“All I want is what’s coming to me!”
Henry was being obnoxiously persistent in the church business meeting. Finally, in exasperation he blurted out that statement.
An elderly sister in the pew behind him said softly, “Sit down, Henry. If you got what was coming to you, you’d be in hell.”
Henry was demanding justice; Henry needed mercy.
This week driving down Interstate 55 below Jackson, Mississippi, I kept noticing bits and pieces of pink insulation batting everywhere.
After a few miles, we came upon two 18-wheelers pulling halves of a large mobile home. One of the units was shedding, littering the highway. Bits and pieces of the trailer were flying from the open top and being strewn across the countryside.
I dialed “*HP” for the Mississippi Highway Patrol and reported the offender. The dispatcher assured me they would jump right on the matter.
They never showed up.
I was wanting justice. I wanted the cops to pull these drivers over, read them the riot act for the careless way they had secured the mobile home and for littering the countryside, and if they didn’t issue tickets, at least force them to tie everything down.
I suspect this is the way it is with most of us. I want justice to be done when it involves other people. But for myself, mercy is a better choice.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers…. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people (Acts 2:42-47).
When a church of 120 members set out to assimilate 3,000 new additions into the life of the congregation, they ranked “fellowship” toward the top of the list as a critical step in accomplishing the task.
Koinonia is the Greek word. Literally, it refers to a sharing of life, or a partnership, which doesn’t tell us a lot about what it meant in the follow-up program in the early church. So, in the absence of anything definitive from Scripture on the precise meaning of the term, I submit for your consideration my own definition: Hanging out.
The “fellowship” quotient of a church–whether the members love the Lord and one another–is one of the most telling features of a congregation, one of the most dependable indicators of the health of the church, and one of the best predictors of its future usefulness in the Kingdom.
Here are 10 aspects of the fellowship of your church worth carving in stone, or better, engraving on the hearts of your leadership and membership.
“It is finished.”
False Assumptions because of the Cross
Ever wonder how “people of the book” can get so far away from God? Ever struggle with church members that cling to the old rugged cross to proclaim their forgiveness for continuing in their rebellious ways? The greatest truth in all of Scripture is that because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross eternal life has been obtained for all who believe in Him as the Son of God (John 20:31; Hebrews 9:12). No one can do anything to add to the finished work of Christ’s sacrificial death (John 19:30).
Unfortunately with this great truth comes great distortion. Some who have claimed faith in Jesus do little to nothing to develop their spiritual lives. They grow lazy and fat in their souls. The idea of spiritual exercise is repugnant to them. They have become pew potatoes and have no desire to lift a single finger for the kingdom. When you dare ask these individuals about their spiritual life they claim their faith in Jesus as proof of God’s approval of them, sing a couple verses of “There’s Power in the Blood,” and go back to their worldly, spiritually apathetic lives.
Of course, today’s generation is not the first to misapply the message of God’s grace and love for the sake of worldly pleasure. The Apostle Paul constantly battled against those that misapplied his gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. In Romans, he builds his case against those that claim his teachings lead to lawlessness and increase in sin. In Galatians, he strongly defends justification by faith alone and then follows it up with the fruit of the Spirit for guidelines on how to live out faith.
Over the next four articles I will identify 4 false implications or misapplications of the death of Christ and offer a contrasting alternative that leads to the abundant life and the eternal impact God desires for followers of Christ. Conscious or not, those living by these false implications are in danger of trampling “underfoot the Son of God” and insulting the “Spirit of grace (Heb 10:28).”
Dr. Steve Gaines, Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, explains the stance that he and other Memphis pastors believe about the Biblical definition of marriage in regard to gay marriage. Watch this video:
SBC Today: What do you think are the greatest challenges confronting the SBC?
Ken Keathley: For all the changes the SBC and the nation are experiencing, the greatest challenge is still the same: reaching the lost with the gospel. We are not a denomination in the traditional sense of the word. The SBC and its entities exist for the sole purpose of enabling Baptist churches to collectively obey the Great Commission. People without Christ are lost. They are not simply prospects. They are persons for whom Christ died.
SBC Today: What do you see as the greatest opportunities opening to the SBC?
Ken Keathley: We are quickly losing the cultural comfort of being the largest religious group in the Bible Belt. The social environment of the nation as a whole is becoming much less friendly to the Gospel and scriptural norms. However, I believe this is also a time of opportunity. During the 20th century, cultural dominance in the rural south caused Southern Baptists to be rather careless in a number of crucial areas. We became shallow theologically and sloppy methodologically. The distressing direction that America is headed in is now forcing us to walk against the grain. But that means we have the opportunity to present Christ in a clear and definitive way. Society as a whole is rejecting our Christian heritage, but I can’t think of a better time to do one-on-one evangelism.