Fellowship – BT7
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Christian fellowship is all about shared Body-of-Christ ministry party, not 1-man shows!
In every NT passage that talks about Body-of-Christ ministry you see urgent calls (a) for “[reciprocally] one another” (j) and “[individually] each one of you” (k) sharing of the Spirit’s grace-gifts, sharing of testimonies of God working in their lives, sharing of prophetic revelations even as logos messages of wisdom and knowledge or as tongues with interpretations, sharing as they “conversationally-addressed” or “reciprocally taught one another” a lesson of doctrine (b), and admonished “by placing in mind through urgent reasoning, instruction, or warning” (c), and encouraged or exhorted (d) one another reciprocally, even with instrumental psalms, acapella hymns, and Spirit-kind-of psalm/hymn odes that is likely a reference to anointed, prophetic, and spontaneous music (e). Yes, encouragement! “Let us ongoingly consider how to excite/provoke one another reciprocally to unconditional-love and/coupled good (f) works, not in possibility routinely abandoning/deserting/forsaking the assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging (g) one another reciprocally, and all the more as you see The Day drawing near (h)” (i). Man, I’d like to go to that church! <Notes> a) by the use of the imperatives, b) 1 Corinthians 14:6, 26, 30, c) noutheteo: Colossians 3:16, d) 1 Corinthians 14:3, 14:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11, e) 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16, f) kalos: beautifully, harmoniously, magnificently, inspiringly excellent, g) parakaleo: alongside-counselling, advising, encouraging, comforting, h) eggizo: approaching near, often used of communing in conversational-prayer as in James 4:6-8, Hebrews 7:25, i) Hebrews 10:24-25, j) allelon: a reciprocal pronoun meaning mutual, back-and-forth action. This is not 1-way communication but a dialogue, something you rarely see in church services today, k) hekastos: each individual in a group viewed distinctly. Again, this directly opposes the 1-man show taking over the group, which sadly is the case in most church services today.
There was so much “party” excitement in the early Church about sharing the Spirit’s grace-gifts that Paul had to write 1 Corinthians 14 just to help them understand God’s priorities to build up the Church and how to take turns sharing so that everybody could learn from each other! Have you ever been in a church where everybody was encouraged to share by taking turns, “letting the others weigh in what is said . . . . so that ALL may learn and ALL be encouraged” (vv. 14:27, 29, 31). There are so many things spoken from the “1-man show” pulpit that could have been corrected or balanced if the congregation were allowed to do this – see Coaches and Facilitators! This is a significant part of the foundational problem of The Great Wall quenching the Holy Spirit in churches. There are so many warnings in the NT about all teachers, let alone false teachers – see Teach One Another!
That’s exactly Paul’s point in Ephesians 5:18-21 – don’t “party down” like the world does by getting drunk on wine and then getting involved in all kinds of sin, but instead “party down” with God’s people by “routinely being filled to completion by the Spirit!” That’s exactly what Spirit-baptism is! But this isn’t a 1-man show either! No, it’s a Christian “party” where you “routinely conversationally-address one another in/by/with psalms and/coupled hymns and/coupled Spirit-kind-of-odes . . . routinely giving thanks . . . routinely surrendering-control to one another reciprocally out of reverence for Christ.” Once again we see Paul trying to curb the 1-man show tendency! We see this same sharing emphasis in a parallel passage where Paul adds: “You were called in one Body . . . routinely teaching and admonishing one another reciprocally . . . whatever [plural] you ongoingly do in/by/with logos message or deed [do] ALL in the name/authority of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks” – this how the logos message will dwell in the Church richly” (a). As throughout the NT the logos message is clearly having to do with Jesus, The Truth, and His logos gospel message (b) as shared with one another reciprocally. <Notes> a) Colossians 3:15-17, b) Ephesians 1:13; Acts 15:7.
