Sermon: Fellowship That *was* At Sound Doctrine Church

Written by Timothy

Fellowship That *was* At Sound Doctrine
The church no longer is in existence.

Sunday worship was at 1:30 in the afternoon so we could give our best to God.

Sound Doctrine Church was remarkably busy and productive in the community.

Persecution and prosecution of one individual that was setup drove Sound Doctrine Church out of town.

We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness. (1 Thessalonians 2:2-5)



1. We are a bunch of hypocrites aiming for perfection.

2. We are stumblers who catch one another to keep each other from falling.

3. We are to have fun without being engrossed in the things of the world.

4. We have money in its proper perspective, but we want to hate it.

5. We have all things in common, but the church doesn’t demand a thing.

6. We are opinionated individuals seeking to be of one mind.

7. We are selfish brats who are seeking to love one another.

8. Church attendance is required, but no one is expected to show up.

9. We are a body with hearts that are too embarrassing for some of us to be shown in public.

10. We are more loving than people imagine, but as judging as they imagine.

11. We love the dark corners of our lives, but are foolishly coming in to the light.

12. We seek to do God’s will our way, but we keep bumping into the cross.

13. We are so full of hate that we love one another.

14. We are as serious as death, but joyful as the resurrected life.

15. We are a church where fighting is encouraged, but unity is demanded.

16. We are so prideful and independent, but we know we need each other.

17. This is a place where men who do not want to lead are in positions of leadership and women who want to lead are in positions of being servants.

18. Where one message is preached, but its manifestation is shown in thousands of different ways.

19. Where self-effort is condemned, but obedience is demanded.

20. Where noble reasons are destroyed, but godliness is expected.

1. We are a bunch of hypocrites aiming for perfection. That is basically how I think we are and how we should see ourselves.

Ephesians 5:8 – For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

At one time we walked around in darkness. We were darkness. That is all we could do was live in darkness. Even our best religious days of the past, when we thought we were serving God and were the closest to him, we look back now and think, “That was complete darkness.” So, we were a bunch of hypocrites saying one thing, claiming to be part of Jesus Christ, claiming to be full of Holy Spirit, but we were liars. We were not, and when the cross came along, it demonstrated that to be a fact.

1 Peter 2:1 – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

And so, we are a bunch of hypocrites seeking to get rid of hypocrisy. We should, as 2 Corinthians 13:11 says, aim for perfection. Everything in Scripture we acknowledge to be true, but notice how frustrating it is to talk about or even begin to live. On the one hand, we know that we are hypocrites. We know that we are darkness. We know that there are a lot of things that need to change. And yet, we are hypocrites who are now seeking to be perfect. That means a lot of things will change and be exposed, and a lot of things will come out that we never thought were sin before because we were hypocrites. We believed our own words. We believed our own lies. In the past we fellowshipped with people who reinforced those lies for us because they were darkness and we were darkness. We were bumping into each other, reaffirming that which we celebrated.

2 Corinthians 13:11 – … Aim for perfection …

We are hypocrites saying, “I will be perfect today,” and that creates conflict in our lives with the gospel and with the light.

2 Corinthians 13:11 -…listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

It is only as we aim for perfection that we can expect a God of love to be among us. So, this is a very frustrating kind of fellowship. When people come in, depending on their heart and attitude, they see one side or the other. Very few people put both together. Sometimes individuals see the love and they begin to participate in the love, but then they bump into the cross and get frustrated as it begins to reveal their flesh and they don’t want to be a part of that. Or, sometimes they will come into the body and see the judgment where we are condemning hypocrisy in everyone’s lives and they will say there is no love. The truth is, both things are present. There is a great deal of love and there is a great deal of hypocrisy. It is the love and the light that will destroy the hypocrisy. That is what fellowship is like. Everybody comes together and honestly says, “I am a hypocrite, but I am going to aim for perfection in Jesus Christ.”

2. We are stumblers who catch one another so that we don’t fall. I want us to see this very clearly and very plainly. Not only are we hypocrites coming into the light, seeing where we need to be, but when we begin to live it, guess what will happen.

James 3:2 – We all stumble in many ways.

When you begin to stumble, you try to catch yourself and pick yourself up, but you keep stumbling over your stumbling until eventually, if you can’t get your balance again, you fall. The body is about watching your brother or sister start to stumble and reaching out to catch them to stop them from stumbling. Sometimes a person reaching out to stop that person from stumbling begins to stumble with them also. It may take a whole group effort to keep all of us from stumbling and falling down. We first acknowledge that we are stumblers who are seeking to come into the light, seeking to be perfect, but we are asking an impossible thing. We are asking God to take that which is made of clay, that which is prone to sin, that which loves the darkness, and to make us perfect and holy. We have a gospel call that says we are to be a holy, righteous, and perfect people, and we are told even by God as we begin to set out to do that, that we will stumble in many ways… not in a few ways. Look at it again!

