Archive for August, 2015

Circles of Fellowship

Ryrie on fellowship across theological lines:

We also need to be realistic about the matter of priority in fellowship. Fellowship means sharing in common, and all areas of fellowship are not equal, simply because they do not involve the same sharing. Fellowship on the horizontal plane (that is, with other human beings) is like a series of concentric circles.

The largest circle includes all people with whom we have a certain kind of fellowship. We are to do good to all (Gal. 6:10) and to show respect in our speech to all people, believers and unbelievers, simply because all were created in the image of God (James 3:9).

The next largest circle includes all Christians. We have a certain kind of fellowship with them regardless of their affiliations or beliefs. God has done something miraculous and eternal for every person in that circle of fellowship, and we all share in common that internal divine work.

Some of the smaller circles may be our particular church fellowship or a doctrinal fellowship, such as is shared in an educational or mission affiliation. It could also be a small group or a Sunday school class, or a group of Christians serving in a specific ministry.

Cutting across all these circles is the personal factor. We obviously do not share to the same extent the fellowship we have within a given circle. Our Lord shared certain things with Peter, James, and John that He did not share with the others who were in that circle of the Twelve. As well as personal factors, there may be legitimate sociological factors that cut across the circles, and certainly geographical factors themselves limit fellowship.

The point is simply this: Circles of fellowship are not in themselves wrong; it is our failure or refusal to recognize some of them that is wrong. When someone fails to recognize the larger circles and builds a wall of doctrine or practice around the smaller one, refusing ever to move out of these circles for any reason, he is in error. Equally wrong is the attempt to make believers have the same kind of fellowship with all other believers and not allow them to have the smaller circles of fellowship.

From Charles C. Ryrie’s book, Dispensationalism, Chapter 12: A Plea

We Have Forgotten What This Is Like

From William McDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary:

These are some of the ministries of the Spirit which are realized in a person the moment he is saved. Everyone who is in Christ automatically has the baptism, the indwelling, the anointing, the earnest, and the seal.

But the filling is different. It is not a once-for-all crisis experience in the life of a disciple; rather it is a continuous process. The literal translation of the command is “Be being filled with the Spirit.” It may begin as a crisis experience, but it must continue thereafter as a moment-by-moment process. Today’s filling will not do for tomorrow. And certainly it is a state greatly to be desired. In fact, it is the ideal condition of the believer on earth. It means that the Holy Spirit is having His way relatively ungrieved in the life of the Christian, and that the believer is therefore fulfilling his role in the plan of God for that time.

How then can a believer be filled with the Spirit? The Apostle Paul does not tell us here in Ephesians; he merely commands us to be filled. But from other parts of the word, we know that in order to be filled with the Spirit we must:

  • Confess and put away all known sin in our lives (1 John 1:5-9). It is obvious that such a holy Person cannot work freely in a life where sin is condoned.
  • Yield ourselves completely to His control (Romans 12:1-2). This involves the surrender of our will, our intellect, our body, our time, our talents, and our treasures. Every area of life must be thrown open to His dominion.
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). This involves reading the word, studying it, and obeying it. When the word of Christ dwells in us richly, the same results follow (Colossians 3:16) as follow the filling of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:19).
  • Finally, we must be emptied of self (Galatians 2:20). To be filled with a new ingredient a cup must first be emptied of the old. To be filled with Him, we must first be emptied of us.

Does a person know it when he is filled with the Spirit? Actually, the closer we are to the Lord, the more we are conscious of our own complete unworthiness and sinfulness (Isaiah 6:1-5). In His presence, we find nothing in ourselves to be proud of (Luke 5:8). We are not aware of any spiritual superiority over others, any sense of “having arrived.” The believer who is filled with the Spirit is occupied with Christ and not with self.

At the same time, he may have a realization that God is working in and through his life. He sees things happen in a supernatural way. Circumstances click miraculously. Lives are touched for God. Events move according to a divine timetable. Even forces of nature are on his side; they seem chained to the chariot wheels of the Lord. He sees all this; he realizes that God is working for and through him; and yet he feels strangely detached from it all as far as taking any credit is concerned. In his inmost being, he realizes it is all of the Lord.

Music Pick – Luca Stricagnoli’s “Braveheart” Instrumental

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Music Picks

I’m not going to say much about this one. Just watch and listen and be amazed at the talent this one-man-band displays.

You can find more of his work and purchase his music at

This Is What It’s Like to Break Every Rule

When I was still young, I realized that I was missing something. I wasn’t sure what it was, but then someone told me. I was being imprisoned by the dictates of a theocracy that denied my most basic rights.

Not long ago I did the one thing almost everyone said I shouldn’t do, what good God-fearing girls don’t do. I may have lost my innocence, but I gained so much more. I understand now what it’s like to make my own choices, to have a will all my own, to be responsible for my own decisions. I feel a freedom that only those who leave behind everything they loved can feel. I have a sense of life that only those who truly understand mortality can have. I was liberated – able to finally do what was right in my own eyes, and not in the eyes of others.

When I told my companion that I feared doing it, he suggested to me that that those who judge often have ulterior motives. The desires that I had kept hidden away from everyone were justified – I needed to break the bonds they put on me. I wanted the best for me. They wanted to keep the best from me. I believed him.

When I did it, the effect was immediate. I felt vulnerable, very exposed. Something you didn’t think anyone would know about, suddenly everyone knew. I wasn’t alone in my decision, though. The one I thought would be most resistant chose to accept my decision. Seeing his shift to my way of thinking was amazing – it gave me confidence in my decision. His participation with me really validated my choice. But those I thought were closest to me were the first to condemn me. They said my decision put an almost insurmountable barrier between us. I was told that I had to leave my home or else. Their henchmen picketed my place of birth. Some carried threatening weapons. I was separated from everything I was meant to be. I felt like I had to hide, to cover myself.

I came out of my past into a different creation, and it’s been a hard journey. There’s a lot of things in my past I’ll never be able to get back, and I have to learn to live with it. But it has transformed the way I see the world, the way people experience me, like I’m 100% human. It feels like everything has gone from black or white to a rainbow of choices. Everyone has noticed it. It changed everything.

I tasted the forbidden fruit, and I have grown wise because of it.1

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened…”2

  1. Obviously, you’ve figured out this is a reference to Eve. However, this is a counter-factual Eve, a caricature of what she would be like in our post-modern, celebratory-of-sin society. She gained wisdom, but is forced to ignore or downplay the reality of her decision’s terrible costs. []
  2. Genesis 3:6-7 []