This post was originally written in response to another post that singled out my blog, then titled "Confessions of an Unchurched Believer" by stating that church was integral to one's walk providing fellowship and accountability. I have updated this post, which is still read by many readers. An asterisk precedes updates and changes. As always respectful comments are welcome :) - Hannah, April 24, 2010
I want to clearly state that I am not against church attending and any kind of fellowship that automatically comes with it. When one is a Believer of the most high, one automatically has a desire to dwell amongst and offer praise, with lifting of hands and voices to their Savior with LIKE-MINDED brothers and sisters as a part of the body of Christ.
What has been continually neglected, whitewashed or glossed over is that church today and church yesterday is NOT the church Christ established so long ago (as demonstrated in the beginning of the book of Acts, the POWER of the Holy Spirit). There are vast multitudes of churches that profess themselves Christ-minded, yet do not adhere and have taken leave of the principles established by the Author of the Church.
For the past 13 years I have sought, attended, been a member of several churches. I have spent one to two years or more at each church (not including the time spent looking for churches) only to discover the Word being watered down or politics taking precedence to the integrity of the Word.
All the while, my husband and I would have the most life altering, spirit filled bible learning sessions. The unity of our spirits feeding off of each other and growing in the knowledge of the scripture, in the strength of our walk in Him. Reading the Word in its wholesomeness (chapters and books of the Word from beginning to end, within the context of the scripture) we would take home sermon notes and compare it to the Word. And almost always, the pastor's sermon notes would not even be close to what the Word was saying. It always seemed, that we were at odds with, or had a "different" understanding than other church members who seemed to replace full bible study with a Sunday sermon or a book written by a Christian author.
Listen to what Paul says in the first book of Corinthians 1:10-12
I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement.
For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.Can we stand in the midst of varying denominations and splinter churches who profess Christianity as their practice and belief and say this scripture is not relevant or even applicable to these times???
Now bear with me, I actually have a point in repeating myself for the umpteenth time. I don't think any church attending or non church attending believer can deny that there are divisions (verse 12) and, dare I say contentions, within the body. Can any one deny the warnings prevalent and urgent in the Word are not applicable or even relevant towards Christianity as a whole today? 2Peter 2:1, Titus 1:16, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 1 John 2:18-19, Jude
If this (referring to the above point) is true of the modern church, how can there be fellowship if there is no unity? How can there be accountability if there is no likeness of mind? Acts 4:32, Acts 2:44
Must I compromise the integrity of fellowship for the sake of fellowshipping? So where do I go for fellowship in this day and age of the Church? Where do I go for accountability?
This point simply cannot be glossed over. We as believers, cannot afford to continue to sit in blindness towards the condition of the Church today! Please read the 4th chapter of Ephesians:
vs.4 - There is one body, one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.
vs.5 - One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
vs.6 - One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
(I challenge to you to read the whole chapter of Ephesians 4, but please take special notice to verse 14)
vs.14 - That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Again I ask, where does one go for fellowship in these times? And in my thirteen years of church searching and attending, for the purpose of fellowship and unity, I finally understood something life changing.
1Corinthians 1:9 "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
I must seek and desire fellowship with Him FIRST. That was when I stopped searching. The church Jesus established and defined was FIRST and FOREMOST SPIRITUAL, aided by the physical gathering of like-minded, Believers, in unity and having "all things common". (Please see my post "Purposefully Unchurched" for relevant scripture) Please read Isaiah 66:4.
Before we can consider lending other brethren in Christ our services of "accountability", we MUST take account for the fact that we are reading, meditating upon the unaltered Word of God under the power of the Holy Spirit.
- If we, as brethren, are not FIRST established in the stronghold of the Word and in confidence of our Fellowship with Him, then we are in fact a source of ineffectual counsel.
- If we do not, FIRST take the responsibility to read and meditate upon the Word under the power of the Holy Spirit, we are defenseless against the "wind of doctrine" in which we face.
- Even more, we are ineffectual to hold the pulpit accountable for what comes from it. Ephesians 4:16
*In stating all this, it is clear we are accountable to no man or organized church, but to the Holy and Righteous God as He will hold us in account.
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:11-12And rightfully so, after all He sent His only begotten Son to die for our Sins. Even more by our acceptance of this in our hearts, by faith, be are given the Holy Spirit, by which we are taught, and led of Him. Why would we look for physical ways and means to be "held" accountable? Is that not an outright rejection of Christ's blood sacrifice?
Means of Accountability and Fellowship
Sin originates from the heart and mind of a person and typically translates itself in the form of a behavior and attitude. "...for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh..." Luke 6:44-46, Romans 14:23 says "...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23 must be read in light of the context of the whole chapter) Romans 7:24-25 How does one hold another accountable, the affairs of the heart and mind?
The Holy Spirit means access to the Most High in this day and age of confusion of doctrines.
- The Holy Spirit means Fellowship with the One who Loves you beyond measure.
- The Holy Spirit means a peace that He gives, not as the world gives.
*Placing one fallible being in accountability to/of another, is to place one in judgement of/under the other. (This is reputation that the church has gained towards them that believe not). Continuing with Romans 14:13
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.Requiring a physical means of accountableness, i.e. church attendance, church group is a stumbling block. By the Word of the Living God, we are to owe no man nothing....but to love one another...for so doing, we fulfill ALL the law.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. - Romans 13:8To require accountability in physical terms is to miss the point of reconciliation with HIM, a direct means of access to HIM, where there is communion, peace and accountability. Ephesians 2:18 We as a body of like-minded believers are to support and encourage one another by the commandment of LOVE. Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18
Let me be clear. Fellowship IS necessary! Fellowship with HIM in spirit and in truth is the breath of life to all who are His. (How did Paul survive the lack of physical fellowship when he was shipwrecked or imprisoned? Read any of his epistles. Recognize the life-sustaining fellowship he had with Him)
And if you are blessed to find like-minded believers to fellowship with in deed and in truth, it is the provision of the Lord! For we walk by faith, not by sight! 2Corinthians 5:7 I want to say to all who desire fellowship with like-minded believers, in unity of the Word, in deed and in truth... who find themselves lonely for the lack thereof, lift up your heads and continue confidently in your fellowship in Him, that your JOY MAY BE FULL!
I will always, lift up and promote the Word of God and not the traditions of man.
Update: April 24, 2010
There is only ONE church to which every Believer must be a member of, that is the Spiritual Body of Christ. Without the Holy Spirit, there can be no church.
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Christ had made this declaration to Peter that He would build His church upon "this rock". This scripture, out of it's context, quoted oft by various denominations is generally thought to mean that Peter was the rock of which the Church will be built. Within it's context, within the communication between Christ and Peter (and the disciples), it is clear that it's not Peter of which Christ speaks, but the Holy Spirit...
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.The questions that Christ posed to the disciples were indeed purposeful with intention. He posed the questions to the disciples at large, but Peter was the one who declared Him "the Son of the living God". Christ in all of His glory knew that knowledge was only revealed by the Father, the Holy Spirit. And it is this rock His Church is built upon.
Without the Holy Spirit, there can be no Church, for what the Holy Spirit does is unify the body, in knowledge of Him, by faith. Ephesians 4:3-4 It is what the gates of hell cannot prevail against...by the looks of today's divided, systematic church system the gates of hell has prevailed....and if that is true, it must be shifting sand by which it is built and not the Rock, the Spirit of the Living God, declared by Christ.
I worship a Holy and Righteous God who does not lie. Matthew 16:13-18
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