Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fellowships' Five Facts...

Dr. Ken Hemphill keyed in on "Nurturing Biblical Fellowship" in April's SBC Life. You can access the entire article here.

I had the priviledge of attending Southwestern Seminary during Dr. Hemphill's tenure as president and studied the book of 1 Corinthians under his teaching. He is an excellent communicator with a depth of knowledge in the area of spiritual gifts.

I've come to the conclusion after 20+ years of church-related ministry that the church's fellowship is one of the most critical aspects of church health. Unity within in a local body is absolutely essential in order to see Holy Spirit empowerment. With that in mind, Dr. Hemphill's thoughts on biblical fellowship are very timely for our denomination and our individual churches.

Dr. Hemphill identifies five undeniable truths of fellowship within the church:

  • Truth #1: Fellowship is not optional to biblical Christianity! Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34, 15:12, 17). Dr. Hemphill says, "It is an inescapable truth--we cannot belong to Christ without belonging to a community of believers".
  • Truth #2: Fellowship with other believers is essential to personal spiritual growth! "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:17-19). The love of Christ surpasses knowledge! Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:1, "But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.".
  • Truth #3: Fellowship is essential to ministry since the unified body is the platform for the proper functioning of the spiritual gifts! According to Ken Hemphill, "In every passage where spiritual gifts are mentioned the issue of unity of the body and the common good are always preeminent".
  • Truth #4: Authentic fellowship can only be found in Christ! Dr Hemphill stresses, "For the early church koinonia was a group of believers who were bound together by their common loyalty to Christ. Our fellowship crosses racial, cultural, gender, and other artificial boundaries to find its basis in Christ alone."
  • Truth #5: Fellowship is essential to Kingdom expansion! According to Hemphill, "The church that practices biblical fellowship will function like a magnet to the fellowship-hungry world".

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