James 3:2 – We all stumble in many ways.

Just when you have one thing down you will stumble in something else. Or when you think you have been doing fine for a couple of days, you begin to move a little bit faster and then you begin to stumble again. So, what is our fellowship like? It is everybody watching out for everybody else and when we start to see a brother or sister stumble, we reach out to catch them. And, we hope that we can be caught also, that we are humble enough for other people to come to us to keep us from falling down completely.

3. We can have fun without enjoying it. I wish we had time to go more into this because we really haven’t gotten into this whole issue of fun. First Corinthians 7:29 tells us that we are to have fun without enjoying it. There is always to be that element of the cross in our life.

1 Corinthians 7:29 – What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.

We realize what is really important right now and it is not having fun, even though we may have some times of real fun.

1 Corinthians 7:29-30 – From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not.

And so, there are a lot of fun things that we get to do in Jesus Christ, but we are to have fun in those things as if we were not having fun. Now, this is easier to explain than it is actually to put into practice, for how does one have the cross in everything they do, even when they are having fun? Usually when a church body begins to get a hold of denying self and the message of the cross, they lay down a whole set of rules of things you cannot do. But, that is not the nature of the Christian walk. It is much more difficult than that. It is to sit down with a group of people at a banquet, to be accused of being a glutton and a drunkard, and yet have the cross in the middle of that which you are doing. It is being salt and light in all circumstances, even when you are rejoicing or resting in the Lord or doing something that looks like fun to everybody else on the outside.

1 Corinthians 7:30 – …those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

God seeks to come along with the cross to crucify our indulgence of fun, our flesh that would love fun or justify fun, but that doesn’t mean that he takes away fun. It means he seeks to purify it. Now, let me give you a little hint here, this is not to justify your 9 o’clock TV watching. That is not to say, “It is Friday. OK, now I can have fun in the Lord.” We are talking about the cross here. I guarantee you, the odds are that you will not be able to have fun on the Friday that you anticipate having fun on. It may be at 9 o’clock when everybody else’s evening is settling down that God will say, “I want you to pick up the phone and call somebody,” or you will receive a phone call or need to go somewhere. It means that the cross will guide you as to when to have fun, but it doesn’t mean that we lay down rules that say we can never have fun. On the other hand, if we lost all fun today we should rejoice in that also. This isn’t going to be a body where we seek to do nothing but be miserable and sad to look holy and righteous, nor is thwill a body that seeks to find all the fun things we can do just to prove that Christians can have fun and follow Jesus Christ at the same time. We are simply going to pick up our cross and follow God. If that happens to lead into fun things, we will rejoice in that, and if it happens to lead into trials, we will call that pure joy.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

There is a proper time to have fun in a person’s life. There is a proper time to do things that are relaxing in Jesus Christ. But, I assure you that it is not in your flesh’s proper time. It is in God’s timing, and that is what cross came to work.

Ecclesiastes 3:2-4 – …there is a time to be born and time a die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh…

There is a time in which we should be laughing, but true fellowship is knowing when the laughter should stop and the serious discussion should start. So much of walking in the light and fellowshipping with each other is rejoicing and being happy, but in an instant being able to become deadly serious in Jesus Christ about what you are doing. There is a joy that pervades all that we do, but we know that at any moment in time we may need to mourn because there is a time and a season for everything in Jesus Christ. There is a time to play basketball, and there is a time to weep, to pray and to fast. The key is being in step with Spirit so you know what that time is.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 – …a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Most people are just totally out of sync. They are mourning when they should be dancing and dancing when they should be mourning.

Ecclesiastes 3:5-7 – …a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them. a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak…

What is the whole Christian walk and what is fellowship? It is us discovering what those times are that God has set down for us. There may be a time period in which we all come together, and it is a time to talk and a time for laughter. And then, there may be a time period of silence and mourning and weeping. When this body first started, it was a time for mourning. It was a time for weeping, a time for seriousness, a time for cleansing, and a time for trial. That has settled down a little bit and now is a time of rejoicing and activity, but we don’t know how long that will last. We are not going to try to force the weeping so that we can look like a holy people. We are not going to try to force the excitement so that we can be a happy people. We are not going to be engrossed in any of those things, but seeking God’s will in all things.

Ecclesiastes 3:8 – …a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

This is the Christian walk in a nutshell. It is the message of the cross. It is saying, “Thy will be done in all things.” Let us know what God’s time period is, not what our time period is. Again, we are talking about having fun without enjoying it.

Ecclesiastes 7:16 – Do not be overrighteous…

Some of the things we are looking at here will cause the wicked to stumble in a big way. This isn’t to justify sin, but it is to condemn man’s reaching out to be so righteous and so holy that he destroys himself or to be so wicked and so unholy that he destroys himself also.

