Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The true unity in Christ of the members of His Body is brought about in the Spirit of God. When two people attain the same level of union in Christ in God, each being with Jesus where the Lord is, then they also are one with each other. When we are dwelling in Jesus with Him in the Father, then we are one with each other. This is the true unity, the true marriage of the Lamb, the true rest of God.
Human attempts to produce oneness among people often create Babylon (man-centered religion). God deliberately prevented the original race from being in one accord by introducing a variety of languages.
Oneness among people is not a goal, it is the natural result of our abiding in Christ. Our true goal is to be one in Christ in God. As we press toward this goal we become one with every other person who is abiding in Christ in God.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23)
The above is a central passage of the Scriptures. The end of the program of redemption, as far as the elect are concerned, is their becoming one in Jesus in the Father, and in the same manner with one another. This is the marriage of the Lamb and the “rest” of God. It is the final result of all we are experiencing.
The true unity in Christ of the members of His Body is brought about in the Spirit of God. Yet there must be an earthly counterpart of the spiritual unity.
We see the early recognition of the oneness of the Body of Christ as the members of the early Church joined together on the earthly plane.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:41-47)
It is obvious the original Christian Church was different in some respects from what is true today.
The day of the churches as we have known them is past, at least for the true saints. The people are not close enough to one another to survive in the coming days of trouble, to warn one another when an individual begins to slip, or to minister to one another according to the words of the Apostle:
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
“Exhort one another daily”!
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (I Corinthians 14:26)
The formal church with its platform ministry and spectator congregation will not begin to suffice for the requirements of the present and of the future.
There is a need today for the saints to come together in fellowship, to promote unity among themselves. Some, feeling this need, have established Christian communities. In the passage quoted above we note that the believers broke bread “from house to house.” They were concerned about the material (and no doubt spiritual) needs of one another. Although they had things in common there still appeared to be some private ownership of houses.
We must draw closer to one another, and it is up to the church leaders to ensure that this happens, as the Spirit enables. The larger congregations must be divided into smaller fellowships if the intense interaction of the believers, their mutual encouragement and their spiritual and physical protection, are to take place. By physical protection we mean mutual material aid during the coming days of judgment.
A church of thousands of people who come together to view a performance on a platform no longer is suitable for the building of the Body of Christ.
There are problems associated with the drawing together of the believers. We notice in the Scripture the murmuring about the neglect of some of the widows, and the selfishness of the Christians who acted as gluttons in the love feasts while others had nothing to eat. Paul describes this selfishness in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians and rebukes the believers for not discerning that each person is a member of the one Body of Christ and is not to be neglected.
Let us think about two problems that arise today concerning our attempts to grow in unity with the Lord Jesus and the Father and with one another.
- The problem of human unity.
- The problem of reveling.
The Problem of Human Unity
People see the need for unity among themselves. Instead of realizing it is a unity in Jesus in the Father they attempt to bring about unity from human to human.
God has given each of us a sense of privacy. We are closed personalities.
A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. (Song of Solomon 4:12)
God does not want the walls taken down, our “garden” invaded, until His time. People, sometimes in an effort to help us, sometimes in an effort to manipulate us, may encourage us to let down the barriers to our inner self.
One technique is confession. “Tell us everything—the more personal the better.” Little by little we divulge everything we are thinking, our opinions, our motivations, our secret attitudes toward people.
It is scriptural and helpful to confess our sins one to another and to pray one for another that we may be healed. In so doing we do not give up our inner privacy. We get help in judging and removing the sin dwelling in our flesh, and we obtain counsel from the elders—from people we know and trust; or on occasion from a psychiatrist or other professional. Some of the elders may be able to employ spiritual wisdom, knowledge, or discernment. But the key to deliverance is the individual’s determination to be free from all the works of Satan.
We do not permit others to enter the garden of our life nor do we ever permit anyone to hypnotize us.
Some today are insisting that we tell them everything, that we bare ourselves to them. This is of Satan. We believe Antichrist will insist on complete openness. A strong leader can manipulate his group by keeping the members in a state of confession and openness.
The human-inspired openness and unity of which we have been speaking is not the unity the Lord Jesus desires. It is a counterfeit of the spiritual marriage God has planned for us.
The Lord Jesus is in a state of Oneness with the Father. Both the Father and Jesus are full of Divine Light. There is no darkness in Them.
We are full of darkness, with what is unacceptable to God. As the Light of God’s Spirit penetrates the recesses of our personality, exposing worldliness, sin, and self-will, we see what is preventing our rest in God. Through the wisdom and grace given us by the blood of the Lamb and the power of the Holy Spirit of God, we remove from our personality what is displeasing to the Lord.