Where is the common “bible-study discussion” that every church tries to call a “fellowship” and that they suppose is the way “the logos gospel message will dwell in the Church richly?” After all, back then the Jewish-Christians did have an OT bible that was much thicker than our NT, but 97.4% of the OT (see Logos Word of God – BT5a) isn’t the gospel! But didn’t they have a few letters of the NT? But you never see the Church say this in the “when you come together to use your grace-gifts” passages (a)! The Spirit-given logos messages of wisdom and/coupled gnosis info-knowledge uttered was shared by members in the congregation (b) and these weren’t from the bible or a favorite Christians book but from the Spirit (c) through prophecy (d). There certainly isn’t anything here about 1 pastor doing all the preaching or teaching of logos messages! Quite the opposite! Sharing is the very meaning of fellowship! <Notes> a) 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, 12:12-31, 14:26; Colossians 3:16-17; Ephesians 4:7-16; 5:18-21, Romans 12:3-8, 10; 1 Peter 4:8-11, b) 1 Corinthians 12:8, c) Colossians 1:9, 2:3; Ephesians 1:17, d) 1 Corinthians 12:7-8; Acts 6:10.
There is no evidence of a 1-man show or even a small ministry-team show. In fact, we see plenty of warnings against this! The very first thing Paul warns the Roman churches about if they want to escape “conformity to the world and be metamorphically changed by a renewed mind” is “I say to everyone among you absolutely in possibility not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (a). Then he talks about Body-of-Christ ministry (b). John tells his churches to not even trust the teacher-leaders at all because many will “try to deceive you,” but “the anointing that you have already received from Christ (c) actually, ongoingly abides/dwells/remains in you, so that you have absolutely in fact no need that anyone should teach you, but as His anointing actually, ongoingly teaches you about ALL things and/so is trustworthy and/coupled no lie – just as it has already taught you – actually, ongoingly abide/dwell/remain in Christ (d). <Notes> a) Romans 12:2-3, b) Romans 12:4-8, c) The Holy One of 1 John 2:20, d) 1 John 2:18-27.
The “equippers” (a) of Ephesians 4:11-16 weren’t supposed to be doing “the work of ministry” but only coaching and facilitating so that the “saints” could be the ones actually doing the “work of the ministry for the building up of the Body-of-Christ!” Can you imagine going to a football game and watching the head & assistant coaches, waterboys, cheerleaders, and band all out on the field trying to play football instead of the actual football players? Ridiculous! I’d ask for my money back! But that’s what goes on in most churches every week! And for the few churches that do use their services as “training sessions,” do you think any of them have ever been to any sports training sessions, because ask yourself: Who is “running the plays” during these “training sessions” – the coaches or the players? Yet I’ve rarely been to a church service “training session” where anybody but the pastor was doing most of the talking, and there certainly was no “practicing of the training” going on by the congregation that I could see. There was no “on-the-job” training! I don’t really see very much “reciprocal one-another” mutual display of submission or ministry. It’s mostly one-directional! The way you can tell is if the band or preacher suddenly stops or “hits the ball into the other court” of the congregation – it’s usually blank stares with dead silence or a whimper of participation. The frogs have been slow boiled! The ticks trained well not to jump out after you’ve taken the lid off!
Another purpose for sharing Body-of-Christ ministry instead of the ball-hogging “equippers” ministry-style according to Ephesians 4:14-16 is to insure “that we may no longer be carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness of deceitful schemes. Rather [plural] YOU [who are] routinely speaking The Truth in/by/with unconditional-love, WE are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ, from Whom the whole Body is routinely fitly-joined or held-together thru-the-realizing-channel-of every-of-a-kind (b) binding-joint that contributes/supplies, down-from/according-to the effectual-working in/by/with the metron measuring-cup (c) of each/every one/part that actually, ongoingly, [reflexively] makes [as with a performance] the Body grow so that it builds itself up in/by/with unconditional-love.” Whew, Paul creates long, complicated sentences! <Notes> a) apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and/coupled teachers, b) pas rarely means “the whole of,” c) v. 4:7: “metron measuring-cup of the grace-gift [of the Holy Spirit] of Christ given by grace to each of us,” thus not based on our natural talents or ambitions. The metron was a single-sized cup that measured the exact same amount of whatever was put into it. It insured that merchant trade was fair, equitable, or just. Our word “metronome” comes from it – a device that “clicks” when the exact same amount of time has transpired! We use it in music to play precisely in time!
