he had studied the truth of the gospel and the evidence for Christ’s claims. He replied, “Yes, but I just don’t know how to get to Him.” “Are you ready to commit yourself to Him?” I asked. He said that he was, and as we prayed together he made the commitment. The next Sunday he was in our morning worship service, and afterward asked me if our church had anything going on during the week that he could become involved in. This young man gave every evidence of being a true believer. He felt his need, he studied the evidence, he made a commitment to Jesus Christ, and was showing every desire to hold fast to Christ and to have fellowship with His people.
The writer is saying very simply, “The door is open, the way is made available to enter into God’s presence. Come in and stay and fellowship with His people, and enjoy God’s company forever.”