THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 11-27-05
LESSON TITLE: "WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT FELLOWSHIP? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF WITHHOLDING FELLOWSHIP?"
Hear the words of God in Psalm 111:10, there David said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom." Do you respect your God this day with a healthy fear, which causes you to obey His commandments and to remain faithful to His promises?
Thanks for joining us this Lord's day for the study of God's Living Word. How blessed we are today to be able to enjoy such opportunities and freedoms, that allow all to offer such times of sacrifice before His wondrous throne. I hope we all do our part this Lord's day, in participating in this worship toward God and in doing all things in accordance to His Perfect Will!
So, At this time, as we turn our full attention to the reason we have come together, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer:
Now let's begin praising our God through song. Won't you join with the congregation at this time as we sing together a hymn that reminds us of the great power found in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. The name of the song, "Are You Washed In The Blood?"
(SONG # 1)
So why did David say that the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?" Think for a moment about who God is! God created the Heavens and the Earth by simply speaking a word. God made all of this earth's creation including those things which were given the breath of life. And consider man, which God formed from the dust of the ground. Oh, what a powerful, magnificent and glorious God we serve!
Now consider that we are commanded to serve such an awesome and mighty God, who has not only power over these things, but over our very existence and life. With this in mind again remember the words of David, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom." How could we not fear and respect such a God as this. Furthermore, how could we not obey Him and follow His commandments knowing just how powerful He truly is.
I would like to end with a verse found in Matthew 10:28, where Jesus said, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." How silly we are in this life to be afraid of this world or our fellow man. For the things of this world only have power over the flesh. God on the other hand has not only power over the flesh, but complete power over our souls as well. It is God alone who determines our eternal destiny's, as to whether we will have eternal life with Him in Heaven or receive eternal punishment in Hell. May we all be wise enough to "fear God and keep His commandment," just as Solomon said!
In just a few minutes it will be time to begin our main study of the day. Our topic of study will again focus on series entitled, "What the Bible Teaches About Fellowship." Our specific lesson of the morning will answer the question, "What Is The Purpose Of Withholding Fellowship?"
As far as our speaker, we are happy to again have brother Adam Orr with us. As you might remember, brother Adam is the minister for the Fordland Church Of Christ, just down the road in Fordland, Missouri. We thank brother Orr for being with us and at the appropriate time he will be leading us in our main study of the day.v
But now it's time to join together in our next song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "Bring Christ Your Broken Life."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Adam Orr
Good morning. I'm thankful once again to have this opportunity to speak to you, and I'm very thankful that you've taken this time to be with us on this Lord's day morning. I'm also thankful for the current series that we're going through on this great program, and that is speaking of fellowship, the fellowship which the Bible speaks of that not only we have with God and with our fellow man, but also the fellowship we share with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As brother Ray has told us, the question of the morning is: "What is the purpose of withholding our fellowship?" I want to make it very clear from the outset that what we are talking about when fellowship was withdrawn, we do not see in the scriptures that this is done in envy or out of revenge or done out of any unkind action. Withholding fellowship has one goal and that one goal is to save a soul from being lost in an eternal Hell. You see friends, we are here on this earth to serve and to serve Him only, and what better way can we show our love to God and our service to Him than by treating our fellow man as He has commanded us to do so?
Brother Andy Heavin two weeks ago pointed out for us those with whom we should have no fellowship. So the question then of the morning is: If we are not to have fellowship with certain individuals, what is the purpose of withholding that fellowship? How do we go about doing that?
