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Breaking Fellowship

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I'll disagree. The 'local church' meetings are actually supposed to be an assembly of believers.

 

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

 

The saints (believers) gather to be taught, edified, for the perfecting, so the saints are prepared to do the work of the ministry. Some of the work of the ministry is evangelism. The saints are trained, and then do the work of the ministry.

 

In the NT, the gatherings of the saints are for the saints only. Then the saints were sent out to preach the gospel.

 

Today, many try to bring in the lost, into the assembly of the saints, so that the lost can hear the gospel. There are many difficulties with that scenario. First, the message to the lost is a different message then what is needed for the training of the saints to prepare the saints for the work of the ministry. If that is viewed as the first purpose of the assembly of the saints, the saints are never trained for ministry. That is happening in the church today, especially in the U.S., and the lack of training has damaged the effectiveness of the church.

 

Another difficulty is that an church is only focused on their neighborhood as their effort is not just for salvation but also for numbers of bodies in the church. If the number of bodies in the church which are 'sinners' exceeds the number of saints in the church, a huge future problem is building. In history, a community oriented church which had numbers of unsaved in the building, donating money, and having influence as people and money have influence, the church soon loses it's salt so to speak. It is no longer a church with a gospel message.  If you want to study and example, look at the history of the Methodist circuit riders. The Methodist church was a born again Church and the fastest growing in the pioneer days.

 

Most people who are lost, will not step foot inside a church building. As some say, we live in a post Christian time. So the number of people raised nominally Christian, are dwindling. It is the people who were raise nominally Christian, but never were born again, who will go into a church. The majority are no longer that group, and that majority must be reached by going to them. Again, the command is to go out and preach the gospel, so the model of inviting people in, does not work to reaching with the gospel for majors groups of people who are growing.

 

If a church wishes to do an outreach, that is fine, but using the assembly of the saints as an outreach has shown issues in history, and will set us up for problems in the future.   

 

 

Q, I guess it depends on what you mean by the “local church” meetings.

The way I view Eph. 4:11-14 the passage is talking about equipping church leaders for the purpose of discipleship in ministry.

Ministry is something everyone does though. Telling others about Jesus is every Believer’s role. Not just those in leadership.

There are some who say that the Church is meant simply for discipleship purposes.

The better answer is the local Church is to be about both preaching the Gospel and discipleship. If a pastor preaches through the entire Bible the Gospel will be presented many times over. Why? Because everything in the Bible points to God’s reconciliatory story of glory through Jesus Christ. This means that the messages are both for the Believer and non-Believer.

I would agree that the model of inviting ppl into the Church and having Sunday School is not working. Just look at how many people are atheists/agnostics (20% I think it is in the U.S. now) or how many claim another religion.

That said I think there is a new shift to Believers gathering in homes in many local churches. What a novelty idea no? As Believer’s gather in homes, have meals together, do life together they will touch the lives of those around them. Believers will learn together, laugh together, cry together, live together, and share together. This also means bringing new people into the fold who might hear the Gospel and believe in Jesus.

There is a balance between reaching the lost and discipleship. Both are important for any church to continue to grow in Christ.

Do you see my perspective clearer now?

God bless,

Ge

 

 

In my view, Eph 4:11-14 is not about equipping church leaders. It is about equipping saints, which would be all Christians.

 

Now, when reading this, I come to realize how fuzzy the word church is. There is church the building, church the people, and church the assembly.  

 

Clearly, church the building can and should be used for any purpose which teaches Christianity, and the bible. A building is simply a tool to be used.

 

Church the assembly is purely born again Christians/Messianics. This group is to assemble without outsiders to do the business needed, teaching, praying, etc. There are certain things Christians should discuss which is not for outsiders, and there are certain things a Christian should be learning, which would not benefit an outsider as they would not really understand what is being discussed. Scripture divides certain teaching into milk and meat categories. I hate to use this terminology because it is so misused, but since it is actually used in scripture, it illustrates the point. Baby Christians are at first on milk, but must move on to meat. Non-believers need the very basics of the gospel of salvation.

