It has been well over two years since my wife and I regularly attended a physical church. We left the church because we were asked to leave following some pretty harsh debates surrounding the New Covenant. We wrangled over the traditional use of 1 John 1:9 and the churches position in teaching the necessity of asking God for ongoing forgiveness. We argued over mixing the Old and the New Covenant saying that we should not be teaching people to work to please God through keeping the 10 commandments. That God’s desire is in fact that we would literally die to the law so that we could truly draw near to Him unhindered by the accusation of sin. And finally, the argument of all arguments; we refused to agree that we could disagree regarding whether or not God’s promise of salvation was final, and yet still remain in fellowship one with another. However, in the end, like I said, we were asked to leave. Followed of course by some good old fashioned character assassination and the accusation of heresy. Believe me, we were more than willing to comply! Hence my struggle with the do-do’s.
Though it’s been over two years since my departure from the physical church, I still find myself mis-applying God’s word in my own life. Allowing myself to be drug back under law, chained to destructive and condemning thought patterns that suggest I am not doing my part by actually forsaking the assembling of myself together with the saints. This is when I have to stop and do some serious preaching to myself. The following is an example of that preaching:
True fellowship is only possible when the life, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is alive through the spirit in those you are attempting to have fellowship with. The apostle Paul makes this very clear in 1 Cor. 1:4-10 which states: I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you are enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement.
There are several key points here surrounding the issue of true fellowship. #1 – It is established by the grace of God and is given to us through Christ Himself. #2 – It is enriched by Him through the power of the Holy Spirit in all utterance and knowledge, confirming the testimony of Christ in us. And finally, it is God’s faithful expression of Himself in us by whom we were called into the fellowship of His Son. It is from this position that Paul pleads with the Corinthian brethren in the name of the Lord Jesus, instructing them to speak the same thing; admonishing them that it’s completely possible to be perfectly joined together having the same mind, so long as their fellowship remains spiritually rooted and grounded in the testimony of Christ. Notice he said perfectly joined together! Which of course means, contrary to popular belief that this is entirely possible. The apostle John explains it this way in 1 John 1:3: Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. The point I am trying to make is this: My wife and I were rarely in true fellowship when we were in the physical church. Rather what we were experiencing were foolish disputes and strivings about the law. Which were unprofitable and useless! And what we did in the end was merely to reject this divisive teaching, realizing that the whole congregation was actually warped and sinning by willingly choosing to remain under law; therefore being self-condemned. Paraphrase Titus 3:9-11
I know this sounds harsh because it even sounds harsh to me, and I’m the one living it. However, we are called to support the gospel which is translated the Good News. I thank my God, who is my power, that even though compelled at times to relent for the sake of pleasing man, in order to avoid persecution; He will not allow me to preach another.
And we have such trust, through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the New Covenant, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.
George L. Miller