This in turn means that one is then called into a unique fellowship with His Son and with His Church – others whom He has called.
Yet in the midst of such a calling, it is a great paradox that some who are called can become contemptuous and disdainful of that relationship. It is yet another kind of paradox that such people who become removed from such true fellowship can actually delude themselves into believing that they still have fellowship with God while rejecting His instruction and His true Church to which they were originally called or spiritually reawakened. It is almost unimaginable that such separation from fellowship can finally become manifest over some of the smallest matters in life, like the one just covered in the last post, as to whether or not one can wear make-up.
Inspiration for This Post
At this point it would be good to explain how the inspiration for this post came about. My wife, daughter, and myself were discussing the account of someone who recently became disfellowshipped and how the Church should address the matter.
When someone comes to the point where they manifest the actions that lead to their being disfellowshipped, it is often somewhat startling what is actually revealed that comes out of their heart (mind). It also becomes painfully obvious that such individuals have deceived themselves into believing they are okay with God, while they easily and openly speak out against God’s teaching (doctrine, truth, instruction), His Church, and His ministry.
Laura and Audra had just previously been discussing this matter with each other before talking to me about it. They each shared Biblical principles and scriptures that pertain to the spirit of “false fellowship” with God, Christ, and the Church. I then asked both to write down these principles and scriptural instructions that they had been mentioning to me. At that point, I already knew this was to be what I was to address in the next post. Most of what will be covered in the remainder of this post on the subject of “true fellowship” is from what they had discussed about this subject. I also find it inspiring to note that God (at this same time) has also been giving inspiration to recent sermons in direct and related subject matter concerning true fellowship and God’s government in His Church.
What Kind of Fellowship?
Rather than beginning this series with the subject of “disfellowshipment,” Christ has inspired that what should first be addressed is “true fellowship” with God. To better grasp the ugliness of becoming disfellowshipped from God, His Son, and His Church, it is so very important to focus first on the incredible awesomeness, as well as the immeasurable honor and gift (blessing) it is to have such privilege and opportunity to be offered such true fellowship.
Once called to such a relationship, each person must continuously, throughout their life, make choices as to what kind of fellowship they individually want to have with God’s Family, which includes God and His Son at the forefront. As it has already been covered, the history of the Church reveals that many have turned from God’s calling and chose “something else” rather than that true relationship to which they had originally been called. They chose instead to be disfellowshipped – they chose death.
The occasion of the manifestation of this disfellowshipment that my wife, daughter, and I were discussing concerned a choice that two people had made as they decided to have fellowship with several others who had previously been disfellowshipped. There is much instruction on this from God, yet people often minimize, ignore, disagree, and/or justify their disobedient actions to such scriptures and teaching from God.
Often, the basic response to such a decision is that “no man” or “no one” is going to tell me who I can and cannot have fellowship with. Indeed, that is the attitude, even though that is exactly what God instructs concerning those who have been disfellowshipped – not to have fellowship with them. But to the human carnal mind of one who no longer has God’s instruction, teaching, way, and spirit in the forefront of their mind, it “seems right” to them that they should be able to choose for themselves who they want for friends. Just as Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 16:25). So choosing to have fellowship with those disfellowshipped “seems to be right” to such people, and no one is going to tell them otherwise.
That kind of choice is the result of “base” human nature, which is controlled by lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. But, one should be seeking to bring true control into their life by yielding self to God’s true ways and fighting against one’s own human nature. Only by yielding to God and learning to control self can one come into true unity that produces God’s peace in life. It is a mind that yields to pride that lifts self up above God (spiritual idolatry) and says, “No one will tell me who I can fellowship with.” It is a “lust of the eyes” to want something that is not ours to have – to want fellowship with those disfellowshipped. It is a “lust of the flesh” that fulfills such action – actually fellowshipping with those disfellowshipped.
This specific kind of choice is the basic “heart and core” of the sin that Adam and Eve committed when they separated themselves from God and that fellowship with Him when they began to “decide for themselves” what was right and what was wrong. They did not look to God as their authority: “And the Eternal God said, behold, the man is become as one of us (as already ‘in’ the God Family), to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Eternal God sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground (no longer provided for by God) from where he was taken” (Gen. 3:22-23). God removed Adam and Eve from His fellowship – they were disfellowshipped from God and His presence.
Most people know of the story where Paul addressed the matter of disfellowshipping a man from the members of the Church at Corinth (1 Cor. 5). It is where a man was having a sexual relationship with his stepmother. The congregation was aware of this relationship and had chosen to “turn a blind eye” to his sin rather than addressing it as they should have. Paul said they had actually been lifted up in pride (became puffed up as leaven), choosing to allow something to continue in their midst (that seemed right to them to allow) that was clearly against God’s instruction to them. Paul explained that he had already written to them not to keep company with fornicators, the covetous, extortioners, and idolaters “of the world” as a matter of close friendship and fellowship. Yet he also explained that they would still have encounters with such people in the world and could not altogether remove themselves from their presence in everyday dealings of life.
In this account of 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is now adding to this previous instruction in stronger terms by making it clear that if such things are not to be part of close friendship and fellowship in the world, then how much more so should it be applied in the fellowship of the Church.