 

In scripture, there are meetings for believers only. And believers are sent out to preach the gospel. Generally speaking, and I mean generally, as I haven't been in every church so I am sure there are exceptions. Those churches which focus on bringing non-believers into their Sunday meetings, teach differently. The sermons are more geared toward general acceptability. Even if the sermon is based on scripture, the homily/application of scripture is more generally applied so as to appeal to both saved and unsaved. There is no real concern as to training believers. I have never heard a sermon given to a mixed audience on how to share the gospel with non-believers, when non-believers are known to be present or invited in. I have never heard a sermon given on how to prepare a sermon, or a teaching, or how to be prepared to defend the belief when non-believers are invited in.

 

A meeting of believers needs to be a somewhat regular occurence. And that meeting needs to be geared to meeting the needs of believers, including training.  As scripture says, do not neglect the assembly, but if there is no assembly of the believers, that is equally neglecting the assembly.

 

Hebrews 10:19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a [h]sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 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.

 

So, in my view, there is danger in a 'church leadership' not providing a time for the assembly of the brethren for the equipping of the saints. It is the saints who need equipping for their own work/ministry, and it is leadership who is to equip the saints. From there, the spreading of the gospel goes out as the equipped saint go out.

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There's no question, if the teaching is heretical, you leave.  God's Truth is always first and foremost, even before the relationships of man....this is the foundation of what we do, we abide in His Word.  If there is no rectifying of the situation then you must leave.

 

In His Love,

Suzanne

 

Ok, I agree.

 

I am still trying to figure out that the sinning Christian is disfellowshipped and it is the loss of the body which influenced the sinning Christian to repent, to restore fellowship.

 

I was trying to think thru a couple of examples from my own experiences, but truthfully I can't. The closest I can come was when I disagreed with very very close friends and family and was 'disfellowshipped' because of the disagreement which was considered so aggrevious by them that relationship must not continue. I was convinced of the truth of my beliefs and the importance of it, that I would not repent of my belief to get back the fellowship. The point of contention between me and my friends and family was simply Who Jesus is. That to me was something I would not turn from, even if I lost my friends and family. Now, it is not a great example, but my friends and familiy thought I was sinning by believing Jesus to be Lord and told me so. My obvious choice was to continue on in my 'sin', or to repent of my belief in Jesus . I believe Jesus is Lord and that is the truth. So, a tight knit close relationship did not cause me to repent.

 

Another was of a person who did sin. A pastor having an extra-marital affair was caught by his wife. He didn't wait to be disfellowshipped, but instead announced to the congregation he was leaving with the woman who was his soulmate. The woman was a member of the congregation with about 6 children and already married. The pastor said, he would repent later and get things right with God.  Two divorces later, the former pastor and the woman he was committing adultery with were married.  Her former husband is raising all of the children. The pastors former wife has changed churches as she found it too difficult to remain at the church her former husband used to pastor. 

 

Now the verse about disfellowshipping says the church should not have fellowship with a 'believer' who is living a sinful/immoral lifestyle. It also says that the immoral 'believer' is turned over to the devil for the destruction of his flesh, so that his soul might be saved.         

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My obvious choice was to continue on in my 'sin', or to repent of my belief in Jesus . I believe Jesus is Lord and that is the truth. So, a tight knit close relationship did not cause me to repent.

 

 

But this was NOT sin, to believe that Jesus Is Lord........so why would you need to repent?

 

This isn't really making sense.  There would be no reason for you to repent.

 

As far as the 2nd scenario, there's no question.

 

 

In His Love,

Suzanne

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My obvious choice was to continue on in my 'sin', or to repent of my belief in Jesus . I believe Jesus is Lord and that is the truth. So, a tight knit close relationship did not cause me to repent.

 

 

But this was NOT sin, to believe that Jesus Is Lord........so why would you need to repent?

 

This isn't really making sense.  There would be no reason for you to repent.

 

As far as the 2nd scenario, there's no question.

 

 

In His Love,

Suzanne

 

 

The group I was a part of considered it a sin to believe in Jesus. In their view, believing Jesus is God, is believing a man is god and in another god as there is only One God. So, I was told I was sinning unless I repented. It was a very close group of people. My best friends were members of the group and my family were members of the group.  I was disfellowshipped. I did not repent as they thought I should. Friends have a limited power of persuasion. As does family.

