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Is open fellowship with the denominations acceptable to God?

religion, articles, christianity


By Joseph D. Meador


Brother Meador, there is much confusion today in the church regarding the issue of fellowship. In our state of Kansas the church has lost its distinctiveness in many communities as open fellowship is practiced with the denominational churches. Please discuss fellowship as a New Testament doctrine.


The Bible plainly teaches that the individual who is desirous of interpreting or knowing the will of God may do so (John 7:17; 2 Tim. 2:15). Jesus declared, "Ye shall know the truth" John 8:32); he also told us that his Father's Word is truth (John 17:17). In so doing, Jesus routed the skeptics of today "who would have us to accept the view that we can only 'seek' the truth; that we cannot, in fact, ever find it." Therefore, when we discuss the all­important area of Christian fellowship, we are dealing with the interpretation of factual, verifiable, and objective truth which is found only in the Word of God.

So the student might understand the will of God, the biblical text has been written by the Holy Spirit in propositional language, i.e., language which is written in a style so as to leave no doubt regarding the meaning or intent of God (2 Tim.3:16­17). This fact is established by the testimony of the Scripture in such passages as John 8:31­32; 1 Corinthians 2:13; Galatians 1:6­12; and 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

We observe that in the Bible: Every precisely stated proposition is either true or false.... Truth is objective and absolute ­ not subjective and relative. If the proposition, "Jesus Christ died for our sins," is true, then that proposition is true for everyone, no matter what his attitude toward it might be. When Peter declared on the day of Pentecost that God had raised Jesus from the dead, this proposition was true in spite of the fact that some rejected it. The Bible taught just what it now teaches centuries before any man now living was born. Our being born and growing up to have attitudes and beliefs toward the Bible does not change what it teaches. Its truth is objective and absolute.

In giving a more detailed definition of a proposition, it has been noted that: A proposition may be categorical in that it asserts that something either is or is not the case, without stating any sort of conditions (cf. Rom. 8:8). Or, a proposition may be hypothetical in that it may state that if one thing is the case, then another thing will be the case (cf. Matt. 6:33). Or, a proposition may be disjunctive in that it may state that either one thing is the case or another thing is the case (cf. Matt. 7:13,14). A proposition may be conjunctive in that it may state that both of two propositions (or more) are true (cf. Matt. 22:37-40).

Finally, we now present in systematic order, various scriptural propositions relating to the specific lines of fellowship which have been drawn by God and which he intends to be known, understood, and respected by every disciple.

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ has all authority; and this authority is contained in His Word; and His Word (the New Testament Scripture) is the approved standard of judgment for every human action; and Christ's all authoritative Word was given to the apostles; and this all authoritative Word given to the apostles and written for us today in the New Testament is all sufficient. (Matt. 7:28­29; 17:1­5; 28:18; Acts 3:22­23; Eph. 1:22­23; Col.1:18; Heb.1:1­2;John 12:48­50; John 14:25­26; 16:12­13; 17:8, 14,18; Mark 13:11; Rev. 20:12; 2 Tim.3:16­17; 2 Pet. 1:3).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that fellowship between individual baptized believers is contingent upon each one first being in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5­10).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that a specific line of fellowship exists to ensure the consistent purity of the body of Christ (Acts 5:1­11; Rom. 12:1­2; 1 Cor. 5:1­5; 2 Cor. 6:14­18, 7:1; Gal. 5:19­21; Eph. 5:11­14, 22­33; Heb. 10:29; 2 Pet. 1:10; 2:4, 20­21; 3:17; Rev. 7:9­14).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that divine fellowship cannot exist between righteousness and sin; between spiritual light and carnal darkness; between Christ and Satan; between believers and unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14­18; 2 Thess. 1:7­9; 2 John 911).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that sinful conduct on the part of the Christian obstructs fellowship with God and thus all faithful believers (Rom.5:6­11; 8:1­9; 1 John 1:6).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that the definite line of fellowship which exists now is recognized and shall be validated by Jesus Christ on the day of judgment (Matt. 7:21­23, 13:41, 25:31­34, 41;John 12:48­SO; Rev.20:11­15).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that fellowship is predicated on an obedient lifestyle toward the gospel (Matt. 7:21­27).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that we are in fellowship with God only as we live faithfully according to his Word (doctrine) (John 14:15,23, 17:6­19, 17:23; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 John 2:24; 2 John 9­11.)

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that a faithful child of God is not, and cannot be, in spiritual fellowship with those (a single individual or an entire congregation) who teach, defend, and promote doctrinal error and/or division (1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 5:1­11; 2 Thess. 3:6­15; Titus 3:10; 1 John 1:8­10; 2 John 9­11).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that a Christian must mark (take note of ant avoid) those who teach, defend, and promote false doctrine and/ or division (Rom. 16:17; Titus 3:10; 2 John 9­11).

  • The New Testament Scripture teaches that Godly repentance and prayer restores fellowship with God and thus all faithful believers (Matt. 3:8; 21:28­29; John 9:31; Acts 8:20­24, 17:30­31; Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10; Heb. 10:26­27; 1 John 1:8­10; 5:16­17).

Published March 1997