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Loving Our Brother who is Seen, not Unseen

Discussion in 'Bible Chat' started by james1523, Mar 26, 2013.

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  1. #1 james1523, Mar 26, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
    1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

    There is an idea in Christianity that "spiritual fellowship" means we don't have to see the other person. That "spiritual fellowship" is somehow different to "physical fellowship". There is also a misconception about the "visible" and "invisible" church. These ideas are not from Scripture my friends, nor from common sense. The Body of Christ is invisible. But the church on Earth is visible. There is no such thing as an invisible church on the Earth. The church is very much visible. Please consider all the letters that were written to the churches in the New Testament, and all the words spoken by Christ to churches in Revelation. Were these invisible or visible churches? They were clearly visible churches.

    The idea of visible and invisible church has largely come about because of difficulties with the church on Earth. We may think that even though the situation can be hell on earth, with divisions, warring, discord, sects... there is a perfect invisible church that God is pleased with. But there is no where in the Bible where Paul writes a letter to such an invisible church. Nor is there such an invisible church that Christ mentions in Revelation.

    This comes down to basic logic. If the church is the people, then how do we divide people into spirit person and physical person? A person is a whole person, their body, soul and spirit cannot be divided into parts. If a person is divided into parts..they are not living they are dead! It is only at death when our spirit separates from our physical body. This is equivalent to dividing the Trinity into 3 gods. How can I have spiritual fellowship with a person, yet leave my physical behind? It is not possible.

    Scripture does not tell us to love those we cannot see, but to love those we see. Scripture says quite plainly that if we cannot love those we see.. how can we love those we cannot see? It is easy to make a claim that we 'love all Christians' or love all people when we are not seeing them. Then we might convince ourselves that we are one with all other Christians, and we can have "spiritual fellowship". For example, if I am protestant I can say I can have "spiritual fellowship" with a Roman Catholic, but I dare not worship with them in person in a Sunday service, and visa versa, the Catholic may say "I can have spiritual fellowship with all my Protestant brothers and sisters", but they dare not break bread with them in person. This idea of spiritual and physical fellowship, is a way for people to rationalize why they do not physically meet and break bread with all their brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Matt 5:14 "
    You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden." Light is something very much visible. The church on Earth is like a city built on a hill. This light cannot shine if we only have "spiritual fellowship". There must be a real physical presence of believers on the Earth.

    I feel that this misconception about visible and invisible church, spiritual and physical fellowship, is somehow related to the misconception that belief and works are completely separate:
    James 2:16 "If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?"

    If we believe that we can live a "spiritual" life simply by believing, yet neglect the needs of the body... then perhaps this is how we view fellowship as being something only of faith and spirit, and nothing of practicality and physical flesh.

    So what can we say? If I am Protestant, I will admit that I only have fellowship with my brothers and sisters in my denomination.. with those I physically meet with once, twice, or more a week. If I am Catholic, I will admit that I do not have fellowship with those outside my church. This is the correct understanding and situation, but to say we have "spiritual fellowship" with those we do not physically meet with. This is also the case where we may stay at home on a Sunday and think we have "spiritual fellowship" with others even though we do not physically and practically meet. It
    is not the reality it is wishful thinking.

  2. #2 Eddy Fire, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2015
    the fact that Paul wrote to real life physical people churches and the Revelation of John addresses the churches is definite proof that a real live in person church is relevant and proper

    there is no need to rewrite the Bible to suit a notion that pleases our situation such as you descibe here james1523
    Perhaps people forget to see the line drawn between the two, the Body and the church
    easy enough to do and on reflection I have probably done it many times more than I could remember
    usually we tend to consider the two as being the same thing and so use the 'words' 'church' and 'Body' interchangably?

    it is good to be reminded of such things as this.
    may I add that there is a difference also between the Body and denominations which usually go under the label of 'church'
    this may be where the problem arises for most?

    however, if the denomination is incorrect doctrinally and teaches another Gospel, then to refer to it as a church is possibly incorrect and while many say that God has His people in many denominations, if you are joined to anything unholy or deceitful or false, it is to that that you are joined and not to God through Christ.

    this is a classic case of trying to put God in a neat little box to suit our position on the throne.

    thanks for this honest reminder @james1523
  3. I am reminded of Matt. 5:23-24.

    "Therefore if thou bring thy gift before the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
    Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

    We sometimes fail to see that just because a brother isn't in our "church" we therefore do not need to make things right between each other, but in this case the brother was not there at the altar with the man. I beleive this also applies in communion. I think I read something by Wurmbrand on this subject as well.

    "This comes down to basic logic. If the church is the people, then how do we divide people into spirit person and physical person? A person is a whole person, their body, soul and spirit cannot be divided into parts. If a person is divided into parts..they are not living they are dead! It is only at death when our spirit separates from our physical body. " quote james1523

    Good point. Is that why so many people say the North American church is dead??? How would you apply to everyday life?
  4. Yes that's true, Rom 12:18 "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

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