Biblical Fellowship  #4

By Tommy Thornhill

 

In my last issue I asserted that “if one fails to establish fellowship with God and maintain it, then at the final judgment it will make no difference about any other fellowship one might have had in this life.” WHY? Because one cannot be saved if he is not in fellowship with God. One who is unsaved is in spiritual darkness, in the world of sin, and God goes not dwell in darkness or with those living in the darkness of sin. God is light, and those who dwell with Him, i.e., have fellowship with Him, must come into the light (be saved) and walk in the light 1.Jn.1:6-7. Because I am fully confident of the truth that fellowship with God is of utmost importance, is why I spent the latter part of the last issue showing how fellowship with God is established. This fellowship with God is what we might call a VERTICAL fellowship, because one is reaching upward God. But, as we also learn from 1.Jn.1:7 “if we walk in the light as He (God) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” So, when we gain fellowship with God we then seek to expand our fellowship HORIZONTIALLY, to reach out and share our fellowship with others.

While 1.Jn.1:7 teaches us we are to share fellowship with others, a study of other scriptures concerning fellowship we learn that the “others” with whom we are to have fellowship is limited to a certain class of people, those who are also “walking in the light.” These are the people who “were once darkness, but (now) walk in the light of the Lord,” i.e., walking “as children of lightEph.5:8. They are the true disciples of Christ who abide in the truth Jn.8:31-32. The truth is the word of God Jn.17:17.

One group of people, “others,” with whom we are NOT to have fellowship are those who are walking in darkness (those who are unsaved). As “children of light,” “walking in the light” we are forbidden to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, rather expose them” Eph.5:11. We are commanded NOT to be joined together spiritually with those who are living in darkness. Living or walking in darkness is a reference to the way of a sinful life, where people refuse to follow God’s way but instead follow the course of this world Eph.2:1-3; 1.Jn.2:15-17. Jesus speaks of this course of action, saying, “this is the condemnation, that light (Jesus, the light of God Jn.8:12) has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, let his deeds should be exposed” Jn.3:19-20. With such people we are to have no spiritual fellowship.

Note the words, “spiritual fellowship.” Spiritual fellowship involves people worshiping God, “joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” 1.Cor.1:10 (thinking after the same manner; following the “apostles’ doctrine (the teaching of Christ which they received by inspiration Jn.16:13-16), and fellowship (in the same spiritual relationship and sharing the same practices), in the breaking of bread (partaking of the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week) and in prayers” Acts 2:42. Spiritual fellowship also means they share “a common salvation,” Jude 3, having the “like precious faith” 2.Pet.1:1.

This spiritual fellowship also means we CANNOT fellowship those who teach and/or practice strange doctrines, i.e., teachings that have NOT been authorized in God’s word Col.3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (by His authority), giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Also, “whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him. For he who greets him shares in his evil deeds2.Jn.9-11. See also 1.Cor.4:6; Gal.1:6-9 along this line.

Maintaining true fellowship with God requires that we remain separate from “others” in the religious world of denominationalism, churches that have originated in the minds of men, not God. These man-made churches owe their existence to the doctrines and practices of men. Denominationalism, with their various beliefs, teachings and practices divide people religiously, rather than uniting them. This division is contrary to the teaching of Christ and is an affront to His prayer for unity rather than division. He prayed that those who believed in Him through His word, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may believe in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” Jn.17:21. If we are to be one (of the same faith and salvation we must maintain a separateness from those who cause division.

As noted in a previous article, Paul tells Christians, “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 Beliah? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” 2.Cor.6:14-16a. He continues, “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk among them, I will be their God, and they will be My people (this is relational fellowship with God), therefore ‘come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” 2.Cor.6:16b-18.

While we live in the world among unbelievers (both irreligious and religious), we are not of the world. We must not be conformed to their way of life Rom.12:2a. Our fellowship with God requires we live differently, even if the world thinks “it is strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” 1.Pet.4:4.  (to be continued)

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