March 9, 2019
1. How did Mark define this test of ‘Sharing’? What other words could be used to help us understand its meaning?
What does it specifically NOT mean?
What light does 2 Cor. 6:14-18 shed on this issue?
2. What does 1 Jn. 2:15-17 teach us about ‘loving’?
Can you identify some examples in your own life or our church of the kind of love John is speaking about here?
What is the counterpoint to John’ argument here (see 1 Jn. 2:7-11)?
3. What two phrases did Mark suggest sum up the Second and Third Epistles of John? What do they mean?
4. What problems were the church in 2 John experiencing?
Are we facing similar problems today?
What does John say about truth and love to address these problems?
5. What are the issues in 3 John?
What does this letter say about truth and love and sharing?
6. Consider the attached page which details the characteristics of the early ‘Brethren’ movement and their principles of fellowship.
How do these principles relate to the tests we have been considering – the tests of Knowing, Being, Doing, and Sharing?
Have we departed from these principles in our church?
7. Consider the take-home questions:
• Do you ‘Know’ the right things about God and Jesus (that God is light, Jesus is the Son of God come in the flesh, sin is a reality but so is forgiveness in Jesus and so is eternal life, and the Holy Spirit helps us to discern between truth and error)?
• Are you ‘Being’ the person you are meant to be (a child of God, who is loved and cherished, but who still may need to be disciplined)?
• Are you being a good reflection of your heavenly Father?
• Are you ‘Doing’ the right things (remaining in Jesus our Father, practising righteousness, and loving one another)?
• With whom are you ‘Sharing’ yourself (with whom are you aligning, or partnering)?
• Do you love the world more than Jesus? Have you learned who to shut the door to, and who to open it to?
The Characteristics and Practices of the Early Brethren Movement
The early ‘Brethren fellowship’ had the following characteristics:
1. A worshipping community
2. Personal devotion to Christ
3. A sacrificial lifestyle
4. Meeting in the name of Jesus only
5. The communion service as a symbol of unity
6. Women’s participation in the meetings
7. Inclusive unity with diversity
8. Church as family
9. A simple life-style
10. Showing hospitality to all people
11. Believers set apart so that they might be different from others in their service to God
12. A drive to witness and be the people of God
13. Functioning of the church through spiritual gifts
Anthony Norris Groves, one of the early leaders in the Brethren movement best captured the ecumenical spirit behind their understanding of the church as the household of God.
1. The basis of our fellowship is LIFE in the Christ of Scripture rather than LIGHT on the teaching of Scripture. Those who have part with Christ have part with us. Because our communion is one of life and love more than one of doctrine and opinion, we seek to show that the oneness in the life of God through Jesus Christ is a stronger bond than that of being one of us – whether organisationally or denominationally.
2. Because our fellowship is based on our common life in Christ, we do not reject anyone because of the organisation or denomination with which they have been affiliated; nor would we hold them responsible for the conduct within that system, any more than we would a child for the conduct in the home of which they are merely a part.
3. We do not feel it desirable to withdraw from fellowship with any Christians except at the point where they may require us to do what our consciences will not permit or restrain us from doing what our consciences require. Even then, we maintain our fellowship with them in any matter where we are not called upon to compromise. This ensures (insofar as we understand the Scripture) that we do not separate ourselves from them any further than they separate themselves from Christ.
4. We do not consider an act of fellowship to be indicative of total agreement; indeed, we sometimes find it a needed expression of love to submit to others in matters where we do not fully agree, rather than to prevent some greater good from being brought about. Our choice would be to bear with their wrong rather than separate ourselves from their good.
5. We believe it more scriptural to reflect a heart of love, ready to find a covering for faults, than to constantly look for that with which we may disagree. We will be known more by what we witness for than by what we witness against.
6. We feel it biblical never to pressure anyone to act in uniformity farther than they feel in uniformity; we use our fellowship in the Spirit as an opportunity to discuss our differences and find this to be the most effective way of leading others – or being led by them – into the light of the Word.
7. While enjoying such a wide range of Christian fellowship, we would not force this liberty upon those who feel otherwise minded. In such circumstances, we enjoy fellowship as far as they will permit, then pray that the Lord would lead them further into this true liberty of the common life in Christ.