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According to Hebrews 10:24-25 and 13:17 why is church fellowship
Name the benefits of church fellowship.
While looking to the Lord subjectively about a place of worship, what are
seven objective factors that should be considered in helping you
determine which Church is right for you?
The writer of Hebrews states,
"And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good
deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of
some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the
day drawing near."
There are basically three
guiding lights that God uses to communicate His love and plan for
our lives: through the Word (objective reality),80
through the Holy Spirit (subjective reality),81 and
fellowship. The Apostle Paul
states, "Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or
three witnesses." (2 Cor. 13:1). When we believe that Jesus has
spoken something to us about our lives through prayer and the
reading of the Word, the Bible encourages us to have that confirmed
through the spiritual authority God has placed over our lives. I do
not mean this in a legalistic sense of every little detail of our
lives, such as whether I should use Crest or Gleem to brush my teeth
with. I mean this in a more general major sense, such as, Is
Jesus really telling me He wants me to go to Oral Roberts University
to complete my education in theology? When the Lord first spoke
this to me as a result of fasting and
prayer for His will for my
life in this way (subjective), He then reminded me of a
passage in Hebrews
"Obey your leaders, and submit
to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give
an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this
would be unprofitable for you."
You will not read anywhere in
the Bible that Jesus wanted me to go to Oral Roberts University to
complete my education. Oral Roberts University did not exist on
earth when the Bible was written. How was I to know this was truly
Jesusí voice to me? Even though the Bible does not specifically tell
the details of Jesusí will for my life, it does tell me to submit
this subjective reality to those He has placed me under for my
spiritual protection. As a result, I took this subjective experience
before my Pastor for judgment. The end result was that he told me he
believed this was Jesusí leading in my life, in light of past
objective information concerning Jesusí working in my life, and told
me he thought I ought to follow it through. This gave me the
Scriptural backing I needed to confirm what I believed was Jesusí
then present leading in my life through the Holy Spirit. Therefore,
initially, the purpose of church fellowship is to confirm to our
lives what we think is Jesusí direction in our lives through the
Holy Spirit.82 Paul also wrote in
be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
To give you another example of
what I mean, while I was attending a university, I became friends
with one of the elderly desk ladies. She was a lady who really loved
Jesus. She loved Jesus so much that she did not want to pass up
anything that He was doing. So whenever an Evangelist came to town
and gave a seminar she was the first one to sign up and go.
After she would go to these
lectures and learn all the wonderful principles that God had in His
Word, wanting to be what she thought was spiritual, she would try to
implement all these principles into her life. The end result was
that she became a bundle of frustration and confusion. When she
found herself unable to conform herself to all these different
principles, she began to condemn herself because she thought unless
she did, Jesus would not be pleased with her. This greatly concerned
me so I began to seek Jesus on the matter. The Lord answered Me
first by bringing to my mind a passage of Scripture in Ephesians. It
Ephesians 4:14 "As
a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by
waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery
of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming."
At first I did not understand
the application exactly, so I asked Jesus for wisdom. The Lord
answered me and said,
The only voice I want this
lady listening to is the voice of her Pastor. Whatever I say to her
about her life through him is my voice to her and is the only thing
I am wanting her to be concerned about in her life at present. Any
instruction that she is receiving outside of her present churchís
advice concerning her life is not coming from Me.
When I shared this with her,
she said to me,
Dale, you do not know how
happy and relieved that makes me.
I asked her why. She
One night just this last
week my Pastor called me up and said to me, "I do not know why, but
Jesus has been bugging me for a couple of days to call you and tell
you that He loves you and accepts you as you are."
If you are hooked up in a
church body that you are certain Jesus has led you to, whatever that
church is saying to you, that does not contradict confirmed past
light or the Bible, is what Jesus is saying to you. Jesus wants you
to reject any other voice. This is why Pastors are called shepherds.
Jesus has placed them in the church to shepherd our lives and
protect us from the wolves outside the church and to confirm to us
what is truly Jesusí voice to us. Jesus said in the Gospel of John,
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I
give eternal life to them; and they shall never perish, and no one
shall snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:27-28).
If you are not already hooked
into a church and have one shepherd that you entrust your life to,
you can know and be assured that it is Jesusí will that you seek Him
to lead you to the shepherd He would have you to have and then place
yourself under his authority. Jesus wants you to do this for your
own spiritual welfare and protection, and so that you can truly
discern what is His voice to you concerning your life, and what is
truly Jesus-dependence in your life.
