Church in Albany

Gathering all around the Albany New York area in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ



Christian Friends
by Tom Howland

Just Christian friends. “No we don’t do church together, we are just Christian friends.” Sounds like the boyfriend that was brought home to mom and dad “no, we are just friends” they say, or the reassurance to other friends that “we are just friends, not boyfriend and girlfriend”.

            What I am going to be attempting to explain, if staying with this analogy, is that the couple are not only boyfriend and girlfriend, they are actually already married and even they do not even know it. Confused yet? Hopefully it will all become clear.

            We have many Christian friends whom we love. We fellowship with them as often as we can, pouring our lives into each other encouraging each other edifying each other and helping each other as much as we can, just like all good Christian friends do.

            Usually when we get to go to each others homes we fellowship around dinner together. That is always a blessing. What happiness and joy we share as we eat in thankfulness of our friendship and unity as Christians.

            When we get together with our Christian friends it almost always is for mutual encouragement and edification one to another. Naturally of course this is so, for we are indeed, Christian friends.

            Sometimes when we get together with our Christian friends we will share our favorite new worship song. We are all blessed when that happens. It usually is so spontaneous. Not just with the music though. Our conversations always just naturally go to Christ and His love and purpose for us. But this is only to be expected because we are Christian friends.

            I know that if I ever have any needs or need any help that I can go to my Christian friends and they too feel the same way I am sure because we are Christian friends.

            Moreover, because we are Christians we understand that we are a part of Gods family. So we are more than just friends we know that being Christian friends means that we are family.

            But, we are just Christian friends, we don’t do Church together.

 

 

The New Testament actually describes all of the activities mentioned on the previous page. So what is the Scriptures referring to when it mentions these things? The Bible calls it church. More accurately, how to practice Church. But, you say, all I talked about was getting together in each others homes, eating together, sharing together openly and spontaneously, and worshipping together.    This is how the Bible tells us to do church.

            We gather quite often with our Christian friends – but not on Sundays. That's the day we all separate and go to an institutional building that calls itself a church but does not practice church the way the Bible says to. Don’t get me wrong, these churches may doctrinally be the cat’s meow. (For a matter of fact this may be why we separate to different buildings on Sundays. Because of our    doctrinal differences in understanding, but are denominations even biblical? See I Cor 1:10-13. Is Christ divided? Are not all believers part of the body of Christ, unified as His one bride?)

            Most of our Christian friends understand that Church is not a building that they go to on Sunday. Church is the people of God unified together as a family as His bride. When our Christian friends come over it is like a family reunion. This is how church is supposed to be when we gather together on Sundays.

            There is more to it than this though, when we gather with our Christian friends over a meal for mutual encouragement, edification, and worship we are not consciously meeting for church as a New Testament gathering and we are not having the meal together as the “Lords Supper”.

             All of my Christian friends earnestly want and desire to do what the Bible says in all areas of life, and I understand that this may be hard to swallow. As I myself always warn, “If it is new, it probably isn’t true”. However, this indeed isn’t new. It is from the Scriptures themselves. And it just so happens that when you do church the way the Bible says to, it is a beautiful, wonderful thing. I know that we all have varying convictions, but I would love to share the blessings we have experienced with the Home Church community.

            So if you haven't already crumpled up this paper then please go to the next page. I will show you in Scripture how we are supposed to practice Church together as Christian friends.  

 

 

 

Most of the respected serious Bible scholars that I have ever read or heard of would agree that the New Testament explains how to do church and would agree with this page. However, what they would say is that it is how Church was done then.  That it was the traditions of the Apostles.  But, are we only to believe in the doctrine and not hold to the practices and traditions of the New Testament Church?

            In 2Th. 2:15 the churches were instructed to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us”. 2Th3:6-7a, “keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the traditions you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example.” I Cor. 11:2 “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.” The word traditions here is the Greek word paradosis which can also be translated “established practice” I Cor. 14:36-38 “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.”

            “The New Testament reveals clearly that not only are apostolic    doctrine (what we believe) and morality (personal holiness) binding on us as commands, but so too are the practices and ways of doing things passed down by the apostles regarding how churches ought to function and operate.”     Beresford Job

            Let me briefly outline what this apostolic church practice or traditions actually looks like:

Church met on Sunday to gather with their local “Christian friends” in each others homes in order to eat the Lords Supper, which was eaten as a full meal they called the love feast. The fellowship was open, interactive, spontaneous, and everyone was encouraged to participate, to use their spiritual gifts, to minister one to another for mutual encouragement and edification. To worship together as the family of God as Christ’s bride.

            Here are some Scriptures you can dive into to be as a Berean and “test and see if these things are so”.

Home Church:  Rom. 16:3-5; I Cor.16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1,2

Sunday meetings:          I Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7

Lords Supper as a full meal (love feast): Acts 20:7; I Cor 11:33; Jude 12

Open interactive spontaneous inclusive fellowship:         I Cor.14:26-40;

                                                            I Peter 4:8-10; Col. 3:16

            We are not just Christian friends. We are the church, the unified one bride of Christ. Like the couple in the beginning of this article, we are married together and we didn’t even know it.

 

           Hope to see you Sunday!