Biblical Fellowship  #6

By Tommy Thornhill

In the last article it was pointed out that the scriptures teach that Christians are forbidden from being yoked together with other people in things that are sinful, i.e., we are not to have fellowship with them in such practices, fellowship meaning we are not to share in, partake with or participate in doing that which is sinful. This prohibition applies not only in secular activities but also in religious activities. I mentioned a couple areas where we do not fellowship others. One is the Lord’s Supper and the other is singing and not playing a mechanical instrument in our worship to God.  Let me illustrate a little more clearly,

I, and the brethren where I preach firmly believe that God through His word teaches us the Lord’s Supper is to be eaten by the local church in its public assembly every first day of the week. We understand Acts 20:7 gives us the authority for the day it is be eaten. On the other hand there are many Christ leaning churches (denominations) who believe that Acts 20:7 is not sufficient evidence for taking the Lord’s Supper weekly, So some of them partake of the Lord’s Supper quarterly, others annually. There are even some who see the Lord’s Supper as so insignificant they hardly ever partake of it at all.

Since we believe that the Lord’s Supper must be eaten each week, we cannot scripturally yoke ourselves together with those who believe otherwise, and at the same time be true to our convictions.  We can associate with them, and even study the scriptures together with them, but as long as we differ on the time for serving and partaking of the Lord’s Supper we cannot ve in Biblical fellowship with them.  

The same is true of our worshiping God in our assembling. We follow the instructions found in Eph.5:19; Col.3:16 “to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual song, singing and making melody in our hearts to God.” As pointed out last issue every passage in the NT that mentions singing never includes playing a mechanical musical instrument such as a guitar. Drums, piano, organ or any other type mechanical musical instrument. Therefore, we conclude that the word of God authorizes us to sing with our voice, from the heart, not accompanied by a man-made instrument. Most Christ leaning churches (denominations) see nothing wrong with playing an instrument while singing. They might call it praising God, but it generally turns out to be entertainment for the people. They leave the service, remembering the musical beat, but not the worship to God. But, once again. If we are going to be true to our convictions, we cannot compromise our beliefs and have fellowship with churches that play musical instruments along with singing. It is not that we don’t like instrumental music, or we can’t afford them, but our understanding of God’s word will not allow us to use musical instruments in worship and at the same time be pleasing to God.

Let me notice something else. Spiritual fellowship should never be used in connection with material, physical activities even though this is the way the secular world uses it and many brethren follow their lead. The make the mistake of using the Biblical word “fellowship” for social get-togethers (family, friends and brethren). This careless, thoughtless use many years ago brought in the social gospel and the building of physical facilities in the name of Christianity, for physical activities (fun, food, frolic). These things are unscriptural and a violation of God’s authority, contrary to what the Lord intended for His people. Jesus Himself taught that the use of physical food did not bring people to Him. “Most assuredly you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filledJn.6:26. Later, speaking of the same incident John tells us “many of His disciples, when they heard this, (Jesus telling them they needed to assimilate Him and His word into their lives vs.51-58 .t.t.) said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” He then said, “Does this offend you?” vs.60-61.

Brethren need to think before they do things that are without Biblical authority. In writing about Biblical fellowship in an earlier article (vol.8, no.37) I mentioned that the Greek word kionos translated “fellowship,” and its related words, koinonia, koinoneo, koinonos, sunnkoinoneo, variously translated as fellowship, participation, communion, partnership, contribution, partaking or sharing all pertain to Christians’ joint sharing and joint participation in reference to “spiritual things.” None of these words ever deal with “carnal things.” Even when the saints sometimes shared in “carnal things” (furnishing the physical needs of needy saints) it was for spiritual purposes. Ex. Rom.15:27. Paul is discussing the contribution of the Gentiles for the needy Jewish saints in Jerusalem. He tells the brethren in Rome about it and writes, “It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things (salvation coming through the gospel of Jesus Christ, who had been fleshly born a Jew – t.t.) their duty is also to minister to them in material things.” Also read 2.Cor.9:11-13.  “Fellowship” in the Bible is NEVER used in connection with social activities such as social halls, for feasting, entertainment and recreation. Note Rom.14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

While social activities may attract people for a little while they are not authorized in the word of God. We cannot be in Biblical fellowship with people who practice such. We cannot surrender Biblical principles of right to get along with others. A little leaven will leaven the whole lump 1.Cor.15:33. You would never refer to baptism as sprinkling or pouring so why use the word fellowship in the wrong way just because the world uses it that way? We can’t abandon principles of right just to fellowship what we understand to be sinful.  To be continued.

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