I want to begin this morning by looking at the words of our Lord in Matthew chapter 18 verses 15-17. Look there at what Jesus had to say. Jesus says, "Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established, and if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be like a heathen and a tax collector to you." You see friends, about who are we talking about here? Obviously Jesus is speaking about an individual who has taken himself from his fold and gone off into sin. They are erring. They are in a lost condition at this state. So what does Jesus say? We should let them go? Does He say that we should no longer should care about them or maybe we should just go and talk about it behind their back? No. He says to go to your brother and talk to them about the sin that has overtaken them. Have enough love for your brother to go to him and to show him what he is doing wrong. Ask him to repent. Jesus gives us the goal. He says, "If you go to your brother and if he turns from that sin..." What does He say? "...you have gained your brother." You've turned him from his sin. He is no longer in that lost state. You've done what He has commanded you to do. That's what our goal needs to be. That's what we need to be about.
Look at what the apostle Paul told the church in 1 Corinthians chapter 5. In 1 Corinthians chapter 5 again he is speaking to the church. He's speaking to Christians. Look at the situation there in verses 1-8. Paul says, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles- that a man has his father's wife. You are puffed up and would not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Paul says) when you are gathered together along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh..." Why? "...that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." "Your glorying is not good," Paul says. "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" Paul says in verse 7, "Therefore purge out the old leaven that you may be a new lump since you truly are unleavened, for indeed Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us." And we'll stop right there. Here, Paul is seeing the responsibility that the church has in this matter. Here's one who obviously is living in sin. He is living with his father's wife and everybody knows about it. But what are they doing? They're sitting there watching it. They're doing nothing about it. Paul says, "You have a responsibility. You have a duty. Do not glory in this. Do something about it." Paul explains to them what their action needed to be. He says, "Deliver such a one to Satan in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by His authority." You have the authority of Christ to put away that brother, to withhold your fellowship from that individual. This now shows that he was in control of Satan. He had taken himself from God and had put himself from Satan and it needed to be pointed to him that he had done such. He needed to understand that he was living in sin. And this was done by withholding fellowship, by withdrawing themselves from him, and this was made to hope that he would realize his condition and perhaps, good people, that would lead him to repent. That's the goal. You see, you do it out of love. The goal is stated there in verse 5, "Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh." Why Paul? He says there in verse 5, "that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
Why are you putting him away? Why are you withholding your fellowship from that individual? So that his soul may one day be saved.
If you do nothing about it, if you don't show him the sin that he is living in, he may not know it, but you can bring it to his attention, and if he is unwilling to repent, you withhold yourself from him, you withhold your fellowship that he might be ashamed, that he might one day come to repentance.
Paul then goes on further to show us why this action must be taken as he says to the church that their toleration of that sin is not good. Well, why is the toleration not good, Paul? Because he says, "Don't you know that once you tolerate it, once that enters the church, that it's going to spread. It's going to go further. It's going to infect the body. If you don't cut if off when it has begun, it's going to kill the body eventually. You've got to purge that leaven. You've got to purge out the lump so that the whole lump is not infected."
"Brethren, we are to be whole of truth and sincerity," he said. "We are to have pure minds. We are not to be contaminated by things that are allowed to be brought in." That is the goal of withholding fellowship. That's why we must practice church discipline that the whole lump may not be infected by that which is improper.
Look with me over at another passage that Paul talks about this in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 as he was ending this letter, look what he says again. He's speaking to Christians. Look what he says. In verses 14 and 15, "And if anyone does not obey our word and this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him that He may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." Paul says to these Christians to note that person who is not obeying what He has written. Note that person. Well Paul, don't you know that that's going to hurt his feelings? Paul, don't you know that that can be difficult and put me in a bad situation and that guy may not look at me the same anymore? Paul says, "Note that person." Literally, he's saying to put a mark on that person. Tag that person. Why? Because if that person is not marked, if that person is not dealt with, then he is going to infect the whole church. Mark that person. Withhold yourself from him. So what does that mean? You treat him as an enemy? Paul says no. You don't treat him as an enemy. You don't treat him as one out of hate. You show love to him as a brother. You have your arms open for him. You want to accept him in. You can't condone what he's doing, but you let him know that you love him and you let him know of the error that he finds himself in. Brethren, he is in a lost condition if he is in sin. He is taking himself from fellowship with God and he's joined himself to Satan and it is up to us, it's up to the faithful, those who know what fellowship with God is, it's up to those to go to that brother or sister and tell them of the sin that they find themselves in and to bring them back that their soul might be saved. Don't condone the error, but have your arms open for them.
