Biblical Fellowship #2
By Tommy Thornhill
In the last issue it was pointed out that this series on “Biblical Fellowship” would be a study of NT fellowship (as the word in its various forms is used in the NT, and not as the secular world and many in the religious world use the word. Words and their meanings as used in the Bible often differ in meaning from how people of the world understand words. People fail to understand there is often a vast difference between the thinking of the world and the thinking of the Holy Spirit as He revealed God’s will to inspired men to record, found today in the New Testament. I am persuaded the majority of people consider today’s commonly accepted usage of the word is alright.
Consider the idea of “fellowship” as commonly understood in today’s vernacular. My Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the word – 1. Companionship, company, 2. a. A community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience. b. the state of being a fellow or associate. 3. A company of equals or friends; association. 4. The quality or state of being comradely. 5. Membership, partnership. 6. a. the position of a fellow (as of a university) b. the stipend of a fellow, c. a foundation for the providing of such a stipend.
While these definitions involve the two aspects of fellowship mentioned in the last issue, relationship (what people are in relation to each other) and participation (what they do together), none of the definitions distinguish between secular and spiritual things, nor do they deal with whether the “fellowship” (relationship/participation) is good or bad. While the good or bad can sometimes be determined by common sense, many times it is not. Through His revealed word, God forbids His children to be unequally yoked or bound together in certain types of relationships or to be participants with others in certain kinds of fellowship that will be a hinderance to their service to the Lord.
In 2.Cor.6:14-16 we read, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what “fellowship” has righteousness with lawlessness? And what “communion” has light with darkness? And what “accord” has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what “agreement” has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” (words placed in quotation marks by me is the word or related words for fellowship t.t.). While the relationships and participation mentioned in the quoted scripture would be perfectly acceptable to the world and in many religious circles, they are not acceptable to Christians. As already stated, God does not allow His children to be partners in fellowship with the devil.
I might also add that Webster’s also defines the word “baptism” as the ceremony of proclaiming one a Christian or of admitting one into membership of a Christian church with the use of water by immersion, pouring or sprinkling (my bolding t.t. How closely do you agree with these definitions? The Bible both by statement and example show that Biblical baptism is by a burial or immersion only Rom.6:3-5 (buried with Him through baptism); Col.2:12 (buried with Him in baptism); Acts 8:38-39 (both Phillip and the Eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they both came up out of the water). The world accepts pouring and sprinkling for baptism, God doesn’t.
So, by now I hope you understand the purpose of a secular dictionary is to give meanings according to present day, common usage, not Biblical definitions. Christians must not rely on modern definitions of Biblical terms to make Biblical applications. (If possible, use a good Bible dictionary that gives Biblical meanings of words, not secular). Also, search the scriptures to see how the words are used according to Biblical usage in their context, not what the words might mean today in secular use. Take any Biblical word, list all the times it is used in the Bible, and the ways it is used, and from this you can determine its scriptural meaning. This is why we know that Webster’s Dictionary definition of “baptism” is faulty. Baptism is solely by immersion, never by sprinkling or pouring. The same method should be used to determine what is real “Biblical fellowship.” We must speak as the Bible speaks, if we want to honor God 1.Pet.4:11; 1.Cor.4:6. Check the last issue where I gave the Biblical usage of the word “fellowship and its related words.
What I have done so far in my articles is give some preliminary thoughts about “fellowship and what it entails. As I proceed, I plan to first show with whom we are to have “fellowship” and how this relationship is established. Then we will study what is involved in “fellowship” participation and the limitations placed on it by God.
Before we establish fellowship with others and decide to be partners and participate with them in various activities, we must first make sure we have established the most important relationship of all, fellowship with God. In my last issue I referred to this as a VERTICAL relationship, upward toward God. If we have no fellowship with Him and His Son, any other fellowship will be of little or no importance. Jesus, in His prayer to His Father, began “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You. As You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” Jn.17:2-3. Do you see the importance of what was stated? If you don’t know God (not in fellowship with Him) you won’t have eternal life. So, this is the question we first need to ask, How can I come into fellowship with God? (to be continued).
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