And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works: 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.
Of course we have suffered for this, but we count it the cost of following Jesus. We do not say those in the official churches have not counted the cost, but only that this is the cost to my family and me.
What we have lost is regular exhortation or encouragement, the most necessary, preponderant, and practical of the speaking gifts. Exhortation and encouragement are synonymous, as is attested by the Bible translations. A casual examination on biblehub.com shows thirteen versions using "encouragement" and ten using "exhortation."
In Hebrews 10:24-25 the reason for meeting is in order that we can encourage or exhort one another. And this harmonizes with Romans 15:14, which says, "I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another." This teaching is closely related to the teaching in Hebrews 10, for admonition is not far removed from either encouragement or exhortation. However a difference is that in Romans 15 Paul expressly states that the brethren are able to admonish one another, where in Hebrews 10 it is only implied.
Is it not self-evidently true that exhortation is the most preponderant of the speaking gifts? Virtually all have this gift to some extent. I do not say it is the primary gift of all, but only that every member of the body of Christ has a gift which is itself a unique combination of the various gifts, and that many if not virtually all have an ability to exhort, or encourage, or admonish. It is at once the simplest of the speaking gifts and at the same time the most necessary and practical. (Of course the women are to be silent in the full assembly; but this does not mean they do not have the gift for use out of the assembly.)
My wife is most useful to me when she admonishes, or exhorts, or encourages me. And what is true out of the assembly for individuals applies, corporately, in the assembly as well. But this is not a call for "just any sort of exhortation," but for the exhortation that is required for the reason that the members of the assembly are intimately acquainted with one another and know one another's moral and spiritual needs. What is more practical than this? We do not exhort one another for the sake of exhortation, but for the reason that is required by the Lord that we do it.
Do the members of the assemblies know one another well enough to exhort one another? I am not speaking here of personal matters, the kind which are to proceed according to the Lord's teaching in Matthew 18 and which may, ultimately, end up in the church. I am speaking of general exhortations needed in a day when we all experience some of the same trials and temptations and appeals from the world. That day is today.
Also I notice that in Hebrews 10 it says we are to encourage one another all the more as we see the day approaching. This is the Day of the Lord's return to meet His saints in the air. We do not know the day, but we can, indeed, see the Day approaching. If that is "date setting" than the inspired Word is guilty of "date setting." There is no date set, but only a discernment that the return of the Lord is near. I have no patience with the scoffers and scorners who say, where is this day? That is the scorn of the unbelieving, and it is terrible when this attitude infects the churches. (Yet we see, increasingly, unbelief in the church that the Lord's return is soon. Often it finds "doctrinal justification" in theologies like "reconstructionism.") Jesus said, "I am coming soon." Do you believe it, or not?
Not only does Hebrews 10 indicate that we are to encourage one another more and more as we see the day approaching, but we are to encourage one another more of the approaching day. This was Paul's teaching in I Thessalonians 4:13-18, one of two (the other found in I Corinthians 15:51-53) witnesses to the day of the catching up of the saints to meet the Lord in the air. He concludes the teaching in the first passage with, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." The word "comfort," parakaleo, is the same word translated exhorting or encouraging in Hebrews 10:25.
Everyone who has hope in the Lord's soon return purifies himself. Should it not be a high priority in our meetings to encourage one another concerning this? And not "after church?" But when all are assembled?