He went on to tell them that this man should be disfellowshipped and “to deliver such unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). Certainly, the desire is that one would be sobered to repent and change once disfellowshipped and brought back into fellowship as Paul later explained in 2 Corinthians. However, first and foremost, sin and those who “practice” it, without repentance, should be removed from the presence of the Body. This is just as Adam and Eve, in their sin, had to be removed from the presence of God. Sin, if allowed to continue in the Body, will spread as leaven in bread spreads. No one is “bigger or stronger” spiritually as to be unaffected by such influence.
Paul explained that the Church has a responsibility to judge and act upon such matters “within the Church.”
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company (to give fellowship and friendship), if any man that is called a brother (supposed to be living as a member of the Body of Christ – in truth and in spirit) be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat. For what have I to do with those who are without the Church (outside the Church – as God’s government is not at work in the lives of those in the world)? Are you not to judge those who are within the Church (God’s government works in His Church)? But those who are without (outside the Church), God judges (brings to judgment in His time). Therefore put away (disfellowship) from among yourselves this wicked person” (1 Cor. 5:11-13).
The instruction to them was that the Church (and all in it) are to participate in the judgment that is to be carried out against someone who is “living” against God’s ways in an unrepentant and unchanging manner. It is a matter of every member being in unity in support of judgment with the actions taken toward anyone who has placed themselves in the position of living against God’s ways (actively resisting God’s spirit to dwell in them) becoming antichrist in actions and practice. When understanding such instruction, who would choose to have fellowship with someone who has actively placed themselves against Christ? The world is ignorant of how they are living contrary to God’s one true way of life, but all who are “called” by God are without excuse, once they have received the life of Christ to live (dwell) in them, to then turn against him and his purpose in suffering for us as our Passover.
Importance of Being At One
At the beginning of this series, the matter of working to “keep the unity of the spirit” – of being at one with God – was addressed. The importance of such unity and oneness with God is basic to the kind of Family God has called us to be transformed and born into. It is a Family that will live life age-lasting without end. It is a Family where each member is fully at one in unity of spirit with God’s one true way of peace.
There is a refreshing insight that was given by one of our sr. elders as she was relating to us her response to what was covered in that section of the post about unity of spirit. I’m going to share that with you.
“In the section where it was covered we have to love less all others (than God) and as I strive to keep God and the Church first, I fall short because deep down, I love me more than anything. This is what I have to learn to love less. I have to quit worrying about ‘self’ and ‘self’s stinking rotten pride.’ And it finally hit me, unity = peace. Of course it does. When you are unified you are thinking and acting the same, therefore peace is the result. I keep saying I want unity, I want peace!”
Let’s return to the scripture that speaks of working to keep unity within the Church and build more upon it.
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord (Jesus Christ), one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:3-6).
Why is it seemingly so difficult for the “many” to grasp something so basic, so clear, so elementary to one’s calling? For as Christ said, “many are called, but few are chosen.” The reason is that this is only “clear” to those who endeavor (work) at being in unity and oneness with all that God reveals (gives) to them. Those who do are those who can experience the true peace of God’s way. But peace of spirit and mind cannot be experienced where divisiveness, critical attitudes, disobedience, and pride (one’s own ways) flourish and dwell.
As we know, the majority of the Church that was scattered after the Apostasy is going to become reunited over a period beginning shortly before and immediately upon Christ’s coming as King of kings. This is something I deeply long for when all those people recapture the experience and truth that there is only one Body of Christ that is united by one spirit and that consists of one faith (one belief that is lived). The Church is not composed of many differing faiths and beliefs as some seem to accept (allow) in their thinking.
Ephesians also states that there is one God and Father of all, and not that there are two Gods – only one! Who else in the scattered body knows and believes (lives by such faith) this truth that God has revealed (in 2005) to His Church since the Apostasy? How then can anyone who has believed, and still does believe this truth, think they can take such belief with them into a different kind of fellowship than the one where they first received this truth?
Indeed, there is only one truth to believe and live by – one faith. Understanding, living, and believing this is truly spiritually rudimentary. There is only one source for God’s truth and that is from God, through Jesus Christ, to God’s one true Church.
To experience “true fellowship” as members of the Body of Christ, one must be joined together in the same singleness of spirit that is in Christ: “But he who is joined unto the Lord (Christ) is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17). There cannot be some other spirit joined together in God’s Church.
On the last night of his earthly existence (on Passover night), Jesus Christ prayed to his Father about keeping the Church unified in one spirit and one truth – that which originates from God.
“I have given them (the disciples and all who will follow) your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you would take them out of the world, but that you would keep them from the evil (evil one). They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them (set them apart for holy use and purpose) through your truth. Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:14-17).
Christ was making it clear that those who were given to him by God would be “set apart” from all others in the world by the truth that God would give them. It is God’s revealed truth that sets apart those in God’s true Church from all others. God has blessed His Church with 57 Truths in this end-time. Those in unity and oneness with God’s truth are able to experience true fellowship with God, Jesus Christ, and all others who are members of that one Body. Christ prayed even more about this:
“And for their sakes I sanctify myself so that they might be sanctified through the truth. Neither do I pray for these alone, but for those also who will believe on me through their word (the same truth), so that they all may be one; as you father, are in me, and I in you, so that they also may be one in us, and that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory (contained in the Word, the truth of God, that can dwell in the mind – which “glory” is of God) which you gave me, I have given to them so that they may be one (in us), even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, so that they may be perfected in one” (Jn. 17:19-23).
These words are most profound and cry out to the importance of the members of the Body of Christ being able to ever grow in unity and oneness of truth and spirit – sharing in the glory of true fellowship with God and Christ.
(This series will be continued into Pt. 4.)