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    • By Jim_Alaska in Jim_Alaska's Sermons & Devotionals
         14
      Closed Communion
      James Foley
       
      I Corinthians 11:17-34: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."

      INTRODUCTION

      Historic Baptists, true Baptists, have believed in and still believe in closed communion. Baptists impose upon themselves the same restrictions that they impose on others concerning the Lord’s Supper. Baptists have always insisted that it is the Lord’s Table, not theirs; and He alone has the right to say who shall sit at His table. No amount of so called brotherly love, or ecumenical spirit, should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word. With respect to Bible doctrines we must always use the scripture as our guide and practice. For Baptists, two of the most important doctrines are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. These are the only two doctrines we recognize as Church Ordinances. The Bible is very clear in teaching how these doctrines are to be practiced and by whom.

      We only have two ordinances that we must never compromise or we risk our very existence, they are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

      The moment we deviate from the precise method God has prescribed we have started down the slippery slope of error. True Baptists have held fast to the original doctrine of The Lord’s Supper from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

      Unfortunately, in this day of what the Bible describes as the age of luke warmness, Baptists are becoming careless in regard to strictly following the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Many of our Bible colleges are graduating otherwise sincere, Godly and dedicated pastors and teachers who have not been taught the very strict, biblical requirements that surround the Lord’s Supper. Any Bible college that neglects to teach its students the differences surrounding Closed Communion, Close Communion and Open Communion is not simply short changing its students; it is also not equipping their students to carry on sound Bible traditions. The result is men of God and churches that fall into error. And as we will see, this is serious error.

      Should we as Baptists ignore the restrictions made by our Lord and Master? NO! When we hold to the restrictions placed upon the Lord’s Supper by our Master, we are defending the "faith which was once delivered to the saints" Jude 3.

      The Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted and I will show this in the following facts:

      IT IS RESTRICTED AS TO PLACE

      A. I Corinthians 11:18 says, "When ye come together in the church." This does not mean the church building; they had none. In other words, when the church assembles. The supper is to be observed by the church, in church capacity. Again this does not mean the church house. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means assembly. "When ye come together in the church," is when the church assembles.

      B. When we say church we mean an assembly of properly baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

      The church is made up of saved people who are baptized by immersion. In the Bible, belief precedes baptism. That’s the Bible way.

      Acts 8:12-13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

      When we say properly baptized, we mean immersed. No unbeliever should take the Lord’s supper, and no non-immersed believer should take the supper. Those who are sprinkled are not baptized and cannot receive the supper. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo, and it always means to immerse.

      "In every case where communion is referred to, or where it may possibly have been administered, the believers had been baptized Acts 2:42; 8:12; 8:38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7. Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism".

      C. The Lord’s Supper is for baptized believers in church capacity: "When ye come together in the church," again not a building, but the assembly of the properly baptized believers.

      D. The fact that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, to be observed in church capacity, is pointed out by the fact that it is for those who have been immersed and added to the fellowship of the church.

      E. The Lord’s Supper is never spoken of in connection with individuals. When it is referred to, it is only referred to in reference to baptized believers in local church capacity I Cor. 11:20-26).

      I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,

      "The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is a relic of Romanism. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, and anything which goes beyond or comes short of this fails for want of scriptural example or command".

      “The practice of taking a little communion kit to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. is unscriptural and does not follow the scriptural example.”

      IT IS RESTRICTED TO A UNITED CHURCH

      A. The Bible in I Cor. 11:18 is very strong in condemning divisions around the Lord’s table. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
      19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
      20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

      There were no less than four divisions in the Corinthian church.
      I Cor. 1:12: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."

      Because of these divisions, it was impossible for them to scripturally eat the Lord’s Supper. Division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper. But there are also other reasons to forego taking the Lord’s Supper. If there is gross sin in the membership we do not take it. Here is scriptural evidence for this: 1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
      8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

      B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? Is it not our doctrinal differences that cause us to be separate religious bodies?

      IT IS RESTRICTED BY DOCTRINE

      A. Those in the early church at Jerusalem who partook "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

      B. Those that do not hold to apostolic truth are not to partake. This means there is to be discipline in the local body. How can you discipline those who do not belong to the local body? You can’t. The clear command of scripture is to withdraw fellowship from those who are not doctrinally sound.

      II Thes 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
      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 commune together means to have the same doctrine.
      II Thes. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
      II John 10-11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

      C. Some Baptists in our day have watered down this doctrine by practicing what they call “Close Communion.” By this they mean that they believe that members of another Baptist church may take communion with us because they are of the same beliefs. Once again, this is unscriptural.

