Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 20
I’m thinking this might be the last article in this series officially, though of course, I’m quite certain I’ll continue to write on the subject of fellowship in the future. In our last article in this series, Part 19, we quoted numerous times from Jack Kelley’s writings (Grace Thru Faith). He also believes that salvation essentially a two-part proposition (in a way). We cannot even begin to fellowship with God unless we actually have salvation. However, once we have salvation, there is no guarantee that we will enjoy fellowship with God, because while salvation is dependent upon no “work” of our own (we must simply believe in the One whom the Father sent), fellowship does require our work and direct involvement to enter into and maintain. As easy as that may sound, it is not really that easy for everyone because multitudes of people reject the only salvation that is available through Jesus until they die. It is then too late for them to exercise belief in Him and His atonement because they will know the truth. It will be right in front of them at that point and there will be no denying it.
What I’m learning is that all those times you questioned whether or not you still had salvation and that doubt prompted you to make yet one more “altar call” to give your life to Jesus – come on, admit it, we’ve all done it – what you and I were really doing was recommitting our lives to God in Christ. That means that we were, once again, entering into fellowship with God.
We human beings tend to – unfortunately – make many decisions based on how we feel, regardless of the truth of the situation. It is a result (and curse) of the Fall. Eve succumbed to the wiles of our enemy by essentially lusting after the power (knowledge of good and evil to become gods) dangling in front of her. She saw the fruit and recognized that it was good for food because it looked and smelled pleasant. This caused her to cave in to her cravings. Adam? He did what his wife wanted him to do, plain and simple.
But look at the way people today make decisions. They make them largely based upon the same pattern. The pattern is found in how we feel about something. It doesn’t matter how good or benevolent our response might be intended to be. What matters is whether or not we set aside absolute truth, preferring relative truth. This is clearly evident in the area of gun control. The 2nd Amendment states that it shall “not be infringed,” yet it has been and continues to be infringed almost since its inception. It’s worse today with the lies, distortions, inaccuracies, and the tugging of heart-strings by politicians and lobbyists to change the law by seducing people into thinking that continuing to infringe our 2nd Amendment rights will make us safer. Even if this were true (which it is not), the plain fact of the matter is that the law should be obeyed. If an overwhelming number of people don’t like the 2nd Amendment, then there are legal and constitutional ways to change it. Instead, what is happening today is all done outside of the law. But as long as people continue to believe that limiting the 2nd Amendment is good for us, in spite of the fact that even prohibiting guns would have no impact on criminals, then politicians who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution will continue to do what they can to obstruct the 2nd Amendment.
This is how human beings act and we can trace that all the way back to the official Fall of humankind. It’s very tragic and it tends to guide the way we make decisions now.
Christians, not just unsaved of the world, tend to do the same thing. Instead of knowing, understanding, and believing what the Bible tells us, we are all too often tempted to go by feeling and this is never more clearly seen than in the theology of our salvation. At times, we doubt that we have salvation based too often on the way we feel. It if doesn’t feel like we are saved, then we doubt we are saved. Then we remonstrate and condemn ourselves believing that we have done something terrible that has caused us to lose our salvation.
In truth, we may just be feeling down or yucky. Maybe it’s because we have exercised enough or eaten the right foods. Maybe it’s because we haven’t spent enough time in His Word or in prayer. But the reality is that the way we feel may (that is “may”) be linked to our fellowship or lack thereof with God, but it is never linked to our salvation! The Bible is very clear on this except to those who fail to grasp its truth. They are in error and they teach others the same error, which only serves to rob them of their assurance of salvation. I cannot help but wonder if this may have been what Jesus was referring to in His statements found in Matthew 18:5-6.
