To Fellowship Or Not To Fellowship
Fellowship. The mere mention of the word conjures up visions of folks standing around talking to one another. You can almost smell the coffee brewing and can see the delicious finger-foods laid out in the fellowship hall. Interestingly, the Bible never uses the word fellowship in this manner. In a lesson preached in February 2021 at the 4th Street Church of Christ in Cullman, Bro. Bill Hall discusses biblical fellowship from both positve and negative standpoints. We encourage you to give a listen to this sermon which can be found under the "sermons" heading on our homepage, or under "recent lessons" on the homepage.
The Good Man by Mike Waters
In the book of Proverbs, we find an interesting statement concerning the man with whom God will be pleased: “A good man will obtain favor from the Lord, but He will condemn a man who devises evil” (Proverbs 12:2). This verse can serve as a powerful motivator for the Christian if properly understood. It will be the purpose of this article to discuss both the meaning and the implications of this simple passage.
Who is the good man? Very simply, it is the man who exercises his free will choice to do good. Jesus set an example for us in this area as “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). The good man of the Proverb is the one who seeks to imitate his Lord in this regard. Jesus sought the welfare of others—He was concerned about the spiritual and physical afflictions of mankind.
The good man is also defined by way of contrast. Specifically, his character is set against the man who devises evil. The latter chooses to act with evil motives. He plans to do that which is contrary to the will of God. Oftentimes, his actions are harmful to others.
How do we know when we are doing good? We are doing good when we follow the directives of God. When we study the Scriptures we will find ourselves “equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). The Bible provides commandments, principles, and examples that instruct us in the good that God expects of us.
Thus, the Proverb writer challenges us to seek out God’s will as revealed in the Scriptures. We then choose to do the good works as defined by God. In so doing, we become the good man of Proverbs 12:2.
Now, let us consider the implications of this verse. In this Proverb, we find both positive and negative consequences that result from our actions. Once again, the outcome will be based upon our decisions.
If we choose to do good, then we will obtain favor from the Lord. Does this mean that life will always “work out” as we desire? No. In fact, adversity may be what we need most to draw us closer to God. At times, the favor of God may come in the form of suffering that “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).
Receiving favor from the Lord may, at other times, be in the form of material blessing. In his epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul encouraged the brethren to give of their means to assist the needy saints in Jerusalem. This was certainly doing good. God’s favor would result in their financial prosperity: “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10).
The negative side of the Proverb is expressed as receiving condemnation from God. Again, this is the consequence of an intentional choice to do evil (in contrast to good). Those who choose this path of life have not taken time to seriously consider what it means to receive God’s condemnation. Condemn is a very powerful word. Given that the creator of the universe is the source of this condemnation, the implications of this statement become even more frightening.
We grow spiritually as we reflect upon God’s love, mercy, and compassion; at the same time, it is profitable to soberly meditate upon the condemnation (or judgment) of God. Consider the following: “There will tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil . . . For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries . . . It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God: (Romans 2:9; Hebrews 10:26-27, 31).
In conclusion, use the principles set forth in this Proverb as a means of positive motivation. Choose to do good while abstaining from evil. Plan works that will result in God’s favor. Your life will be blessed and you will be a blessing to others!
In the article below, Brother Lynn Huggins helps us to explore the reasons we attend (or fail to attend) the services of the congregation where we are a member. Members failing to attend as they should is a problem in many, if not all congregations of the Lord's church. It is our hope that the thoughts presented below will help us all to see the importance of being at every service, but also to look more closely at the reasons why we should attend.
By E. Lynn Huggins
Why do you attend the assemblies and Bible class periods of the church? Someone answers, “To worship God and to be encouraged and edified.” Indeed, these are reasons we attend. We love God and want to worship Him, and we also desire to grow spiritually. We understand that attending the services of the church will help us to be what God wants us to be. The assemblies are provisions God has made to help us grow and become more like our Lord. But if these are the only reasons we believe we should attend the assemblies and Bible class periods of the church, we are failing in our attendance.
Another very important reason why the Lord calls upon us to attend the assemblies of the church is to exhort and encourage our brethren. We attend not just for ourselves, but also for one another. The reason the Hebrew writer tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together is because we are to “consider one another.” “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25 NKJV; emphasis mine, elh) A Christian does not live on an island all by himself. A Christian lives in a world surrounded by other people, and some of those people are his brethren in the family of God. The Christian has special responsibilities (that God has placed upon him) to his brethren. “Love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17); “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12:15); “warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thess. 5:14); “do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:10); “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…but exhorting one another” (Heb. 10:25) -- just to name a few. As we minister to our brethren, we are ministering to Jesus. Jesus said, “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” and “inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” (Read Matt. 25:34-46) When we attend the assemblies and Bible class periods on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights to encourage and exhort our brethren, we are ministering to Jesus. When we fail to attend and do not render encouragement and exhortation to our brethren, we fail in our service to Jesus.
A brother may say, “I can worship God at home, and I get more out of my own worship and Bible study at home than I do in the assemblies and Bible classes of the church.” If that be true, and if the only reasons to attend are to worship God and to be edified myself, then the brother may have a point. Why attend the assemblies of the church when it would be better for me to stay at home? But when I understand that I attend not just for myself, but for my brothers and sisters, then I will attend in order to be an encouragement to them. If the assemblies of the church are not that edifying, I should attend to help change what is lacking so that not only will I be edified, but my brethren will be edified also. My failure to attend will surely not solve the problem.
Others may say they don’t believe they have to be there on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. How can a Christian say this knowing that his brothers and sisters in the family of God are there needing his encouragement and exhortation? If Jesus was there needing encouragement, would I then say I don’t have to be there? The fact is He is there. His body is there. His brethren are there. “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
Why do you attend the assemblies and Bible class periods of the church? Or why do you not attend?