What is fellowship? If you ask a dozen Christians this questions you will probably get a dozen different answers.
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to 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 practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:5-9, NKJV)
It would seem, that according to John, true fellowship hinges not on the club or group we belong to or even the pet doctrines we all might cling to, but whether all who seek true fellowship (koinonia) are drawing every closer to the Light of God which exposes any darkness that may still abide in us and not making any place for the flesh of Adam to operate within. God is Light and in HIM there is no darkness. If we truly desire to live IN Jesus Christ we will make no provision or place for the flesh in ourselves. What fellowship does light have with darkness?
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Truth is a practice, it is a lifestyle. It is also where all true worship of Jesus stems from. Light exposes the lie within. Without this being dealt with we can not say we are true worshippers of Jesus for He said, “…those who would worship God must do so in Spirit and in truth.”
John continues, “…if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Interesting sentence here! We have all believe that the blood of Jesus washes away our sins, but John puts a condition on our part before this can happen. We must walk in the Light as Jesus is in the Light, have fellowship with those who do and at the same time the blood of Jesus will be cleansing us from all unrighteousness. Wow! This is a very inclusive statement here. We each must seek the light of Christ to expose our secret faults. Close fellowship in the Light can be used by God to do just that as long as we prayerfully restore one another in a spirit of meekness. This is a part of being cleansed by the blood of Jesus. He did HIS part and we have our part. All too often we see salvation as a blank check written out to us to do with whatsoever WE will. This is not the case and it this fleshly mindset that surely makes for the collision of a lot of private agendas when we come together. Yes, it is by grace that we have been saved, but we are not only to be saved from our past sins, but from SIN (falling short of the glory of God) as a principle of life as well! We are to be dwelling in HIS LIFE and LIGHT, always. Light is an ongoing work that does away with the darkness in us that we MIGHT have fellowship IN the Father and the Son. Remember, salvation was not only given us to keep us out of hell, but it was given to us that we would grow up INTO the fullness of Christ and leave our childish ways behind and live to the glory of the Father just as Jesus did and not our own.
There is another part of walking in the Light. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When we discover darkness (sin) in our lives we should do the opposite of what the flesh and the devil wants us to do, cover it up. Rather we should run to the Light! My father-in-law once lived out in the country when my wife was a young girl. They had a skunk move into the crawl space under their house and those critters smell even if they don’t spray (sin manifest). So, he put a bright light under the house and the skunk moved out. Sin stinks! Light exposes our darkness so that we can confess our sins to Him and be forgiven and cleansed from all our unrighteousness that is still in us as a breading ground for sin. Not too many of the “easy grace” persuasion we see today among Christians, have taken a serious look at the “If” statements that go with the New Covenant. Jesus did His part and it is up to us to walk in HIS Light by making no place for the flesh in us. Only then will we be fit for true fellowship with one another IN Christ… A fellowship that is uplifting and found abiding in heavenly places IN Christ Jesus and not one that tares one another down.
Wonderful message I thank the Lord for Michael. My husband loves Charles Stanley and last Sunday he talked about bitterness and unforgiveness being like poison among us. Alot of what he teaches is good and true but his awful belief and teaching on eternal security cancels the good completely. When they hear that they don’t have to do the good they don’t. So with the good on bitterness and unforgiveness he said these things cause us to break fellowship with God and does that mean we loose our salvation? No! But fellowship is broken. We don’t want to risk that.
Ridiculous – no scriptural reasoning on still maintaining our salvation. I’m going to give him this from you. Grace, peace and blessing multiplied Michael. Vicky
Yes, bitterness and unforgiveness is crippling. Someone once said that not forgiving a person is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die. Jesus made it clear that we are forgiven just as we forgive others and with the same measure we meet out to others it will be met out unto us. It took me years to learn this and start sewing good seed and forgiveness toward others, even my “enemies.”
Thank you! This is God’s perfect timing. May we let God shine His light ever deeper – into every dark place. May He use our relationships to reveal hidden darkness.
Lord, help us to live out this passage from 1 John by your grace and the power of your Spirit at work in us!!
Closely knit to walking in the light together comes another aspect: TRUTH!
Metaphoriacaly said we all are so accustomed to wear “clothes” we – without thinking about it – continue to do so with our brothers and sisters, too.