Ecclesiastes 7:16 – Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise―why destroy yourself?

There are people with so many rules, so many regulations, so many things that they say are evil and wicked, and you have to acknowledge that what they are telling you is evil and wicked. But, if we go so far to the extreme in all those things, there will be nothing you can do, nothing you can stand in, no peace, and no comfort. You will literally destroy yourself with all the rules and regulations of denying self. Again, the wicked will use this passage to justify indulging the flesh but that’s not we are not talking about. We are talking a cross that puts everything in its proper place.

Ecclesiastes 7:17-18 – Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool―why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.

This is tricky stuff. It is a very narrow road. Indeed, you will not be able to figure it out. If you go home tonight and set out a list and say, “OK, this is being overrighteous,” it won’t work. Or, “This is being overwicked, and so I need to walk in the middle,” you will never find it. You can only find this passage by following the Holy Spirit. You can only be in step with the Holy Spirit to discover what this really means because there are so many times I started to move in a direction that would become overrighteous and the Holy Spirit would stop that. And, then there are times that I begin to move where I would become overwicked and he would stop me in that. And, only he can keep us in that narrow, fine narrow road so that we know the truth and joy of this. It is in the context of fellowship that this comes out and becomes clear.

Ecclesiastes 7:18 – It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.

I know many people think that we are on the extreme level of obeying Jesus Christ. We are not. When they begin to say things like that, you already know they are in sin. There is some other problem they are dealing with.

4. We have talked about it, but the body hasn’t really grown into it. We have money in its “proper perspective,” but we want to hate it. For those who haven’t heard:

Luke 16:13-14 – No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he with be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.

I look forward to this body beginning to grow in this. We really have not begun to taste of this in the body. We have had glimmers of it here and there, but the body as a whole hasn’t been formed yet and God hasn’t brought us to that place. I want you to know this is an exciting area that we are eventually going to get into. You will be convicted of a lot of sin in this area, but you will find a lot of freedom also. This is something to look forward to. For somebody who comes into this body to fellowship, we have money in its proper perspective, but guess what―we will learn to hate and despise it before it is over with.

5. We are a church where we have all things in common, but the church doesn’t demand a thing. In Acts 4:32 it talks about the first basis of love that is in the church.

Acts 4:32 – All the believers were one in heart and mind.

If we expect to have the unity that is in Jesus Christ, then we will have to let go of our things.

Acts 4:32 – No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

We need to begin now to literally come to God and say, “God, I do not claim anything I have to be mine.” This doesn’t then mean that the church owns everything. We don’t get into that kind of foolishness. Again, we are not laying down a rule that says we are to have everything in common, so people have to give everything to the central office of the church and we will divvy it back out as we see fit. That would take all of the fun and joy out of it. The greatest joy you will experience as you begin to live this is the freedom to give and to serve other people. If we laid down a rule like that where everyone brings all the things to the church, then you lose the freedom and excitement of sharing with one another in the body. You will see the dynamics as God begins to work this more and more. Again, this body hasn’t had much of an opportunity for that. Paul said:

Philippians 4:17 – Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.

God will begin to open up situations so you can put some credit on your account. You will have an abundance one day and you’ll be praising God that you get to pay your bills or whatever you get to do, but an opportunity will come to give to somebody else. You will be able to put credit in your account in heaven. There is a real freedom a real joy in looking for needs that you can meet. One of the grandest excitements in Jesus Christ is to become so dead to self that you are literally looking around for opportunities to give and to serve because you have found a new joy in that. As scripture says, it is more blessed to give than to receive, and this will be something that God will lead this body into more and more. People who come here to fellowship and be a part of this body had better start with this attitude. I don’t lay this down as a rule. That is, if you just don’t want to do this, then don’t come here. We don’t want anybody here that doesn’t want to be here and we are not going to force anybody to do this. If they don’t surrender to God it just isn’t going to happen, because I am not going to make people do this. I’ve had too much fun giving things away.

6. We are opinionated individuals seeking to be of one mind. You can see that we will bump into each other a whole lot, aren’t we? If we are hypocrites already and we start there, we’re going to give each other bruises. We’re going to bump into each other. We will cause other people to stumble. This is a difficult thing that we are looking at. And so, what is fellowship like at Sound Doctrine? It is a difficult thing. It is a hard thing to live―almost impossible. We are talking about aiming for perfection, a lot of struggling, a lot of debate, a lot of wrestling, and a lot of holiness if we give ourselves to the Lord.

Proverbs 18:2 – A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.

