THE BOUNDARIES OF FELLOWSHIP
A. Fellowship when understood in its true biblical sense is a word filled with beauty and glory
1. Fellowship is a word that is replete with the ideas of work, love, association and salvation.
2. But we are living in a sad day – we are living in a day when many do not understand fellowship” in its true and glorious biblical meaning.
B. We are living in a day when many are trying to make God’s circle of fellowship larger than He intends, or are trying to turn fellowship into the mere enjoyment of coffee and donuts
1. Concerning fellowship, many have the mentality of those in Jeremiah’s day -Jeremiah 6:16
2. Many today are refusing to walk in the old paths when it comes to the biblical doctrine of fellowship
C. There is more important information concerning fellowship than I could possible get to in just one sermon, so as I was asked to do – I will deal with “The Boundaries of Fellowship – now and eternally.”
A. GOD’S WORD IS THE BASIS OF FELLOWSHIP
1. Only God has the authority to determine the limits of fellowship
a. There is a God in heaven (Dan. 2:28), consequently, we must acknowledge … Jer. 10:23
b. We must also realize that God must direct our steps when it comes to with whom we can associate and have partnership with.
c. The fellowship of God and of His people crosses all boundaries (Gal. 3:26-28), and yet it has limitations.
d. The Psalmist realized this … Psalm 119:63
e. There is a distinct connection between fearing God and walking in truth and companionship
3. We are “called unto the fellowship” (1 Cor. 1:9), we are “called” through the gospel (2 The. 2:14), and we are to have fellowship in the furtherance of the Gospel (Phil. 1:5); thus, the gospel is that in which we must continue.
a. John 8:31-32
1) We must abide in the word to have fellowship with God
2) We must know the truth to have fellowship with God
b. And the Scriptures teach very plainly that one can know and obey the truth
1) 2 John 4
2) 1 Timothy 4:16 … we would not be commanded to do something that was impossible!!!
3. The word of God is the only way to have fellowship with God and with one another.
a. Fellowship cannot come through creeds and innovations of men
b. 1 Corinthians 1:10
c. “Be of the same mind in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2)
4. “The seed is the word of God” (Lk. 8:11).
a. When disunity exists, one knows that the seeds of men have been planted; for, as in the natural realm, the Word produces only “after its kind” – simple New Testament Christians.
b. But there are some who will not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2-3), but will instead plant the seed of denominationalism and this disrupts fellowship
c. Jesus said … Matthew 15:8-9, 13
B. BIBLE PRINCIPLES WHICH TEACH LIMITATIONS OF FELLOWSHIP
1. God’s people are in fellowship with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit
a. 1 John 1:3
b. Christians are in fellowship with the Spirit (Phil. 2:1)
c. Therefore, we must fellowship only whom and what the Lord fellowships and authorizes
2. Fellowship with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit is only in the Body of Christ
a. Ephesians 2:16-18
b. Christ is the one mediator between God and man, and in none other is there salvation … Acts 4:12
c. Eternal life in Jesus … 1 John 5:10-12
d. To be in Christ is to be in the body (Rom. 12:5), and to be in the body is to be in the church (Eph. 1:22-23), and to be in the church is to be in God’s family (1 Tim. 3:14-15), and to be in God’s family is to be a son of God, thus having fellowship with the Father – Galatians 3:26-27
e. All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Eph 1:3) and salvation is in Christ (2 Tim 2:10); therefore, only in the church can we have fellowship with God
f. Does this not limit fellowship?
3. Fellowship with God demands separation from the world
a. God can neither fellowship nor even look upon evil … Hab. 1:13
b. Solomon pleaded for the ability to “discern between good and evil” (1 Kgs. 3:9)
1) David wrote “Depart from evil, and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it” (Psa. 34:14)
2) Why? … Psalm 34:15
c. Christians are forbidden to fellowship the world:
1) 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
2) 2 Corinthians 6:14
3) Why??? … 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
d. Does this not limit our fellowship???
4. Fellowship with God is characterized by light, to which darkness is hostile and antagonistic
a. 1 John 1:5-7
1) The forces of light and darkness are incompatible; hence, there can be no partnership between them
2) Walking in spiritual darkness rules out fellowship with God
3) And Paul said … Ephesians 5:11
b. John 8:12
c. Light versus darkness demands limitations, does it not???
5. A person must meet the conditions of entering fellowship with God
a. One is not saved by grace alone, though without it, no one could be saved.
