Lesson NINE

The Local Church

How Am I Related to Other Christians?

A.     They are your brothers (and sisters) in Jesus Christ. Be sure to understand, only those in Jesus Christ (saved people) are your brothers, regardless of any other factors. Likewise, those not in Jesus Christ (unsaved people) are not your brothers regardless of any other factors (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:1-3; Romans 9:8; Hebrews 2:9-12).
B.     They are your fellow laborers in service for Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:5-10).

What Are My Responsibilities Toward Other Christians?

A.     We are to pray for each other. Almost every one of Paul's letters opens with a prayer for those he is writing to (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2 Timothy 1:3).
B.     We are to minister to each other.
  1.   Physically: For those in your local church family, as well as the entire body of Christ in other areas (Galatians 6:10; Romans 12:13; Acts 11:27-30)
  2.   Spiritually (Galatians 6:1-2; Romans 15:1-2; Hebrew 13:3)
C.     We are to encourage and edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
D.     We are to serve one another (Philippians 2:3-4; Matthew 20:25-28).

What Should Be My Attitude Toward Other Christians?

A.     The primary attitude should be to love them (1 John 3:14-16; 1 Peter 4:8).
B.     Be patient with them (Romans 15:5-7).
C.     Be sensitive to their needs (1 John 3:17-18; James 2:15-16).
D.     Be forgiving to each other (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).

What is "Fellowship"?

A.     "Fellowship" is a term commonly used by Christians generally referring to getting together for activities or times of sharing common interest. However, this is only a small part of true fellowship. It is true that to fellowship is to share things, but true biblical fellowship goes far beyond just a meal or an activity. it is the sharing of life through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ with another believer.
B.     The essential elements of true biblical fellowship are not physical matters such as social status, friendship, common interests, etc.; they are spiritual requirements of personal character.
  1.   Humility (Philippians 2:3-8)
  2.   Honesty (Ephesians 4:25; 2 Corinthians 4:2)
  3.   Love (John 13:35; Galatians 5:13-15)
  4.   Hospitality (Titus 1:8; Acts 2:42, 46-47)
C.     The area of true fellowship include, among other;
  1.   Prayer (2 Corinthians 1:11)
  2.   Faith (Romans 1:12)
  3.   Ministry (2 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 2:9)
  4.   Suffering (Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 4:13; 5:1)
D.     Although doctrinal beliefs are vitally important, true biblical fellowship is not based on exact doctrinal agreement, but in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. You must learn to have fellowship with Him personally before your fellowship withy other believers will be proper (1 John 1:3-7).

What If Another Christian Offends Me?

Unfortunately, this will probably happen to you if you spend any time with your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Thee will be times of offense, hurt and disagreement within the body of Christ, just as in your physical family. If and when this happens, the Bible gives a definite progression of principles to deal with the matters. How should you respond in such a case?

A.     Take the offense directly to the other party first, privately and try to settle it between yourselves (Matthew 18:15).
B.     If the matter is not resolved privately, take it to a leader in your church to attempt to mediate the situation (Matthew 18:16; 1 Corinthians 6:1-5).
C.     Do not go to the unsaved to settle a problem within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:6).
D.     If this matter still cannot be resolved:
  1.   Personally accept the wrong (1 Corinthians 6:7-8).
  2.   Commit the situation to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will handle it justly (1 Peter 2:19-23).
  3.   Forgive your brother (Colossians 3:13).
  4.   Pray for your brother (Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:14).

Key Memory Verses

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12).

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).

"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (1 Corinthians 12:27).

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

Additional Thoughts

Amount many Christians today, the following attitudes prevail:

1.     In order to really learn the Bible, you need to go to Bible college.
2.     The primary purpose of a local church is to be a social or political organization.
3.     The local church is primarily for weddings, funerals and religious holidays.
4.     Only the "leadership" of the church is charged with any responsibility of meeting people's spiritual needs.
5.     We are not to associate with Christians who do not believe exactly as we do.
6.     "Fellowship" must be centered around a meal or an activity.

From the Bible principle taught in this lesson, you should understand that these teaching are false, and why.