We “dress us up” … well, and call this good manners and well conduct… though there is another reality deep inside nobody sees but we alone.
Yep, we have our different “robes” we wear at home, at the workplace… and well, the “pastor” shouldn’t see us what “clothes” we wear when being together wit old school buddies ;-)!
To walk in the light means to be true to your very core… and right, true, deep, satisfactory fellowship only is possible if we throw those ridiculous “clothes” away and dare to be “naked” with each other, as we truly are.
Genuine love can’t sprout on “fertilizers” like “clothes” but always needs TRUTH as a basis to flourish!
Come let’s dare to be ourselves true to the heart… and let’s discover the dimension of “koinonia” God has planned to bless us with!
Love you, bro!
Yes, Markus, God desires truth in our inward parts. Adam in us desires to appear to be walking in truth, even studies “truth,” and in so doing makes for himself garments of religious fig leaves to cover his spiritual nakedness. If they had been walking in the Light after they yeilded to that temptation, they would not have hid themselves from the Light. They started out with spiritual sight, but that was not enough. They wanted carnal sight… to be able to know good from evil… the basis of all religions with their systems of laws and regulations that can never cove our nakedness before God. They lost their spiritual sight when they gained the other and the Light of God was too much for them and they hid themselves from Him.
But seeing this God knew that the answer was in His Son. He would send His own Son as the ONE Mediator between fallen man and Himself who would come as the Light and Life of Himself in human form. Jesus not only dealt with the sin problem in fallen man, but also made way for him to be restored to the presence of the Father once again as we abide IN the Son as our only robe of righteousness. When we “put on Christ” we are no longer naked before God, but rather we are glorious to Him because He now sees His own son as our covering and righteousnes. Abiding IN Jesus is the one requirement.
(Thank you – Just ‘happened upon’ your site.) Yes! And as we shut our eyes to those things which Adam has opened to us, those forbidden things desirous to look into – so Christ shall increase His light to us of our seeing of Himself – and of His Father and our Father.
Beautiful truth brother! Simply beautiful. The woman whom Jesus met at the well declared “come see a man who told me all things that I have done” It’s so foundational to love light and truth. To receive a love of the truth, by His light shinning upon our dark selfish ways, so that the truth delivers us, saves us, frees us. Religious self righteousness in numerous forms, as well of pride in all it’s forms, can be deeply rooted in us. The Lord’s way of transforming us back into the original image that Adam lost, is by His light exposure. Recently the Lord exposed a certain desire in my flesh, a greedy need to Validate myself. I could see in His light the needy greedy ME who used fellowship for this purpose. Furthermore, I saw how true servant fellowship in the precious Holy Spirit became impossible while I abide in that need for Validation. I retain the hope of pure genuine fellowship in pure light, together with Christ’s precious body. Yet His light has often revealed that I would harm them rather than direct them to the healer. Pray for me brothers and sisters. I need to see ALL selfish remnants still living within. Bless you all in true fellowship.
“Come SEE a man…” Wow! That with what Patricia posted just took on new depth. Seeing Him is what changed the woman and seeing Him is what change her village when they came out to Jacob’s well to see Him for themselves. They all believed that HE was the Messiah. There was not a single Jewish town, not even Nazareth where he grew up, that believed like these lowly Samaritans did that day. Seeing is believing and true believing is seeing Him as He is. Thank you Russell and Patricia for sharing your seeing with us.
Bro. Michael, I thank you for calling attention to the wonderful words that John left for us. I was reminded yesterday of John saying that “when He shall appear, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” I was reminded as I watched the common lizard of my area. He is either brown or green – determined – by what he is viewing. Although he was on a brown piece of wood, he was green. He was looking at the green grass. The scriptures encourage us to look into the “perfect law of liberty” etc. The cry of my heart is to keep on looking.
Faithfulness to all,
I have seen those lizards down in Louisiana and Texas. I have even seen them turn gray to match the gray wood they were climbing on. It makes since that they take on the color of what they gaze upon. I love this passage you mentioned. It is our hope as we continue to behold Jesus that we should become like Him. “Like” is the key word here. In Genesis God said, “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness.” The image part was almost instant, but the likeness part was an ongoing work. It required walking with God in the cool of the day in the garden and doing the works that Adam saw the Father doing and beholding Him.
