With Whom Shall We Fellowship? (Part 3)
We have shown that God fellowships baptized, penitent believers (i.e., Christians)--whether they are strong or weak. Who else does God fellowship (and who else should we fellowship)?

A careful study of Romans 14 & 15 will show this to be true. But, please understand that God doesn't give us the right to hold just any opinion we want to! There are some things that simply are not subject to the opinions of men. For instance, some in the religious world would like us to believe that a person doesn't have to be baptized to have his sins washed away. That is their opinion, but friends, their opinion is wrong. God has spoken on the matter (cf. Acts 2:38; 22:16; etc.). When God declares something, that should be the end of the debate.

But, we must realize there are some things that just don't matter to God. God doesn't care if you're a vegetarian; He doesn't care if you don't drive a car; He doesn't care if you choose to never get married. If you are a Christian, He will still fellowship you regardless of what choice you make on these and many other issues. Of course, we need to be good students of the Bible so we will know the difference between matters of doctrine and matters of opinion. To merely affirm that something is a matter of doctrine or a matter of opinion doesn't make it so. We must agree on doctrine, but we are permitted to disagree on matters of indifference (again, a careful study of Rom. 14 & 15 is important here). Seeing a matter of opinion differently should not lead to the severing of fellowship.

This may sound incorrect at first, but it is true--at least initially. God is longsuffering with His children who are drifting--that is, those who are in the process of moving out of the light and into the darkness. God doesn't immediately cut them off (and neither should we). He gives them time to repent. He commands us to do the same with individuals who are drifting (cf. Matt. 18:15-18).

A good example of this principle is found in Revelation 2:4,5 where Jesus is speaking to the church at Ephesus - "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent." It seems reasonable to suggest that God still had some fellowship with this congregation while He gave them time to repent, but if they didn't do so quickly, they would be cut off. Eventually, if a person or congregation will not repent, then God will cease having fellowship with them (and so should we). There is a limit to God's patience and fellowship, as there should also be with ours.

In our next lesson we will begin considering the other side of the coin, so to speak: Who does God not fellowship?