Close Communion Study Pt. 10 - (Principles of Fellowship—Inferences from the Correct Notions of Christian Society 2)
(Principles of Fellowship—Inferences from the Correct Notions of Christian Society 2)
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 10, 11)
Question.—What is the third thing we may deduce from correct views of this society?
Answer.—These principles should lead to the conclusion that all who hold to the same religious connection should engage themselves in a labor of love toward one another, 1 Pet. 1:22. The true principles of church-communion ought to have a most direct and powerful influence to see the character of saints completed without disaffection, 1 Thess. 1:3. Persons, who have no appearance of love to the saints in truth, ought not to be members, for the church is knit together in love, Col. 2:2. This labor of love is manifest in several ways: 1.) A concern to relieve the necessities of the poor, out of the abundance of those who are wealthier, 1 John 3:17, 18. 2.) A fellow feeling with each other, both in matters of congratulation and compassion, Rom. 12:15. 3.) A careful forbearing not to speak evil of one another, Jas. 4:11. 4.) A keen desire to restore a man overtaken in a fault, even in the spirit of meekness, Gal. 6:1. 5.) Using every method to prevent offense or, if it is given, to see it removed by application of the Scripture rule, Matt. 18:15-18. 6.) A constant persevering attention to the apostles doctrine and fellowship, unless providentially hindered from joining in connection with the services and sessions of fellowship with God’s people, Acts 2:42. 7.) A passionate desire to provoke one another to love and good works, Heb. 10:24.
All of these things conduce to the ends church-fellowship held forth by the apostle, Eph. 4:1-3; Phil. 2:1-5; Eph. 4:30-5:2.
Question.—What is the fourth thing we may deduce from correct views of this society?
Answer.—Zeal for the authority, honor and ordinances of Christ is both reasonable and necessary; yet, it is not contrary to charity.
Zeal is very necessary, because: 1.) Every defect in zeal is criminal in itself, dishonoring to Christ and injurious to the church, Rev. 3:15, 16. Failure to be zealous, having no affectionate concern for the truth, or attachment to the system of fellowship in the church, is a sin to be repented of, Rev. 3:19. 2.) You are called upon to study to have the same mind that Christ has, Phil. 2:5; which was of undaunted courage and fervent zeal for the glory of God and the purity of the divine institutions, John 2:17.
Charity and moderation in religion is no less reasonable and necessary, because: 1.) The apostle commends it, Phil. 4:5. Any proper appreciation for innate depravity, ignorance and evil propensities ought to make each man cautious about his own judgments, especially when they run contrary to the conclusions of faith exhibited by the church, Rom. 12:16; 1 Pet. 2:13. 2.) Prudence requires us to choose the purest connections, but piety forbids us to be malevolent, censorious and uncharitable toward those who are not manifestly enemies of the truths of the gospel, Phil. 1:15-18. We must exhibit a warm approval of whatever appears to be the truth and, yet, we must detest whatever is inconsistent with or contrary to it, Ps. 97:10.
Christian zeal is charitable and Christian charity is zealous. To divide these virtues is criminal, 1 Cor. 13:6; but to oppose one to the other is unchristian, Jer. 48:10; Dan. 4:27; Gal. 4:17, 18.
Question.—What is the fifth thing we may deduce from correct views of this society?
Answer.—If these principles be true, then it is a just cause to suspend those from actual communion who, by their irregularity of attendance upon the social services of the church, continue to give offence by this practice, 2 Thess. 3:6. When members wilfully deviate from the rules and laws of the church, whose observation they have engaged unto upon entering, there is a forfeiture of actual communion involved, 1 Cor. 5:11; Gal. 5:19-21. This position is confirmed because: 1.) The apostle commands us to mark and avoid those who cause division and offense, Rom. 16:17, 18. 2.) We are commanded to walk by the same rule, minding the same thing, Phil. 3:15-17. 3.) We are to shun what is profane and useless communication, 2 Tim. 2:16, 17. 4.) We are to reject heretics as those who are self-condemned, Tit. 3:9-11.