There is only 1 Head, 1 Shepherd, 1 Leader, and 1 Teacher (d)! But many joints that ALL need to share the responsibility of keeping the Body-of-Christ together and growing! Everyone needs to be sharing their grace-gifts (a) that come down from the grace-gift of the Holy Spirit (b) as given by Jesus Christ (c). But that can’t happen if you have the coaches and facilitators hogging the ball! As we’ve seen, ministry is supposed to be “reciprocal, reflexive, conversational, and focused on the individuals of the group” by definition of the Greek words used! Where is there a stage, a speaker, a worship-band, and an audience called for or taught in the NT? All this came into the Church after the church buildings were designed by the pagan emperor Constantine, designed with an elevated platform for 1-bishop rule with all the people facing him, and all of this “borrowed” from the pagan world of Greek and Roman temples! These are the “stones” building The Great Wall quenching the Holy Spirit in the Church! This must be reformed! Read The Problem with Wineskins: Church Structure in a Technological Age by Howard A. Synder. <Notes> a) Ephesians 4:8; 1 Peter 4:10-11, b) Ephesians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31, c) Ephesians 4:7, d) Ephesians 5:23; John 10:16; Matthew 23:8-10 – see Teach One Another – BT10.
Christian fellowship is more than hanging out in the foyer for 15 minutes before Protestant church service eating donuts and drinking coffee, or shaking the hand your neighbor and saying “peace be with you” in a Catholic church. It is “each individual part” of the Body-of-Christ effectually-working their grace-gifts during their “coming together” times in order “to build up the Church – the saints do the work of ministry!” The correct image of the “assembly of the saints for fellowship” is that of the “family or household of God” (a). What “family or household” sets up a stage and has everybody face 1 person who does all the talking or to a small group to do all the music playing? When you look at church history carefully, you find that all of this comes into the Catholic Church around 200-350 AD, “borrowing” from old covenant models to build a faulty foundation and then “borrowing” stones from the pagan world to build The Great Wall quenching the Holy Spirit. <Notes> a) Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:5, 15; 1 Peter 4:17.
As Christian musicians, do we really just want to perform for an audience or involve the audience in worship to the Lord? Maybe we should consider involving them instrumentally, not just vocally? Are we so concerned about sounding pretty that we can’t see that the Body’s playing to the Lord is just as important as ours? Are we encouraging them to use their grace-gifts by hogging the ball? Is not sharing the stage really fellowship? Is the stage-audience format just a pagan “tradition of men” that actually communicates that we aren’t one big family around the dinner table? Are we creating a party atmosphere where we can abandon ourselves and even get “drunk in the Spirit” or is it more like a business board meeting conducted by Robert’s Rules of Order? Or have we just turned into a Christian concert for the “entertainment of the saints?”
Would people have more fun going down the local bar? Many people will say they have more actual fellowship at their local bar than at church! At my local bar I had 25 friends for 15 years that we could talk about anything and learn from one another, but try that during a church service – and I’ve been in 15 church ministries! In many ways, the church isn’t meeting fellowship needs! Are we promoting “each other, one another, reflexive, reciprocal, weighing in, sharing, conversational dialogue” or 1-way communication? Where is the 1-man show or small-team ministry taught in the NT? Where’s the checks and balances to prevent error and false teaching? Are we asking the congregation to submit to us, but we aren’t submitting to them, when the verses about submission are bi-directional? Are we still thinking that we are the ministers instead of the coaches and facilitators for the saints to be the actual ministers? Who really is supposed to be on the field playing – all of us together, right? Why aren’t we? Why do we still use terms like head pastors when we only have 1 Head? Why even pastors or shepherds when we have 1 Shepherd? Why leaders, when we have 1 Leader? Why teachers, when we have 1 Teacher? I guess we just don’t believe Jesus or believe someone else more than Jesus!