The Fellowship & Activities Of Disciples
‘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 10:24-26
As Disciples we have entered the spiritual Kingdom of God. It is an entirely new life and in that new life, we have different relationships and activities that we devote our time and resources to.
Who now will be our friends and family? What is the church body and how can I discern the true church? What activities are we to be involved in together as a church family?
1.1 Disciples And Their Friends & Family Are Not Of This World
Colossians 1:12-13 ~ The Father… hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
- As Disciples of Jesus we have been literally transported out of this world of spiritual darkness and into the spiritual Kingdom of God. This is a completely different spiritual experience!
John 18:36 ~ Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.
- Jesus said that this Kingdom was not of this world. It exists on a different plain or dimension then the rest of the world.
John 17:16 ~ They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
- Jesus said that not only this Kingdom exists in a different dimension, but also those Disciples who have been transported into it, are now living in this radically different dimension.
- As Disciples in this new Kingdom dimension, the way that we relate to this physical world and its creatures is much different tYhan how the world around them relates.
I Samuel 16:7 ~ The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
- God lives in this dimension and we see here how he sees things much differently than we do.
- He has no regard to a person’s sex, family status, race, position in society, etc. God looks at a person’s heart and this alone determines how he relates with the person.
2 Corinthians 5:16 ~ Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh.
- After we become Disciples the Holy Spirit causes us to see things just as God and his people see things.
- Now just as our heavenly Father, we too no longer relate to people with regard to their physical standing, but we look upon the heart.
Psalms 119:63 ~ I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
- David, a man after God’s own heart, said that his choice of friends and companions was not based on whether they were family members, but whether they feared God and kept his commandments.
John 15:14 ~ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
- Although many called Jesus the friend of sinners, he made it very clear to us that this was not the case.
- Jesus said there was a condition to being friends with him and that this condition was the same condition David had. A person must be keeping Christ’s commands in order for Christ to consider them a friend.
Matthew 12:47-50 ~ Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
- Jesus took this principle beyond friendship and even declared that those who were his physical family members were not his true family. When his mother and brothers were requesting his attention, he took the opportunity to tell us who his real family was.
- Jesus emphatically said that it was only those who do the will of his Father that He regarded as his true family.
As a Disciple, you now have a brand new family, which is the family of God. Your true friends and family members are now those who, as you, have been translated into the Kingdom dimension.
[Note: Knowing these truths, we must be careful not to nullify our Biblical obligation to physical family members. We do have specific obligations as seen in Mark 7:9-13]
1.2 The True Church Is Spiritual & Not A Religious System
John 4:21&23-24 ~ Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
- There are many denominations, buildings, and organizations claiming to be the true church and yet Jesus said that the true worshippers will worship God in a non-religious This way would not consist of buildings, temples, rituals, etc.
- These true worshippers would not simply go to church and do church things but they would truly worship God in a real way. In great sincerity of heart, they would worship God in the Holy Spirit, and be one with him. We must be these true worshippers and seek out such to fellowship with wherever they can be found. Yes, sometimes we find them sitting in denominations thinking to themselves, ‘is there not another way?’
Romans 14:17&18 ~ For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
- Those who worship God in spirit and Truth exhibit true righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. This is the true worship He requires and all who worship him this way are acceptable to God and therefore should also be approved by us his children.
- This is not the stance the false churches take. They are instead focused on everyone having exactly the same understanding about everything. Remember, the true Kingdom and its Citizens are focused on righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. These are matters of the heart and they are the true fruit of being born again.
Romans 15:7 ~ Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
- It is very tempting to reject those who do not have the same thoughts and teachings as us. In Romans 14 & 15, Paul was dealing with those who held to different teachings in regard to keeping Holy Days and abstaining from certain foods, etc.
- Many true Disciples have differing opinions on these types of issues such as ‘mode / manner of baptism’, ‘women head covering’, ‘the washing of feet’, etc. Many are simply disciples seeking to please their father and they do worship God in Spirit and in Truth and are currently growing in their knowledge of what pleases the Lord [Romans 12:2].
- God commands us not to reject or choose fellowship with people based on these things. Rather our choice to fellowship with others is to be based on whether they are fearing God, keeping His Commands [to the best of their knowledge], and righteous, filled with the peace of God, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- Note that this does not mean that we fellowship with the doctrines of demons. By this I mean, when men or their organizations teach contrary to the teachings about sin and righteousness, then we should have nothing to do with them [See 1 Timothy 6:3-5].
