The Inspiration of Relational Living

What did Paul teach us about the manner in which we are to assemble?
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
–Hebrews 10:24-25
Notice, assembling according to the Spirit’s order and direction requires us to ‘consider one another’:  this is the foundation upon which assembling takes place.  Assembling according to any other pattern is prohibited–for we are to remain faithfully espoused to the simplicity of Christ:
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
–2 Corinthians 11:2-3      
This is why we read that the people continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42)–for apostolic life modeled the relational nature of Holy Spirit inspired living.
It is why Paul reminds Timothy that his doctrine was expressed not only by word, but also his manner of living:  “Thou hast fully known my doctrine and manner of life” (2 Timothy 3:10).  If we depart from the apostolic pattern, we misrepresent the nature of Christ’s atoning work by our manner of living, raising up a false image of God in the earth.
An example of this is the modern, American church system, which defines ‘church’ as a place and activity [rather than as a body of believers], reducing corporate worship to a pilgrimage and ritual, rather than a sharing of our real [daily] lives together:  church isn’t a place; it’s a lifestyle of relating to one another according to the commandments of God.
What else can we learn from Hebrews 10:24-25?  Consider the following:
  • We must consider that we are all of “one Lord, faith, and baptism,” (Ephesians 4:5); therefore, we have no right to reject what the Lord has accepted.  We cannot reject other believers on the basis of personality, social standing, ethnicity, or any other external condition or motivation–for they are accepted by God on the basis of His will, wisdom, and atoning work.
  • We gather to stir up the gift of God in us, affirming one another’s giftings and lending our strength to one another as we learn to walk in our callings (2 Timothy 1:6).
  • We gather freely, which implies that our inspiration for coming together is solely on the basis of our spiritual love–first, for God–and also, for one another.
  • We gather to encourage one another to follow Christ’s example, so that we, as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus, may develop spiritual endurance [patience], taking up our cross, and finishing the race set before us (Luke 21:19; 2 Timothy 2:1-4; Hebrews 12:1).
  • Finally, we see that, as the day of the Lord’s return approaches, our need for assembling [and God’s grace] increases:  “Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived,” (2 Timothy 3:11).
  • The ministry of reconciliation is founded upon fellowship with God, includes fellowship with one another, and extends to the preaching of the gospel to the lost.  Fellowship IS the ministry.

12 thoughts on “The Inspiration of Relational Living

  1. I think I could write a book in relation to this post, but kinda did on my own site- lol!

    Ah, where to start? “For apostolic life modeled the relational nature of Holy Spirit inspired living” Still trying to wrap my head around this- deep.

    Let’s try this one, “If we depart from the apostolic pattern, we misrepresent the nature of Christ’s atoning work by our manner of living” This is very sobering Mark. For as you have also made clear, our calling isn’t merely reflected in our beliefs, but also in and through our actions as believers. We are what we practice, not merely what we say we believe. Does that make people hypocrites who fail to practice what they say they believe, or rather, are hypocrites those who fail to practice the very things their beliefs actually represent. As an example, many people say that God commands believers to fellowship one with another so they attend a church in obedience to the command. But is going to church constitute fellowship? I’m sure we know better than that by now, no? Many people attempt to justify positions such as this despite the application of their beliefs being miles apart from what they actually practice. It’s sad so few see this, even knowing their not living the life and reaping the promises of the New Covenant.

    I also like your definition of gathering freely- not for a “free for all” (actually had someone say this recently when describing fellowship- what?) but rather out of sincere love for the brethren and devotion to God. Knowing this, I won’t come empty wanting to be filled but come prepared and spiritually fit with precious gifts to give- hopefully. I do have rough days too…..

    Lastly I appreciated…..”we gather to encourage on another to follow Christ’s example…..which was what?……developing endurance, taking up our cross and finishing the race……” It’s not hard to find “encouragement” (friendly chat, shop talk, even a helping hand here and there) but your kind of encouragement here- to that end, rare indeed!
    You do realize you won’t garner much of an internet audience with that kind of talk Mark. Then again, we’re not in this to make a name for ourselves are we.

    Thanks for your contribution once again, Michael

  2. Loved this thought, Michael: “… I won’t come empty wanting to be filled but come prepared and spiritually fit with precious gifts to give- hopefully.”

    We are poured out into one another’s lives as drink offerings of love to the Lord.

    One of the biggest problems with cultural expressions of church is that it reduces worship to a pilgrimage and ritual, as opposed to the spiritual reality of sharing our [real] daily lives together.

    When we don’t relate according to the Lord’s commands, we raise up a false image of God in the earth …

    Thanks for your meaningful input in my life, Michael.

