Category Archives: Our Life Together

Our Life Together Series: The Meaning of Loyalty (1 Corinthians 12:26) 

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Most of the communities to which we belong are voluntary organizations. Because we share a common interest with others, we join them in forming a community based on that common interest. If we have children in school, we may join with others in forming a chapter of the P.T.A. If we are in business, we may join with others who share this particular interest. Our association with the group lasts as long as we share a common interest with it. When our situation changes, causing us no longer to share common goals with the group, our loyalty to it is likely to disappear. We enter voluntarily and leave voluntarily, because our loyalty and support depend on our shared common interests with the group.

We need only to take a cursory look at some texts of the New Testament to see that the church is quite unlike the voluntary association. When the New Testament speaks of the community, it has a rich and suggestive word in Greek for developing this idea. It is the word koinonia, which we translate as “fellowship” or “participation” or “partnership.” The church is not a voluntary association of like-minded people alone! It is a community of people who have first been called into fellowship with Jesus Christ. We belong to each other because we first belong to Jesus Christ.

Fellowship did not originate at our own initiative: We were called into fellowship: (1 Corinthians 1:9)  “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” Our fellowship with him is not the result of our own goodness. It is his gracious summons that has made us his partners.

See how these verses express this idea: The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the body and blood of Christ: (1 Corinthians 10:16)  “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?”

A disciple shares in his sufferings: (2 Corinthians 1:5-7)  “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. {6} If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. {7} And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

Paul described himself this way: (Philippians 3:10)  “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” We have been called as his people into a life of sharing his way, the way of the cross. To be in fellowship with Christ is to adopt his kind of life.

We are brought together as one body: (1 Corinthians 12:12)  “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

Paul’s words should help us realize that there is no relationship to Jesus without our being members of his body, the church! And fellowship is real only when every one of us, like parts of a body, contributes to the ongoing ministry. Even those members who seem not very gifted are vital to the fellowship, for the body cannot exist without the cooperation of its tiniest part.

Fellowship is never a reality unless the work is shared by all members. There is no justification for any church and its ministries to be carried out by staff members only. Christians within the body should not become spectators to the work of the church. Nor is their work to become simply that of financial benefactors.

Jesus established and loved the church. He commanded his people to be loyal to it and to always give it priority affection and faithful support. Loyalty has a martial ring to it. We think of our country and the nation’s flag. Loyalty stirs within us something high and holy. We like to think of ourselves as loyal, stalwart, and true.

The Place of Loyalty. Loyalty is the willing, practical devotion of self and substance to a person or a cause that is believed to be supremely worthwhile. It carries with it faithfulness, trust and confidence. I would suggest that church loyalty runs much deeper: it calls for devoted allegiance to a Person and a cause. It involves decision, devotion, faithfulness, trustworthiness, and sacrifice.

An individual without loyalty is like a ship without a compass. There may be much activity and much “going about” but it will often have little purpose and be unprofitable. Loyalty gives purpose, direction and drive to life. In any list of Christian virtues, loyalty ranks high…we recognize it in scripture as faithfulness:                            (over)

 (Mat 23:23) “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

(Rom 3:3) “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?”

(Gal 5:22) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

(3 John 1:3) “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.”

(Rev 13:10) “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”

In our daily lives, there are numerous ‘loyalties’ clamoring for devotion and interest. We must stand firm in our efforts to be loyal to God, to the faith, to the church, to friends and family, and to self!

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Posted by on April 26, 2018 in Our Life Together


Our Life Together Series: The Medium, Measure and Means of Loyalty — Ephesians 5:24-27.

These verses raise a very high standard for relationship between husbands and wives and the church toward Christ.  If the husband makes Christ’s love for the church the pattern for loving his wife, then he will love her sacrificially. Christ gave Himself for the church; so the husband, in love, gives himself for his wife.

The husband’s love will also be a sanctifying love. The word sanctify means “to set apart.” In the marriage ceremony, the husband is set apart to belong to the wife, and the wife is set apart to belong to the husband. Any interference with this God-given arrangement is sin.

Our Christian homes are to be pictures of Christ’s relationship to His church. Each believer is a member of Christ’s body, and each believer is to help nourish the body in love  We are one with Christ. The church is His body and His bride, and the Christian home is a divinely ordained illustration of this relationship. This certainly makes marriage a serious matter. The root of most marital problems is sin, and the root of all sin is selfishness.

Submission to Christ and to one another is the only way to overcome selfishness, for when we submit, the Holy Spirit can fill us and enable us to love one another in a sacrificial, sanctifying, satisfying way—the way Christ loves the church.

A Glorious Church — The church has a history with God in it: it is the church of the living God; it is the church for which the ages waited and God prepared; it is the church of God’s redeemed and of martyrs. Jesus built a church to withstand the ravages of time, the persecutions of men, and the destructive power of the devil.

It is the most sacred thing in the world: it is the body of Christ, the light of the world; it is commissioned to proclaim the truth; it is dependent for its success upon Christ as its head, the Holy Spirit as its guide, and the willing ministry of redeemed men and women.

An All-Inclusive Message — The message of the church is inclusive:  it is a message of salvation for all souls, of enlightenment for all minds, of comfort for all hearts, of relief for all needs, and of challenge for every life. It has a message from God and stands for a Redeemer with a message of liberty and a dispensation of grace. It is the guardian of human rights, the hope of humanity and of peace. It has not come without a high price. The cost of the church has been faithfulness and loyalty under persecution. The price has been paid in blood, from that of Christ and the first century Christians to hundreds martyred since.

We have a sacred obligation. The church is God’s tool for proclaiming Christ’s ideals and principles for life. It is founded on sacrifice and maintained by sacrifice. It appeals to the highest instincts of the human heart.