I was born in the image of my father and I grew up to look like him; tall, brown hair and eyes, and even many of the same facial features. I admired him and wanted so much to be “like” him as I grew up. Soon I was smiling out of the corner of my mouth like he did, laughed like he did and even walked with a slight limp like he did (he had a wooden leg) as I beheld him. I also took on his bad habits like smoking and drinking. Then I discovered after coming to Christ that God had another likeness he wanted me to behold and be conformed to… another likeness that was far superior to that of my earthly father. It was the One he had in mind for me from the beginning that was pure and who walked in the Light of the Father from the beginning of creation.
Beholding Jesus with my whole heart has brought about many changes, but it is still an ongoing process. He keeps revealing areas in my “likeness” that have not yet been conformed into the image of Christ and each time He does, I have a decision to make. Will I yield that up to Him, too? Finally at one point a few years ago, He showed me how HE saw me with all my pride that was still in tack as I was trying to be His “man of the hour” with my “spiritual gifts.” What I saw was ugly. I cried out, “Lord if all that pride is still tack, just kill it. Show me no mercy.” Well, that was the beginning of a deep stripping of everything I was and even things that I had. That time in the wilderness lasted for 14 years with no since of His presence in any form. It was like being under anasthesia while deep surgery was going on. He was giving me a heart transplant. My heart for His. It was heart-breaking and I fought being in depression continuously during that time, but at the end of it I has come to the place where I could pray and mean it, “Father, if this state that I am in is what you have for me for the rest of my life, so be it. Not my will but yours be done.” When I quit kicking against His will, He knew that it was time to take me into a new phase where He could work with me and not constantly having me “adjust” the image of what He desired to bring forth in me. Paul said,
He does not desire to fix-up our old minds but rather replace them with the Mind of Christ! The word “transformed” is metamorpho in the Greek. God puts us through a metamorphosis that we might become NEW creatures in Christ and the old one is done away with and discarded as useless, but what springs forth form that chrysalis is far more glorious than what went into it. First we must experience death to that old worm called Adam and then go dormant for a season while HE does a deep work within us so that when we come forth, there is on resemblance to that old worm, but something glorious that can take flight into the heavens with Him and see things as HE does and see HIM as HE is. Praise His name for making every provision that is needed to bring to pass in us, “when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”
I have been pondering this issue of sin a lot during the past weeks. Jesus told us that anything we do that is not of faith, is sin.
I think this means that whatever we do in our own strength and power; even all the deeds we see as good, if it is not done in faith, it is sin! He also calls all our good deeds filthy rags.
I don’t think true fellowship is possible until we all are not intimately connected with Jesus and out of that, with one another!
We can try to love one another as Jesus loved us until horses grow horns!! We cannot. We need the sweet Holy Spirit of Love to fill our hearts with His love.
The moment we try our best, we are cut off from Jesus. I have learned through hard lessons to stop trusting my best efforts. They work only for a little while.
It is not a comfortable place to be; there at the end of yourself and the end of your rope, but there is nowhere else I would rather be on this earth.
Trusting anything or anyone else, but our Pappa is so useless. We might want to cling to false securities, but only Jesus is our only unmovable, true security!
Much love, dear Michael
Well said. Only Jesus is our Truth, our Light and our Life. He is everything we need pertaining to righteousness, our ALL in all. The sooner we see our total inability to provide any of these things for ourselves, the sooner we can look elsewhere for what we need. Our sufficiency is always found as we abide IN Christ. As Paul said, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” It is interesting to me that he did not say “beings” but singular… ONE being. Our being is IN Him. We are transformed from human beings into spirit beings as we abide IN the Son — the True Vine as HIS branches. It is all so clear once we put away our human reasonings and put on the mind of Christ by faith.
Thanks for sharing your heart and Light with us all, dear friend.
Fellowship is getting together with believers who have no agenda except to be conformed to the image of the Son by confessing sin, prayer, fasting, meditating on the Word of God, loving people, serving others, edifying one another, worshipping in Spirit and Truth, operating in the gifts, not putting on a fleshly show, eating a meal together, etc. I can go on and on. When we get together at my house, folk sometimes stay all day and night. Wow, it’s great. No offering plate, tithes, comical sermons, programs, and one man shows. This is fellowship. It’s all about Jesus and not some act.
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Great message Michael.
