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R C Cafe » House Church » Discipline & Conciliation » fellowship and disfellowship
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Author fellowship and disfellowship
D Anderson
      Bristol, TN USA


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at http://www.housechurch.org/ubb_hc/ultimatebb.php/topic/5/10.html

Bruce wrote:
quote:
BTW, whose responsibility is it to "receive into the fellowship of the church"? Is such a thing possible?

Does scripture ever speak of people being received "into fellowship", being "dis-fellowshipped" or "put out of fellowship"? I know such terms are widely used and accepted among most evangelical Christians, but I personally believe that such terms communicate ideas that are foreign to God's Word.

It is my understanding (and please correct me if I am wrong) that all believers are called to the fellowship of Jesus Christ our Lord (I Cor.1:9)

It is also my understanding that if we walk in the light as He is in the light we HAVE fellowship one with another. I John 1:7. However, if we say that we HAVE fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. I John 1:6

What about the Matt 18 process and other places where disfellowshipping occurs? Hopefully it will be temporary.

Matt. 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

2Ths. 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

David Anderson

Bruce Woodford
      Norwich, Ontario, Canada


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Hi David,

Thanks for your reply to my comments on the "trinity" discussion and for moving them here under the heading of "fellowship".

Yes, I'm well aware of the instructions of Matt.18, II Thess.3. To these could also be added the instructions of I Cor.5.

Yes, all of these have to do with how other Christians are to respond to a believer who evidently DOES NOT HAVE fellowship with God. But none of these passages even use the word "fellowship" or "disfellowship". Those concepts have been imported and wrongly associated with the disciplinary actions of: treating a professed believer as an heathen man, not having company with him or not eating with him.

Rather than "withdrawing fellowship", all of these actions are rather the response of other Christians to a man or woman who, because of his/her disobedience to God, no longer HAS fellowship with Him.

Your brother in Christ,
Bruce

D Anderson
      Bristol, TN USA


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To Steve you wrote:

quote:
Contrary to popular opinion, scripture says nothing at all about being "in fellowship" or "out of fellowship" either with God or with any group of saints! This is rather a concept which has been promoted in almost every denomination of Christendom for the purpose of CONTROL! i.e. "IF you are "in fellowship" with us, you are granted certain rights and privileges IN OUR GROUP. But, if you are "out of fellowship" with us, then you are denied certain rights and privileges IN OUR GROUP!
Bruce, if the only one who can disfellowship a person is that person and the consequence is that none can fellowship or disfellowship, why this text in Galatians? Why doesn't it read that Paul gave the right hand of fellowship unto himself?

Gal. 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

I understand what you mean by "control" but I don't (yet) see how everyone cannot but be in or out of fellowship with God (and thus, the saints).

1 Cor. 1:9 God, who has called you INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH HIS SON Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 2 Cor. 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT be with you all. In view of these last two verses, how can you say:

quote:
Contrary to popular opinion, scripture says nothing at all about being "in fellowship" or "out of fellowship" ***either with God*** or with any group of saints!
True, it is ultimately God who alone knows who is in or out of fellowhip. Nevertheless, He is willing to bind in heaven what we bind on earth.

Perhaps the usage of the Greek word for fellowship may help shed some light here. There is more than one word, in fact. One of the words is often translated as "communion."

David Anderson

Bruce Woodford
      Norwich, Ontario, Canada


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Hi David,
You wrote:
"Bruce, if the only one who can disfellowship a person is that person and the consequence is that none can fellowship or disfellowship, why this text in Galatians? Why doesn't it read that Paul gave the right hand of fellowship unto himself?

Gal. 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision."....

Brother, "giving the right hand of fellowship" did not "introduce" Paul and Barnabas "into fellowship" with Peter James and John! Both groups already had fellowship with God as they were obedient to the specific assignments God had given them. The giving of the right hands of fellowship simply acknowledged the fact that the two groups with two different assignments were actually both in fellowship with God and thus with each other. Notice the phrase, "when James, Cephas, and John...PERCEIVED THE GRACE THAT WAS GIVEN UNTO ME". So, it seems to me that the giving of the right hands did not create/commence/initiate the "fellowship" nor did that act bestow any grace. It simply ACKNOWLEDGED that God had already given grace and that fellowship already existed.

This is a whole different "ball game" from the present day "receiving into church fellowship" or "putting away from church fellowship" which I think we have been discussing. In this sort of context, people have been taught that prior to the "act of reception" there is no fellowship and after the act there IS fellowship and all the privileges of the religious organization that go along with it. Similarly, when "disfellowshipping" supposedly takes place, people believe that prior to the "act of disfellowshipping" there IS fellowship and immediately after the act there is NO FELLOWSHIP and no more enjoyment of the privileges of the religious organization from which one was "disfellowshipped"!
It is this kind of concept that I have suggested is absolutely foreign to scripture.


You also wrote:"I understand what you mean by "control" but I don't (yet) see how everyone cannot but be in or out of fellowship with God (and thus, the saints).