THE MEASURE OF LOYALTY — If our supreme loyalty is to Christ, then self and others will find their rightful place. Christ demands and deserves first place in our life. Read Matthew 10:32-42.

A tragedy of Christianity today is that, unlike the people in Jesus’ day, the shepherd-less masses look elsewhere for a savior.  The real peril is from within: “The compelling need of our churches is neither larger numbers, more money, nor different programs, but a fuller consecration of the lives of individual church members to Jesus Christ.  Carelessness, prayerlessness, indifference, lowering of ideals, and open inconsistency of professed Christians within the church constitutes a greater menace to the cause of our Lord than indifference, opposition, infidelity, atheism, or other issues without the church. “The neglect of the devotional life brings flabbiness, indifference and unhappiness. Church discipline seems to have been largely discarded. The standard of Christ is the demand of the times.”

THE MEANS OF EXPRESSING LOYALTY — If a husband and wife belong to each, or as children belong to parents, the church will have a real claim upon my personality, my powers, and my possessions.  We ought to be ashamed of ourselves when we put our children’s sports, homework, or recreation activities ahead of our worship and Bible classes!  We ought to be ashamed of ourselves when we work all week no matter how we feel and use a headache or the “fear of getting sick” as an excuse to miss worship!

Loyalty to the church would cause us to pray for each other; would lead us to want to meet together and make the necessary plans ahead of time to be ready to worship when we get here; would cause us to take positive stands against those things which would interfere with our worship and work. Jesus demands from each of us a high standard of moral and ethical conduct.

He demands personal purity…” Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”  We might not see ourselves as flattering pictures of Christ, but in the things we say and do, we remind people that Christ dwells upon earth.  “Christianity is more than a vision…it is a life, a power, a mission for God. It is going somewhere; it is accomplishing something; it is increasing the forces of righteousness; it is translating routine into duty; it is making drudgery divine; it is finding out God and cooperating with Him in everyday life.”

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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Our Life Together


Our Life Together Series: Fellowship is God’s Way of Accomplishing His Plan of Glorifying Christ

The importance of fellowship to the church can be seen first in the fact that fellowship occurred naturally as a result of the establishment of the church.

Nobody had to come to the disciples and other new believers on the day of Pentecost and say, “You need to practice fellowship.” The Holy Spirit had come upon these people and formed an inner unity and their natural inclination was to exercise it outwardly. Acts 2:44-47 says this: And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,  praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This working together to accomplish God’s will continued in the church with the practice of a multiplicity of leadership, diversification of activities, giving to the needy, exercise of different spiritual gifts, support of missionaries, calls to different mission fields, corporate prayer, group worship, and in other ways.

But the importance of fellowship to the church does not rest solely upon the fact that it was the natural result of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Rather, its primary importance stems from the fact that:

Fellowship is the indispensable means of accomplishing the God-given purpose of the church. Let’s read together Ephesians 3:8-11.

We see in this passage that God has an eternal plan. The church has a part in accomplishing that plan. The phrase “through the church” in vs. 10 shows that the church is to be God’s instrument in accomplishing His plan. The purpose of the church as stated in vs. 10 is to show to the world the manifold or the many-faceted wisdom of God. So then, the purpose of the church is to hold God up to the world and display every glorious aspect of His being for all to see.

What is important to see here is that no individual working alone could ever fulfill this plan of showing every perfection of God for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So you see, the very nature of God’s plan necessitates the Godly capacities of many individuals added together to show His perfections to the world. You might say that God’s plan must be compared not to a solo but to a symphony.

Its beauty is impossible to capture in one note no matter how loud. Only by a full orchestra playing together can the beautiful harmony be fully captured. And this is what the Church is, God’s orchestra! In order to fully manifest God, each person must not only play his part but must play it together. So in God’s symphony—His plan, the score is the Bible which reveals His Son, Jesus Christ.

fellowshipThe instruments are our spiritual gifts and natural abilities. And the indispensable means we use to perform is fellowship, our co-participation in accomplishing His purpose. It is only as we work together in this way that it is possible to accomplish God’s plan. This is why fellowship is indispensable to the church. Some people are too quick to become church-hoppers and non-participants. They think the church can make it without them. However, 1 Corinthians 12 makes it clear that every single member of the body is necessary for its proper functioning. Because of the importance of fellowship, no one has the right to amputate themselves from the functioning body of Christ.

Practicing Fellowship  — You can practice fellowship by recognizing our goal and taking an active part where you can best help. People must recognize our goal. People often do not take part in a church because they see no clear purpose. As previously discussed, our purpose is to show God’s glory to the world in all the many ways He has instructed us in the Bible. We participate together seven days a week to glorify God, to do it His way, and to do it together.

You can practice fellowship by taking an active part where you can best help with this goal. You can discover where you can best help by recognizing your spiritual gifts and natural abilities and by knowing the needs of our church. Then help where you can make not just yourself, but the church as a whole, to be the most fruitful. If you do not know your spiritual gift, pitch in where you have a natural ability. As you work with others, your gifts will surface and you’ll find places you might function in our church according to your gifts and abilities.

Conclusion – Story of a man who had spent a summer on a pipeline crew. The first day, he was given a shovel and a piece of ground and told to dig six feet deep and three feet wide. By noon, he had dug down over his head and felt all alone at his work. By the middle of the afternoon he was pretty discouraged as he thought of the miles of line still to be dug. Finally, however, about five o’clock, he broke through into the trench the man in front of him was digging. As he cleared away the loose dirt, this man broke through into the next hole, and as they stood and watched, man after man broke through until several hundred feet of ditch was visible and my pastor felt quite a sense of accomplishment.

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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Our Life Together


Our Life Together Series: An Intimate Household (Mark 3:35)

“Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus not only called men into a personal relationship with himself, he called them into a fellowship with each other. There is a tendency today to employ terms from secular experiences to describe the fellowship of Christians.

