This short article is from this week’s bulletin. On Wednesday night, we had our monthly Uplift service where we try to mix things up to lift up each other. I had everyone fill out index cards answering the question why the love our congregation. We then went around and read out our cards in between an amazing song selection by our worship leader. This article sums up what I was trying to capture.
Jesus met two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff). They were sad because they expected Jesus to restore Israel, but after being in the grave for three days, it seemed as if all hope was lost. As they were traveling, Jesus began telling them all about His mission and purpose from the Law and the prophets. All through His teaching, they failed to recognize Him. Teaching can only take someone so far. Christianity is more than just about believing certain doctrines; it is about fellowship and serving. It wasn’t until Jesus broke bread with them that they recognized Him (Luke 24:30-31, 35). Christ can be found in teaching, but the power of breaking bread with our neighbor can open the eyes of the most discouraged disciple. When we take communion together, Jesus is in our midst.
On Wednesday night during our Uplift service, we saw this play out in real time. I asked everyone to fill out an index card answering a question about why they love North Broad. Every single card said something about the people, fellowship, and family. Nobody wrote anything down about doctrine, methods of worship, or any of the things we’ve been trained to talk about. It was all about family. Some on Wednesday have attended North Broad for over thirty and forty years, but their responses were all the same. One card said that the fellowship and worship at North Broad brings happiness to her soul. That will preach!
When we invite people to be part of our family here, that should be our emphasis because that’s what wakes us up on Sundays, leads us to answer midnight phone calls, and inspires us to bend over backwards to be there for each other. There was something about the way Jesus broke bread that opened His disciples’ eyes, and it is the way we fellowship each other that will help us reach out to those who have no place to call home.
Sadly, in your youthful exuberance to “remove the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set,” (Proverbs 22:28) your sentiment of this blog post can be applied to any group of amicable people from any religion. Even the gentile Centurion Cornelius, in Acts 10, was described as “A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.”
But that did not restrain the Angel of the Lord from informing Cornelius to he needed to send for Simon Peter “who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” (Act 11:13-14)
Cornelius had a devout, kind and generous heart, and could have successfully filled out one of your index cards, but he had not yet heard and obeyed the saving doctrine/gospel of Christ, and hence was “lost.”
Actually you cannot separate fellowship from obedience to the gospel/doctrine of Christ –
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we know that we love the children of God when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:1-3)
Thank you for your comment, but you have missed the point entirely. I’m not trying to take Jesus or doctrine out of the picture. But, as Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
It appears to me that your major hangup is confusing doctrine with the gospel of Jesus. If you look back in 1 John to chapter 3, you would read: “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”
What you have done in conflating doctrine with gospel is added to the gospel of Jesus. ALL that is necessary for Christian fellowship is faith in Christ and love for one another.
Daniel, I read and enjoy all of your blog posts, including your recent discussion of what is the gospel, and I admire your enthusiasm for Christ. I don’t always agree with what you write, and obviously do not respond to each blog post (I think I only have responded to 21 of your blog articles since 2018.) Your expertise and accuracy is on preterism. I have learned much from you on this topic and always thoroughly enjoy seeing them posted here.
Paul wrote to the brethren living in Rome “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:1-3) I fear you are traveling down the same path, as do your parents and grand parents, who you have publicly mentioned are concerned about your own righteousness.
I think I have mentioned before that you remind me of myself, in many ways, when I was your age. I was, and still am, the type of Christian who is like the Bereans in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11) But as an impressionable young Bible student, I learned to be careful at whose feet I studied. When James cautioned “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1) I now fully realize the consequences of following false preachers and teachers, especially those in the church. They have a strong influence on the young minds who choose study at their feet. Based on your previous blog posts, I think I know who has unduly influenced your contrary beliefs and doctrine on a multitude of Biblical topics, that have been settled for decades in the church.
After 57 faithful years in the Lord’s church, I’ve seen alot of preachers come and go, and I would encourage you to use this blog to document your accomplished preterist teachings, which will do much more good in expanding the borders of the kingdom, than answering “. . . we will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16) to those who love you the most.