1) If we were saved by grace alone, then all would be saved … Titus 2:11
2) Instead, notice what grace does … Titus 2:11-12
b. One is not saved by faith alone
1) Calling out the name of the Lord is not enough … Matthew 7:21
2) James 2:24
c. If we want to enter fellowship with God, and thus have fellowship with others in Christ:
1) The alien sinner must hear the word of God … Romans 10:17
2) The alien sinner must believe the word … Hebrews 11:6
3) The believer must then repent of his sins … Luke 13:3
4) The penitent believer must confess Christ as the Son of God … Matthew 10:32-33
5) Then he is to be baptized for the remission of sins … Acts 2:38
d. The plan of salvation limits fellowship, does it not???
6. The authority of Christ and His apostles governs fellowship
a. Today many are trying to broaden the circle of fellowship by weakening or watering down the divine message of God
b. Did Jesus lower His standard to the rich young ruler when he started away, telling him He changed His mind and that he only needed to give half of what he owned (Mat. 19:16-22)?
1) Was Jesus lacking in love when He refused to lower the standard? NO! ….
2) “And Jesus looking upon him loved him” (Mk. 10:21)
3) Christ loved God and His will supremely, and He would not water it down!
4) Did the apostles have the authority to weaken the force of God’s inspired message in order to broaden the limits of fellowship in order to include more people? … NO!!!!
c. It is God that determines what truth is – NOT MAN!!!
1) John 17:17
2) Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 22:18-19
3) No wonder, then, that the requirement is:
a) “Preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2)
b) 1 Peter 4:11 … Jude 3
4) No wonder the Jerusalem church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42)!
d. Dear friends, does the apostles’ doctrine limit fellowship? Yes!
C. LIMITATIONS OF FELLOWSHIP APPLIED
1. There is no doubt to the honest seeker of truth that God has placed boundaries around the fellowship of the saints; thus, there are certain definite teachings, practices, and persons who are outside of those prescribed boundaries
a. In other words, there are certain things that God cannot and will not fellowship!
b. The things that God cannot and will not fellowship are the very things that we cannot and must fellowship!
2. There are certain lifestyles that neither God nor His children can fellowship
a. This would certainly include the immoral – which includes:
1) Fornicators … adulterers, homosexuals, etc. (1 Cor. 5:5, 11; 6:9)
2) Drunkards, those involved in dancing, thieves, and the like (1 Cor. 6:10)
b. 1 Corinthians 5:11
3. Neither God nor His children can fellowship unbelievers
a. These are those who have refused to have God in their minds (Rom. 1:28), for the disbeliever is not pleasing in the sight of God (Heb. 11:6) he is condemned (Jn. 3:18) and will be lost (Rev. 21:8).
b. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
4. Fellowship cannot take place with those who teach false doctrine
a. Any teaching which would lead one into sin, which would lead one to endorse and perform unauthorized acts is within itself sinful and false.
2) It is because to be disciples indeed, we must “abide in” the words of Christ (Jn 8:31-32)
3) We will be judged by the words of Christ (Jn. 12:48)
b. Concerning the false teacher, the Scriptures say:
1) Romans 16:17
2) 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14; Titus 3:10-11
c. Those who argue that false teachers should be fellowshipped and not marked argue with God.
d. Fellowship cannot take place with those who practice, defend or teach false doctrine. Notice just a few:
1) Modernism … call into question the infallible of the Bible … they say it is scientifically, Geographically and historically inaccurate
2) False Religions Fellowshipped … open fellowship
3) Innovations in worship practiced and defended
a) Mechanical Instruments of Music
b) Choirs and solos
c) Lord’s Supper anytime
d) Woman’s role in the church
e) Preaching the doctrines, opinions and philosophies of men
4) Error of marriage, divorce and remarriage
5) Direct operation of the Holy Spirit
6) Grace Only … Change Agents
5. Fellowship cannot take place with those who sow discord among brethren
a. Whether by false doctrine (Rom. 16:17)
b. Whether by their opinions
c. Some love to have the preeminence – Diotrephes (3 Jn. 9)
6. Fellowship cannot take place with one who has sinned against another brother and will not repent (Matthew 18:15-17)
7. Fellowship cannot take place with one who hates his brother (1 John 2: 9-11)
A. The question that is often asked, “How long do we attempt to work with false teachers and wayward brethren trying to get them out of their error?”
1. We should try to teach them; if that effort fails, then they must not remain in our fellowship
2. How long do the faithful try to salvage a congregation in which they hold membership which is bent on apostasy?
a. When realistic hope of turning matters around are gone, does not one begin bidding God speed to error?
b. 2 John 9-11
B. Brethren, personal friendships – even kinship – must never be allowed to cause one to continue to fellowship an individual or a congregation involved in apostasy.
C. The beauty of fellowship, love, and unity in the church of Christ is but a foretaste of theheavenly fellowship to be experienced with all the redeemed, with the angels, and with theGodhead in heaven itself.