Sometimes the athletic metaphor is used, and the church becomes a “team” intent on victory. From the business world comes the idea of the church as a business or a corporation, and its leaders take on the function of corporate board members. These terms have a limited usefulness but do not convey the depth and quality of the fellowship which Jesus intended.

Our Lord’s friends were sure that Jesus was confused, and possibly deranged! The great crowds they saw following Him, and the amazing reports they heard about Him, convinced them that He desperately needed help. He simply was not living a normal life, so His friends came to Capernaum to “take charge of Him.”

Then his mother and “brethren” (Mark 6:3) traveled thirty miles from Nazareth to plead with Him to come home and get some rest, but even they were unable to get near Him. This is the only place in the Gospel of Mark where Mary is seen, and her venture was a failure.

History reveals that God’s servants are usually misjudged by their contemporaries, and often misunderstood by their families. The great Apostle Paul was called mad (Acts 26:24-25).

Our Lord was not being rude to His family when He remained in the house and did not try to see them. He knew that their motives were right but their purpose was definitely wrong. If Jesus had yielded to His family, He would have played right into the hands of the opposition. The religious leaders would have said, “See, He agreed with His family—He needs help! Don’t take Jesus of Nazareth too seriously.”

Instead of giving in, He used this crisis as an opportunity to teach a spiritual lesson: His “family” is made up of all those who do the will of God. Our Lord’s half brothers were not believers  (John 7:1-5)  “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. {2} But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, {3} Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. {4} No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” {5} For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”

Jesus felt closer to the believing publicans and sinners than He did to James, Joses, Judah, and Simon, His half-brothers. Our Lord was not suggesting that believers ignore or abandon their families in order to serve God, but only that they put God’s will above everything else in life. Our love for God should be so great that our love for family would seem like hatred (“love less”) in comparison (Luke 14:26)  “”If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.”).

Certainly it is God’s will that we care for our families and provide for them (1 Timothy 5:8)  “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”), but we must not permit even our dearest loved ones to influence us away from the will of God. When you consider the importance of the family in the Jewish society, you can imagine how radical Christ’s words must have sounded to those who heard them.

The church is God’s household : (1 Timothy 3:15)  “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

Christ was their older brother, spiritually: (Hebrews 2:11)  “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”

They formed a brotherhood: (1 Peter 2:17)  “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” If the church loses this intimate sense of family life, it becomes an anonymous crowd of worshippers. It also loses an essential element of power which originally gave many people their security in an uncertain world.

In keeping with Jesus’ imagery of the family, the term which Jesus uses for individual believers is “brother.” At times the word can be used in a general sense to refer to the needy and the helpless, as in the story of the last judgment of Matthew 25.

Because the church is a family composed of brothers and sisters, there should be the unity that can overcome any kind of tension. However, even in the best of families there are times of tension. Discord is always the possibility where brothers and sisters live in close proximity to each other. Family unity does not just happen!  The point is that each of us stands in the identical place of this unmerciful servant: halfway between God and our brother. We’re between the forgiveness that is granted us and the forgiveness that is asked of us. There should be in the Christian community a capacity for forgiveness that is not found in other institutions, for the Christian is motivated by the forgiveness he has received.

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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in Our Life Together


Our Life Together Series: Foundations and Motivations (Acts 2:42) 

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

2.42Fellowship is second on God’s spiritual ‘hall of fame” items! Only doctrine comes before it, and that makes sense because “fellowship is based upon proper truth.” Fellowship rightfully follows obedience.

Life is not all vertical, any more than it is only horizontal. One writer suggested that “the cross points toward heaven-from earth; it also points to man while on earth.”

What if an observer came to this congregation to make a careful analysis of the church’s life in fellowship. He is a specialist in studying how groups work together, and he intends to compare us as a “community” to other secular groups in our city. When he comes, he will notice how we interact with each other in the worship assembly and in our Bible classes. He will also want to study to see if we really share in a common life outside of this building during the week.

What kind of things will he want to investigate? Group loyalty, our willingness to support each other in time of need, and the amount of time we spend enjoying the company of others. He will also pay attention to how well those who sit by each other during the assembly Sunday after Sunday really know each other.

Those who have put themselves in such a circumstance, and allowed others to come study them, find that the great majority of church members finally admit that they know only a small percentage of the people with whom they have been worshipping week after week. They were essentially an anonymous group of worshipers.

And what could be worse? Many questioned expressed little interest in becoming more involved in the lives of other members. They admitted that they needed to be able to bear the burdens of others and help when difficulties came into their lives…but they also admitted they had done very little of either of the two!

The New Testament exhorts us to care for one another as fellow members of the body of Christ. In fact, the Lord Jesus desires all believers to be functioning effectively as a partner/ members of His body, the church.

Paul has an important word for us on this very important matter in Ephesians 4:15-16: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. {16} From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

If the local church becomes a near-anonymous group of worshippers, we miss an indispensable part of what the Christian faith can do to enrich our lives. (Romans 1:11-12)  “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong– {12} that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

People still need human contact. The church is the glue that keeps us together when we disagree. It is the gasoline that keeps us going during the tough times. It is the guts that enables us to take risks when we need to.  Community … means people who have to learn how to care for each other. One of the greatest expressions of love is simply to notice people and to pay attention to them.

There are some issues within our society that works against fellowship: We are far more mobile and far busier than other generations; It’s tempting to avoid getting involved in the lives of others because they will likely move away and “it hurts too much” to say goodbye; We become so involved with ourselves that we cease to care for others; Some just fail to understand the Biblical teaching regarding this subject. Fellowship involves: relationship, partnership, companionship, and stewardship. The meaning of these two word groups can be boiled down to two main ideas: (1) “To share together, take part together” in the sense of participation and partnership, and (2) “To share with” in the sense of giving to or receiving from others, sharing what we have with one another.