1 Peter 2:5 ~ Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
- The church was never meant to be a physical building. True, it is a building, but not a building made by man’s hands or controlled by men’s desires.
- All those who are Jesus true Disciples make up this church or spiritual house and holy priesthood. The Disciples themselves are the church and not anything created by men.
Matthew 18:20 ~ For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
- Do not ever feel that you need to attend some church building. Most all of these constructs are the product of man and not the true spiritual church that our Christ built with his blood.
- Jesus said that if you simply have two or three Disciples gathered in His name then he would be there with you! This is all that is needed to be or have church.
1 Corinthians 16:19 ~ Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
- It is a well-known fact that for over 300 years after Jesus resurrection there were no church buildings. They simply did not exist and no one in the early church had any such concept of, going to church. Disciples simply met where there was available room to meet and there surely was never such thing as a holy or sacred building referred to as God’s house.
- Paul says that this mightily used couple, Aquila and Priscilla, simply met as a church in their home. There are many other scriptures which show that the church primarily meet in each other’s homes and not in buildings. [See for example Philemon 1:2, Acts 2:46, and Colossians 4:15]. This was the pattern shown to us in the early church of the New Testament!
Acts 1:13-14&2:2&4 ~ When they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
- As a great testimony to this divinely inspired practice, let us view the day of Pentecost, in which the disciples were initially filled with the mighty power of God’s Holy Spirit!
- Where were they when this happened? Were they praying in a sacred building with sacred ministers? No, they were simply meeting as Disciples in the upper room of a house.
- As they continued unified in fervent prayer in this house, God blessed them with the mighty outpouring of his Holy Spirit. Is this not what we seek to experience when we go to church?
Matthew 23:8-10 ~ But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
- Lastly, in speaking of this spiritual form of worship not held in divine buildings Jesus also told us not to take any authoritative titles. There are truly many different offices and functions within the church but the members who function in those offices are not to take titles for themselves.
- Today you don’t hear church leaders called Rabi often but it is common to hear them called Pastor, Reverend, Bishop, Apostle, Evangelist, Teacher, Prophet, and even Father.
- Do not fall prey to men who love these titles. Do not give them the honor that is reserved alone for Christ. Remember the words of our Lord, ‘ye are all brethren’ and ‘one is your Master, even Christ’!
Luke 6:22 ~ Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
- Remember that Jesus suffered much at the hands of the religious institutions of his day. They cast him out of their churches and spoke evil of him. Do not be discouraged when these things happen. It truly is hard to find godly fellowship and we will suffer much persecution as we try to share the truth and fellowship with others.
- These last days are like the days of Noah when only eight souls out of hundreds of thousands were saved. Sadly, in these dark days, many times it is extremely difficult to simply find even one or two other wholehearted Disciples to fellowship and break bread with.
- That being so we really need the fellowship to survive, so put this at the top of your prayer list. Pray hard that God will lead you to these righteous godly Disciples that you can fellowship and grow with! These are a rare find and truly require Divine intervention.
1.3 Disciples Help Other Disciples Grow And Remain Pure
I Corinthians 12:20&21 ~ Now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
- There are many Disciples in the body of Jesus but they are all to work together as one big team.
- We all need each other in this team so it is very important that as a disciple you do not segregate yourself.
Ephesians 4:15-16 ~ Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
- The Bible says that Disciples bring great spiritual increase and growth to other Disciples. We are the source of great edification and nourishment to each other in our walk with God.
- Not only should we not say, ‘we don’t need other Disciples’, but also we must not fail to realize that other Disciples need us! Without you in their lives, their growth will be severely stunted.
Hebrews 3:12-13 ~ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
- Not only can growth be stunted by lack of fellowship, but also we can actually become hardened in sin without the constant edification and exhortation of other true Disciples.
- Therefore, we are commanded to exhort other disciples on a daily basis and this is given as a Biblical prescription that will ensure we do not become deceived by sin and hardened.
Hebrews 10:24-26 ~ 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. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins
- This state of being hardened in sin is a state in which we are lost and there remains no more forgiveness for our sins. We will be damned if we continue hardened in sin.
