Our Sweetest Fellowship

May we hold to sound doctrine. It is the basis of our sweetest fellowship.

“I am offended by what you said to me about our fellowship.” This statement was made by a friend I worked with at UPS. He was a Christian but we had doctrinal differences. He was from a charismatic church background. We had been discussing the differences in our view of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. As we talked, it became more obvious the depth of differences. I made the observation that our fellowship would never be as close as it would be if we agreed on these areas of doctrine. The differences would keep us from certain levels of fellowship. He came to me later and said that had offended him. Of course, I apologized but the truth is the truth.

The problem had nothing to do with friendship or love for one another. Those things were there in our relationship. He is a brother in Christ and I believe we will be together with the Lord forever. I enjoyed working with him. But I found when we talked of spiritual things, there was something preventing us from getting deep. It was different that the friendships I had at my home church. There we agreed on a deeper level of doctrine.

I have found my sweetest fellowship to be with those who hold the same doctrine. Yes, I have learned and changed in some small areas; such as my interpretation of Hebrews 6 and Romans 7. I still enjoy discussing those passages with close friends. But the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is a major teaching. Differences there definitely limit fellowship.

Which doctrines are important? When someone new comes into the church with a different view of the rapture or election and freewill, we watch them. It seems the first thing they want to do is find people who agree with their particular view. They will even try to convince others. They feel it is important. If they find someone in agreement, they become close friends. We have closer fellowship with those whom we agree.

Some say we should give grace. I agree and seek to do that. But I realize, when they have differing view of doctrine, my fellowship will not be as close. They realize that too and that is why they seek to get others to agree with them. Of course, they say they are just trying to teach others what they have learned. Sometimes these people have caused much difficulty in churches. It is especially troubling to the church when a pastor suddenly changes his doctrine to something outside the long standing position of the church.

I like having discussions about doctrine when people do not let the flesh take over the conversation. I have seen people get angry or so passionate that the veins bulge in their necks. When we are serious students of the Word, we should be able to have these conversations. We should be able to look at Scripture and ask, “What does God teach about that?” If we do not come to an agreement then, there will be an issue with our fellowship about that area. Can we acknowledge that? Our closest and sweetest fellowship will come with those we agree. Yes, let’s minister grace.

Wisdom comes when we understand the importance of a particular doctrine and the levels of fellowship that result from differences. That is why the “Fundamentals” we established. They were seeking the important doctrines and determining the levels of fellowship or separation that resulted.

We understand this issue because churches have articles of faith. Those doctrines are the basis of their fellowship. If you want to be a part, you must agree to the doctrine.

May we hold to sound doctrine. It is the basis of our sweetest fellowship.

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