Fellowship Means Relationship.  In the New Testament what is shared in common is shared first of all because of a common relationship that all Christians share together in Christ. The idea of an earthly fellowship founded upon just common interests, or human nature, or physical ties like in a family, or purely physical church affiliation, or merely self-centered interests that sport enthusiasts might share together was completely foreign to the Apostles. In the New Testament, believers can have fellowship on a horizontal plane and share together because they first of all have a vertical relationship with God through His Son, the Lord Jesus, and because they can share together in Christ’s life and hold His purposes in common.  No man should be alone when he opposes Satan. The church and the ministry of the Word were instituted for this purpose, that hands may be joined together and one may help another. If the prayer of one doesn’t help, the prayer of another will.

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Posted by on April 7, 2018 in Our Life Together


Our Life Together Series: A Mustard Seed People

This chapter records the events of a crisis day in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He knew that the growing opposition of the religious leaders would lead to His crucifixion. This fact He had to explain to His disciples. But their logical question would be, “What will happen to the kingdom about which we have been preaching?” That question is answered in this series of parables. So, He first explained the truth concerning the kingdom, and then later explained to them the facts about the Cross.

repentanceOur Lord’s use of parables puzzled the disciples. He had used some parables in His teaching already, but on that day He gave a series of seven interrelated parables, then added an eighth. The word parable means “to cast alongside.” It is a story, or comparison, that is put alongside something else to help make the lesson clear. Why did Jesus teach in parables? Two reasons were given: because of the sluggishness of the people (Matt. 13:10-17) and because it was prophesied in Psalm 78:2 (Matt. 13:34-35).

Jesus did not teach in parables to confuse or condemn the people. Rather, He sought to excite their interest and arouse their curiosity. These parables would give light to those with trusting, searching hearts. But they would bring darkness to the unconcerned and unrepentant.

But these are not ordinary parables; Jesus called them “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:11). In the New Testament, a “mystery” is a spiritual truth understood only by divine revelation. It is a “sacred secret” known only to those “on the inside” who learn from the Lord and obey Him.

Read Matthew 13:24-30.  The pictures in this parable would be clear and familiar to a Palestinian audience. Tares were one of the curses against which a farmer had to labor.  They were a weed called bearded darnel.  In their early stages the tares so closely resembled the wheat that it was impossible to distinguish the one from the other.  When both had headed out it was easy to distinguish them; but by that time their roots were so intertwined that the tares could not be weeded out without tearing the wheat out with them.

Thomson in The Land and the Book tells how he saw the tares in the Wady Hamam:  “The grain is just in the proper stage of development to illustrate the parable.  In those parts where the grain has headed out, the tares (bearded darnel) have done the same, and there a child cannot mistake them for wheat or barley; but when both are less developed, the closest scrutiny will often fail to detect them.  I cannot do it at all with any confidence.  Even the farmers, who in this country generally weed their fields, do not attempt to separate the one from the other.  They would not only mistake good grain for them, but very commonly the roots of the two are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them without plucking up both.  Both, therefore, must be left to grow together until the time of harvest.”

The wheat and tares could not be safely separated when both were growing, but in the end they had to be separated, because the grain of the bearded darnel is slightly poisonous.  It causes dizziness and sickness and is narcotic in its effects, and even a small amount has a bitter and unpleasant taste.  In the end it was usually separated by hand.  So then the darnel in its early stages was indistinguishable from the wheat, but in the end it had to be laboriously separated from it, or the consequences were serious.

The picture of a man deliberately sowing darnel in someone else’s field is by no means only imagination.  That was actually sometimes done.  To this day in India one of the direst threats which a man can make to his enemy is “I will sow bad seed in your field.”  And in codified Roman law this crime is forbidden and its punishment laid down.

(i)  It teaches us that there is always a hostile power in the world, seeking and waiting to destroy the good seed.  Our experience is that both kinds of influence act upon our lives, the influence which helps the seed of the word to flourish and to grow, and the influence which seeks to destroy the good seed before it can produce fruit at all.  The lesson is that we must be forever on our guard.

(ii)  It teaches us how hard it is to distinguish between those who are in the Kingdom and those who are not.  A man may appear to be good and may in fact be bad; and a man may appear to be bad and may yet be good.  Only God knows the heart. We are much too quick to classify people and label them good or bad without knowing all the facts

Jesus is telling us that His community will always be a mixed community; the church will always have its sinners and hypocrites. Only at the harvest will the final separation take place. The church will always be a mixture of the “good and the bad” and it is God who will be responsible for making the final separation.

 (iii)  It teaches us not to be so quick with our judgments.  If the reapers had had their way, they would have tried to tear out the darnel and they would have torn out the wheat as well.  Judgment had to wait until the harvest came.  A man in the end will be judged, not by any single act or stage in his life, but by his whole life.  A man may make a great mistake, and then redeem himself and, by the grace of God, atone for it by making the rest of life a lovely thing.  A man may live an honorable life and then in the end wreck it all by a sudden collapse into sin.  No one who sees only part of a thing can judge the whole; and no one who knows only part of a man’s life can judge the whole man.

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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in Our Life Together


‘One Another’ Commands of Scripture: Foundations and Motivations

Repeatedly the New Testament exhorts us to care for one another as fellow members of the body of Christ. In fact, the Lord Jesus desires all believers to be functioning effectively as a partner/members of His body, the church.

Paul has an important word for us on this very important matter in Ephesians 4:15-16: But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

This One Another care is to be an outworking of our fellowship with other believers, but we seem to have lost sight of what the Bible means when it speaks of fellowship. Too often when Christians think of fellowship they think in terms of what goes on in that room in the church called “fellowship hall.” Since fellowship is a very important part of caring for one another this study will begin by answering the question—what is meant by fellowship in the New Testament?