That’s who we are. We are fools who like running around saying, “I think this.” We are even bigger fools because usually we ask somebody else, “What do you think about this?” What we are really hoping is that they will say the exact words we want to hear that agree with our opinion. So, all we are really looking for is not what they have to say, but that they will reconfirm how smart we are, how much we have knowledge, and how correct we are in what we are thinking.

Proverbs 18:2 – A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinion.

He likes to talk about his opinions and his thoughts and his ideas about scripture. He really just wants to hear himself talk. In order to hear himself talk he will begin a conversation with somebody else so that he can hear himself talk back. There are many times when you’ve had a conversation with someone you are reaching out to, but you don’t remember anything the other person said. You only remember what you said. This happens even when we are trying to do our best. Someone will be telling me about sharing with another person. “I said this, this and this and this.” My usual question to them is “What did the other person say?” I know what you said, you’ve got all of the words down or you wouldn’t be telling me. I want to know what the other person said. Many times I hear the answer, “Well, I don’t know. I’m not sure,” or “They didn’t say anything.” Why? We delighted in airing our own opinions. We are an opinionated group of people who get a little bit of scripture under our belts, a little bit of knowledge and then we get all puffed up. We will rebuke each other. We have a brand new freedom in this in Jesus Christ. It is exciting stuff. We can go to people now. We can say what we need to say. We can air our opinion and we can just be as holy as we need to be. We stumble in many ways. We form opinions in an instant, opinions we like to hear discussed. Philippians 2:1 tells us that since we are so opinionated this in what needs to happen.

Philippians 2:1-2 – If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if you have any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded.

If you have any―even the smallest amount―of these things, then be like minded with Paul. We are talking about a group of opinionated, stubborn people who like to hear what they have to say, determined to be like-minded in everything, so that when you share your opinion, the other person goes, “Well, that is exactly what I was thinking.” You can’t get puffed up because everybody has the same thoughts. You no longer hear your opinion anymore because everybody is saying the same thing. You are not anymore special or different or any lovelier inside than anybody else.

Philippians 2:2 – …then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

This is what we have given ourselves to. Now, how impossible is this? I could stop right here and not preach another thing for the rest of the year and say let’s just live this and see where we are a year from now. In order to have this, all of our opinions have to go. All of our discussions of what we think and how we think things should be done have to die.

7. We are selfish brats who are seeking to love others.

Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…

Selfish ambition simply means you are trying to achieve something for yourself.

Philippians 2:3 – … but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

When I was a young Christian I used to read this and I thought it was literally impossible to live. The church I was in was not holy or righteous at all and so I’m going, “Man, how do I do this?” Obviously, when I was looking at it I thought I had something up on them until God began to show me my own heart. Then, it slowly began to dawn on me, “Hey, there are people better than me.” God kept breaking me more by the power of the cross until I thought, “Oh, there are a lot of people that know more than I do.” Then, he kept crucifying until I realized there is nobody worse than me.

Philippians 2:4 – Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

We are selfish brats. We did we live for before we came to Jesus Christ? When we went to church who did we go to church for? Who did we read the Bible for? Everything we did was for selfish ambition. Even in our coming to Jesus Christ, we wanted something from him. The ten lepers who came to him wanted to be healed. Only one came back to honestly worship. So, we are selfish brats coming together, admitting to one another that we are selfish. We don’t know how to love each other. We don’t know how to give to one another. We can expect to fail. We’re going to stumble and we will be hypocrites. We’ve been in the darkness a long time. And so, since we have some comforts and joy and grace, we’re going to seek to be like-minded. We will be at peace with each other. We will seek to aim for perfection at the same time and deal with all the sins in our lives. This is an amazing thing if it works. It is a glorious thing and only God can work it.

Start fellowshipping at Sound Doctrine where church attendance is required, but no one is expected to show up. In Hebrews 10:25 we get this commandment, and believe me, pastors preach this as a commandment.

Hebrews 10:25 – Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another―and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The commandment is there. The pressure to be at church is there, but let’s look at Exodus 36:2. It is very simple. I want to be here. I want to fellowship with people who want to be here, and if you don’t want to be here, then don’t come. That doesn’t do away with the need for God to say, “Let us not give up meeting together,” but if somebody doesn’t want to meet together, nobody will put pressure on. We will miss you. We will even wave from a distance. We’re not going badger anybody. We’re not going to demand that anybody be here. If your heart doesn’t want to be here, then don’t come. In Exodus 36:2 we see the same glimmer in the old law.

Exodus 36:2 – Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.

There is the summons to come fellowship. There is the command. It is really the love song that says let us not give up meeting together. There is a desire for fellowship. God puts it in such a way that there is a little bit of a demand, but that is not where we focus our attention. Just as Moses stood up and summoned everybody who was willing, Hebrews says the same thing. There is a declaration to not give up meeting together, but it is a summons only for those who are willing to give themselves to the summons. And so, church attendance is required, but no one is expected to be there who doesn’t want to be. I don’t say that as a negative thing. We will certainly miss you for a little while, but we want to fellowship with others who want the same because they are the people we will be with for eternity. I don’t want to hang around with somebody who really doesn’t want to be with me for eternity. It is really a matter of love. Are we willing?