Many years (+/- 15) ago, the Lord spoke very clearly to me that He was taking me out of the Fold. I thought for sure that I had heard wrong. However, upon seeking the Lord regarding the matter, I asked Him what I would do for fellowship. Now, this was based on ‘my understanding’ of what is ‘written’ and what was taught to the church. The Lord replied, “Who did Corrie Ten Boom fellowship with when she was in the concentration camp?” I’m thinking to myself…Corrie Ten Boom? But, that is so like the Lord to speak to me of things that I would never think of myself. I answered, after careful thought, “You Lord.” He replied, “Yes, Me. All true fellowship comes from your fellowship with Me first. Only to the degree that you fellowship with Me, can you have true fellowship with one another.”
The Lord went on to explain how ‘fellowship’ within the church is as idolatry, when it does not come from our fellowship with Him first. This is the reason so many within the church ‘fear’ falling away if they don’t have others in the church to fellowship with.
The Lord took me out into a wilderness to be alone with Him for many years, of which I am still in. As I hear others speaking of what they believe to be the Oracles of the Lord, I hear more Babel than prophecy. The very men and women of God that I once thought truly heard from the Lord, was now as Babel in my ears. I asked the Lord why. He replied, “I have put you on a fast from the language of Babylon, which is all the mixture within the church.” My time of fellowship alone with the Lord, caused me to hear only His voice and I could now detect the static that I couldn’t hear before.
The Lord is the light that lights the Way. He is the Way, Truth and Life that we are to follow. He gives Himself away, as we learn to fellowship with Him first. All things comes from Him and like a garden hose that is yielded in the Gardeners hand, cleansed from all the dirt that would keep the water flowing, He can now direct the flow of His Spirit in the direction that He desires it to flow. We are merely the garden hose, and He is the Master Gardener.
I am blessed by this message and thought I would share a bit.
I have a very similar experience in how God unplugged me from all the other voices in Christendom until I learned to hear and value His voice above all others. I went without any human fellowship at any depth in Christ for over 20 years and the further I got from the traditons of men, the thinner it got. I think that we, if we are true about following Him, will end up outside the camp just like it was with Moses in the wilderness at the tent of meeting and like is says in Hebrews ch. 13. I finally had to come to place where I agreed with the Father that Jesus is enough. Once HE was my only foundation and not men, God started allowing me to have fellowship with others with a similar walk IN Christ.
Thanks for writing and sharing your experience with us,
Your brother in the Son,
Yes…before the Lord first took me outside the camp (totally agree and was shown the same thing), one of the things He asked me was, “Karen, am I all that you need?” Then, He said that He was going to strip me and make me totally dependent on Him alone…not man, the church, money, my job, my family, myself, my husband, etc. He has done all of that, and my most recent, and unexpected lost has been my husband.
The Lord has not been speaking to me for a while, due to Him saying a while back, that He would not speak again, until the separation is complete. (Oh, I have heard from Him, but not in the way that I know that He was talking about). He spoke to me the day before He knew that my husband was going to die. The same week that He took my husband, He told me that He has given me everything that I need, which I know is only in Him. There is so much more that He has and is continuing to do, which I am sure you understand based on your own journey with Him, but my desire to share has diminished greatly. In fact, this is the first time I have posted anything online in years, when there was a time I was quite active.
I appreciate your reply, and the revelation the Lord imparts to you by the Spirit on this blog…it is a blessing and quite refreshing.
All For His Glory,
Sorry to hear about your loss. You are truly finding Jesus as you Everything, you All in all. God must love you very much. Have you ever cried out in your grief, “My God, my God, why have you foresaken me?” It seems like He has while this wilderness has us in full darkness, but I discovered something through it all… that God cloaks Himself in darkness and that the darknest place in all creation is in the shadow of His wings when He is the closest. When this season is over you will know things intimately that you could never had learned with the mind alone through intellectual pursuits. True learning is organic and it comes only by revelation by the Spirit. So stand fast IN Him, dear sister, it is all worth it.
Again, I so appreciate your replying to me Michael. I have not cried out, “My God, my God why have You forsaken me?”…but, I have often asked Him if He has forgotten me, but knowing Who He is, I know that He can’t possibly do that. I do understand the Lord cloaking Himself in darkness, yet I believe that is to bring us to a place where we are no longer living by our faith, but are having to depend on the faith of Jesus Christ.