    P.S. I am going to edit this article a little–based upon the fruit of this interaction. Thanks!

  3. You can take, borrow, steal anything I write in plain sight and no one will care! Instead of a copyright, you can copy and write all you want. I’m free, as is anything by the grace of God that flows from me Mark.

    “Church reduces worship to a pilgrimage and a ritual, as opposed to the spiritual reality of sharing our [real] daily lives together”

    I may put this up on my site under Free truths for Life- its that good.. What would be a good heading for your quote above Mark? If you need examples, check out FREE TRUTHS FOR LIFE on my site near the bottom of the left hand column on the Welcome Home Page.

  4. Good one bro. Yes, does our assembling faithfully represent the nature of Jesus. When people visit will they understand that this represents what Jesus is like.

  5. Brother,

    This post has stirred a lot of things up in me (some of which I just sent to you in private email). This reminded of something that happened shortly after we left the system. Some of my wife’s religious family members came to us to sort of have an intervention about us “leaving church”. This is a close paraphrase of what took place.

    Family:
    What did you guys do last weekend?

    Me: (said bursting with excitement in my young, innocent, naive tone)
    On Friday we went to pray with a group of believers, had the Lords supper together, it was so amazing. Then on Saturday we went down to Detroit and had an open meeting in a ghetto park where we also fed and preached the Gospel to a hundred homeless people, gang members, and addicts. We stayed out late so on Sunday we slept in, woke up and made some coffee, then went out on the porch to read some scripture and sing some hymns.

    Family:
    So, you mean you didn’t go to church last weekend? How are you getting fed and who authorized you to preach the Gospel to homeless people? You are not qualified to preach to the homeless or to teach each other.

    Me: (said in confusion since I had seen the Lord move mightily among the saints and the lost)
    I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Family:
    You guys are some kind of a cult aren’t you.

    Me:
    No, cults have a highly esteemed mortal man as a leader, like how you guys have that man you call “pastor”.

    After an initial snide remark from the AOG pastor when we left, this was the first real attack we faced. I couldn’t express and define things like I can now, I was just a young believer that had experienced the false for may years then had a taste of the true and was overflowing with zeal thinking that every professing believer would want the real relationships with each where Jesus was clearly walking among us.

    “Finally, we see that, as the day of the Lord’s return approaches, our need for assembling [and God’s grace] increases”

    Amen brother, I have been somewhat slow to seek fellowship after some pain from wolves coming and drawing away disciples. Yet, if there is anything I hear the Holy Spirit saying today it is that we desperately need to to assemble together when possible.

    In Christ -Jim

    • Jim, it’s only by going thru these terrible personal attacks that we learn to stand strong in the Lord, right?. and we become stronger in the process. Imagine what it was like in the middle ages when you could be burnt alive for having a Bible or refusing the mass? Personal attacks only drive the faithful to cling closer to Jesus and therefore share in His strength and boldness. So we can even thank the Lord for allowing them and for counting us worthy to suffer for His name.

  6. That is sad Jim. I didn’t quite receive that, although I had the same zeal thinking everybody just couldn’t wait to hear all this good news I had about the truth. I was so “sure” they wanted to know what I knew. Despite even being warned that this wasn’t the case by a mature former “pastor” who now travels about, I jumped in head first- even making appointments with several “pastors.”
    I did learn one thing in the process. No amount of Bible verses in context will ever convince anyone of a truth that they refuse to see. For those who think like Jim and I did I have one suggestion for you: Pray before you try it, for God will be using your “I knows” to test your own character far more than your words with test theirs.

  7. I like to hang out with believers who don’t think they are important. I find that they are courteous and caring. They don’t hurt people. They don’t care about who gets the credit.

    They may not seem extraordinary in any particular way themselves; but the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit is evident in them.

    Most of all, natural differences don’t divide them … for they are free in Christ.

    Al made me think of something in a new way, recently.

    Man creates the traditional church system, sets it in order to his liking, and breathes death into it [self-will, which is vain and profitless]: the man-made sabbath is an expression of men being in charge of men [political-ecclesiastical, ‘clerical collar’ leadership].

    God created the true sabbath, set it in order to His liking, and breathed life into it through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ [and the continuing work and power of the Holy Spirit].

    B-I-G difference.

    P.S. One result of suffering many persecutions [whether from idol worshipers within the assembly or demonized people attacking the witness of the word without] is that man’s opinions become inconsequential [we are entirely unmoved by them].

    Paul said it best: “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (Galatians 1:10-12).

    You’re a blessing, Jim.

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