The brethren invite, then HQ disinvites
The writer is founder of Guardian Ministries. Subscribe to Guardian's free monthly newsletter and free sermon tapes by writing Mr. Antion at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O., Box 50734, Pasadena, Calif. 91115, U.S.A. Visit Guardian on the Web at www.guardian-ministries.org.
By David L. Antion
PASADENA, Calif.--It has been 22 years since I was employed by any church organization. For the past 22 years I have been pastor of a congregation here in Southern California now called the Church of God Southern California. In 1998 I started Guardian Ministries as a work of love and service to reach out to brethren scattered abroad.
At Guardian Ministries our policy has always been that we do not recognize artificially established corporate walls or other barriers to fellowship among God's people. Men may incorporate an organization, but that does not incorporate the church, the Body of Christ.
My wife, Molly, and I have traveled widely over the last couple of years and have made presentations and sermons in various locations. Always there are brethren in attendance from different fellowship groups.
I refer to incorporated churches as fellowship groups rather than churches because there is only one church--the Body of Christ--to which all believers belong if they are connected to Him. When I refer to a church group, unless it is by its incorporated name I use "church" in lowercase letters.
At Guardian Ministries we want to serve God's people from whatever organization they may attend. We do not solicit anyone to join anything or to abandon his present fellowship group. We wish only to impart biblically based and spiritually edifying words and thoughts to our brethren.
Headquarters vetoes visit
Recently I was asked to do just this with a particular fellowship group some distance from California. Members of this group were planning to have me come to their area and speak.
However, the leader in that area decided he needed to contact "headquarters" so the group's ministerial council could grant permission.
Unfortunately, and sadly for all, the reply came from a council member saying: "Dave is very personable and a good speaker, but there has been no movement on his part toward uniting with us. Therefore it would be inappropriate for him to speak. Perhaps someday there will be greater unity."
Although I know the person who made the statement and know of his sincerity, I believe he holds erroneous concepts about the New Testament church: the Body of Christ.
Further, I believe that through such erroneous concepts Paul, Peter or Jesus would be similarly rejected.
(I do not in any way wish to imply that I am in the same category as our Lord or His apostles, for I am not. However, wrong principles and concepts when held and followed are universally applied.)
One of the erroneous concepts is that, if a person does not belong to the correct incorporated fellowship group, then his service to the brethren is no good or of no use. The brethren are not allowed to profit spiritually from any biblical knowledge that might be imparted to them.
Such thinking saddens me. In the New Testament, when Paul and his companions went into various synagogues, he was recognized and asked to speak. "If you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak" (Acts 13:15, NIV).
These false concepts affect fellowship. If you would like to understand more fully the New Testament teaching on the subject of Christian fellowship, please write for two sermons on Christian fellowship at the address at the beginning of this article.
Another message vital for understanding in this area is a message titled "Who Are the Nicolaitanes?" It will be sent free of charge to all who wish to understand more fully biblical truths.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God