And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42, emphasis mine).

A study of two word groups used for fellowship in the Greek New Testament, koinos (koinov), koinonia (koinwnia), koinonos (koinwov), etc., and metochos (metocov), metoche (metoch), express four related and essential elements that describe what fellowship involves: relationship, partnership, companionship, and stewardship.[1] The meaning of these two word groups can be boiled down to two main ideas:

(1) “To share together, take part together” in the sense of participation and partnership, and

(2) “To share with” in the sense of giving to or receiving from others, sharing what we have with one another.

Since fellowship is so important and forms an essential foundation for understanding the ministry we are to have with one another, let’s look at these four main concepts of New Testament fellowship.

Fellowship Means Relationship

In the New Testament what is shared in common is shared first of all because of a common relationship that all Christians share together in Christ. Koinonia (koinwnia) was an impor­tant word to both John and Paul, but it was never used in merely a secular sense. It always had a spiritual orientation, a spiritual base, and a spiritual purpose.

The idea of an earthly fellowship founded upon just common interests, or human nature, or physical ties like in a family, or purely physical church affiliation, or merely self-centered interests that sport enthusiasts might share together was completely foreign to the Apostles.

In the New Testament, believers can have fellowship on a horizon­tal plane and share together because they first of all have a vertical relationship with God through His Son, the Lord Jesus, and because they can share together in Christ’s life and hold His purposes in common (cf. 1 Cor. 1:9 with vs. 10f, then see 1 John 1:3). Interestingly, the NEB translates 1 John 1:3 as, “what we have seen and heard we declare to you, so that you and we together may share in a common life, that life which we share with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”


(1) New Testament fellowship is first a sharing together in a common life, the life of the Savior, with other believers through relationship with God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2) Fellowship is, therefore, first and foremost a relationship, rather than an activity. Any activity that follows is to flow out of this relationship. Here is the common ground, the core and the heart beat of all Christian fellowship that is truly biblical.

(3) This means that fellowship occurs in two spheres or levels—the vertical and the horizontal—and each supports and promotes the other.

Fellowship Means Partnership

Both word groups could also mean to share together in the sense of a partnership. As sharers together of the person and life of Jesus Christ, we are automatically copartners in His enterprise here on earth. If we are truly sharing in His life through the Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we will also share in His concerns, goals, priorities, and leadership.

The idea of partnership is easily illustrated in the use of both of these word groups, koinonos and metachos in Luke 5:7, 10.

Luke 5:7 and they signaled to their partners (metchos, mevtoco”) in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.

Luke 5:10 and so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners (koinos, koinwnov”) with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”


(1) The word “relationship” describes what we are: A community of people bound together by our common life and blessings that we share together through our relationship with Christ.

(2) The word “partnership” describes how we are related to each other in that relationship: We are partners in an enterprise and calling in which we are to work together in a common purpose to obtain common objectives for the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Phil 1:27).

Fellowship Means Companionship, Communion

Definition of Companionship:

Companionship is the interchange or the communication (communion) that exists among companions, those associated together through a relationship they hold in common. So, what’s the key ingredient to companionship? Communication. Key words would include ideas like interchange, communion, sharing.

Definition of Communication:

Communication is the interchange or the sharing of concepts, feelings, ideas, information, needs, burdens, etc., through words or other symbols like body language and actions so that all members of the relationship can share and thus minister to each other as they have opportunity and are sensitive to the needs of one another.

In the Christian community, fellowship means learning to communicate on a spiritual level through a mutual sharing of the things of Christ by means of the Word, the Spirit-controlled life, and the ministries and gifts of the various members of the body of Christ.

But what’s the purpose of this? To promote a fuller appreciation of Christ and His sufficiency for our lives, whatever life brings, through mirroring and ministering Him to one another.

What does companionship through communication include? Well, remember, there are two spheres of planes of fellowship. So it would include:

  • The Vertical—our communion and fellowship with the Lord through the Word, prayer, and the filling of the Holy Spirit, the abiding life.
  • The Horizontal—our communion and fellowship with the body of Christ, with other believers.

Our horizontal fellowship includes at least three things:

(1) Obviously, it must first include assembling ourselves together: (a) Assembly of the whole body (Acts. 2:42; Heb. 10:25). (b) Assembling in smaller groups (2 Tim. 2:2). (c) Meeting together one on one (1 Thess. 5:11).

(2) Sharing and communicating together. But what are some of the ways we can do this?

(a) Sharing truth with one another, sharing with others what God has taught us with a view to building others up (Rom. 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Thess 5:11; Philemon 6).

(b) Sharing together in the company of others the various aspects of worship as (1) the Lord’s supper (communion) (1 Cor. 10:16); (2) the singing of hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16); (3) prayer (1 Cor. 14:16-17); (4) the ministry of the Word (Acts 20:20; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).

(c) Sharing together as partners in the needs, burdens, concerns, joys, and blessings for the purpose of encouragement, comfort, challenge or exhortation, praise, prayer, and physical help according to needs and ability (cf. Phil. 1:5 with 1:15; cf. also Phil. 1:27 with 2:4; 4:3; finally note Rom. 12:15; and 1 Thess. 5:11, 14, 15; Heb. 10:33).

This means we must develop the loving art of communication for the purpose of ministry, encouragement, and edification. It means: (a) The willingness to share our own hurts, burdens, and aspirations. (b) The willingness to really hear what others are saying so we may minister to needs according to the directives of the Word. (c) Above all, it means developing a very definite motivation, the motivation of words that are acceptable in God’s sight and that edify others (Ps. 19:14 and Eph. 4:29). Every motivation of our hearts and every word out of our mouths must be consistent with the purpose of building others up. Paul is telling us that we should utter nothing that compromises or interferes with this objective.