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I understand Q, but you're trying to apply a biblical application to a group that is not following biblical doctrine...so of course there was a "limited power of persuasion", because the Holy Spirit was not involved in what they were doing.  What I am talking about is a biblical principal for those who are walking in the Spirit and believing that Jesus Is Lord....there is power in the Word of God for those who are of the faith, and following biblical foundations for dealing with sin is a righteous thing.  What you described as happening with that group was not based on the Word of God, otherwise they would have known that Jesus is Lord.

 

I'm sorry this happened to you, I can tell that it was painful to you....but you did the right thing...I am reminded of these passages:

 

 

 

2 John 1:9 Whoever transgresses  and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;  11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

 

In His Love,

Suzanne

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Ok, this is off topic somewhat, but let me make a scenario. 

 

You are attending a congregation with member of the Body of Christ. You are a member. The leadership of this body become involved in a questionable doctrine, a heresy. You approach the leadership to discuss your concerns. They think you are over-reacting and will continue with the 'heretical' teaching. You then approach others who have heard the pastor teach this heresy, and they don't see it as a heresy.

 

Do you leave the congregation, this Body, rather then sit under a heretical teaching, or do you remain because of the sacred unity?

I would think in this scenario if the whole leadership in the church has adopted per say a questionable doctrine. I first would have to examine the teaching first. What I mean by that is I know personally that doctrine in itself will not bring the "unity of the faith" that scripture speaks of in Ephesians 4. There will always be disagreements when it comes to doctrinal positions. But when believers become mature in Christ the unity is "in the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is". There are those who are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine that is out there and keep flipping back and forth and never come into the unity of the faith and knowledge of who Jesus Christ is or grow up to maturity being adult believers who take on the work of the ministry.

This goes on because they simply don't know what to believe in and never are established in the faith. So while "sound doctrine" is very important as apostle Paul told young Timothy to speak sound doctrine so that he would be able to save both himself as well as the hearers of the gospel message. But doctrine in and of itself will not bring unity into the body of Christ and never will. But when babes or children in the faith grow up unto a perfect (mature) man. Finally growing up and being mature adults in the Lord and taking on the resposibility and work of ministering to the saints and evangelism. Is when we no longer will be "children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,  according to the effectual working in the measure of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.  Now that is unity.    But the church of today is mostly full of people who have never grown up and taken on the responsibilty of God's work therefore the church is not being edified or built up by the gifts and callings of God he has given each believer.   So saints are not maturing in the faith because of it.  They are still worldly minded and distracted instead of being spiritually minded with their minds on the things of God.

 

Now it is one thing to have differing points in our doctrine but how great is the error of what is being taught is what has to be measured by us as individuals.  If the church leadership went and took up a doctrine and started teaching for example that Christ didn't rise from the dead on the third day or his blood will not cleanse and wash away our sins.  Then that would be a heresy that I could not accept and would have to leave that particular church congregation.  Because our salvation rests solely on the work of the cross the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  So I would have no more fellowship with that congregation.  But I wouldn't leave over trivial things or minor doctrinal difference that does not directly effect a person salvation even if I were persuaded within myself what they were teaching was wrong. 

 

I also think that any church leader that is putting people out of church and excommunicating them from fellowship with that body of believers over customs instead of blantant sins such as sexual immorality.  That it would be wrong and be damaging to that believer as they could give up the faith altogether when they never sinned.  That is not a biblical practice taught in the word of God to put people out because they have certain customs.  Unless of course that custom doesn't involve things sinful that God doesn't approve of.  The church of today has leaders that are not mature themselves in the Lord and those kind of leaders will not lead the congregation in the right way because they themseves are not in the right way.  Some leaders have the mentality that it's my way or the highway using their position in a wrong manner without the counsel of God which instructs us in godly living.  Every thing and decision one makes has to be measured by the Word of God.  There is a lot of junk going on that just doesn't coincide with the counsel of God on matters for sure.