9. We are a body with some hearts that are too embarrassing to be shown in public. There are some of you―and I’m not going to name names―that I’m embarrassed to have running around in public even stating that you go to Sound Doctrine Church. So, we give you a little extra attention, a little extra prayer and a little extra love. We try to protect you and others from yourself.

1 Corinthians 12:22 – On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…

We need you. You may not feel like it, but you need to be here. We may be a little embarrassed by you, a little ashamed. We may not want you running out in public. We wish you were hiding in the prayer closet, but you are still indispensable.

1 Corinthians 12:23 – …and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.

And so, more care is given, and more love is given. We put out to you more of a desire for holiness and perfection. We protect you more than most.

1 Corinthians 12:24 – …while presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it.

Within the body our fellowship will devote greater attention to those individuals than to other parts of the body. Because it is God that will arrange this body and put things in place. He will put each person where they should be and every part is needed, no matter how weak they might seem.

1 Corinthians 12:24-25 – But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body…

We see over and over this overwhelming love that shadows everybody and everyone no matter how weak we might think a person is in the Lord. If God permits them to be here, then they are given the same love and the same care or maybe even more because they are weak and not as presentable.

1 Corinthians 12:25 – …so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for one another.

10. We are more loving than people imagine, but as judgmental as they imagine.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-7 – We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.

So he speaks in the most intimate and gentle of terms.

1 Thessalonians 2:11 – For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children…

There is discipline, holiness, and leadership. All of those things are there, but he talks in terms of a father and mother. There is a great deal of love within this body. There is a lot of gentleness that God will work. There is that intimate relationship, but there is also the discipline and judgment. In 1 Corinthians 4:19, Paul shows us both aspects. Your heart determines whether you view it as love or judgment. There is a time and a season for everything in the body, so there might be a time and a season when there is more of a father or a mother attitude in the body. Then there might be a time when there is more judgment going through the church. It totally depends on your heart as to how you view the experience.

1 Corinthians 4:19-21 – But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

We are more loving than people imagine and they are often surprised when they come here of that fact. But, we are as judgmental as they probably imagine, because sin is dealt with and is taken very seriously as the Lord leads. There is a lot of love because we enjoy the love that God works within the body and there is a lot of judgment because we enjoy that, also.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 – Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast―as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival…

We are talking about a time of celebration, a time of purity. When the body talks about righteousness and purity and keeping the church clean, that is supposed to be a joyful aspect within the church. We are supposed to be excited about discovering things that we need to repent of, things that need to be cleansed people that need to be judged, and things that need to be brought to the light. It is supposed to be a festival! Most people just don’t want that kind of festival.

1 Corinthians 5:8 – Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

Now, how is this festival kept up? How can we see whether it is happening or not?

1 Corinthians 5:9-10 – I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people―not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, but the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother…

Or a Christian. This is supposed to be one of the aspects of the festival God. We are supposed to have discovered the grace and the righteousness and the holiness that are in him, and we want a church that is pure. We want to fellowship with people who are sincere, with people who really do hunger and thirst for righteousness. If they will not pursue righteousness, if they will not long for it, then one of the joyful aspects of this festival is to tell them that they can’t come to the party.

1 Corinthians 5:11 – But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.

These people hamper the party. These are the people that you don’t want at your party. If you were having a party who would you invite? People that you know will behave themselves and come with the same attitude that you want within the party. Right? If people get out of hand at the party, (even when were still in the world) what would you do? You would kick them out. How many parties have you been to hoping that somebody wouldn’t show up? This is what we are talking about. We have a party going on here. It’s a festival! We have a celebration, and there are certain people I don’t want showing up. There are certain people I don’t want saying, “Well, I’m a part of that party, and I belong to that group,” because they don’t belong to this group. It is no burden for me to go up and tell them, “No, you do not belong,” because I want them righteous, I want them holy, I want them to have a proper attire for this party. This is a festival of purity and joy and righteousness. Look at verse 7.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 – Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast―as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival…

We started this festival in purity and righteousness. Let’s keep it up. Let’s keep moving forward. Let’s keep calling for purity. Let’s keep inviting those who really hunger and thirst for righteousness, for those who long for the humility of Christ. As for the hypocrites, let’s rejoice and tell them they can’t come.

1 Corinthians 5:8 – …not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness…

What do we want those people here for anyway?

