2018-01-17 / Community

Joining the church, Part 2

Discussions. Conversations. Debates. Confrontations. Arguments. Disagreements. Division.

Reflection on church history reveals that believers don’t get along very well sometimes. In fact, history in general reveals that men just don’t get along period! This isn’t anything new. In the beginning jealousy raged in the sons of Adam and Eve between Cain and Abel. Abel ended up being murdered by Cain. Jealousy was not and never will be God’s way. Nor will hatred, envy, or strife.

God created a world that would work for everyone. In the garden He walked and talked with Adam and Eve. It was a beautiful place. God gave Adam and Eve one thing they were not supposed to do. Just one. They were not to eat or touch the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God told them they would die if they did. When the serpent came and tempted Eve, doubts about what God said clouded her thinking, and she chose to believe his lies. You know what happened.

Holsinger Holsinger Underneath every challenge and perplexity is a very simple question. Do I believe what God says or will I listen and respond to the doubt masquerading as truths that appeal to my senses?

Do I believe what God says? What is God saying? The question Pilate asked over 2,000 years ago is still relevant today. He asked, “What is Truth?”

Down through the ages men and women have been attempting to answer that question.

Down through the ages wars have been waged because of Truth.

Down through the ages the quest for Truth has not stopped.

The Bible says that when we know the Truth it will set us free.

Perhaps it would interest you to know what inspired this article.

One of my readers questioned me about the way I use certain words. They wanted to know if I thought there was a difference between the word “church” and the word “fellowship.”

Yes, I think there is a difference. Last week’s article gave a glimpse of what I grew up thinking about “the church.” I did not understand that “the church” is people! I did not understand that “the church” includes a whole lot more people than the people I went to church with! I did not understand that there were other “churches so called” that were following Jesus and keeping His commandments. The church I was in was “the church” and there was no other way.

Believe it or not this subject is a little hard to write about because it exposes me and the many lies I have believed. It’s not the first time an article has been hard to write. I imagine it won’t be the last either! Now why does that even matter? It matters because of pride. How disgusting is that? Dear Lord, I repent of my pride. I repent of my arrogance. I want to be more like You. Teach me more of Your way Holy Father. Open my eyes that I might see more of You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

I can still remember quite vividly when the discussions began about who we make our vows to when we “join the church.” Some thought and brethren taught you make your vows to “the church,” referring to the fellowship or “the church” I was in. When you leave “the church (fellowship)” you break the vows you made in the same way you would if you divorced your wife. (on a side note here: “The church (believing people)” is the Bride of Christ. “The church” is getting ready for a wedding when the Lord shall come to claim His Bride for all eternity!) Others thought your baptismal vows were made to God. Still others thought the vows were made to both the church and to God.

Many felt very threatened by ensuing conversations about who you made your vows to. Some said the reason behind the discussion in the first place was that before you could leave “the church (fellowship)” you had to believe you made your vows to God only. This seemed to be heresy and was an alarming thought and teaching to believe you made your baptismal vows to God only.

I remember Council meetings as a young girl when members left “the church.” It was a big deal. At that time I believed these people were not only leaving “the church (fellowship)” but they were leaving the Lord, too. It made me very sad. Dear Lord, forgive me. I did not understand!

The Truth of God’s Word continued to speak to my heart. What were the vows I made when I “joined the church (the people of God)?” Who did I make them to?

After much searching in God’s Word I had to conclude I made them to both; to God and to “the church (the people of God).” I vowed to make Matthew 18 the rule of my life concerning the relationships I have with other believers. I agreed to the order of “the church (other believers)” in the matters of nonconformity, nonresistance, and nonswearing. As I knelt in the water when I was baptized I said I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He brought from heaven a saving gospel. I willingly renounced satan of all his pernicious ways. I covenanted with God in Christ Jesus to live faithful until death.

The problem was this. Did leaving “the church (fellowship)” mean I was leaving Christ? For many years that was the only thing I understood it to mean.

Imagine my concern and dismay when I realized the founding father of “the church (fellowship)” I was a part of left “the church (fellowship)” he was a part of! If leaving “the church (fellowship)” meant leaving Christ then we were all in big trouble!

What did the Bible mean where it says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?” What was the Bible referring to when it said “one Lord, one faith, one baptism?” The Bible says “they were first called Christians at Antioch.” If “the church (believing people)” were called Christians then why were there so many different denominations and practices and fellowships? What did the Bible mean when Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no man cometh to the Father but by me?” What did it mean where it says “the Lord added unto “the church” daily such as should be saved?

So… that’s a lot to think about and try to understand. The other day I picked up a little pamphlet that had a timeline of things that happened after Jesus was born. It chronicled “the church” down through the ages. It is very interesting. I’m still studying it.

Joining “the church (the people of God)” is much more than becoming a part of a denomination or fellowship. According to scripture “the church” is not a building, or a denomination, or a fellowship. “The church;” sometimes referred to as the ecclesia, are the called out ones, those who desire to follow Jesus and be His disciples. The Bible gives us to understand there will be believers of every kindred, tribe, tongue and nation in heaven. Rev. 7:9 No wonder I always stumbled over this verse in my youth when you consider the definition and understanding of “the church” I had during that time!

The warning one must give heed to is found in the affirmation below. Are you a part of “the church” doing His will and keeping His commandments? I John 2:3-6 May His blessing abide with all those who are in “the church,” those who love and serve Him and are waiting for His return. May His tender call be heard and answered by all those who don’t know Him!

This brings another memory. There’s a saying that comes to mind of something a minister said a long time ago. I think it’s a good saying even though I didn’t understand it very well for many years. It went like this: “If you’re not in the church, get in the church. If you are in the church, stay in the church!” I wonder what it means to you? Affirmation for today:

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” I John 2:17

FYI: Meandering Melodies Books 1, 2, 3, & 4 are available at Grandma’s Cupboard in Rossville and The Homestead in Remington. Weekly articles are on Meandering Melodies Facebook page, too. Call Susan to order at (765) 427-6296. Email Susan a t susan.holsinger@gmail.com or mail to: 7690 W. 700 S. Rossville, IN 46065.

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