      The welcome to the Lord's Table should not be extended beyond the discipline of the local church. When we take the Lord’s Supper there is supposed to be no gross sin among us and no divisions among us. We have no idea of the spiritual condition of another church’s members. If there is sin or division in the case of this other church’s members, we have no way of knowing it. We cannot discipline them because they are not members of our church. This is why we practice “Closed” communion, meaning it is restricted solely to our church membership. 
      So then, in closing I would like to reiterate the three different ideas concerning the Lord’s Supper and who is to take it. 
      Closed Communion = Only members of a single local church. 
      Close Communion = Members of like faith and order may partake. 
      Open Communion = If you claim to be a Christian, or simply attending the service, you may partake. 
      It is no small thing to attempt to change that which was implemented by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
      Mt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 
      Many of our Baptist churches have a real need to consider the gravity of the act of observing The Lord’s Supper. It is not a light thing that is to be taken casually or without regard to the spiritual condition of ourselves or our church.
      1Co. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

       28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

       29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

       30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Church Mempership


Salyan

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You might think I should Join your Church, I might think you should 'come out' from organized institutionalized religion, If you do, I won't tell you that you need to be re-baptised. :)


I believe (now - didn't used to) that church membership is essential - for if you are not 'officially' part of a church, it is rather difficult for you to be disciplined out of that church, should such a need arise. We are members of a local church - a 'called-out assembly' - now, in this lifetime. One day, we will be 'called out' to heaven - and there, finally, be part of the Church of God that is universal in scope and assembled in one place. Until then - well, again, it is hard to discipline, teach, or exhort anyone who is not physically present! We are also told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

Old-Pilgrim, it is hard to find a church one can accept sometimes, but it is your responsibility to find and join one - in obedience to this command. The entire New Testament speaks to and shows the importance of the church of God - and it is presented as a group, a meeting of believers together, led by a pastor (elder/bishop), busy with various duties (thus the need for deacons), sending out missionaries, and teaching the believers. You need a certain level of organization to accomplish this. :wink  

And - hey - IFB churches are not 'institutionalized religion'. They are independent - each one being individually responsible to God directly. Don't lump us in with denominations, thank you very much. :frog: 

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Indeed being a part of a local assembly of believers is very important. There are many churches that aren't worth attending, some which are barely worth attending and by the grace of God still some very good churches. If we seek to obey the Word and get into a good church the Lord will guide us. It's worth the effort, as it always is to obey the Lord.

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Noone serves God apart from a local NT Church. That thinking is not of God and NOWHERE in His Word, period. Get the devilish thoughts out of your minds,

Question: How does one who is saved and grounded in the Word come to find themselves in an area without a NT church (when I say NT I mean a real Scriptural assembly of believers)? They were obviously not saved and discipled in their current area.

Answer: we let our fleshly desires lead us to move to an area without any thought of whether a real church exists there. IE, we let the lure of better employment, lower cost of living, better putrid (public) schools, etc. lead us and NOT the Spirit.

If a believer were lead by the Spirit in such moves, they would have never moved to such an area unless the Lord were leading them to establish a NT Church there.

Quit deluding and start fixing it, time is getting short.

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For anyone that may think that belonging to a NT church is not all that important. I listed the following Scriptures because they seem to point to the church being very important to God.

 Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 

 Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 
 
Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
 
Eph 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 1Tim 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 

 

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The Church is described as a body with members  (cf 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 2:22-23; 4:11-16). To assume you can rightly not be a part of a church is to dissect the body is to truly disrupt the metaphor of the body.

The church is further described as a building (1 Corinthians 3:9-17; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5). To assume you are a brick in a field of other unconnected bricks is certainly not a a building.

Buildings and bodies are by definition smaller things connected to make a larger thing. There is no way to remove the smaller parts without damage to the larger thing. We need to be a part of God's program of the church or we are not really doing what God has for us as Christians.

That being said, we also need to be a part of God's church not just any church. There are churches that are not God's and would do well to identify what are the marks of a true church and when we find one even if we do not particularly like it, we should join it and serve in it.

For His glory,

Christian Markle

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You are IFB in your beliefs, yet the only IFB in town doesn't want you on their property, much less in their services, what to do?  

There are those who are separated from a Church membership for a reason.  They may be called to let their light shine on the streets, in the alleys, even from their own homes, ministering to people who are not in local assemblies.

Just because some may be separated from a local body of Believers does not make them any less Christian than the person sitting on the pew week in and week out.  Let's not look down on someone who may have valid reasons for not assembling in a brick and mortar building, but may be doing a ministry elsewhere.  

 

God doesn't dwell in a temple made with hands anyway.