If Jesus has led you into
involvement already with a local church and you have been
experiencing frustration and confusion in certain areas of your
life, consider talking with your Pastor or elder as the Lord leads
you. They are there to assure your spiritual welfare and to confirm
to your heart what is truly Jesusí voice to you.
Thank God for the support of
the church body in our quest of Godís love and plan for our lives.
Someone might ask the
question, "Is this not putting our trust in man rather than in
Jesus?" When we obey Jesusí instructions to us in His Word, even
though it may be leading us to seek the counsel of a man in the form
of a Pastor, it is still looking to Jesus and putting our trust in
God, not man, because Jesus initiated it. It was not a manís idea to
submit to spiritual authority. Jesus Himself said in the Gospel of
"Therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do
according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them."
Jesus plainly says here that these men may not be perfect, but we
are still to submit to their shepherding over our lives.
Jesus promises us in the book
of Proverbs 21:1
"The kingís heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it wherever He wishes."
"The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue
is from the Lord." If, after your Pastor gives you specific advice
on an issue, and you are not at peace about it, then pray and ask
the Lord to change your Pastorís heart. Jesus promises us that if
our Pastorís advice is wrong, He will change his heart.
Submitting to Pastoral
authority does not always mean their immediate advice may be right;
but if it is wrong, Jesus will so deal with them that they will come
back to you and express that they feel the Lord has dealt with them
and that they now feel the Lord wants them to support you in what
you originally felt was Jesusí leading in your life. If Jesus does
not change their heart, then their advice to you is Jesusí voice to
you and anything contrary to that is Satan trying to disguise
himself as an angel of light.83 Reject it.
Another value I found in going
to church in the past was many times while sitting in church, even
though some sermons may not have had anything to do with my present
needs, because I was expressing my dependence on Jesus by being
there out of obedience to Jesus, He would speak to my heart what was
the answer to my current need or His will on a matter that was
concerning me. When I, in obedience to Jesus, participate in church,
I in essence say to Him that I am interested in what He has to say
concerning my life and His will and Lordship over my life and that I
want to have relationship with Him. Jesus then, according to His
promise in John 14:21,
manifests Himself to me. Weekly Church fellowship then is the second
way we feed on Jesus and show we want to have continued relationship
with Him and know His purpose and plan for our lives. When you
obey Jesusí Lordship over you concerning church fellowship, you are
practicing a principle of what it means to Walk in the Spirit.
When you are walking in obedience to Jesusí commands to you, you are
walking in the Holy Spirit.
If you did not learn anything
else about walking in the Holy Spirit except the importance of daily
time in the Word and weekly church fellowship, anything else that
you would ever need to know would eventually be answered through
these two channels. The
are Jesusí main two ways of giving us opportunity to feed on Him and
show our desire of having relationship with Him and His main two
ways of talking back to us.
Another reason why church fellowship is
important is because a lot of times God will give us the answer to
our needs through conversation with a brother or sister. The
Apostle Paul wrote in
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Each of us was
created to glorify Jesus. Jesus glorifies Himself through us by
manifesting through our lives a certain facet of who He is. Since no
one of us manifests all that Jesus is, if we want to gain a fuller
understanding of who Jesus is in our relationship with Him, then it
is important that we are with His people as often as we can who
I remember several years ago
sitting in a college Sunday school class listening to a lecture on
the attributes of God for the third or fourth time. This lecturer,
like all the former lecturers on this subject, talked about how if
we came to a clear understanding of the attributes of God, we would
come to know who God is and this would release our faith in Him to a
greater extent and revolutionize our lives. Because I was hearing
this lecture for the third or fourth time, I knew it helped my
understanding of who God is, but it did little for my experiential
reality of who God is.
As I was sitting there, I
asked Jesus, How can I really come to know who you are? Jesus
answered me in my spirit and said,
By your allowing Me to work
through your life in ministering to others and by opening yourself
up to all of the gifts of the Spirit in the body. As you allow Me to
work through you, you will see a certain facet of who I am through
you. The purpose of my spiritual gifts is to manifest Myself to the
church, and to the world. Since no one person manifests all the
gifts all the time, in order to come to know Me fully, that is as
fully as you can on this earth, you will need to be in my body
corporately where many of the gifts operate together. In these two
ways you will come to know me in the fullest way possible while on
But the Greatest
of These Is
Another purpose for
church fellowship is to develop mature love.