- The Scriptural prescription is that, if we do not want to end in this horrible state, we should gather together often and encourage one another to stay faithful to Christ.
- Do not forsake gathering together with other Disciples often, as this is how the Bible teaches that we will guard against being deceived and experience great growth in the Kingdom!
1.4 Scriptural Activities Of Disciples Together As A Church
1 Corinthians 14:26 ~ How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
- The Disciples had clearly been taught that each and every one of them had spiritual gifts from God and that they were authorized and encouraged to bring these to the meetings and share with the other Disciples.
- The correction that Paul gives here, is not that these things should not be done [as some have erroneously taught], but rather that they should only be done in a way that would foster growth and edification in the others.
Colossians 3:16 ~ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
- This is here confirmed where we see Paul in an epistle to all the Disciples commanding them all to teach and admonish one another in the same way we saw described above.
- It appears that this participation by all Disciples in the meetings was exhibited in sharing teachings, spiritual gifts, interpretations, hymns, psalms [spiritual poems], and spiritual songs.
1 Corinthians 14:12 ~ Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
- The main thing that is to be considered when bringing something to fellowship meetings and whether to share it or not, is to ask ‘is this going to help other Disciples?’
- We are to seek spiritual gifts and abilities, but mainly for the purpose of fostering growth in other Disciples.
Colossians 4:16 ~ And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
- There should be much reading or preaching of the Word of God when the Church meets together.
- God has graciously ensured that the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets have been recorded and preserved for our benefit and they should be read from often in our assembly!
Ezra 8:2&8 ~ And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
- Not only should the Scriptures be read from but also it is clear that men of God who have greater understanding in the Scriptures should help to give the sense or help others to understand the meaning of those things that are read.
- It is also important to note here that when the Word was read to the people, it was only read to those who could hear with understanding. This did not mean it was not read to ignorant people, but rather it was only read and taught to those who were old enough to understand what was being taught.
- It is here that we can learn the principle that there is a place for separate children’s activities. They are mentally on a different level of understanding and instruction for them should be on that level.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ~ The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
- Jesus left His disciples a wonderful tradition of breaking bread and drinking the fruit of the vine together. This was to encourage us to remember the great sacrifice of our Lord and to proclaim this truth, and our commitment to it, to others as we did initially in our baptism.
- The sacrifice of Jesus is so central to the Gospel of Salvation in the New Covenant that we must always seek to keep this divine act of love before our hearts and minds through keeping the Lords Supper regularly!
1 Corinthians 11:20-21 ~ When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
- Much of today’s professed church has turned the practice of keeping the Lord’s supper into a time in which a little mouse size cracker and a thimble full of juice is taken. When the early church met together to break bread and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper this was not the case. It was an actual supper.
- There was so much food at the Lord’s Supper of these Disciples that some people had to be rebuked because they were getting there early and stuffing themselves so that there was nothing left for others. This would hardly be possible with thimbles full of wine and tiny crackers.
Jude 1:12 ~ These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear.
- Jude calls these times of the Lord’s Supper ‘feasts of charity [love]’. These were actual feasts and not little 10 minute times of eating crackers and juice.
- As a church, we should often break bread and celebrate the feast of the Lord’s Supper with one another. This example was set by Christ himself on the night when he ate the Passover ‘meal’ with his Disciples. [See also Acts 2:42, Acts 2:46, Acts 20:7, and I Corinthians 10:16-17]
John 13:12-14 ~ So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
- Jesus did not wash the feet of his disciples because they were dirty, but to show that he, being their master, came not to be served, but to give his life for them as a servant.
- He expressly commanded that his Disciples ought to also wash one another’s feet and it has long been disputed among Disciples whether or not Christ was speaking in a spiritual sense or meant to literally wash each other’s feet.
- It is very possible that Christ only meant for this to be done in a spiritual sense but no harm has ever come from literally fulfilling this command. On the contrary, many have experienced great blessing, in that in this, they remember that they are to serve one another and not to seek to be served.
1 Peter 5:14 ~ Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
- Five times the Scriptures command the Disciples to greet each other with a kiss of love [see Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, & I Thessalonians 5:26]. This is a firm Scriptural command to show each other affection in this manner and yet very few give or receive this holy kiss.