Interestingly, Scripture does not tell us what words to say; rather, it tells us what our motivation should be. It is this motivation which, if right, will control our thoughts and then our words.

The ultimate goal here is to build up and enrich others in the things of Christ so they may experience the sufficiency of His life. As the early church was first devoted to the apostles teaching, they were also devoted to sharing with one another of the all-encompassing sufficiency of the Savior and what Christ was meaning to them (Acts. 2:42; Heb. 3:12-14).

Fellowship Means Stewardship

A steward is one who manages the property of another. He is not an owner, he is only a manager. All that we have in reality belongs to God (Ps. 50:10-11; 104:24-25; Dan. 2:38), and it is required of stewards that they be found faithful to the stewardship entrusted to them (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

This stewardship includes five general areas: time, talents (spiritual gifts), temple (our bodies as the very dwelling place of the Spirit [1 Cor. 6:19]), God’s truth, and our treasures (our earthly goods).

As stewards we must recognize that all we have belongs to the Lord and has been given to us as trusts from God to invest for His purposes. We have the privilege and responsibility to invest every aspect of our lives, including of course our material possessions for the work of promoting the gospel and helping others in need. But good stewardship stems from recognizing that our relation­ship to Jesus Christ also means our partnership with Christ in His enterprise on earth.

In any good partnership, the partners share equally in all aspects of the partnership:

  1. the privileges and responsibilities,
  2. the assets and liabilities,
  3. the blessings and burdens.

What kind of partnership would it be if one partner took all the income and enjoyed all the privileges of the partnership and the other partner did all the work and paid all the bills? Would you enter a partnership like that? No, probably not! Partners are to share and share alike in all the aspects of their enterprise. A good example is what we see in Luke 5:7-10. The partners may not do the same things. They usually work and share according to their abilities, expertise, and training, but they still share the load.

It is interesting that one of the most prominent uses of the koinonia group of words is its use in connection with sharing material blessings: giving money to meet financial needs. In 36 uses of these word groups, 9 times they are used specifically in connection with giving and in a couple of other passages giving would be included among other aspects of fellowship or working together as partners in the stewardship of all we are (Acts 2:42 and Phil. 1:5; Heb. 10:33).

Some specific passages where giving is in view are:

  1. Koinoneo, koinonew—Rom. 12:13; 15:27; Gal. 6:6; Phil. 4:15
  2. Koinonia, koinwnia—Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:13; Heb. 13:16
  3. Koinonikos, koinwniko”—1 Tim. 6:18
  4. Metecho, metevcw—1 Cor. 9:10, note context in vss. 9-14

What does all this mean? It means that as partners in Christ’s enterprise on earth, we each need to share and invest all aspects of our stewardship with others in the realization that we are not owners, only stewards of what God has entrusted (not given, but entrusted) to each of us.

The following verses stress this with all aspects of our stewardship:

  1. Time—Eph. 5:16; Ps. 90:12; 39:4-6
  2. Truth—1 Cor. 4:1; 9:17; 1 Tim. 4:6f; 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14; Rom. 3:2; 1 Thess. 2:4
  3. Talents or Spiritual Gifts—1 Pet. 4:10-11
  4. Treasures—1 Tim. 6:18-19; Matt. 6:19-21; 2 Cor. 8:3-4, 7-8; 9:6-15
  5. Temple—1 Cor. 6:19

Returning to the subject of the One Another injunctions of Scripture, the big question is, “How do we have the kind of fellowship that encourages, edifies, and serves one another?”

To focus our attention to the One Another concept, the Holy Spirit used a special Greek word, a reciprocal pronoun, allelon (allelwn) meaning “one another.” The term “reciprocal” means “mutual, shared, shown or felt alike by both sides; united in feelings, actions, responsibilities, and attitudes.” Reciprocal implies a return in due measure by each side in the matter discussed. This reciprocal pronoun is frequently used in statements and injunctions to Christians regarding the responsibilities that believers are to engage in for the mutual help and blessing of one another. The frequency of these injunctions point up the importance of this truth to the growth, health, and ministry of the body of Christ.

All together these One Another passages may be grouped together into 18 or more specific categories of responsibility where Christians are to be ministering in the lives of fellow members of the body of Christ. Just a brief look at these passages will quickly reveal two things: (a) the need we each have of the ministry and aid of others, and (b) our responsibility to minister to others.

As members of the body of Christ (Romans 12:5) we are also members of one another. Just as all the members of our bodies (arms, legs, head, etc.) are diverse and consist of many members, so believers are all part of one body with each one being essential. The One Another passages and injunctions remind us:

(1) That no man is an island—no individual believer can function effectively by himself. We need the help and love of other members of the body. We need encouragement, counsel, prayer, or physical help, depending on our particular needs at any given moment.

(2) That every believer is important and essential to the proper function of the church—the body of Christ. While this will vary in one’s life, still, each believer needs help in some way, but also each has something to contribute to the well being, growth, and ministry of the body of Christ.

Foundations and Motivations for the One Another Commands

A study of these One Another passages yield a number of principles that lay the foundation and set forth the reasons why God has given us these exhortations in the New Testament. The following principles speak strongly against our age of independence, loneliness, and insensitivity to others. The tendency is for people to simply do their own thing and go their own way in their search for happiness regardless of the needs of others or upon whom they may trample in the process. Ironically, when we pursue this path, we are searching for happiness in all the wrong places. Indeed, when we do this we have followed the deceptions of the world and Satan; we have placed our trust in the wrong things, worshipping what we think they can give us, rather than resting in God and His plan for our lives (see Matt. 4:8-11). So what constitutes the foundation and motivational reasons for the One Another injunctions of Scripture?

