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Home The Light Articles from 2003 We Need to Study Fellowship Again

We Need to Study Fellowship Again

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We Need to Study Fellowship Again

by Adrian Carlo

There are as many religious "fellowships" in this world as there are religions! And some estimate there are about 3,000 +! There’s a fellowship based upon the Roman Catholic doctrine which is considered, by them, to be Christian. And there are many, many more fellowships based on, to one extent or another, Christianity; mingled with the particular doctrine of a man (or woman). Also, numerous fellowships housed around doctrines that are only loosely based on God and/or Jesus; maybe like the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and others.

Surely we can agree, that there is only one fellowship that we should be interested in, right? 1 Cor. 1:9-10: "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Now verse 12 and 13: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" The resounding answers, are "NO, NO and NO." In Christ there is only ONE fellowship.

The one fellowship is housed in the Father and the Son. 1 Jn. 1:3-7: "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

The key word here is IF. No one has fellowship with God (and Christ) if they’re in a fellowship that embraces darkness (any false doctrine). God tells us so plainly what He feels about false doctrine . . . Gal. 1:6-8: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."

Oh yes, we need desperately to reach out to those in false doctrines, to love them enough to humbly show them the truth of God’s Word, that we may "by all means, save some," (Paul). Christ went to the sinners, into their houses, among the multitudes, ate with some of them. But, he did not become one of them; he admonished them, and taught them out of love for their souls. Christians (to imitate Christ in this), out of love, will go among those in false doctrines, to admonish and to teach them, but must not become one of them, i.e., join their fellowships of false doctrine (darkness). To join a false-doctrine fellowship, is to leave the fellowship of God/Christ. Please read again the "IF" lessons in the 1 John passages above.

The Seven "Ones" of Ephesians 4

God, through the Holy Spirit, caused Paul to write and tell us this; Eph.4:1-6: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

The very Spirit of the eternal God of creation caused Paul to record the word "one" seven times in the same sentence. So I ask, could a person, in all honesty, fully accept the teaching of God’s message here and condone the multiplicity of "Christian" religions around us?

The passages mentioned above, are only a small sample of New Testament scriptures whose messages are too plain to misinterpret. If one rejects the very foundation stones of the Church that Jesus built, you begin to question within yourself whether their depth, their faith, their understanding or something in their makeup doesn’t let them freely accept the Word.

James (God) tells us that Christians will sometimes stray (5:19): "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;" And he also tells us that other Christians con-vert them back to truth and save them (5:20), "Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." It’s the "foolishness of preaching" thing (1 Cor.1:21) that God gave us. Jesus isn’t going to come down here and straighten out the erring one, but his brother (or sister) in Christ must! (If they are to fulfill God’s will in the matter.)

Satan, the Deceiver

Sometimes people begin to observe, or listen to, other religionists. Or they fraternize with them to the extent that they see what wonderful, sincere and deep persons they really are. "You know, they believe in God, go to church and seem so full of the Spirit." You begin to use human reasoning: "This man (or woman) is so ‘on fire’ for the Lord, he makes me look absolutely fraudulent. How could God sentence HIM to eternal damnation, just because his church may say ‘Open Bible’ or ‘Baptist’ over the front door?"

The first response I give here, is that your question is just that; human reasoning. Let’s abandon human reasoning and let God answer the question.

2 Cor.11:13-15: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."

If you or I were Satan, and in our quest to deceive and destroy souls, we’d also become "ministers of righteousness." We’d teach "pure" Bible truth, so as to sound exactly scriptural. BUT…but we’d slip in a few lies, to deceive. Satan despises truth! Remember, two of his titles are "Liar" and "Deceiver." These "ministers" are leading many churches. The deception is so very subtle. They may or may not be sincere, and perhaps were deceived long before they became ministers.

The members also may be sincere. Acts 20:30: "Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." They’ve adopted the few lies, along with the truth. But Jesus has enjoined us to know the truth. Jn.8: 32: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." "Free from what, Jesus?" Truth frees us from the bondage of Satan; his lies. And all too often his bondage is being a member of a church that seems to be right according to the scriptures. "Seems" is the underscored word.

