Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
This question is raised in the book of Amos with the answer implied that “two cannot walk together except they be agreed.” In 1 John 1:6, 7, we read, “If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another...” In verse 3 John wrote, “that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” From the above we may make the following observations:
1. The basis for our fellowship with God is for us to walk (live and worship) according to the light of truth as it is set forth in the word of God.
2. For us to have meaningful fellowship with one another we must both first have fellowship with God according to the light of truth.
3. To walk in darkness (contrary to the light of truth as set forth in the word of God) puts us out of fellowship with God and those who walk in truth.
Paul writes in 2 Cor. 6:14-16, “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” There are different types of unbelievers. There are those who don’t believe in God and then there are those who don’t believe the truth. Since this epistle is written to the church at Corinth, both the church and its members are forbidden to yoke up with unbelievers in fellowship, whether the unbelievers be those who don’t believe in God or the unbelievers are those who don’t believe the truth.
Next, righteousness is not to have fellowship with unrighteousness. When it comes to worship, anything that is contrary to the word of God is unrighteousness. The teaching of tithing, salaried ministry, preachers seminars, church supported missions, Sunday schools, use of instrumental music in the worship service, and youth camps are all contrary to the bible pattern of new testament worship and service. Furthermore, those who promote and support these innovations are walking in unrighteousness. Thus we are not to fellowship those who promote and support these innovations. Those who go along with these innovations are walking in darkness.
“What communion hath light with darkness?”
In verse 17 Paul writes, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing...” The Lord teaches us to separate ourselves from unrighteousness and darkness and unbelievers and false worshipers. This is not toleration, but separation!! If someone came into the church teaching and promoting such things, then the church should separate herself from that member.
Rom. 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them.” To mark is to identify. To “avoid them” teaches us that we shouldn’t use them, or invite them into the pulpit, or to participate with them in church functions such as ordinations and communion. Thus those who teach or promote tithing, salaried ministry, Sunday schools, preachers seminars, youth camps, church sponsored missions, etc. should be identified and avoided.
What should our relationship be with those who are not openly teaching and promoting false teachings, but continue to fellowship those who do? Remember that they are commanded to come out from among them and a reasonable time should be allowed for them to do so. However, if they continue to walk with the unrighteous, then we cannot have fellowship with them in darkness and at the same time have fellowship with God in light. Thus the above principles teach that we must also avoid the “fence straddlers.”
Associations were originally established that those of like precious faith might gather together at a designated location and worship God together. What should be the church’s position when one or more of the churches in the association teach and promote doctrines and practices contrary to the teaching of scripture? The principles of mark, avoid, and separate are just as valid in associations as they are in the individual local church. The church can ask the offending church or churches to repent from such teachings and practices. The church can attempt to exclude the offending church or churches from the association compact, or the church can withdraw from the association. If the offending churches fail to repent or to withdraw from or be excluded from the association compact, then the orderly church has no choice but to withdraw if she is to remain true to her Lord who said, “Come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord.”