Joined And Built Together Into God’s Spiritual House
By Randy Shupe
From "Herald of His Coming"
The church is God’s building (1 Cor. 3:9). Paul gives us the revelation of the foundation of this spiritual house as well as the house itself in Ephesians 2:19-22, "...You are...fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in Whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in Whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit." The foundation is based upon the teachings of Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone and the commandments (doctrine) of the apostles and prophets. The building itself consists of believers interacting with other believers for the purpose of being "joined together" (fitted together) and "built together" into God’s spiritual house.
No born-again believer is exempt from this God-given corporate mandate. Churches are not perfect, but this is the source where other believers are to be found with whom we are to be "joined together" and "built together." It is within imperfect churches that God perfects His people as they learn to "continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" as Acts 2:42 so states. You cannot achieve these corporate goals as a solo type of Christian. If you are a Christian, hear the Word of the Lord concerning the need for public assembly with other believers:
"...And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:24-25).
"...They Continued Steadfastly in the Apostles’ Doctrine..." (Acts 2:41-42)
The Bible speaks of several types of doctrine. There is sound doctrine, unsound doctrine, false doctrine, and more specifically, "the apostles’ doctrine." What is "the apostles’ doctrine"? I have assembled for your consideration a collection of the apostles’ doctrine on how believers are to interact with "one another." We have instruction from eight different epistles and four different apostles. Take the time to prayerfully meditate on this display of some of the commandments from our holy apostles that we are to obey (2 Pet. 3:2). Think of your personal interaction with other believers from your local congregation, and you will know to what degree you are "continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine":
Through love serve one another (Gal. 5:13)
Forgive one another (Eph. 4:32)
Be submissive to one another (1 Pet. 5:5)
Have fervent love for one another (1 Pet. 4:8)
Do not judge one another (Rom. 14:13)
Comfort and edify one another (1 Thes. 5:11)
Confess your faults to one another (Jas. 5:16)
Be hospitable without grumbling to one another
(1 Pet. 4:9)
Do not speak evil of one another (Jas. 4:11)
Pray for one another (Jas. 5:16)
Admonish one another (Rom. 15:14)
Consider one another (Heb. 10:24)
Wait for one another (1 Cor. 11:33)
Fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7)
Depend upon one another (Rom. 12:5)
Greet one another (Rom. 16:16)
Care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25)
Be of the same mind to one another (Rom 12:16)
Bear the burdens of one another (Gal. 6:2)
Receive and accept one another (Rom. 15:7)
Do not be a stumbling block to one another
Stir up love and good works to one another
Be kind to one another (Eph. 4:32)
Have compassion on one another (1 Pet. 3:8)
Give preference to one another (Rom. 12:10)
Did you give yourself a passing or a failing grade? We are called to: "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves..." (2 Cor. 13:5).
Certainly there is more to "the apostles’ doctrine" than what is presented here. However, it is a good sampling of the CORPORATE emphasis that the apostles placed upon the church of being joined together with other believers. When Paul spoke of the Body of Christ, he stressed, "The body is not one member but many...there are many members, yet one body" (1 Cor. 12:14, 20). To the Ephesian church he stated, "...the whole body, joined and knit together...according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16). Once your eyes are opened to the corporate emphasis contained within the apostles’ doctrinal teachings, the Word of God will take on a new perspective which places responsibility on every believer to work toward these corporate objectives.
"...They Continued Steadfastly in...Fellowship..."
Fellowship is different than relationship. I am related to the whole body of Christ by means of the blood of Christ. I have relationship to all brothers and sisters who are in Christ via the new birth through faith in His blood. However, I do not, and cannot, have fellowship with all my spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ. Relationship is universal, but the ability to have fellowship is limited generally to a physical location. The definition of this word will tell us why this is true. Webster defines fellowship as: "The companionship of persons on equal and friendly terms...the state of being together or sharing...mutual participation, common interest, or experience...."
The Greek word translated as "fellowship" in the New Testament literally means, "Partaker – one of a pair." Consider a fuller rendering of this word in Strong’s Concordance: Koinonia (Greek) – "Participation, social intercourse...to communicate, to have communion.... Root: sharer, partaker, partner."
The following sampling of passages using the word "together" conveys to us what a commitment to fellowship with one another is within a locally assembled group of believers in which we spend quality time together:
Eph. 2:21...being fitted together, grows into a...
Eph. 2:22...being built together for a dwelling...
Eph. 4:16...joined and knit together...
Phil. 1:27...with one mind striving together...
Col. 2:2...being knit together in love...
Col. 2:13...He has made alive together with Him...
Col. 2:19...the body, nourished and knit together...
Heb. 10:25...assembling of ourselves together...
A commitment to fellowship is far more than relationship to other Christians. It is a commitment to become "joined together...knit together...built up together." It is to become a body of believers that are one in unity and purpose.
"...That you may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:3-4).
"...Have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:1-3).