A Premise For Fellowship
When I preach on the subject of fellowship I lay down a premise
that keeps me on the right track: Jesus has said something about what we
participate in and who we associate with! I'll cite the passages below. But I
think readers of this journal will immediately recognize the truth of this
premise. Jesus, in His own words and through His apostles, spoke on this
subject. If we are followers of Christ, we will apply what He has said. He has
spoken clearly about participation and association.
Instead of acting on what Jesus said, many behave on impulse, whim, emotion and without prayer, study or care. All some folks do when they travel or move is, find a building with a sign out front that says "Church of Christ." On that basis and with high regard for their personal convenience, those who re-locate may "place membership," contribute and participate to some extent - with little regard to what kind of work they are participating in; what teaching they are supporting or what agenda they may help advance. There is an indifference about these matters that shuns any informed decision of faith.
One way to address this apathy is to preach and give some urgency to this simple premise of fellowship: Jesus has said something about participation and association. "...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them," (Eph. 5:11). Those who received this epistle tried those who said they were apostles and found them to be liars (Rev. 2:2). Paul wrote to an individual Christian and - after describing men who were "destitute of the truth" - told Timothy: "From such withdraw yourself," (1 Tim. 6:4,5). Isn't it clear, there are some we must not associate with or help; there are others who ought to be received, because they are fellow workers for the truth (see Rom. 16:17,18; 3 Jno. 8).
John wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit and the authority of Christ when he said, "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 deeds," (2 Jno. 9-11). This encompasses people (whoever), teaching (does not bring this doctrine), association (do not receive him) and participation (shares in his evil deeds).
We ought to help, receive, support and join with those who are teaching the truth and walking in the light. But when one "does not bring this doctrine" DO NOT RECEIVE HIM. This is prohibitive, just like Eph. 5:11 - "have no fellowship."
Jesus has said something about fellowship! He has spoken about what we participate in and who we associate with. Either we will respect and follow His Word, or we will just do whatever we feel like doing.
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful," (Psa. 1:1).
By Warren E. Berkley
The Final Page
From Expository Files 6.12; December 1999