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It's not called 'looking down' on, it's called being obedient to God's commands. There are some people I know (in my town) who know they should be in church, but currently aren't because of their own stubbornness or because they are under church discipline. Is that an excuse for them not to be present? Of course not. They need to get their act together, get right with God and the church, and come back.  I know someone who, because of his actions, has been asked to leave almost every single IFB church I know of. Does that mean it's okay for him not to attend? No. It means he needs to do a major attitude adjustment - maybe even get saved for real - repent and make things right.

God doesn't dwell in a temple made with hands. He dwells in His Church - and the Church has many members. Yet they are all to be of one body, working together for the sake of the gospel.

 

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This is the proper effect of biblical church discipline. To be removed from church membership for sin and not care is to not understand the body / building concept. It should move us to be willing to repent (2 Thess 3:14).

This may be the improper effect of unbiblical church discipline: To be removed from church membership (and banned from services) due to power struggles in the church or some petty reason is when the church itself does not understand the body / building concept of the church (cf 3 John 9-11). The church and its leadership needs to repent. Finding another church as close to the truth as possible is the right thing to do... or seeking to see a true church started.

Arm chair quarterbacking these things (specific situations) on the internet is fool hardy and often a violation of Proverbs 18:13.

The Lord our God's view of the church given to us in the NT leaves us with an unambiguous expectation to be a committed, faithful, loving, and serving member of a true church.

For His glory to be displayed in His Church,

Christian Markle

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As I understand the scriptures, if I were to be suddenly stranded on a desert island, I would still need the divine institution of the church. If I were to believe that I am "ok" without it, I would be deceiving myself and devaluing the work of Christ to purchase the church. This means that one of my goals im my stranded condition should be to either get off the island and find a good church, or if new folks arrived on the island, to start a church on the island.

ADVICE: Love the Church enough and stay committed to God's program enough to work through the obstacles for His glory. There may not be an immediate solution for this coming Sunday, but giving up on church all together certainly cannot be supported in the NT documents.

For His glory to be display through us in His Church,

Christian Markle

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Well, i have been IFB for more than two and a half decades, was put out of the only IFB Church (which also happens to be the only church in our town that teaches from the KJV) in our town for teaching truth after seven years of membership there.  On disability due to my blindness, so travel is out of the question.  Not every island is escapable.  

 

And even if there were an escape from the island, it would only be a matter of time before the inevitable shipwreck.  Churches don't like me anymore because of the truth I speak.   

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Well, i have been IFB for more than two and a half decades, was put out of the only IFB Church (which also happens to be the only church in our town that teaches from the KJV) in our town for teaching truth after seven years of membership there.  On disability due to my blindness, so travel is out of the question.  Not every island is escapable.  

 

And even if there were an escape from the island, it would only be a matter of time before the inevitable shipwreck.  Churches don't like me anymore because of the truth I speak.   

I don't know the whole story here, but maybe some people on this board can assist you in starting a church in your location or in helping you move. In the worst case scenario, a suggestion would be to contact a church out of your area, and see if you can be under their authority long distance, and communicate regularly with them by phone and email for accountability. Just my 2 cents.

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Dear brother (Standing firm in Christ),

"The truth" to which you refer (I have indeed read your blog) is not the only truth in the text of scripture. Please allow me to encourage you with the following truths:


Galatians 6:9   And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 

2 Thessalonians 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Furthermore, "truth" found in Scripture on the subject of concern is not greater than the truth of the power of God, the mercy of God, the grace of God, the judgement of God (cf Matthew 23:23). Nor is it greater than the truth God has revealed about His church. Take heart, my brother, God is not dead. People are sinners, God is not. People let us down; God cannot! Determine to obey Him with the truth you know--all of it. Keep studying the sacred text and do right -- including keeping your sights set on serving your dear Savior again in His church.

I close with one more truth for your encouragment:
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 

For the glory God and His grace,

Christian Markle

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Well, i have been IFB for more than two and a half decades, was put out of the only IFB Church (which also happens to be the only church in our town that teaches from the KJV) in our town for teaching truth after seven years of membership there.  On disability due to my blindness, so travel is out of the question.  Not every island is escapable.  

 

And even if there were an escape from the island, it would only be a matter of time before the inevitable shipwreck.  Churches don't like me anymore because of the truth I speak.   

So what you are effectively saying, is that there is NO church that speaks truth, only YOU do?

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See, here's the thing. There is no church where everyone is going to believe 100% exactly the same as everyone else, or where all the members believe 100% the same as the pastor. What we have to do is figure out what differences matters enough that we will break fellowship over them, and what we are willing to overlook. Having chosen to join a church however, we are responsible to be under the leadership of the pastor. That doesn't mean you have to agree with him 100%, but it does mean you have to respect him and any instructions he gives on the topic.