Because We are God’s Children

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;

As will be demonstrated in the following paragraphs, the One Another passages are a commentary on how to love and care for one another in the body of Christ. In Ephesians 5:1, especially when understood in its context that precedes (note the words “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, …” 4:32), and the context that follows (“walk in love, …” 5:2), the Apostle gives us the greatest of all reasons and the highest standard one can imagine. The “therefore” (oun, oun) introduces the close of the preceding section on Christian behavior, particularly in the realm of that which manifests love for others like forgiveness. There is no gap between 4:32 and 5:1. The “therefore” (oun, oun) may be regarded as synoptic—“in a word.” (NEB)[2]

The Apostle is telling us we are to become in life, in our daily experience, what we are in reality as believers in Christ. We are the children of God through the new birth and as the children of God we are to grow up like our heavenly Father, we are to imitate His character since He is the epitome of love, a love that is kind toward one another, that forgives just as God in Christ has also forgiven us (4:32), and that was demonstrated in the gift of the Lord Jesus, God’s Son who gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (5:2). Anything short of this is inconsistent with who we are in Christ and the miraculous regenerating work of God. To be unloving as God’s children is an absurdity.

Because We are Brethren

Acts 7:26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’

Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

The New Testament clearly states that faith in Christ results in spiritual regeneration, the new birth, born again by the Spirit of God into the family of God. We become related to God as His spiritual children and to all other believers in Christ as brethren regardless of gender, race, culture, education, or position in society. We become a part of one huge spiritual family. We share the same spiritual Father, the same spiritual blessings, and as a family we should have a special love for one another. The One Another emphasis of the New Testament is closely tied to the fact of our spiritual relationship as brethren.

Brethren should work together, love, and serve one another. This was the point of Moses as recorded in Acts 7:26. Because we are brethren—family—we have a special relationship and should care for one another.

Because We are Members of One Another

Romans 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

The New Testament also teaches that when we put our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit joins us through Spirit baptism into union with Christ and His Spiritual body, the church. To show just how we are related to each other and how we should therefore act toward one another, the New Testament uses the analogy of the human body. The concept of the church as the body of Christ is a recurrent analogy and one rich in meaning.

In the three passages above, this analogy and relationship are used as the basis for various One Another responsibilities. As with the many and varied members of the human body, so we, as believers in Christ, are members of one another and we are to live, think, and act accordingly. We are to act in ways that are consistent with a caring and unified body under one head—Christ. When we think or act otherwise, we both hinder and hurt the proper function of the body. This truth is to be a protection against division.

The One Another actions of the body are the natural and necessary products of being members of one body. These actions promote unity, care of one another, and result in greater effectiveness through diversity and the use of our gifts. The One Another passages of the New Testament are designed to hinder independent individualism, apathy toward other believers, ineffectiveness of the church through idle members, and the spirit of clericalism and “spectatoritis.”

Because We are Taught by God to Love One Another

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

Some instructions for Christians come through their brethren in Christ. But other lessons are taught by God to His children directly, things that almost intuitively seem right for a Christian to do. Loving other Christians is such a lesson. Christians quickly learn that there is a real kinship between believers, and they relate to other Christians in a way they do not relate to those outside God’s family. The Thessalonians had already learned to love each other even though they were new Christians. Paul pointed out that God Himself had taught them this.[3]

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

The writer now returned to the subject of love which, like faith in God’s Son (v. 13), is a product of the Spirit. As a confession of the incarnate person of Christ marks one off as being actuated by God (i.e., “from God,” verses 4, 6) so does love, since love comes from God. Hence, one who loves (in the Christian sense of that term) has been born of God (cf. 2:29; 3:9; 5:1, 4, 18) and he knows God. Love stems from a regenerate nature and also from fellowship with God which issues in knowing Him (see 2:3-5). The absence of love is evidence that a person does not know God. Significantly, John did not say such a person is not born of God. In the negative statement only the last part of the positive one (in 4:7) is repeated. Since God is love, intimate acquaintance with Him will produce love. Like light (1:5), love is intrinsic to the character and nature of God, and one who is intimately acquainted with God walks in His light (1:7).[4]

1 John 4:12 No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

Again, the apostle shows that loving one another is a proof of fellowship—the abiding life. In John’s terminology, the words, “God abides in us” refers not to the indwelling presence of God, but to fellowship or the abiding life.

Because God has Loved Us

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Caring for one another is a response to God’s love for us and His purposes through us. Since we have experienced the gift of God’s love and the new life it brings, we ought to love others as the recipients of this new life. Those who have been so touched by God’s grace, ought to love one another as a response of gratitude, but also as a living manifestation of God’s love to others, a visible manifestation of the true but invisible God (cf. 4:12).

Because It’s the Expression and Fulfillment of God’s Word and Will

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Matthew 22:35-40 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus means that no commandment is greater. These two commands stand to the rest of Scripture as source, sum, substance, and goal. This means that the rest of Scripture, like these One Another commands, provide us with a commentary on these two responsibilities setting forth the means, manner, motive, method, and destination of our lives.

Without the reality of these two commands in our lives as both source and course, derivation and destination, obedience to the rest of Scripture will become merely legalistic demands. The legal demands become burdens that we seek to obey to gain points with God and with men, and all our works and ministries naturally become acts of self-love. They are things we do for praise, power, position, or to feel better about ourselves.

Matthew’s account which adds, “on these two commandments depend the whole Law and the prophets” and Paul’s statement, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law,” stress that our ability to enter in and fulfill the rest of Scripture hinges like a door on the reality of these two paramount commands. Without the reality of these two, we will miserably fail to be the people God has called us to be.

