Fellowship

Fellowship in Acts 2

Webster’s definition of fellowship is, “Companionship…a neutral sharing.” He also designated a “fellowship” as “a group of people sharing the same interests; a brotherhood.” In the Scripture, fellowship is described as, “Communion…a mutual sharing…a partnership…having common interests.” In Christian fellowship we are “bound together” in Christ. We have a “reciprocal love” for one another. We also have “common interests.” We are in “harmony” and “agreement” with each other relative to our ideals in Christ.

In some instances in Scripture, fellowship carries with it the thought of “social activity.” One of the great blessings of Christianity is the “fellowship of saints.” In Judaism no provision was made for the gathering together of the people, except on special occasions as at the annual feasts. Right at the beginning of the Christian era provision was made for the “fellowship of saints.”

In Acts 2:42 we see the fourfold purpose for the coming together of the early church:

    - They met together in fellowship for the preaching and teaching of the apostles’ doctrine, especially the doctrine of the resurrection.

    - They also came together “to fellowship.”

    - While they were together in fellowship they broke bread (see 1 Corinthians 10:16).

    - They also made use of this opportunity to engage in prayers.

Church Membership and Church Fellowship - Is There a Difference?

There is much said today about church membership or joining the church. Some are inquiring, “What does the Bible teach on this subject?” We would like to point out the difference between church membership and church fellowship.

 

In the New Testament church membership is associated with the Body of Christ and church fellowship with the local church.

There Is One Body

When a person becomes a Christian, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is immediately made a member of the Body of Christ, or The Church. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. 12:13). “We are members of His body” (Eph. 5:30). All Christians, as believers, have been “called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:9). The Epistle to the Ephesians deals with the church as the body of Christ, while the first Corinthian epistle speaks of the local church as “body of Christ.” (See Eph. 4:4 and I Cor. 12:27). They are closely related.

The Local Church

gathers as the body of Christ and is representative of it. They receive one another as Christ also received them to the glory of God the Father (Rom. 15:7). Therefore, only those who are members of Christ’s Body can be scripturally received by the local church.

The Balance of Truth

Some truth taught in Scripture, some part of the Divine revelation is apprehended, and the heart responds to it and accepts it. As it is dwelt upon, expounded, defended, its power and beauty increasingly influence those affected by it.

Another side of truth, another view of revelation, also contained in Scripture, seems to weaken, even to contradict the truth that has been found to be so effectual, and in jealous fear for the doctrine accepted and taught, the balancing truth is minimised, explained away, even denied. So on a portion of revelation, on a part of the Word, a sect is founded – good and useful because it preaches and practices divine truth, but limited and unbalanced because it does not see all the truth, nor frankly accept the whole of Scripture. Its members are not only deprived of the full use of all the Scripture, but are cut off from the fellowship of many saints who are less limited than they, or limited in another direction.

There is reason to regret the divisions of the Lord’s people, for their underlying, essential unity is obscured by these outward apparent divisions. Yet liberty in the churches to emphasise what they have learned and experienced is of greatest value, and even the sectarian conflicts between churches zealous for different aspects of truth have led to much searching of Scripture and discovery of its treasures. When this goes on in such a way as to endanger love, the loss is great; nevertheless, worse than sectarian strife is uniformity at the cost of liberty, or reunion made possible by indifference.

E.H. Broadbent (1931)

Revive Us O Lord

If ever there was a time for revival among the Lord’s people, it is now. The dismal state of affairs in the Church is abysmally low and seems to be declining steadily. Though it is difficult to know what is truly occurring in the hearts of the saints, there are key indicators that lend credence to this claim. Attendance levels in many meetings are low and getting worse. There has always seemed to be a problem with many believers in the present generation adhering to this biblical priority. But in recent years the attendance level in many assemblies has dropped significantly. Just a few years ago when fears over “Y2K” were at their highest, the question on everyone’s lips was: “What will become of things?” But when the new millennium arrived and all the hype died down so did the saints. We are in danger of becoming like Israel who had complacently “settled on their lees” (Zeph. 1:12) and were in jeopardy of judgment from the Lord. Attendance in some assemblies is so poor, that many have had to cancel some of their meetings or had to adjust their fellowship and outreach programs due to lack of participation by the saints. Sadly, many of the Lord’s people do not see their responsibility and privilege to enjoy fellowship with each other and sit under the sound of God’s Word in order to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), a knowledge that multiplies our grace and peace. (2 Peter 1:2) Nor do they realize the long-term consequences in their personal and family lives of sowing to the flesh and not to the Spirit (Gal. 6:8) – consequences such as a lack of peace, joy, victory, and confidence in the Lord.

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