- The Bible does not clarify exactly how this is to be done but it was obviously done by all the disciples, and famously by Judas, who betrayed Jesus with this kiss. Most all who practice this Holy Kiss, only practice it between those of the same sex and it is simply a kiss on the cheek.
- True this could be taken as something that should only be done in a spiritual sense, meaning we should simply fist-bump, shake hands, or shoulder-hug. As we said earlier though about foot washing, no evil has come of this but only close bonds between Disciples. [Note that this practice requires mutual participation. It is not recommended that you go around kissing people who do not wish this form of greeting. Remember the goal is to edify.]
- Lastly, when there are any doubts on commands like Foot-Washing, Holy Kiss, Head Covering [see I Corinthians 11], etc. the best road to take is to simply obey the commands literally and spiritually and thereby ensure that all that was possibly meant is fulfilled. How can you go wrong? You cannot be but blessed with such a heart yearning to please Christ!
1.5 Disciples Bear Fruit Together – They Make More Disciples
Matthew 5:13-14 ~ Ye are the salt of the earth: Ye are the light of the world.
- The reason why Jesus came to the earth, and the reason why we are not instantly zapped into the future physical Kingdom the second we become Disciples, is that we are corporately, to be the light of the world.
- As Disciples we are the only people on this planet that have the Truth that can save other people from their sin and give them a great inheritance of Eternal Life in God’s Kingdom! We have a great responsibility.
Philippians 2:15-16 ~ That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life.
- The two prime objectives of the church body are to shine as lights and to hold forth the word of life to others.
- First, we need to live holy blameless lives that will shine brightly and greatly influence others to repent and be saved. Second, we must not only live holy but we must all share the Word of Life [the message of the Kingdom and Christ] with others.
Matthew 28:19-20 ~ Go ye therefore, and teach [to make a disciple] all nations , baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
- Jesus last instructions to the Disciples before he was caught up into the heavens was that we should go forth with what we have learned and use this Truth to make disciples in all the nations on this planet.
- This is the great work of the church and we must never forget that this is why we exist. Jesus wants us to bear fruit for him and his Kingdom and the greatest fruit we can bear is to help a person to be set free from sin and live a life that glorifies our Father!
Mark 16:15-16 ~ And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
- Jesus grand commission to all his disciples before he left to sit at the right hand of God is that they would go into all the world and share the message of Truth with every person alive on this planet.
- He promises that every person who believes and is baptized will be saved from the wrath to come and not be damned. How important a work this is! We must all corporately gather and work together to accomplish this great work of preaching the gospel to every creature!
James 5:20 ~ Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
- Let us as a body of Disciples fully realize and mediate on the fact that every sinner we influence with the Truth and turn from their deceptive ways, we will save from death! We hold this awesome power and with great power comes great responsibility!
Matthew 10:27-28 ~ What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
- Jesus told us that, in regards to sharing the word of life, the things that we have learned from him and his Word in private we must now speak in the light and preach on the housetops.
- Two things we should realize. First, we do not have to know everything about the gospel and be perfect and eloquent. Jesus says that the things that we have learned, those things we must seek to share with others that they may become Disciples and be saved. Were you made into a Disciple? Then you must know the basics of how to become a Disciple. Go and share that.
- Second, we are commanded to not fear mankind as we share this message. Let us have a holy boldness as we share the Word of Life together and never fear man but only the All-Mighty God we serve. He alone holds our souls in his hand and it is he alone that can destroy our soul in hell if we do not fulfill this great commission!
John 15:8&16&20 ~ Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
- Let us solemnly consider that it is in bearing the fruit of converting sinners to Christ that we prove ourselves to really be Christ’s Disciples. The fruit spoken of in the 15th chapter of John is not that general fruit of righteous character spoken of in Galatians, but it is the fruit of making disciples.
- Jesus makes this clear here when he says that he had ordained his Disciples that they should go and bring forth fruit. We have just see that what Jesus ordained the Disciples to go and do was to make disciples of all nations.
Jesus also says that when the disciples are going to bring forth fruit they will be persecuted. Why will they be persecuted? It is because they are speaking the Truth to others and this is why he clarifies the persecution by saying ‘if they kept my saying they will keep yours’. The Disciples were to be saying things [preaching on the housetops] and this is how they were to be bringing forth fruit.