I have often told the Lord, especially since the loss of my husband in September, that my faith isn’t enough to get through this place He has me in, so I need His faith. I don’t trust myself at all, and am clinging to the hope that He will show up soon. All I have is His the Words (Rhema) that He has spoken to me throughout my life…it is my lifeline and anchor, and I am believing that it is carrying me through this wilderness.
I recall a vision that He gave me several years back. I seen a vision of a wedding, with me as the bride. Jesus was standing at the altar with His arm extended to me, bidding me to come and enter into that covenant with Him. His eyes were full of love and joy as He gazed upon me. As I am about to go down the aisle to join in this union, those attending the wedding arose, as the custom of most weddings. They had their back to the Lord and was now looking at me, but with disdain. They were saying things like…’Who do you think that you are? You aren’t worthy of His love…You are nothing, etc.’…I knew all that they said about me was true and totally agreed with them. I also knew the Lord was aware of their comments, yet was still gazing upon me with absolute love and acceptance. I simply started to cry, while burying my face in my hands I said, “Lord, I don’t know how to be royalty.”
The Lord then spoke to me, of which revelation was revealed within hearing His voice. “Karen, when you receive the depths of My love for you, you will have embraced the cross.” It was then that I knew that I had to walk past all the voices that I agreed with and understood the meaning of laying down my life. I understood by the Spirit what it meant to embrace that cross. I am not there yet, but it has been the cry and desire of my heart since a young child. I realize I am sharing outside the message you have written on, however, this is all that I am recalling when typing this note.
I don’t believe this revelation was for me alone though. I believe it was for the body of Christ…for those that are truly His. He knows those that are His and they are known by HIM. I love that verse.
It has truly been refreshing to share with fellow believers in our Lord. I so needed this and it is spiritually touching my heart. It is humbling to say the least.
Thank you for allowing me to share on this blog.
All For His Glory,
Your vision is most prophetic and for today. As soon as you started to describe it I knew what the rest of it would be. Intimacy is what God has always desired with man and man has always chosen to substitute intimacy with God with religion… rote performance and adherence to rules and regulations.
“For your Maker is your husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD has called you as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when you were refused, says your God. (Isa 54:5-6 [KJ2000])
The Bible was given to us as a love letter from God to man, but fallen man has taken it an made that love letter into a rule book because of his hard dead heart. The day that Adam and Eve ate of that forbidden tree their hearts died within them. Christ came to give us a new heart that we might respond in kind with HIS life in our hearts — a life within that resonates with HIS life and responds to Him in love.
You wrote, “As I am about to go down the aisle to join in this union, those attending the wedding arose, as the custom of most weddings. They had their back to the Lord and was now looking at me, but with disdain. They were saying things like…’Who do you think that you are? You aren’t worthy of His love…You are nothing, etc.” Just as Saul of Tarsus had great disdain and hatred for the infant ecclesia of God who were madly in love with Jesus, so it is today. Dead legalism disdains those who have a love relationship with Jesus. They call us names like, “mystics” and “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” Martha was busy and worrying about much, but Jesus declare that Mary who was sitting at Jesus’ feet chose the better part. Those who hate Jesus’ bride, turn their back on Him as well and choose their death over Life. What is in their hard hearts is made manifest.
Yes, to embrace His cross, that is life and in it we will find the depths of His love. Someone said, “God loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way.” The cross is what changes us. As we go from death to death by the cross, we go from life to life in the power of HIS resurrection. We love Him because He first loved us. As that old dead Adam in us is crucified to the cross of Christ, he is taken out of the way so we can see Jesus as He is and it is then that His great love for us becomes apparent.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.”(Rev 19:7 [KJ2000])
Keep reaching out to Him, Karen. You are learning that Christ alone is enough. He is your sufficency in ALL things and that quality is what makes up the true bride.
One thing I have noticed over the years of gathering relationally is that true fellowship only occurs when we come together with no other agenda than seeking and loving Him. Christ desires our full attention and as we surrender to that He manifests Himself through every member of the Body and so glorifies Himself through us. When we walk in His light like that we really do have awesome fellowship with both Him and one another. Great word Michael!
