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Evangelism:
The Time Is Now!

Section 4, Chapter 4

Weekly Feeding On Jesus
Through Fellowship

Back to chapter 3
Study Questions
  1. According to Hebrews 10:24-25 and 13:17 why is church fellowship important?

  2. Name the benefits of church fellowship.

  3. 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?

horizontal rule

The writer of Hebrews states,

Hebrews 10:24-25 "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."

JESUSí THREE
GUIDING LIGHTS

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 through church

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 13:17 (objective),

"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 Ephesians 5:21 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 said,

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 responded,

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 Matthew 23:3 "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." Proverbs 16:1 "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 Word and fellowship 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 represent Him.

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 earth.

But the Greatest
of These Is
Love

Another purpose for church fellowship is to develop mature love. Hebrews 6:1-3 states,

"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.

How to Find the
Church 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 it.

Important Qualities
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.

First, 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 Isaiah 8:20 "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 Matthew 5:17-19 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."

Second, 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).

Third, 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."

Fourth, 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.

Fifth, 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 Hebrews 13:8 "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 this today.

Sixth, do they preach the second coming of Jesus Christ? The Apostle Peter wrote in

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 creation.í"

Seventh, 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

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