When the darkness is expelled from us, the Lord enters us in the unity enjoyed by the Father and the Son. We now are full of Divine Light and Life. We are at rest in God.
The Truth has entered us and has set us free from all that hinders God and His Christ from finding rest in us.
Where He is, there we also are—for eternity.
When two people attain the same level of union in Christ in God, each of them being with Jesus where He is, then they also are one with each other. When we are dwelling in Jesus where He is in the Father, then we by nature are one with each other. This is the true unity, the true marriage of the Lamb, the true rest of God.
Fleshly attempts to bring about oneness among people will only create Babylon or the False Prophet (the spirit of delusion). God deliberately prevented the original race from being in one accord by introducing several languages.
We are not suggesting that we do not strive for peace among ourselves or do not watch carefully for roots of bitterness. Every pastor knows the constant need to guard against disunity. Rather we are speaking of going beyond this by the creation of ever larger organizations, stressing human togetherness to the point of elevating fellowship with one another instead of fellowship with God, or, as we mentioned before, engaging in group therapy where everyone confesses his or her innermost thoughts.
Oneness among people is not a goal, it is the natural result of our abiding in Christ. Our goal is to be one in Christ in God. When this is true of us we then are one with every other person who is one in Christ in God.
This is the true unity.
The Problem of Reveling
When believers are feeling the need to be closer to one another they may plan social events that they hope will help them to become better acquainted.
Every experienced pastor understands what results from church parties and socials. Such gatherings cause many people to be added to the assembly. They also can destroy the spiritual life of the church.
Frequent socials may be a sign a church is deteriorating spiritually. Yet the early Church broke bread daily from house to house. There is a difference between fellowshiping and reveling.
The following characteristics are guidelines to help us distinguish between fellowshiping and reveling.
- True fellowshiping is a time for sharing with one another what the Lord has done for us.
- Reveling is an occasion for “letting our hair down” as we say, for indulging the adamic nature.
The scornful say to us Christians, “You are putting on a front. All this holy behavior is not the ‘real you.’ You are not going to be able to hold out. You can’t keep this up. Why don’t you be yourself?” This advice is of Satan.
Each Christian is made up of two persons who are the “real you.” One of these is the first Adam. The other is the new man of the heart who has been born again of God.
Who is the “real you”? Both are the real you for now. Before we die, one of the two will conquer. One will be set aside and the other will prevail.
Fellowship is not a time for us to revert to our adamic nature, to let down our spiritual guard, to “be ourselves” as we were before we met the Lord We are certain this is not what the members of the early Church did as they broke bread from house to house. We are to conduct ourselves as saints—all the more because our example of godliness will strengthen the weaker believers.
I sat not in the assembly of the mockers [revelers, or merrymakers], nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation. (Jeremiah 15:17)
In true Christian fellowship there always is an awareness of the Presence of the Lord Jesus, a sense of the awe of God, a feeling of reverence toward the Lord.
And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. (Acts 2:43)
When we are reveling we are indulging in fleshly pleasure. The mood is one of eat, drink, and be merry. There is no awe of God.
During Christian fellowship, prayer, prophesying, and the Lord’s Table are always fitting, always appropriate. We are in the Spirit of God, and the miraculous is at hand.
When we are partying, prayer, prophesying, and the Lord’s Table are not appropriate. There may be a token prayer said at the beginning, but this is only a delay of the “fun.” What the people really want is to get busy with the food, the games, the revelry.
Such social gatherings are termed Christian fellowship but they are not. They are not found in the Scriptures. They merely are fleshly parties and are dearly loved by worldly Christians and the unsaved. The sincere saints are ill at ease in an atmosphere of joking, unbridled laughter, loose talk, flirtations, feasting, and merrymaking.
But, one may respond, the Lord Jesus went to the marriage at Cana. Yes, He did. But this was not intended to be Christian fellowship. Also He worked an outstanding miracle there. If you can go to a worldly gathering and change water into wine, you probably are where God wants you.
During a time of Christian fellowship there always is holiness of thought, word, and deed.
During a party there is no lack of foolishness, jesting, the lust of the eyes, and other behaviors condemned by the Scriptures.
Christian fellowship is for Christians. Ordinarily, outsiders are not present. If the believers bring inquirers or relatives, such visitors should be in the minority. The outsider should be reverent, recognizing he or she is among people who fear and love God and are serving Him. He should be impressed by the sincerity, uprightness, and purity of what he is witnessing. Hopefully he will be moved toward the Lord as a result.