I want to look in Luke chapter 15 at a very familiar, perhaps a parable that Jesus has put forth for us. In Luke chapter 15, you see the parable of the lost son. We see here, I believe, speaking of an erring Christian. We see exactly this boy who is in his safe zone. He is in his father's house. He is living as his father would want him to live. He one day makes up his own mind, "I want to go out and live as the world. Father, give me my inheritance and let me go." His father does so and his son leaves and he goes and he joins himself with people of the world. He goes out and he lives it up as you might say. He goes out and he does what he wants to do with whoever he wants to do it. But what happens? He eventually spends all of his father's inheritance. He spends it all. And what does he find himself in? He finds himself in a land of famine and he finds himself in a hog pen feeding hogs and having to imagine and look back home at what his father's were living in. Well, I remember what my father's servants had, how they weren't hungry. They had everything that they needed and they were happy, and look at me. Here I am in this hog pen. I have found myself in a lost condition. He came to his senses, didn't he? He understood what he needed to do. He knew that he was lost and he knew that he had a responsibility to repent, to go back to his father's home, to tell his father that he had done wrong and to join himself once again.
That's the responsibility of the sinner, isn't it? They must make up their own minds to return, to get out of the lifestyle that they're living in, in that sin, and return and come back to God. That's a decision they have to make.
But what is our responsibility as faithful brothers and sisters in Christ? Our responsibility is seen in the Father. Do we see the father going with the son into the world and condoning the things that he did? No. We don't see the father condoning it. But what do we see the father doing? He is standing there with open arms saying, "Son, I love you. I'm waiting for your return. I want you to come back." That's what we need to be. We're not an enemy. We're not talking about how much we hate that individual, but rather we love that individual and we want them to return to the fold. We want to be like that father, waiting for them, always talking to them and showing again that what they're doing is wrong and be there when they return because we see the wrong attitude following there by the older brother in verses 25-32. What was his attitude? He said, "That sorry individual. That sorry brother of mine. He's home and I don't like it. Look at all this special treatment that he's getting. I don't like that he's receiving it." That cannot be our attitude.
Our of love brethren, we show love to those who are lost and to those who are coming back. You see, withdrawing fellowship is done with one goal and again that goal is saving that soul from being lost. They are in a lost condition and we go to them and we express to them of the sin that they are living in and if they are unwilling to repent, we cannot condone what they are in, but rather out of love, we show them what they are doing is wrong and we try to bring them back. We must be doing that in order to save. Again, it's not out of revenge. It's not done to destroy somebody's faith. It's not done to demonstrate some kind of power. It's done in love by the authority of Christ.
I want to end this morning by reading in James chapter 5, reading here what James had to say. This is a beautiful passage. I want you to understand what he is saying. James chapter 5 verses 19-20. "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way, will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." That's our responsibility. Go to that erring brother. Try to bring them back. Do everything you can. But a part of what you must do is withdraw yourself from them, withdraw your fellowship from them that the Bible says that they might even be ashamed and that being ashamed might bring them back. Our Lord and His infinite wisdom understood that this was an effective way to save those who are lost. An effective way to reach those who have joined themselves with Satan. It was an effective way to bring them back. Now are you going to practice it? Are you going to do what you need to do? If you're not obeying the Lord's commands, I ask you, why aren't you? Why don't you simply do what He has to say, because good people, may we all strive to do all that we can, to help as many as we can get to Heaven.
(SONG # 3 - "Because He Lives!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today. No doubt our time spent together has been uplifting to us and acceptable to our God. We invite you to join us every First day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of offering before God!
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What a blessed opportunity we have to practice the discipline which God commands, that we might show our love one for another and save an erring soul from depths of Hell!