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2. The challenge of fellowshipping in the Lord’s community. (Ephesians 5:19, 21) “. . . speaking to one another in psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs” and “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Regrettably, much of what passes for fellowship has nothing to do with the Word of God or the fear of God. Dr. Jim Phillips writes, “Most churches have reduced fellowship to mean cold drinks and cookies in the social hall. If you go on a picnic, that’s fellowship. If you laugh, sing, slap back, tell stories, that’s fellowship. But is it? Of course, these things are fine and in some way related to fellowship, but there’s nothing distinctively Christian about them.
What is biblical fellowship? The answer to that question is given in the ‘one another’ statements in the Bible. More than fifty of these statements command, illustrate, and detail biblical fellowship. These statements can be divided into four categories: (1) supportive, (2) confrontive, (3) preventive, and (4) prohibitive.”[i]
Evangelist and Bible teacher, Joe Nieboer, writes, “Submission to others is contrary to the nature of man. Very early in life children manifest a desire to do their own will. Yet a great part of Christian life is submission to authority. . . . We should at least respect one another’s judgment and seek to follow it, if at all possible. If a number of the Lord’s people pass judgment on a certain matter, unless we can prove them to be positively unscriptural, we would be wise to submit to them. Sometimes one man can obstruct real progress in the work of the Lord.”[ii] Neiboer explains, “When we submit one to another we bring honor to His name. If in pride we insist on our own way and quarrel rather than submit, we bring dishonor to Him.”[iii]
Have you ever seen the “one another” passages in the Bible? Here is a sampling:
Mark 9:50 reads, “. . . have peace with one another.”
John 13:34 reads, “. . . love one another. . .”
Romans 12:10 reads, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
Romans 12:16 reads, “Be of the same mind toward one another. . .”
Romans 15:7 reads, “. . . therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”
Romans 15:14 reads, “. . . admonish one another. . .”
1 Corinthians 12:25 reads, “. . . that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.”
Galatians 5:13 reads, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Galatians 5:15 reads, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”
Galatians 5:26 reads, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Galatians 6:2 reads, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:2 reads, “. . . bearing with one another in love. . .”
Ephesians 4:32 reads, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Colossians 3:9 reads, “Do not lie to one another.”
Colossians 3:13 reads, “. . . bearing with one another, and forgiving one another.”
1 Thessalonians 4:18 reads, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 reads, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another. . .”
Hebrews 3:13 reads, “. . . exhort one another daily. . .”
Hebrews 10:24 reads, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”
Hebrews 10:25 reads, “. . . exhorting one another. . .”
James 4:11 reads, “Do not speak evil of one another. . .”
1 Peter 3:8 reads, “. . . having compassion for one another. . .”
1 Peter 4:9 reads, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”
1 Peter 4:10 reads, “. . . minister it to one another. . .” (Emphasis Mine)
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9b), which reveals our relationship with those who are related to God the Father through salvation. On other occasions Jesus referred to God as “My Father” and “Your Father” (John 5:17-18 and 20:17).
Part Three Coming Soon!
[i]Jim Phillips, One Another: How the One-another Principles of the Bible Can Transform a Church (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1981), 9.
[ii]J. Nieboer, One Another or How to Get Along with Other Christians (Erie, PA: Our Daily Walk Publishers, 1953), 113-115.
[iii]Nieboer, One, 116.