Anyone can take part in a party—unsaved people as well as Christians. But not everyone can participate in true Christian fellowship. The unsaved are perfectly happy at a party. They know how to let their cares go in an undisciplined manner, to overeat, to get drunk, to indulge in riotous living. The disciplined saint is not at home in such a gathering.
If we are comfortable in the gatherings of the unsaved, or worldly Christians, we must go to the Lord and ask Him why? The world hated our Lord. How can the world love us? Perhaps the Lord is not in us as much as we think.
Christian fellowship always is under the auspices of elders, under the government of the Church. The Christian Church is a kingdom, the Kingdom of God. The world also is a kingdom. It is kingdom against kingdom. There is war in the spirit realm between the two kingdoms.
Satan and his cohorts never rest. They move about ceaselessly seeking whom they may seduce. The Lord’s elders are always on guard, always praying, always watching to make certain Satan does not enter the gathering of the saints. A spiritual “guard” always is posted.
It is not so at party. There is no spiritual oversight. There is no one watching in prayer. No guard is posted. There is an abandonment to pleasure, to fun. As a result, the believers are vulnerable to the deceptions of the enemy.
- Christian fellowship is for spiritually growing and mature saints.
- Parties are for babies.
We believe from the age of six years the children should get a sense of the seriousness of the Christian life. They should understand that a serious commitment is involved. There must be plenty of time for games and fun for young children, but also times for praying seriously to the Lord.
Serious discipleship on the part of children and young people will prove to be necessary. It is likely that in the near future the Christian homes will be invaded by an army of social workers whose values will be in direct opposition to God’s Word. In that hour the children will be asked if they are happy in the Christian home or if they would prefer to be in a secular environment. If the boys and girls do not know the Lord they will be attracted by the offer of unhindered abandon to the pursuits of the world. “Wouldn’t you rather play on Sunday morning than to go to church?”
The children and young people will turn against their parents—in some instances bringing their parents before the courts because they are not being permitted to do as they please. We parents have a choice to make. We can spend time now bringing our children into the fellowship of the Body of Christ. We can accompany our churchgoing with a thorough discipleship on our part and our children’s part, sharing with them in the Life of the Lord. Or we can spend time in prison later when our children turn us in to the authorities because we made them go to church.
The social life of our assembly must become spiritually strong enough to bring the young people to Jesus so they can stand in the Lord with or without their parents.
Partying is not a good preparation for the suffering that already is on the horizon.
From twelve years and up the young boy or girl must be sternly committed to the Gospel. In the future, some of this age may be required to give their life rather than deny the Gospel.
Christian fellowship is for committed saints of all ages.
Parties are for babies. By babies we do not mean in chronological age. Many believers are over forty years of age and still are babies, still yearn for their parties. They are not members of the royal priesthood. They will not govern the nations with Christ. How they are treated after they die, and after the resurrection, we have no idea. They may be placed in the outer darkness.
The time is past for the customary foolishness, the pampering of young people. “Delicious,” luxurious living has characterized Christianity in the wealthy nations. All such softness and comfort will be swept away by the broom of destruction that is at hand.
In Christian fellowship there is sharing—sometime sacrificial sharing.
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2:45)
In parties there is much selfishness, much self-centeredness. The believer at a party probably would not be in a mood to share his goods in a sacrificial manner.
During the early Christian fellowshiping there were believers added to the Church. Every true Christian time of fellowship will edify the members of the Body of Christ.
It is not likely there would be lasting spiritual results coming from a party. Social gatherings attract people to the local church. But people brought into the assembly by parties are not likely to accept the rigors required of the true saints. As soon as they hear the demands of discipleship they will leave.
Christian fellowship is a necessary, wholesome part of the Christian discipleship.
Committed saints soon outgrow their desire for parties.
The purpose of Christian fellowship is to glorify God and to come to know the Lord in a deeper way. At the same time, we gain a better understanding of our fellow believers and are able to build them up and be built up by them.
The purpose of a party is to know people better and to have fun with them. In a mixed group the lusts of the flesh are always present no matter how well controlled.
- Fellowship brings joy.
- Parties are fun.
The true spiritual unity we are seeking comes about as we abide in Jesus. The fellowship of saints helps us in our attempt to live ever more closely to the Lord.
As we live in Jesus where He is, we already are one with others who also are living in Jesus where He is—in the bosom of the Father.
Reveling results in the eternal spiritual babyhood so common in the Christian churches of our day.
Fellowship brings to maturity the one new Man, Christ—Head and Body.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:13)
(“True Unity”, 3303-1)