Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
This month’s article is titled: “Types of People God is Calling.” It investigates the people God has called since Adam to both put forth His message of salvation to mankind and the people to receive His message of salvation to mankind.
This information is entirely complementary to the biblical “lottery” which God has used to choose and place you in your position in time and space, within His salvation history, to perform and to come in contact with people He feels you should meet and interact with. 1 This month’s article discusses the difficulties and limitations that God places on us to fulfill His will. He does this so that you and I might not claim that any action we do to forward God’s plan of salvation is performed by our human strength or will, but that those actions are done by God’s grace through you and through me. God limits each one of us through our circumstances so that we will not trust ourselves, but so that we will trust Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, “the captain of [our] salvation” (Hebrews 2:10).
The issue of fellowship comes up in this presentation, transcribed from a 1974 audiotape. At that time Dr. Martin believed that fellowship came through assemblies or ekklesias only (mistakenly called “churches” today). He slowly changed his view as he realized that good teaching does provide spiritual fellowship, but in a one-way manner, and that this is what the Bible meant. 2
You are grown up and mature in the faith ... or perhaps you are not. We at ASK frequently receive requests from people who desire fellowship with like-minded (or at least open-minded) Christians. It is unfortunate that most people requesting a link to fellowship desire to be associated with an organization or a formal group, usually thinking that it must be hierarchical. They want to join an established fellowship. Well, God has seen fit not to provide such an organization, group or fellowship at this time. 3
If you truly desire, long for, or need such fellowship — then do something about it. Most of those who desire fellowship do nothing. This could be a good thing because you may not be firm enough in your faith to defend or explain what you believe, to “give an answer” about what you believe (1 Peter 3:15; Luke 21:13; Colossians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:25–26). If this is the case, study the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:14–16).
If you have a strong desire for fellowship with a group, then begin a fellowship. Politely ask people to meet with you to discuss the Bible. If they are not interested, they will say so. If they are interested, they may surprise you — and say yes. Then, after you meet with them over time, have them ask other people. It may grow. It may not. You might even be kicked out of your own group, extended family, or community because you are a “misfit.” 4 In any case, as the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” You are free to do what you want in this matter (as in most things).
All of the New Testament ekklesias met in houses, some large and some small. They were discussion groups that discussed various biblical topics. You should not need classroom instruction on “how to minister.” Jesus’ teaching of the apostles and the larger group of disciples was not a 2½-year course in interpersonal relations, counseling and “divorce and remarriage” issues. He taught them from His own authority (Matthew 7:24–29), and He taught about Himself from the Scriptures (Mark 11:17), the full impact of which they realized only after His resurrection. Show people from the Scriptures about the plan of God, Christ’s role in that plan, and their own role in that plan.
Unlike Christ, you must not from your own authority, but you must teach from the Scriptures and by asking questions and answering those questions from the Scriptures. Teach about God’s love for mankind, and how your study group should love God and man. Take the examples of teaching in the Bible and follow them as a model. 5 Most seminaries teach people how to minister to established “church” organizations. Most ministers are taught in the organized Christian traditions in the basics of religious culture and they are taught the things that you “do” when you are a “minister,” involving the so-called sacraments. What seminaries teach their students have little relationship to the house ekklesias of the Bible and early ekklesia.
You will make mistakes. You will fall on your face, perhaps several times. You will on occasion be wrong. People will walk away and not return. The whole purpose of your teaching should be the same as the whole purpose of the Word of God, which is summed up at the end of John’s Gospel:
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ [the anointed, the Messiah], the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.”
This is the only reason to have any spiritual fellowship with other people: to learn and study together that Jesus is the Messiah and your Savior, and to strengthen your belief, to the result that you and them might have life.
Simply put, ASK continues to exist because God’s grace motivates you to give contributions to us. Your gracious gifts provide us the means to publish the “meat” of the Gospel of Christ from one of the best biblical teachers and scholars for several generations. You may disagree with details or particular points of Dr. Martin’s teaching, but they are presented with considered and mature thought, supported with strong biblical evidence in the realms of history, theology and prophecy. Over the decades many have asked, even demanded, that Dr. Martin tone down his messages, but he never submitted to that pressure in order to be accepted by the “evangelical” Christian community, or to be accepted by any religious body.
We hope to continue to publish this material for a considerable time to come. You make it possible and we thank you for doing so, each and every one of you. By your help, we keep going, as we are able to provide you with “the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:29).
David W. Sielaff
1 That information can be found in Dr. Martin’s books, ABCs of the Gospel, chapter 7 (http://www.askelm.com/abc/abc007.htm) and explained fully in Essentials of New Testament Doctrine, chapter 25 (http://www.askelm.com/books/book007.htm).
2 Friends and relatives may even invite you to one of their fellowships. By all means attend. If they are uncomfortable with your “misfit” understanding of the Bible, then they will soon make that clear to you by their actions and statements. See the article by Dr. Martin: “What Is True Fellowship” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d970701.htm. DWS
3 See the related articles by Dr. Martin on the ASK website regarding the nature and structure of traditional “churches”:
5 The article “The Real Meaning of Biblical Words” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d040201.htm fully discusses the issue of Jesus’ teaching. Keep in mind that parables and the teaching they contain are a special case. DWS
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