The Bond of Faith
Introduction. (I Corinthians 12:12-15). This evening I would like for us to discuss something that is in some ways blatantly obvious to all Christians, yet something that by its very self-evidence is sometimes forgotten. I’d like for us to talk about what the Bible teaches us about the bond of faith that exists between all Christians.
I. Congregational Autonomy.
The Bible teaches church autonomy (i.e. auto - “self” - nomos “law” = “self governing”).
- There is no superstructure smaller than the headship of Christ (Colossians 1:18) or larger than the local eldership.
- Each congregation governs its own affairs under the law of Christ. I Peter 5:2 - elders are told to “shepherd the flock of God which is among you.” Yet...
II. There is a connection that exists between all believers.
- Titus 1:1-4 “common faith” (i.e. no matter how different our background, interests, social class, wealth and temperament all Christians share a common faith in Jesus or Nazereth as Lord, Savior, Master and King).
- Romans 1:9-12 “mutual faith” (we share it with one another).
- Jude 1-3 “common salvation” (i.e. the goal of the faith of all Christians is salvation from sins, eternal life with God & deliverance from the corruption that is in this world).
- I John 1:1-3 two-directional fellowship. All who are truly in fellowship with God in Christ are in fellowship with all others who are in fellowship with Him. This was reflected in the church in Jerusalem in the very beginning of the church...
- Acts 2:44 & 4:32 “all things in common.” This sharing of material things was simply a reflection of the sharing of faith and hope that was already held in common.
III. All Believers Are Bound To One Another.
- Modern believers are brethren to the prophets. (Revelation 22:8, 9). What a powerful thought to consider that Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah are my brothers! I have never seen them or met them, but they are my brothers in faith. They are a part of the “church of the Firstborn who are registered in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23). They are citizens of that “kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44).
- Christians are fellow servants with all other saints & angels. (Revelation 19:5-10). We have a common Master whom we serve, follow and obey.
- All believers are “fellow workers” for the cause of Christ. (III John 3-8). In working for the same cause we become co-workers for the cause of Christ. This is one of Paul’s favorite descriptions of Christians. A Christian is a “fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ” (I Thessalonians 3:2). They are “fellow laborers in the kingdom of God” (Colossians 4:11).
IV. How Does This Bond Demonstrate Itself?
- Believers “strive together in prayer” (Romans 15:30-32). What possible reason would Paul have for asking Roman believers to pray for his affairs in Judea? Because those who share a common faith care about each other. Those who share a common faith have a common Lord. The same Lord who oversees the lives of those in Rome oversees the lives of those in Judea.
- Fellowship in Material & Spiritual Things. (Romans 15:25-27). Note: “contribution” Gr. koinonia = “joint participation - fellowship” - “partakers” the verb form koinoneo. In our faith we jointly participate with one another. Benevolence extended from Christians in one place to those in another is called a “fellowship.” This reminds of the same bond between those in the church in Jerusalem in Acts 2 & 4 who had all things in common. The difference is some of these brethren are in Achaia and Macedonia who sharing with those in Judea.
- Support of Preaching. (Philippians 4:15-18). Neither support of preaching nor relief to needy saints compromises congregational autonomy - but it does demonstrate the bond of faith which ties us to one another.
- Caring about the faith of those unknown to us. (Romans 1:8-10). This is really why we strive to rebuke and correct error, edify one another, bear with one another’s weakness striving to grow in strength and faithfulness -- because the bond of faith that exists between us will not allow us to be unconcerned with our brethren whether they are a part of our own local church or citizens of the kingdom at large.
V. What does this mean to us in our own walk with the Lord?
- We are not alone.
- We share a common cause with people different from ourselves. (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:9-11).
- Although we must always stand for truth, we must bear with one another (Romans 15:1-3). The fact that we are so different from one another cannot lead us to alienate ourselves from one another. We must recognize that we are all at different levels in our spiritual lives. The bond of faith which we share does not permit us to dismiss each other -- but it leads us to consider each other.
- We are a part of a vast unseen kingdom. cf. Unseen army with Elisha (II King 6:16,17).
- We must care about the faithfulness of Christians in other places.
- Distance does not separate Christians. In a few days my family and I will live nine hours away from this place -- but that does not separate our bond of faith. We remain “fellow workers”Ęin the gospel.
- Heaven will be a reunion of the Lord’s church. Imagine that great day when the entire congregation of God’s people is called together and the one who (in an unseen capacity) has acted as Head of the assembly stands before us. Together we will worship with some we have never met. Others who were dear to us who have passed on. Others whom distance removed from our sight but who shared with us a bond of faith. What a great day that will be!