(1) The Principle of Source (Internal Controls)

Love for God and our neighbor becomes our source and means of obedience in the other imperatives of Scripture by virtue of internal motives and the inner ability to carry out the commands of God by the power of God’s love operating in us by the ministry of His Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22; 1 Thess. 4:2-9).

(2) The Principle of Supervision (External Controls)

We need the imperatives, principles, promises, and guidelines of Scripture as a whole to guide us in the wise expression of God’s love so that it does not degenerate into mere sentimentality, self-indulgence, or the compromise of righteousness. The rest of Scripture, like a light in the darkness, gives us the revealed will of God in the expression of how to love. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians in Philippians 1:9-10 reminds us not only of the need of more and more love, but love with spiritual and biblical discernment.

(3) The Principle of Substance and Summary (Controls Defined and Directed)

Love for God and one another is the very essence, heart, goal, and substance of the rest of Scripture. These two commands sum up the rest of God’s commands in His Holy Word.

As a kind of summary of Matthew 22:34f; Mark 12:29-31, and Romans 13:8, please note the following:

(1) This means that the rest of Scripture and the One Another injunctions give us God’s commentary on loving God and loving one another. They provide us with the means, manner, motive and method. The other commands like those against murder, stealing, adultery, etc., are never the end or goal in themselves, but find their meaning and purpose in these two things—love for God and love for others who are made in the image of God (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5).

(2) Morality without the knowledge of God and the absolutes of Scripture cannot long exist. Moral living must be founded on the reality of God, man’s love for God, and the absolutes of the Bible. If this is not the foundation, morality will crumble and with it society.

(3) These passages stress the necessity of a heart relationship with God through the Word of God. Love for others can only grow out of the soil of love for God as it is fed and watered by fellowship with God in His Word. Without this, you and I will end up with a life that is pharisaic (i.e., external, sterile, artificial, petty, critical, selfish, and lifeless). Our actions of love, if we have any, will be full of hypocrisy. Compare Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy.”

(4) In these passages we also find the concept of vision. Vision means having God’s Word, and from the insight it brings into one’s life, seeing as God sees and allowing that sight to direct one’s path. Having vision flows out of devotion to God’s person. But to have vision we must start with God’s Word and our relationship with Him.

Because We Want to Glorify Him

1 Peter 4:10-11 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here is a wonderful passage that calls us to serve one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God according to the particular gifts God has given us, whether a service gift or a speaking kind of gift, for both are given to enable us to minister to one another. But the basis and motivation for whatever we do is God’s glory that in all things He may be glorified through the Savior. Only through our new life in Him do we have both the needed spiritual gifts for ministry, and the capacity and strength to live an other-oriented, non-selfish life as epitomized in both the Father’s gift of His Son and the Son’s gift of His own life for us.

With these seven principles as a basis for our thinking and response to God’s grace and purposes, let’s look at some of the One Another injunctions of the New Testament.

The Basic and Primary Commandment:
“Love One Another”

Our Responsibility in Loving One Another

John 15:12, 17 This is My commandment, that you love one another, …  This I command you, that you love one another.

Loving and caring for one another is not an option for the Christian. It is a mandate. It is solid proof of our love for the Lord and our fellowship with Him.

Our Example in Loving One Another

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

The Lord provides us with the perfect human example in every way, manner, degree, extent, and purpose. Though being God of very God, He left heaven’s glory and became a servant in the form of humanity, and He went to the cross to bear the shame of our sin and guilt. He did all this with a specific goal in mind—to bring men to God and heal their lives (1 Pet. 2:21).

And so it must be with us. God has left us here to minister.

Our Means and Motive in Loving One Another

Galations 5:13-26 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

The One Another commands, as with all the injunctions of Scripture, can only be carried out when we are controlled by the Spirit and thus filled with the love of God. Without the control of the Spirit, we will become indifferent to the needs of other, being dominated by the deeds of the flesh, and we will seek to meet our own needs for significance, praise, applause, or the approbation of men at the expense of others (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5).

Our Objectives in Loving One Another

(1) For a testimony to the world of the reality of God’s love in Christ: John 13:35: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

(2) For loves continues to increase:

(a) Increase: “and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you” (1 Thess. 3:12); and (b) Intensity and Spiritual Source: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).

(3) For ministry and service to others: Ultimately, ministry and service summarize all the One Another injunctions that follow as expressions of God’s love for others.


God has called us to be a ministering people. Every born again Christian is a believer-priest (a minister by calling) who is to serve in various ways both inside and outside the church. The following are some questions we each need to ask:

(1) Ask God where He wants you to serve Him in ministry to others. The fields are white, the needs are all around us. We need to ask and pray that He will thrust us out as labors into the harvest.

(2) Ask God to burden your heart for the area of ministry He has for you. Note the three-fold work of the Godhead in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. The word “varieties” used in this passage can also be translated as “distributions” which brings out the sovereign direction of God in our ministries. There is (a) the giving of gifts for ministry by the Holy Spirit (vs. 4), (b) the Lord Jesus’ direction in ministry (vs. 5), and (c) the Father’s blessing and prospering of those ministries (vs. 6).

(3) Ask God to give you a vision for ministry, to make you bold and available. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, …” Vision ultimately refers to God’s revelation to us as we have it today in the Bible. And it is this book that gives us God’s vision or revelation of His purpose for us in loving and ministering for others for Him here on this earth, but this will only occur when it takes shape in specifics as we find the areas of ministry where God wants to use us.


[1] See Jerry Bridges discussion of these four in relation to koinonia in his book, True Fellowship, Navpress, Colorado Spirngs, 1985, pp. 16-23.

[2] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor, Vol. 11, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1981,  p. 66.

[3] John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Scripture Press, Wheaton, IL, 1983, 1985, electronic media, p. 702.

[4] Ibid., pp. 898-99.

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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Our Life Together

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