1 Corinthians 5:8-10 – …but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people―not at all meaning the people of this world…

The world does what the world does. They have their party over there and we have our festival over here. And, those people that are part of their party are not invited to this festival. It is really that simple. That is why in Verse 12 it says:

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 – What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

This is supposed to be good news, a festival, a joy, not a burden. Why do we want to fellowship with people who are not serious about Jesus Christ? If we do, there must be something in our heart that needs to be cleansed.

11. We love the dark corners of our lives. There are little things right now that each of us is holding on to that we hope don’t get exposed. But, we are foolishly stepping into the light so that they become exposed.

1 John 1:5 – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

We have given ourselves to God which means that the little dark corners of your life that you are trying to leave in the closet will get exposed if you hang around here long enough. It will happen. You might be fooling some of us right now, but they will be exposed. So what is the solution? Step into the light now. Don’t wait for judgment where you have to be drug into the light and punished for it. Get into the light now, because God will eventually get around to dealing with you. Right now, he is being merciful. He is giving you time to repent, to come into the light, because in God there is no darkness at all, no little corner you can hide in. What is fellowship like here? It is where everything will eventually be exposed sooner or later, probably sooner.

12. We are a group of people seeking to do God’s will our way, but we keep running into the cross. We set out to do God’s will and we think this is what he wants us to do, but then there is a brick wall, and the cross is right there to oppose what we will do.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 – With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

Men like to claim this as a promise, as if to say, “OK, I have faith in Jesus Christ. I will set out to do this thing over here. I will be righteous. I will have faith and will trust God. Therefore I will set out to do this.” But there is no cross to stop him. There is no cross to work a proper kind of faith, and so he claims this promise foolishly. Look at it again:

2 Thessalonians 1:11 – …and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

It is the cross that stops us so that we have an honest faith.

1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

It has to be according to his will. In fact, 1 John goes on to say, “If he hears us, then we know that we have what we have asked for.” We are not talking about a sinful faith that says, “OK, I claim this in Jesus Christ.” We just set out to do it and claim that it is of God when God is not in it at all. We are to have a certain amount of faith or trust in God. We like to claim that certain things are God’s will, and we set out to do those things, but then the cross stops us. Because of the cross we question, “Did I hear God on this? Is this really his will?” That is what it is like to fellowship here. We set out to do a lot of things, both individually and as a body, only to bump into the cross of Jesus Christ. That is what the cross is intended to work―humility and brokenness that says, “Your will be done.” So, don’t be surprised if we head out in a certain direction that we think is God’s will and we march right along only for the cross of Christ to say no, and move in a different direction.

13. This one we have talked about often. We to be so full of hate that we love each other.

John 12:25 – The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

The same person also wrote the next verse:

1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Only he who hates his life will be willing to lay it down. If I love my life, my time schedule, or where I want to go, I’ll never give my life up for you. One of the burning desires that used to be in me a long time ago was the desire to be alone. I used to go camping and backpacking a lot. My wife will confirm that even when we first got married I would go camping and I would leave her behind because I had no desire for my wife to be with me. That is how deep that sin was within me. However, since I’ve become a Christian, I have never been alone again. If I didn’t hate my life and hate that desire to be alone, I wouldn’t be around any of you. That is how ingrained my selfishness is. But, I have learned to hate that. I have learned to despise it, and I found the joy in laying down my life for you. Each day that desire goes away a little bit more.

14. We are as serious as death, but as joyful as the resurrected life.

2 Corinthians 4:10 – We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

There is a side of us that is as serious as death and it will come out in all kinds of instances, but we also have the resurrected life and the joy. That’s what people find a little bit confusing when they first begin to fellowship here. They see the joy. They see the love. But, they also see this serious side and the death side, and they just really can’t put it together at all. Guess what? We can’t put it together either. God just works it out. I cannot tell you exactly how this will come out or be portrayed in our lives and our fellowship. I just know that it will. In 2 Corinthians 6:10 Paul says that he is sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. There is always a part of me that is indeed sorrowful for lots of different reasons―sorry for my sin, sorry for the sins of other people. I’m sorry for a lot of things that go on. There is a sorrow in Jesus Christ that I carry around, but at the same time I am always rejoicing in him. It is nothing that I can define or explain in a logical fashion, it is just there. That is the nature of the cross. We are indeed to be as serious as death, but as joyful as the resurrected life, and you will see that mixture come and go at different times. There will be times when you see more sorrow than you see joy, and times when you see more joy than you see sorrow, but it is always being worked as God wants to work it. It is a millstone slowly grinding, separating the wheat from the chaff.