For an example from my own life: When I first discovered the IFB churches and came to mine, I came from a old-time Pentecostal background (think tongue-speaking but not crazy). I wasn't sure whether I really thought that tongues had ceased, as pastor taught, and I was pretty sure I disagreed with the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13 that was used to defend that stance. However, I did agree with the wording of the Statement of Faith that said 'we reject the Charismatic Movement and its unscriptural emphasis on speaking in tongues.'  (The Charismatic movement was crazy and extreme, and I already knew there was an incorrect emphasis with the unBiblical idea Pentecostals had that everyone should speak in tongues.) So I explained where I was to Pastor, and asked if it was okay if I joined the church with those beliefs. He said yes - but that I shouldn't go teaching them. :wink  I obeyed him - and thus it took 3 or 4 years for me to even mention to my closest friends there what my beliefs had been at the time (and that was in casual conversation - not teaching). I didn't have to agree with Pastor - but I needed to respect his instructions not to teach something opposite to that he wanted taught in the church.

I know of a church that had a situation recently with a solid, long-standing member having to be asked to leave because he found an area in which he disagreed with his pastor and refused to stop teaching others his view even after having been told by the pastor not to teach that to others in the church anymore. It's not that he disagreed that was the problem - it was that he refused to honor the pastor's authority to lead and teach his flock as God directed him.  Your 'truth' does not trump your responsibility to honor your pastor. If you are willing to attend a church that teaches differently than you believe - then you must be willing to keep your views private if so requested. If you don't - you are the one out of line. And you shouldn't complain if you are asked to leave.

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Wouldn't last.  As soon as I began speaking truth, they would put me in exile again.

 

Brother, it is not my intention to be mean or anything like that.  Those of us who have been on this board for any length of time know that you have a major hobby horse.  I understand that it is not a hobby horse to you.  However, in the greater context of things, I see no reason for you to not keep a lid on it, and get along with what you have available.  I know, I have been in that position myself, where I had to swallow my pride, and attend a church that I did not agree with on some major issues - meaning they were major issues to ME, and my position was not very well received by the Pastor or leadership.  
 

What did I do?  I attended that church because it was the best church in the area (45 minutes away), and I told the PASTOR where I stood, and also promised him that I was not there to stir up trouble, but to receive instruction.  I did it to be obedient to my Saviour who DIED FOR THE CHURCH.  

"Only by PRIDE cometh contention...."  Sometimes we need a good dose of humility to please God.  

The end of the story is that when I left that church, I left on GOOD TERMS with the Pastor, who THANKED me for not causing him trouble.  AND - I maintained my own convictions on those areas where we disagreed.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for that Pastor and their ministry, although we are not in agreement on many issues.  

IT CAN BE DONE.  

IT SHOULD BE DONE.  

There is no "excuse" clause in the New Testament Scriptures.  If there is no church "good enough" to attend, then invite people over to your house and hold a Bible Study or something.  BUT DO SOMETHING with other believers, or set aside time on Sundays to worship God, and try to get others involved....

Whatever you do, don't sit around and do NOTHING, and then blame it on everyone else!

 

In Christ,

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So what you are effectively saying, is that there is NO church that speaks truth, only YOU do?

I did say, in our area, If I remember correctly.  I also know that you yourself have spoken this truth.  I know there are other assembled Believers who preach truth, just none close enough that travel caand afford.

 

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I did say, in our area, If I remember correctly.  I also know that you yourself have spoken this truth.  I know there are other assembled Believers who preach truth, just none close enough that travel caand afford.

 

Well, technically in the specific post, no, but I guess the overall content points to that, so I withdraw my question.

But I guess one of my points would be, what points are worthy of living and dying for? I understand the issue you generally speak of, and as you note, I agree with you. However, depending on the way it is taught and pushed, ie, do they act like it is a LAW and MUST be fulfilled in a very legalistic manner, I am surely against that, like coming to your house to collect, or calling you out in service if you haven't done 'your duty', but honestly I have not, myself been to one of those, and generally haven't found it worth fighting over, if all else is well. But you need to do as you believe right. I just pray you CAN get into a good fellowship, because I believe one misses so much when out. My dad, who was a chaplain, involved for many years in good ministries, got hurt and got out, and the longer he was out, the more his doctrines began to skew into some weird areas. I believe a good fellowship is extremely important to the spiritual health of a child of God. Seen it too often, godly men getting out, for whatever reasons, and over time going into weird areas doctrinally.

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