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The group I was a part of considered it a sin to believe in Jesus. In their view, believing Jesus is God, is believing a man is god and in another god as there is only One God. So, I was told I was sinning unless I repented. It was a very close group of people. My best friends were members of the group and my family were members of the group.  I was disfellowshipped. I did not repent as they thought I should. Friends have a limited power of persuasion. As does family.

 

Wow so sorry about that Q. That must have been hard. Was this a cult, another religion, or a group that focused on "Oneness" theology (as opposed to the Trinity)?

God bless,

GE

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The way I view Eph. 4:11-14 the passage is talking about equipping church leaders for the purpose of discipleship in ministry.

 

In my view, Eph 4:11-14 is not about equipping church leaders. It is about equipping saints, which would be all Christians.

 

Sorry I don't do KJV too well. It just boggles my mind with old English. Here's the ESV for comparison:

 

Ephesians 4:11-14 (ESV)

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

The KJV uses the term “perfecting”. The Greek implies correcting in all that is deficient, instructing and completing in number and all parts.

Eph. 4:12 (KJV)

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Perhaps I misspoke or didn't clearly communicate what I was trying to say. The passage is referring to church leaders (vs 11) equipping Believers (vs 12). So to equip, correct that which is deficient, instruct, and complete are all things leaders in the Church do for and with the saints. How? Through apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teacher (in other words leaders). Would you agree from that perspective?

I guess that the way I see it anyway. Either way while it's important it's not a savlation issue :thumbsup:

Even the term “the ministry” here in verse 12 can and I believe does mean the office of the ministry – bishops/pastors & elders/deacons.

God bless,

GE

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Does your church body practice this?

 

1 Cor. 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person.

 

2 Thess. 3:14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.

 

 

Back to the topic at hand, I find it interesting that Paul refers to them(the church) as being puffed up(proud) with regard to the matter of blatant sin within the body...and that he is chastising them for not dealing with it in the manner it should have been.  I have to wonder if they were doing like most of the current churches today, in that they are priding themselves on "loving" the sinner, hating the sin", rather than dealing with the sin in the appropriate manner as instructed in the Word.  Here's what Paul said to them:  

 

1 Cor 5:2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

1 Cor. 5:5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.

 

Which goes back to the point of the original set up of the church, where people were to be maturing in the faith and righteousness and sin had a huge affect, if not dealt with.  I find it terribly sad that the church today does not really know how to properly deal with sin anymore.  It shows in our society....the church used to be the salt of the earth and had an affect on society and behavior.  Now it seems as though it enables rather than corrects.

 

In His Love,

Suzanne

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Does your church body practice this?

 

1 Cor. 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person.

 

2 Thess. 3:14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.

 

 

Back to the topic at hand, I find it interesting that Paul refers to them(the church) as being puffed up(proud) with regard to the matter of blatant sin within the body...and that he is chastising them for not dealing with it in the manner it should have been.  I have to wonder if they were doing like most of the current churches today, in that they are priding themselves on "loving" the sinner, hating the sin", rather than dealing with the sin in the appropriate manner as instructed in the Word.  Here's what Paul said to them:  

 

1 Cor 5:2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

1 Cor. 5:5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.

 

Which goes back to the point of the original set up of the church, where people were to be maturing in the faith and righteousness and sin had a huge affect, if not dealt with.  I find it terribly sad that the church today does not really know how to properly deal with sin anymore.  It shows in our society....the church used to be the salt of the earth and had an affect on society and behavior.  Now it seems as though it enables rather than corrects.

 

In His Love,

Suzanne

 

 

I think it was Q who said that often times people (or local church bodies) are either too heavy handed (harsh) or too happy-go-lucky (lenient) in their church discipline. Like anything else the requirement is to follow Scripture.

I think too there’s the issue of people claiming personal convictions or personal preferences as Biblical truth. For example, drinking alcohol or smoking may be considered sin in some circles. Or using a different version of the Bible other than the KJV. Or even wearing “too much” make up, “revealing clothes”, etc.

It's hard to find a balance between being too hard or too lenient and not super-impose our own value system on others. We like being right and we like standing up for what we percieve as truth.

What do you think?

 

God bless,

GE

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