It would seem that in order for any true fellowship to occur one with another, the first order would be to determine who is walking in the light and who is not. Obviously despite one’s words about Christ or Christianity, neither of these constitute real trust in God, nor are they indicative of any individual’s lifestyle of repentance. One thing I have admired about some past church experiences are some of the older and more mature men confronting new members (yeh I hate that too but you will get the point) and not just allowing them among the saints. The latter is both naïve as well as potentially dangerous. Lest we’ve forgotten, sin is just as easily found in a wrong belief about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit as it is about a wrong practice.
I agree that in order for true fellowship to occur, that must start with our fellowship with God Himself above all other things or people. Fellowship is about serving and giving- which is only possible after Jesus has prepared each of us for those works. For example, the degree and amount that we pray about a particular service compared with all the service itself proves what we’re really trusting in.
Although I view the “ifs” in 1 John a little different than you do Michael, John makes clear what constitutes genuine fellowship with God and others and what does not. I agree that we need the light of Christ to expose our faults and that is one of the blessings of having others “judge” our spoken and written words if we intend to listen. I have never and will never consider my blog or internet site my own- any more than I own myself! I am accountable, not merely to a few likeminded people I choose but to every single individual that reads what I write. I may or may not agree with those who judge my words, nonetheless I owe them a proper defense of each position I take if asked and a public written apology for any doctrinal sin or sinful practice revealed in me. God views what we call “ours” a lot more seriously than we do.
True worship and fellowship is in and through the Holy Spirit yes, but not only- it must also be in and of the truth. Why might that be? Might it be due to the fact that thousands upon thousands are claiming to “hear from God” every day and yet aren’t even remotely having fellowship with God or with one another. How can I say this?
When any individual decides to jettison the Bible as the basis for truth, all they have left is their subjective feelings about God and what they believe God is speaking to them. Neither of these are a sufficient basis for another individual or local ekklesia to test the spirits in another, which we all know is a command spoken through the same apostle expounding here upon true fellowship one with another.
It should also be noted that one’s so-called subjective leading from God is also not a basis for fellowship. The reason people get caught up in cults and cult-like personalities is because they outright believe what other professors tell them without any validation. The person that tells me the Spirit will show them what they’re saying is true is placing their words (so-called revelation) as more important and vital than God’s Words in the Bible. If no basis for truth exists in the Bible, than we all might as well just “fellowship” however and with whatever we like- just like the church folk right?
I’m all for fellowship and walking in the light. I’m also all for walking in the Spirit and receiving practical (not doctrinal) revelation from our Father. These obviously go hand in hand. But be careful- for many these days are outright rejecting the Scriptures or in the least demeaning them for a higher wisdom- one which originates with them. If that sounds familiar, well, it should as it’s not the first time around the block.
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, true Holy Spirit led fellowship is anchored in both fixed truth(s), (those that are finished by Jesus) and consistent practices among the brethren. It is not merely those who have left the confines of church and religion who unite around such outward expressions that Jesus calls His own, but those united in what Paul the apostle called “His ways” and that which was expressed corporately from one ekklesia to another, one believer to another. We are commanded by God to unite both doctrinally and practically in all things. Furthermore, all Christians are commanded by God to separate ourselves from those “introducing” or teaching false “doctrines.” Doctrine is meant to be divisive, it divides the very people of God from those in this world and even among one’s own family.
“If we say we have fellowship and walk in darkness (refuse to repent and align ourselves with God’s one fixed and holy revealed standard) we lie (by promoting some other standard as in personal wisdom and/or revelation) and do not practice the truth (by suppressing the truth with our own unrighteous standard or so-called subjective truth).
Sorry for the long post Michael. I won’t be offended if you don’t post it. Your words and subject matter reminded me of some concerns I’ve had lately.
Great post as always Michael. I appreciate your devotion to God and your service to the family in this matter.
“In Him was LIFE and the Life was the light of men.” The Life of Christ must first be manifest to us and then in us as we believe. From this comes our light and as we walk together in the Life and Light of Christ, we can have fellowship one with another and with the Lord Jesus Christ. The problem with clinging to scriptures and doctrines alone as our common denominator is that the mind that does not walk in HIS Life and Light interprets them differently than those who have been shown their meaning by the One who is Life, the Spirit of Truth. This is why today we have 43,000 different “Christain” denominations and sects, most who claim to have the Bible as their foundation, yet, they are divided against one another along “scriptural lines.” Only by having the mind and heart of Christ in us will we ever know the unity of the Spirit as brothers and sisters IN Christ. This comes by the divine act and power of God moving upon us as we call out to Him as Paul did in his moment of crisis, “Who ARE you, Lord?”
