It’s been wondered how one has fellowship if it is not in the bond of ‘church membership’ and I understand the sentiment. It has also been wondered how someone deals with personal trials and how you partake of other’s trials as well if you do not hold membership in a church. There are certainly various types of fellowship; there is the fellowship of life long friends, fellowship with co workers, fellowship with family, fellowship with your particular ‘church family’, social fellowship and many more but true lasting and eternal fellowship is to be found only in the Gospel and in Jesus Christ and should be found with all those we consider saints. Christ Himself is the bond of our fellowship if we are believers, we are His Church!
“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” 1Cor 1:9
I have rich fellowship with many in the bond of the Gospel which is not in the foundation of church membership. It is a fellowship in truth, the truth that God’s Grace in Christ is Sovereign and free and man can do nothing to earn it; we add nothing to it. We continue to search the Scripture through the lens of the Gospel and trust the Lord to grow us in grace AND in the knowledge of Him. Jesus said that He was the way, the TRUTH and the life and as believer’s we should covet growth in truth. For me that takes personal study and God has graciously put in my life those who encourage me to be a good Berean.
It is a fellowship of the saints spoken of, for instance, in Romans 12 where we are kindly affectioned towards one another in love and rejoice together in hope. We are likeminded in our doctrine but we have the freedom to ask questions and to disagree without fear. The fellowship is continual and abundant as the Lord always provides for His saints.
I gather with a dear family usually every other Sunday morning and we listen to the Word of God preached by faithful men who preach the Sovereign Grace of God in Christ. We are always without a doubt pointed to Christ and we come away edified in the grace that is ours in Christ. We sing the songs that we love out of the Trinity Hymnal and we fellowship often with a meal. We freely discuss the Word that we have just heard preached and we rejoice in our fellowship in the Gospel. It is a delight to our souls to share the bond of Christ because we are partakers of the same grace and the same gifts that flow from that grace. We share the gift of faith that has been given to each of us and the knowledge that we are new creatures given new hearts by God’s creation, not our own.
This family is acquainted with a pastor in California who they have never actually met and yet he is coming this way to minister to them although they are not members of his church. I’m sure I will be blessed to be included in his visit and I look forward to it. To have men who care for your soul and your well being in Christ is an amazing testimony to the bond of fellowship that is in the Gospel of Christ, not the bond of church membership.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
Trials and Tribulations
A part of every believer’s growth to maturity is the avenue of the trials and tribulations that He sends our way. We all face them and the Scripture gives us a good idea of their results in Romans 5. We are said to glory in tribulations knowing that tribulation works patience and patience experience and experience hope. We see the faithfulness of God in every trial and that experience works patience and hope to trust Him for what He brings each day. As all of us are faced with tribulation part of our fellowship is to encourage and to be encouraged and that takes place rather we are in church membership or not. I love 2 Cor 1:4 because it tells us why we can even begin to give comfort and encouragement to one another:
“Who comforteth us in all our tribulations, (speaking of our God) that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God”
We are certainly to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2) and I do that now the same as I always have, through communication with the saints. You would probably be surprised at the vast number of believer’s who aren’t in a church who truly fulfill the call to bear one another’s burdens daily. We are to pray for one another, we are speak the truth in love and we are to be willing to give of ourselves as the Lord leads, be it simply keeping close in contact. Those actions are reciprocated to me by all the saints that are in my life, rather they are here face to face or scattered about. Of course we bear our own burdens as well (Gal 6:5) with the patience and hope that tribulation brings and as we lift up our eyes to the hills. Psalm 121 (paraphrased in a song):
I lift up mine eyes to the hills;
from where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord;
Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let they foot be moved;
He who keeps thee will not slumber;
Indeed He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
And He shall watch over thee’
He is thy shade at thy right hand’
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall protect thee from all evil;
And He shall preserve thy soul;
And He shall watch over thy comings and goings,
From this time forth and forevermore.
Grace and Peace!
to be continued…..