"Therefore leaving the
elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to
maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from
dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washing,
and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and
eternal judgment. And this we shall do, if God permits."
Outside of the basics of
Christianity, what are we to press on toward? Paul the Apostle gives
us the answer in 1
Corinthians 13:13 "But now abide
faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is
love." Mature love is the ultimate goal of the Christian
walk. One of the ways that Jesus brings this about in our lives is
through commitment to one body for better or worse, in sickness and
in health, until the Lord tells us otherwise. Without commitment to
one specific body, if things get uncomfortable, one can always get
up and go some place else. But when one makes a commitment to a body
until Jesus tells him or her otherwise, that commitment means that
that person must work out his problems. As we work out our problems
with others in the body of Christ through worship and praise,
instead of just running from them, mature love in our lives is
developed and accomplished. There is no other way mature love can be
accomplished in our lives except through commitment. If we are to
learn mature love in the body of Christ, then we must be willing to
commit ourselves to one specific body for as long as Jesus
chooses to keep us there.
Right for You
The first step to find the Church that is right
for you is to approach Jesus through worship and praise and ask Him
to lead you to the Church He wants you in according to His purpose
and plan for your life at present; then, by faith, trust Him to do
to Consider in
Looking for a Church
Now, I believe there
are certain qualities in a church that are important to consider
that will help you determine that, what you believe is Jesusí
leading in your life in this way, truly is Jesusí leading.
is the Bible the basis for all their teaching and doctrine and do
they teach that the Bible is without error in everything it teaches
on science, history, religion and the cosmos? Do they believe in the
inerrancy of Scripture? The prophet Isaiah wrote in
"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to
this word, it is because they have no light." Jesus stated in
that not only is every word of God written by men inspired and
controlled by the Holy Spirit in the original languages, but also
every letter (See also 2 Tim 3:16-17, 1 Chron 28:19, Rev 22:18-19).
Jesus said in Matthew
5:18 "For truly I say to you, until
heaven and earth pass away, not one yod or one tittle shall pass
away from the Law, until all is accomplished."
do they teach that Jesus is both fully God and fully man, that He
was born of the Virgin Mary who was conceived of by the Holy Spirit,
that He lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, that
he was buried and rose again physically alive from the dead, and
finally that He will return physically alive to the earth in the
same manner in which He left? (Matt 1:18-25, 1 Peter 2:21-24, 1 Cor
15:3-23, Acts 1:9-11).
does their teaching of the Word point you to Jesus as your source of
salvation and sanctification? Is Jesus the focus of their teaching?
Jesus said in John 14:6
"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the
Father, but through Me."
Revelation 19:10 states, "For the
testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
do they have an evangelism and discipleship training program for
laymen? Paul wrote,
Ephesians 4:11- 12
"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as
evangelists, and some as Pastors and teachers, for the
equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up
of the body of Christ."
Ministers are not primarily
called to do the work of ministry, but to train laymen to do
the work of ministry. If a church does not have some kind of
ongoing training program in evangelism and discipleship it is dead
spiritually and nothing more than a social club. The Church exists
to bring men and woman to Jesus.
do they preach complete salvation through Jesus, meaning: of mind,
body, spirit, heart, emotions, conscience, and soul for today? Do
they preach that Jesusí power to heal, His work of salvation, is
available to all these areas today through believing prayer? The
writer of Hebrews states in
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yes and forever." If
you want to grow in Jesus and find deliverance in Jesus, you need to
surround yourself with people who have faith to believe Jesus for
do they preach the second coming of Jesus Christ? The Apostle Peter
2 Peter 3:3-4 "Know
this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with
their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ĎWhere
is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell
asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of
do they teach that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are just as
relevant today as they were in the first century church, including
tongues and prophecy? Paul wrote in
1 Thessalonians 5:19-20
"Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances."
I believe that if Jesus leads
you to a church with at least these seven qualities, if they have
any other important blind spots, you will not have to worry, because
this kind of openness to God will provide for those blind spots to
be taken care of in Jesusí time.
On to chapter 5
Bibliography & Notes
Section 4 Chapters