5 “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Ultimately, Jesus is referring to salvation here and the people who cause those “little ones” (He chose to use the children who were present as His example), to stumble will feel the weight of His wrath. Clearly, Jesus’ use of the word “child” and using the children as an example is pointing out truth related to anyone who is His disciple. In order to be one and have fellowship with Jesus, each Christian must learn to become humble. In humility, we draw closer to God in Christ. Humility keeps us from going off on our own. We see this huge comparison in the way the Prodigal Son was before he left the home (full of himself, proud, arrogant, and disrespectful), to the way he was after he returned home (humbled, thought less of himself, understood his father better, loved his father, etc.). The difference is remarkable and it is due to the fact that truth did its work within him.
Christians need to know and understand that we are saved for all eternity. This biblical truth needs to be embraced and internalized. It offers great comfort and when allowed, created a true humility within the individual who knows they are saved. When someone comes along preaching that salvation can be lost, not only are they preaching untruth, but they create doubt within the hearts and minds of Christians that rob them of their security they believe they have had in Christ. Because of this, the person preaching the untruth is a true “thief” and Jesus says it would be far better for that person to do whatever they could to hide from God…if that were even possible.
Our fellowship with God is predicated on the fact of gained salvation. Without salvation, there is no fellowship. With salvation, there still might not be fellowship (or much of it) because entering into and maintaining fellowship rests largely with us. If we’re not interested, it won’t happen. We will grow cold or lukewarm, but let’s be clear. Even if that happens and Jesus says He would spit that person out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16-18), that is not a warning that we will lose salvation. It is a warning that we are in danger of being removed permanently from the place of blessing, which is being in fellowship with God. We will find ourselves moving away from Jesus. We will become more enamored with the world and its views. We will become like those who live in the world and more and more, will develop the pattern of ignoring God and His things. If that continues to the day we die, then when we stand before Him at the Bema Judgment Seat, we will see much of the things in our life burned up in judgment, though we ourselves will be saved (1 Corinthians 3:21).
If you will begin to read the New Testament epistles with the understanding that whether it’s Paul or someone else writing, they are urging readers to do whatever they can to enter into and remain in fellowship with God because this is the safest place for the Christian to be. It offers the greatest blessing for the Christian as well.
So Paul’s seeming list of “rules” is given as guidelines so that we would learn how to enter into fellowship and remain in that fellowship. Yes, he clearly talks about salvation, but let’s not forget that the majority of people he wrote to (as well as the other New Testament writers) were already saved. Because of increasing persecution, Paul knew that the safest place for believers to be was in constant fellowship with God. It is where we gain our strength, our understanding of His Word, our clarity, our determination to walk in His light in spite of how dark this world is going to get and is getting now.
If you will do yourself the great favor of seeing the truth of what Paul and others say as pertaining most often to our fellowship with God (not our salvation), you will go a long way in learning what it means to enter into and maintain that fellowship. We cannot separate ourselves from this world. Paul says the only way to do that is to be taken out of it (and that’s in God’s hands; 1 Corinthians 5:10). Paul clearly means that we should not imitate the people in the world who live according to Satan’s standards not God’s. This very fact will make us outcasts and targets of the enemy.
I think even though I’d like to conclude this series with this article – 20 is a good, round number! – I think it would be good to talk about just the type of thing that Jesus put up with during his three and a half years of public ministry. He was routinely maligned, ridiculed, and hated to the point that numerous attempts on his life were made. Why should we think it will be different for us, His followers? It won’t be and He already told us that.
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19″If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you, (John 15:18-19).
Being hated by the world is not an absolute guarantee (Jesus said “if”), but it happens frequently. This should force us into the arms and shadow of the Most High, but all too often, it compels us to fight our own battles. We need to go to Him and remain in fellowship with Him. He will work things out in and through us as we remain in fellowship with Him. We cannot have it both ways, doing a little of our own will but also expecting God to do His will. It’s His way OR ours, but not both. We learn His way as we endeavor to enter into fellowship with Him.
Jesus’ life shows us what He did and how He maintained fellowship with the Father. We definitely need to investigate this and find out how we can apply these truths to our lives. Lord willing, we will do that starting with our next article. Thanks so much for joining me for this series.
Until we meet again, may the Lord open your eyes to the truth of His salvation that you might enter more fully into His fellowship!