Do The Boundaries of Fellowship Matter?
Critics of gospel preachers say: “Preachers are answering questions nobody is asking!” — However, this just reveals that the ignorance of the Bible is so great that folks do not even know the right questions to ask and must be informed of those questions. We should be supportive of faithful preachers.
1. What is the definition of fellowship?
Joint participation in the spiritual blessings of salvation. (read I John chapter One).
2. How does one get into fellowship with God?
By obedience to the gospel: Hear gospel (Rom. 10:17); Believe in Christ, (John 8:24); Repent of Sins (Acts 2:38), Confess Christ as The Son of God (Rom. 10:9-10) and Be Baptized in water baptism, a burial in water, for the remission of all of one's past sins (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4).
3. How does one get into fellowship with God’s people, the church?
By obedience to the same gospel, the true gospel. (1 John 1:3; 5-7; 3 John 5).
4. How does one stay in fellowship with God and His people, the church?
By continuing to walk in the light (1 John 1:7).
5. Individual Christians who walk disorderly are to be disfellowshipped.
2 Thes. 3:6; 1 Cor. 5:4-5.
6. Elders are obligated to keep the church pure.
By practicing 1 Thes. 5:14. By making sure the whole counsel of God is preached (Acts 20:27-28). By withdrawing from the disorderly (2 Thes. 3:6).
7. Elders must protect the flock from wolves WITHIN the local church.
Mat. 7:15. Even in the case of corrupt elders who must be rejected: Acts 20:28-31.
8. Elders must protect the flock from wolves who are OUTSIDE the local flock.
Mat. 7:15; Rom. 16:17-18.
9. Elders must not endorse apostate sister congregations either in their own area or even worldwide.
2 John 9-11 - promoting false doctrine by promoting the teachers of fatal error is to be held responsible as though one is the actual false teacher. Peer pressure among churches is not the standard; God's Word is the standard.
10. May one church withdraw fellowship from a sister congregation?
Yes. False brethren are to be rejected, whoever they are and with no regard for numbers. Rom. 16:17-18; 2 John 9-11.
11. Is guilt by association a Biblical doctrine?
Absolutely. 2 John 9-11. Note verses 10 and 11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
12. How does one know if a sister congregation is apostate?
If a congregation's characteristics are authorized by the New Testament, then it is to be considered faithful. The standard by which to judge this is the New Testament of Christ. (Acts 2:42; Gal. 6:2; 2 John 9-11; John 12:48; 1 Pet. 4:11). Is the congre-gation under consideration scriptural in organization, worship and work? Put on the eye glasses of the word of God and take a look. (John 7:24). Look at their bulletins and church websites. Note their links as to who and what works they support.
13. Beware of developing an unscriptural disposition.
The "I cannot be warned" disposition is self-defeating. The apostle Paul expected his brethren to be able to receive warning. Acts 20:31 - "Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." We must receive warnings about false teachers.
14. If the boundaries of fellowship do not matter, then terrible consequences follow.
National boundaries matter and in the spiritual realm boundaries matter as well.
Moral, Doctrinal and Evangelistic corruption is inevitable without spiritual boundaries for a congregation. Church autonomy was established by the Holy Spirit in order to allow the elders to protect the boundaries of the Lord's church with the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17; Christ as head, Col. 1:18; Phil. 1:1 - Elders, deacons, members).
15. Elders, if one ignore the scriptures -- YOU will give an account for ignoring 2 John 9-11 and continuing to endorse and promote apostate churches in your area.
There is no respect of persons with God. 1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28-31; Rom. 2:6, 11.
16. Followers, YOU are going to give an account too!
Don't be a blind follower of the blind leader. Mat. 15:13-14. Instead, practice Phil. 2:12.
Conclusion: Boundaries matter!
1. Law of Inclusion - Eph. 1:3. Only those "in Christ" have the spiritual blessings.
2. Law of Exclusion - 2 Thes. 3:6.
Sermon Outline above by Gary L. Grizzell
The reader may also be interested in the author's chapter entitled, "Fellowship And Giving" - page 235 Bellview Lectureship Book entitled, Christian Fellowship," edited by Michael Hatcher. 1998 Bellview Lectures.
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Hear first 5 points of this sermon outline in the video below:
What To Expect When You Preach
The Truth Of The Gospel Of Christ
The Truth Of The Gospel Of Christ
Speaker Gary L. Grizzell
When a school of preaching requested me to prepare and send a video to be played in chapel for preacher students, this was prepared and sent.