1 Cor. 1:9 God, who has called you INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH HIS SON Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 2 Cor. 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT be with you all. In view of these last two verses, how can you say:


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Contrary to popular opinion, scripture says nothing at all about being "in fellowship" or "out of fellowship" ***either with God*** or with any group of saints!"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The preposition "eis" translated "unto" or "into" in I Cor 1:9 is NOT the opposite of "out"! It is a word that indicates "the point reached or entered in time place or purpose". It is the result of motion towards.

But the matter of one being "in" or "out of" fellowship is a matter of opposites and infers that PEOPLE can put OTHER PEOPLE "into" fellowship when they meet certain "fellowship criteria" and that PEOPLE can put OTHER PEOPLE "out of" fellowship when they fail to meet certain "fellowship criteria" established as "membership requirements" by religious organizations! A few examples in the new testament scriptures where the words "in" and "out" are used as opposites are as follows: Matt.15:17 "in" Strong's # 1531 and "out" #1544; II Cor.12:2 "in" #1722 and "out" #1622; II Peter 3:5 "in" #1223 and "out of" #1537; Rev.3:12 "in" #1722 and "out" #1854.

As far as I can tell, such opposites are never used relative to "fellowship". Rather, the writers of scripture use the expression "have fellowship". One can claim to "have fellowship" with God and be telling the truth or their claim is a lie. One can "have fellowship" with God or with demons.

But I have been unable to find any scripture that teaches that people can place other people "into" fellowship or put them "out of" fellowship. Have I missed something that scripture actually teaches in this regard?

Finally, you wrote:"True, it is ultimately God who alone knows who is in or out of fellowhip. Nevertheless, He is willing to bind in heaven what we bind on earth."

Brother, scripture speaks of those who "have fellowship" or "do not have it". But do you actually believe that the "binding" and "loosing" of Matt.16 and 18 has to do with people being brought "into fellowship" or put "out of fellowship" by others???

If such is truly a scriptural concept, I am willing to be taught, to change my thinking and to retract what I have stated above.

Your brother, also "in process" on the Potter's wheel,
Bruce

D Anderson
      Bristol, TN USA


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quote:
Brother, scripture speaks of those who "have fellowship" or "do not have it". But do you actually believe that the "binding" and "loosing" of Matt.16 and 18 has to do with people being brought "into fellowship" or put "out of fellowship" by others???
Yes, I actually believe that disfellowshipping is the issue here as it perfectly fits the context. Commentaries, though not a final proof, say the same. They rarely agree on much. LOL.

In disfellowshipping from the unrepentent, God in heaven ratifies that very process on earth, which He was already aware of, knowing all things. By two or more witnesses, things are established. Things which were all in the past tense to Him.

Can you show another writer who might verify your words to Steve:

quote:
Contrary to popular opinion, scripture says nothing at all about being "in fellowship" or "out of fellowship" either with God or with any group of saints!
If so, perhaps I'll better understand what you mean, brother. So far, I am not able to. It may well be that everyone, including me, is mistaken.

quote:
But I have been unable to find any scripture that teaches that people can place other people "into" fellowship or put them "out of" fellowship. Have I missed something that scripture actually teaches in this regard?
If Jesus commands me to treat certain people "as heathen and a publicans," he is telling me to volitionally disfellowship (or have no fellowship with them), is he not? The fact that the exact words or phrases are absent means little or nothing as the original words were in Greek and there exists no *inspired* translation for their modern English meanings. In other words, whether or not the exact word(s) for fellowship is/are used or not, the concept of disfellowshipping is there.

D Anderson

JeffL
      Virginia U.S.A.


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We mustn't think of disfellowship in such negative terms. Just as God's curse upon the earth was to be a blessing to fallen man, so too this act of disfellowship was to be a blessing.

Notice Paul's counsel:

"...To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

I believe he is talking about waking a person up. Shaking him up. Letting him know the direction his path is tending. He delivers him to Satan when he rejects him as part of the body of Christ. If the man is wise he will repent and turn from his ways and experience a new birth--destruction of the flesh. Then, and only then, can this man hope to have salvation through Jesus. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

If a person walks contrary to God's will and refuses to accept correction from the church (body) then it would not bring glory to God to allow that person to act in any manner as a representative of God's church (body) or to be called by Christ's name. Nor would it be beneficial or loving to that person to allow him/her to continue to think their walk was right with God when their way would end in destruction. So the act of disfellowship is a blessing to all concerned. Certainly, one can be rejoined to the body when the flesh has been put to death.

It is a difficult thing to confront someone and rebuke them, but to allow a person to continue down the road to destruction is no less murder than if you killed them yourself. At first you will be perceived as an enemy. But if the person repents then they will regard you as a true friend and realize that your actions were motivated by love for their sole and not simply a sentimental love which tends toward disinterest.

--------------------
"Iniquitas mentita est sibi"

Gail Redman
      London, Ontario


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Hello everyone. So in going back this time and reading the above answers , would the answers basically mean that THE church would ONLY put out the unbelievers not the saints? thankyou
   

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