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Pastoral 2012

Pursue Godly Fellowship

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The Scriptures exhort believers to congregate for mutual edification. Sadly, today many Christians forsake the assembly of the saints to pursue friendship with the world.

Hebrew 10:23-25 demands that Christians who look forward to Christ’s return must resist the world and yield themselves to godly fellowship. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

In the above text, we are told how we must pursue godly fellowship.

Foundation of fellowship: Faith in Christ

A foundation is a natural or prepared ground or base on which a structure rests. It is the beginnings or first principals of a system of truth. To begin with, we must pursue fellowship which has its foundation in our faith in Christ Jesus.

Verse 23 says, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).” Here, the author calls on Christians to be committed to the same profession of faith, without wavering, as the apostles did. He insists that believers should not wander from the faith that the apostles had preached to them.

The word “profession” comes from the Greek word homologia, and it is made up of two words: homou which means “same” and logos which means “word”, “confession” or “statement of faith”. It indicates that Christians must be united in all the doctrines and practice. They should uphold their biblical faith.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, the apostle Paul communicates the same message, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” God’s Word must be the foundation of our faith and we should never deviate from the truths taught by the apostles. It is every Christian’s duty to stand firmly on the foundation of God’s Word. If anyone introduces a doctrine that is inconsistent with what the apostles had taught in the Bible, we must not have fellowship with such a person. Therefore, in order to have godly fellowship, we must hold fast to our biblical faith.

Our faith must be fully fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ so that we may have a firm foundation for our fellowship. We must fully trust Christ, “for he is faithful that promised” (v. 23b). Christ who promises eternal life is faithful. He cannot lie. We read in Numbers 23:19 that “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” He is faithful who has given you this promise of eternal life. So hold fast to this foundation.

Thus, a person who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ, and hears and does what He says, builds his life on a strong foundation just like a house that is built on the rock. When trouble comes, his life cannot be shaken.

Extensions of fellowship

He who builds his foundation upon the Lord Jesus Christ will also focus his attention on having godly fellowship with like-minded brethren. We are told in Hebrews 10:24, 25: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

In fact, Hebrews 10:24-25 is a classic passage which encourages Christians to extend fellowship to other saints. We are advised not to forsake the gathering of the saints. Assembling of saints gives us the strength to persevere in our faith. It also strengthens believers to stand against temptations that will destroy them. Moreover, it will help us to prepare for Christ’s return.

Firstly, we must extend fellowship to encourage and exhort. The word “consider” in verse 24 denotes the idea of one who is constantly thinking or exercising his mind. Believers should consider how they should stir up fellow brethren to study the Word of God and to serve Him. The word “provoke” means to arouse, excite or call into action. So the counsel is that Christians must excite one another to manifest God’s love through good works. They must not disengage from one another, but join forces with fellow believers to do the work of God enthusiastically, seeking every opportunity to encourage and edify believers.

As Christians, we are called to abound in the work of the Lord. Therefore, we should neither fear nor hesitate but rejoice and be exceeding glad for every opportunity to participate in the fellowship groups. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).

Secondly, we must persevere to maintain our participation in fellowship. We are exhorted in verse 25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more…” The word “forsaking” in Hebrews 10:25 has a strong connotation of deserting. We should not desert the fellowship activities for other affairs. The word “assembling” refers to gathering for Christian worship, fellowship, Bible study, etc. We are urged by the apostle Paul to come together continually for various assembling that our churches provide.

Sadly, today many Christians are under the strong grip of the world. They may attend church service on Sunday and listen to God’s Word. Nonetheless, they succumb to various trials and temptations during the week, which restrain them from participating in wonderful Christian meetings. The devil is smart and subtle and will try to lure believers away from God’s Word by distracting them from fellowship groups. How sad it is that many Christians are pursuing worldly pleasures!

Dear Christians, we are living in an evil and hostile world and so we must resist it. We are often ambushed and assaulted by temptations. We must strive to overcome worldly allurement and join the fellowship of saints to prepare for our Lord’s coming.

Here is an illustration by Alan Perkins, explaining the importance of godly fellowship:

“When a person runs a race, what do you see besides runners and race officials? You see aid stations where volunteers pass out cups of cold water. You see emergency medical technicians ready to give assistance to those overcome by heat or exhaustion. But most of all, you see hundreds or thousands of spectators lining the route. They are waving and cheering and shouting out encouragement. ‘You can make it!’ ‘Don’t give up!’ ‘Keep going!’ ‘You’re almost there!’”

The only distinction between an earthly race and a Christian one is that none of us are spectators or bystanders; we are all runners. While we are running, we are also helping one another to run and finish the race. That is how our fellowship ought to be extended.

 

 

Pastoral Exhortation