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” ~ Paul of Tarsus
I agree with what you wrote above, but I disagree that the Bible or specific doctrinal truths are in any way a hindrance to growing spiritually. In order for one to walk in a specific scriptural truth or promise, do they not have to appropriate that truth? Did we not have to acknowledge the facts concerning our redemption and receive those truths personally for a benefit to be derived? Do not Christians have to be agreed to walk one with another?
I believe the problem with true fellowship is this: First, most of those in churches have likely never even come to know Jesus personally. If they do not know Him, they will simply follow the dictates of a religion and not Jesus Himself in whom is LIFE. It is wrongly assumed by many in churches that those who attend have Jesus (and therefore life) and can therefore can discern the words of Jesus which He said were “spirit and life.” Furthermore, wasn’t it said a little leaven will leaven the whole lump- how much more when the leaven is spread through men who claim and present themselves as religious authorities.
The real problem with all the sectarianism through denominations is tied to the first and quoted by you above. It is the neglect or outright refusal for professing Christians to be conformed to the death of Christ, to die to themselves by carrying a personal cross daily. There will always be unity where each and every member of the body has no agenda of their own….for they no longer live. But preaching the truths of the gospel, defending “the faith” and “rejecting certain people” (even those unwilling to work) are not personal agendas. Those are the very commands of God and are prompted at times by the Holy Spirit and exemplified in scripture.
I do believe that clinging to the scriptures and doctrine are a basis of unity but not prior to being regenerated or without the necessity to bear one’s cross. The men and women who promote religious systems, cling to earthly religious authority and build earthly kingdoms are obviously not dying to themselves. That’s the reason that we have 43,000 sects and denominations.
It is very easy to point the finger at everything and everybody that hinders God’s children from true fellowship one from another. We’ve all done that. The primary problem though, is much, much closer to home. The Bible states that he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends. There are many, many things that we often share with others that are neither necessary nor edifying and often cause unnecessary division among the saints. These matters all center upon ourselves and not Jesus and Him alone.
Just as God makes clear that out of the overflow of our hearts do we speak, so God has spoken out of the overflow of His own heart what constitutes proper belief and practice for those He calls His own. Yes, all of Life is in Him, first the seed, then the blade, then the ear and yet we are called to walk and work with Him.
In God’s design, the written word was to both Jew and Gentile a precious thing worthy to be cherished. The letter, although killing (through conviction of sin and revealing guilt) when opposed by a sinful nature, no longer has that affect upon those having been “released” from that law and even from that realm. The letter that kills applied to Adam and his descendants, no longer to me nor to those who abide above.
I think we are in agreement on most of what you wrote here and I am glad that our unity is centered on Jesus and nothing else. It took me a long time to learn the sufficiency of Christ in all things necessary for salvation. I am also learning the wisdom of what Paul wrote when he said, “I am determined to know nothing, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Still learning myself Michael. I hope you don’t perceive my confident tone as one who is entirely settled with what I presently believe as if I’ve arrived or deem myself somewhat wiser than others. That is neither a desire of mine, nor will it become one in the future. We have the same aim and Savior in sight, though its likely you’re a little further down the road than I am.
I am likely somewhat more skeptical and cautious than many others when it comes to accepting anyone who claims to know Jesus these days and generally don’t give others the benefit of the doubt just cause ‘they say so.” Some are, some are not and others just don’t fit in where God is leading me. To me there is only one standard to uphold and compare ourselves with these days. The only hope any of us have in reaching that standard is to do as you say above: to have and retain a determination to know nothing but Jesus and Him Crucified. In this Michael we are united, and I only hope for others to make this their aim as well.
I pray for you, and by God’s grace I hope to visit sometime this year. Know that I always welcome your words or thoughts as they concern our mutual service in Christ.
Ultimately, even the sword derives a benefit, whether it scares us, pierces us or sends us to glory. How much more the sword of a brother tempered in the mercy of our Lord.
Thanks, Michael, for you gracious words. Yes, I hope we can get together in the days ahead.