15. Where fighting is encouraged, but unity is required.

Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

I want you to fight with me. I want you to fight with each other. I want to build up some heat. A lot of times I will be in dialogue with people and say, “What are you thinking? Come on, fight with me. Let’s get it out here in the light. Let’s do some wrestling. I know what you are thinking inside. You might as well bring it all out in the light. We might as well expose it, trample it down, and put it to death.” Because, the idea is to come to unity and to build up enough heat that iron sharpens iron, that we become sharp in Jesus Christ. That is the goal. And so, fighting or being in the light is encouraged so that we can die to ourselves and become sharp in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Now in most churches, that is an impossible thing to even talk about. Everybody just agrees to do disagree. That is the thing that they are in unity about. So, how do we take all these opinionated people and come to a place of perfect unity? We’ve got to fight. We’ve got to wrestle things out. We’ve got to talk about things. We’ve got examine things without hating each other’s guts, without it causing division. It should produce enough heat to cause each of us run back into the prayer closet, surrender our pride that has to be right, allow our opinions to be crucified, and to give up all of our strength, and logic, so that we have the mind of Christ. This is the kind of unity God wants to work. But, you’ve got to walk in the light. You’ve got to wrestle things out and talk about it. You’ve got to see how stupid you are so that Jesus Christ can live within you.

16. We are so prideful and independent, yet we know that we need each other. Proverbs 16:18 says that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. And so, we are complete fools and idiots if we think we have the complete knowledge of God to accomplish everything in our lives that should be done. There are so many times that Carla will come to me with wisdom or insight on something and I will think, “Man, I should have seen that. What is the matter with me? Where is my relationship in the Lord?” But, that is not the point. God is trying to remind me, “Tim, you don’t know all of the answers and I’m not going to give you all the answers. You’re going to have to hear it from every source that I bring in your life.” We are in a battle right now. We are in a battle for our souls, are we not?

Proverbs 20:18 – Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.

We desperately need each other. We are in a battle for our souls. How much guidance then do we need from one another as God works through each part of the body?

1 Corinthians 12:13-19 – For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body―whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free―and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

The key is for each of us to be dead to self so that we’re not trying to be something we are not. Some people want to be the mouth of the body, but they are supposed to be the ear. There is nothing worse than an ear running around trying to act like a mouth. So, let God arrange this body and move the fellowship as he sees fit. I know churches that seek to arrange the body as they see fit. In fact, that is how it happens most of the time. Or worse yet, people decide for themselves what part of the body they want to be.

1 Corinthians 12:18-21 – But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”

Now, no matter how much the eye can see or have faith within the body, it cannot turn to another part and say, “I don’t need you!”

1 Corinthians 12:21 – “The eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

And so we know that we are prideful and independent. We like to run around thinking we are the most important part of the body, but the truth is, we need every part of the body and God speaks to everyone in the church. You only hinder yourself when can’t take advice, when you can’t listen, and when you can’t hear what God is speaking. When I was a young Christian, I was quick to talk and voice my opinion, and I was opinionated on a whole lot of things. In fact, early on I used to meet once a week with a brother and at one point and he said, “You know, you’ve got an opinion about everything.” He was impressed that I had an opinion about everything because he didn’t have an opinion about anything, but that cut my heart. Just how much talk and opinion was there that had nothing to do with Jesus Christ. And so, I listen to everybody and ask God, “Are you speaking through them?” Maybe I’ll reject most of what they say. That’s not the point. The point is, I seek to listen and to hear. Maybe there is one little gem where God is talking. So, a lot of times I’m kind of slow to act or respond or confirm something because I want to know if I am really right. Am I really hearing correctly? I don’t want to make a mistake. I want to glorify God in everything. So, a lot of testing that goes on. We desperately need each other. I know how prideful I can become. I know how prideful I was in the past. I know how easy it is just to do things on my own. We like to arrange the body as we see fit. Like the creator of Frankenstein, we’ve created this big monster who does all kinds of damage and we think we’ve created something beautiful. Let’s just let God arrange the body as he sees fit and rejoice in whatever God calls you to do.

17. We are a place where men who do not want to lead are leaders, and women who want to lead are servants, ie, helpmates.

1 Corinthians 16:13 – Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage.

For God is calling things that are not as though they were, for men to rise up and be men of courage. How few men there are that are just standing up and being courageous in Jesus Christ.

Where each gender has found the joy in Jesus by fulfilling the role God designed them for. Men lead, laying down their lives in love for others, and women are helpmates in their work and labor for Jesus.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. (Romans 16:2-3)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, (1 Peter 3:3-5)

18. Where one message is preached that is manifested in hundreds of different ways.

1 Peter 4:10 – Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Again we have seen how God arranges the body and manifests his grace in all kinds of different ways, and so we are not going to get locked into thinking a Christian looks or behaves in a certain fashion. We’re going to look for God’s grace to move in all kinds of exciting ways. It is really a fun thing to watch God glorify his name. Indeed, all of creation shows how creative God is.