We can devote our whole life to Christ and still be lost if we’re in a false channel of "Chris-tianity." Mt.7: 21-23: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." These were "Christians"! They can be those in denominations or it can be you or me. All of us are human and in real jeopardy of the devil ("minister of righteousness") slipping one over on us. That’s why we need to study, study, and study. 2 Tim.2:15: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." When and if we "study…rightly," we are able to know correct doctrine. This is how we keep out of the snare of false doctrine, thus vain worship. Mt.15:9: "But in vain they do worship me, teaching (‘ministers of righteousness’) for doctrines the commandments of men."

Faithfulness to the Word

We live in an age where the church is in a state of being lukewarm (Rev.3:16). We can’t excuse Christians because of this fact, but must realize that Satan also knows this. And if he wants to display some churches that are zealous and on fire, even if only for the purpose of deceiving the very elect (like, "Hey, you’re not in the right group"), so be it–that’s what he does. We sorely need good men and women who will see through the wiles (tricks) of the devil and campaign hard to overcome the bonds of the lukewarm state. We don’t help ourselves, or the Church of our Lord, when we begin to feel and verbalize, "Where’s our love, compassion, outreach, evangelism and numbers? Maybe I’ll just leave and go to this other church down the way." Discouragement can make us become weak, to the point of giving up the fight! "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith" (Paul, 2 Tim. 2:4). Do you think Paul ever had reason to be discouraged?

Instead of sacrificing truth in exchange for "tickle my ears" doctrine to gain numbers, we need to buckle down, take up our cross and follow Jesus. We need to make it our "ministry" (if you will) and sacrifice everything to bring love, compassion, outreach, evangelism and numbers to our congregations. Just because church members may become lax in mission, does not mean they are not the genuine Church. We’ve seen, too many times, folks that complain about the church’s shortcomings, just wind up choosing to leave. Instead of getting to work and helping with the much needed improvements, both in the church and themselves, they throw in the towel, usually blaming others. When someone points a finger at another, three fingers are pointing squarely back at themselves.

Think about this; there are many, many people in the true body of Christ. Most are scripturally sound in the basic doctrines of the N.T. Church, as written by the apostles through the Holy Spirit. Some however, discouraged with weaknesses in our outreach and evangelism, begin to let themselves believe it would be justifiable to sacrifice doctrine for the sake of outreach. They seem to believe that outreach alone must be getting the credit for the large congregations, and feel, somehow, that sound Bible doctrine must be driving people away. Isa.55:10-11: "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

I believe, of course, that outreach does indeed bring people to Christ; that’s God’s design (1 Cor. 1:21 again): "preaching, to SAVE them that believe." However, churches that have sacrificed doctrine also experience growth simply (and sadly) because members aren’t really required to "crucify" their "old man of sin." "Come as you are, God loves you. Accept God’s grace, love, compassion and His Son; you’ll have eternal life and no one can take it from you." Many church buildings are full of people praising God and "full of the Spirit", however, their conversation (daily life) is just about anything but Christ-like. God has two sides and we need to be fully "in tune" with both. Rom.11:22: "…behold the goodness and severity of God:"

It seems that people do not want to hear about the commandments or obedience side of God. Ecc.12:13: "Fear God and keep His commandments, is the whole duty of man." Look at 1 Jn.5:2-3: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." There can be a lot of things that the flesh (and the devil) will convince us indeed are "grievous" and we don’t want to do them. So what we do, and millions have done before us is, invent, make up, or subscribe to an idea that someone else has made up, that is more palatable. In 2 Cor. 10:5-6: "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."

A Basis for Unity

Getting back to fellowship, these are some of the things that I see as the "nuts and bolts" of the issue. I don’t believe that God, by any stretch of the imagination, is the one who laid out all the "Christian" religions that we have, then stepped back and left us to shop around for the one that best suits our desires. God has one church for all people in this age. The Bible is full of texts about it. I close with just one; Jude 3: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Two points: (a.) "common salvation" and "the faith," are both singular. And (b.) "was" and "delivered" are in the past tense.

Absolutely everything about Christianity was signed, sealed and delivered nearly 2000 years ago. Men have always tried to change it. I am simply asking all to accept it, as is and fellowship God for eternity! –5419 SE 1st Ct, Des Moines, IA 50315

 

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