By Dennis L. Scroggins
A lecture series dealing with the subject of the Bible Fellowship (Do Not Remove the Ancient Landmark, Proverbs 22:28), was held on August 25-27, 1994, in Austin, Texas at the faithful church meeting in South Austin.
We are pleased to report the positive way in which the subject matter was presented by each scheduled speaker, their apt handling of the assigned lessons, and the good response by the large number of people who attended each session was uplifting to all. The comments by visitors ranged from. “Why hasn’t anyone put together anything like this before?” to “I really didn’t understand the magnitude of the problems facing local churches in regard to this subject until I heard all the different facets summed up in one lecture series.”
A Methodist was invited to come and hear the series on fellowship. He responded with the comment that if the lessons were just going to be another series on the wonderful attributes of the “Social Gospel” he wasn’t interested in coming. He was assured that the lessons would be Bible centered in every aspect. He came to the Thursday night lesson and stayed to hear the panel discussion that followed which dealt with questions and answers from the audience. Several members of liberal churches of Christ in the Austin area came to each session. We sent an invitation to every kind of religious group throughout the Austin area in the hope of reaching them through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our intent in holding this type of lecture series with a concentration on the Bible subject of Fellowship was initiated for three reasons:
1. The church meeting in South Austin had come under attack by members of other so-called faithful churches of Christ in our area in which the false doctrine of “Receive ye . . . on the basis of the individual’s conscience, regard-less of their repentance or not!” was being taught privately through phone calls and letters.
2. Different religious groups in the Austin area were being torn apart by the “message of tolerance” which was being preached in connection with the receiving of homosexuals into the local fellowship of their churches. We viewed this as a great opportunity to reach those in the different religious groups who stand opposed to the unrepentant homosexual being accepted into the fellow-ship of their local churches.
3. We believe that the Bible topic of Fellowship affects every aspect of the local church both in its purity and in its faithfulness to Jesus Christ the Head (Eph. 5:23-27). It was our intent to ground the members of the church meeting in South Austin in the truth of God’s word concerning the Bible subject of Fellowship.
Tom Roberts began the series with a clear and precise lesson dealing first with the world’s concept of fellowship (let us go along to get along), secondly the denominational concept of fellowship (fun and frolic, social gospel), and concluded with some of the concepts of our own. Brethren have accepted into the fellowship of a local church all kinds of unrepented sinners based on their misguided conclusions (drawn from Romans the fourteenth chapter).
Larry Hafley continued the next night with the subject of “Romans 14: Fellowship Redefined?” He was straight forward in reinforcing the biblical principle of fellowship based on objective truth found in God’s word.
Larry presented the “Elastic Gospel” concept which he pointed out to have been embraced by our own brethren who are calling for more tolerance in regard to those who continue in sin. Larry pointed out the destructive force of this “attitude of compromise” connected with the twisting of the Scriptures in Romans 14. He pressed the point of its “leavening power” which was led to the ruin and loss of many souls.
On Saturday morning, August 27th, Harry Osborne dealt with the false arguments advanced by some brethren who condemn exposing error that has been advanced by individuals outside the local church. Harry’s lesson was entitled “Fellowship, Is It Decided by the Local Church?” No doubt was left in the minds of those who were listening to this lesson that Harry was deeply concerned about any local church that would allow false teachers and their teachings to go unchallenged. He dealt with the false premise that the marking of a false teacher (who is not a member at that local church) in accordance with Romans 16:17,18; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Timothy 4:1-4, would some-how violate the local autonomy of that church.
Ron Halbrook continued that morning with “Fellow-ship, As Defined by God.” Ron outlined from 1 John 1:1-7, the elements of fellowship as prescribed by the word of God. Ron’s lesson exemplified the attitudes Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 11:3. Ron spoke in the “simplicity of truth” so all would realize that the subject of fellowship with all its elements can be clearly known, understood, and widely accepted even if certain ones charge that the subject of Fellowship is too controversial to be addressed in an effective manner.
Jerry Fite concluded the lecture series that afternoon with the timely lesson. “Fellowship: Who shall Be the Watchdogs?” Jerry delivered a lesson that every preacher should hear concerning the work of an evangelist. He pointed out to the listening audience our individual responsibility to be on guard for the souls of men and women, and the terrible consequences of not watching. It was at the conclusion of Jerry’s lesson that a brother in Christ came forward confessing the sin of not watching out for the spiritual welfare of his family. We wept, rejoiced, and prayed with this brother who realized the far reaching effects of not taking a spiritual lead in one’s family and a strong stand for the truth. The next day, on Sunday morning another Brother in Christ came forward and confessed the sin of buying lottery tickets. It was uplifting to see the good results of these kinds of sermons that declare the whole counsel of God.
We also saw another result of these faithful preacher’s strong and sound teachings, visitors from other faithful congregations that expressed a desire for this same lecture series to be presented at the local congregation expressed a desire for this same lecture series to be presented at the local congregation where they are members. We believe this to be a direct result of the clear call to holiness contained in each of the lessons that were presented during the three days. The speakers’ positive attitude toward the subject of Bible fellowship should lead those who would honestly investigate the lessons presented in this series to give thanks for the far reaching effects it will have in the future for that which is good in the sight of God.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 20, p. 9-10
October 20, 1994