19. Where self-effort is condemned, though obedience is demanded. Philippians 3:3 tells us to put no confidence in the flesh. This is frustrating for people because they come into the body and as they begin to fellowship, they think, “OK, this is what it means to be a Christian. I think I’ll act in this fashion,” or they have noble reasons for doing things. And so they act in the power of the flesh. Then, all of a sudden, they are being condemned for that as the cross reveals it for what it is. They become extremely frustrated because it is hard to move in this kind of fellowship where self-effort is judged quickly and powerfully, and yet obedience is demanded.

Philippians 3:3 – For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh…

Since we put no confidence in the flesh, all we are looking for is an obedience that comes from faith, an obedience that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Romans 1:5 – Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

In fellowship we are encouraged to do things, be obedient and act, but then if you do that in the power of the flesh, you get judged. It is very frustrating. It is called crucifixion by the cross.

20. Where noble reason are destroyed, but godliness is expected. For example, you do something in Jesus Christ or you do something in the flesh and you have all the noble reasons of why you did those things. You come marching and prancing in. You think you’ve got it all down, and that nobody can see through your cover. You even believe what you’re saying. Then, all of a sudden, you’re exposed totally in the light and you wondered how you got there.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We demolish arguments…

We demolish them. We don’t just win the battle. We don’t just make a few good points. This isn’t an issue of just kind of moseying in to deal with certain situations. It says we demolish arguments. We totally destroy them. We leave them without remedy to rise up again.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God…

Come in with the noblest reason you can think of. Go ahead and try it. Paul is saying that we have divine power to destroy every pretension, every argument, every piece of logic, and every justification you have for doing what you do in the name of the Lord. A lot of people don’t really believe this passage is true. But, we are supposed to be fellowshipping so much by the power of the Holy Spirit that we go in and demolish these noble arguments.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Every noble reason that a man can think of is completely destroyed. It is taken captive, and we say to it, “You will be obedient to Jesus Christ. You will not live. You will be destroyed.” And instead, there will be true godliness. The reason for this is pretty simple; there is no need for noble reasons. He has given us the power to live a godly life. You don’t have to waste your time thinking of all the reasons you can for doing what you want to do or trying to make something look godly. He has given us a divine power to be holy, to have the power to act.

2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

There is no excuse. Every man that comes in before me, whether he is a part of this body or not, if he comes in with pretension or arguments, if it is not divine power moving in his life, I will destroy it, I will tear it down, and I will see it clearly. And, I will do the same thing in my own life. We need to be fearful of our own nobility, our own reasons, and our own justifications. How often do you hear people say, “I prayed about it”? Are you able to destroy that? Are you able to tear that down? If you’re not, you’re going to be fooled by your own prayers. If you’re not able to see through men who come in with pretensions, or you can’t see they are in the flesh or you can’t destroy that, you will believe your own prayers. You will think that the voice you’re hearing is the voice of God when it is your own voice.

So, what is fellowship like here in this body? It is destruction of everything that we consider “noble.” It is where there is true godliness. It is a place where divine power working righteousness and holiness is held up and exalted. Where we destroy obedience that doesn’t come by divine power. We don’t let it live. It might try to sneak into the corner, or come in the back door, but we will get it. We have divine power to demolish it.

Fellowship here is a fellowship on the cross and it is hard work. Anyone who wants to fellowship here needs to be prepared for hard work.

Romans 14:19 – Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Trying to live all these things causes lot of friction. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of work. It will take all that we have in Jesus Christ, all the comfort, all the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to remain at peace with one another. Let us be prepared for hard work. That is what fellowship is like here. You are not going to be able to just cruise in on Sunday and then cruise on out and expect to survive. It will never happen. Ephesians 4:3 says the same thing.

Ephesians 4:3 – Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Make every effort. This is a very holy thing that we are giving ourselves to. When we tell God that we want to fellowship with one another in the light and in his holiness, it is a deadly serious thing that we are giving ourselves to.

That is what fellowship is like here. In some ways it is the ideal of what we are striving to be in Christ Jesus. Let’s go ahead and pray.

Father, we do ask with fear and with trembling, and yet with rejoicing and thanksgiving, that you work this kind of fellowship among us. Father, whisper to each of our hearts that this will be hard work but, Father, hard work that is worth it. Because we know, O Lord, that you give us divine power and divine strength to have this kind of fellowship. We know you will work within us to demolish nobility and self-righteousness and all those things, Father, that set themselves up against you, that you will work the deepest of love and servanthood here. Amen

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.

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About the author


Timothy Williams, Host of The "Consider" Podcast. Male BDG,* Widowed, Never Divorced, Celibate, Single, Over 60, Preacher of the Full Gospel, Not associated with any church, denomination or club, College drop-out, No Bible degree, pursuing the holiness from the Living God. *(BGD: by God's design)