Is biblical fellowship possible on the Internet? | Tim Dinkins | faith and values

One of the strongest arguments for believers to commune together in person is found in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together , as is the custom of some, but encouraging each other, and all the more so as you see the Day approaching.

The word translated “to come together” is derived from the Greek word “synagogue”, which means “meeting place”. The author of Hebrews wanted to let believers know that they should prioritize face-to-face interaction with other believers. The early church was established in a hostile environment that would have made people unwilling to gather.

Christians were expelled from the Jewish synagogue if they aligned themselves with Christ (John 9:22). They were marginalized by the Jewish majority, and we know from the book of Acts that they were actively hunted down and persecuted (Acts 9:1-2).

This makes Hebrews 10:24-25 all the more profound that believers continued to gather physically, even though some of them risked their lives to do so.

The reason the author of Hebrews called believers together is that fellowship with other believers is a necessary extension of the fellowship that exists between God and each believer. Christ’s death on the cross enabled believers to “enter into the holy places” and draw near to God (Hebrews 10:19-22). Once a believer is born again, he or she will be compelled by the Holy Spirit to seek fellowship with other believers.

That’s exactly what the early church did. Acts 2:42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers.” This type of communion required physical interaction between believers. The Greek word used for brotherhood is “koinonia” and it refers to “a close association involving mutual interests and sharing” (BDAG). When believers are in fellowship with one another, they share their lives with one another.

They don’t just mean to preach, pray and sing hymns together. They do so as persons bound together by the supernatural fellowship of God.

When John wrote his first epistle, he made it clear that this fellowship came from God and extended to believers. He wrote: “What we have seen and heard we also declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3) If you read the context, you will see that it is a physical fellowship related to the physical incarnation of Jesus Christ, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard , which we have seen with our eyes, and beheld, and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – life has been manifested, and we have seen it, and we testify of it, and you proclaim (1 John 1:1-2)

This type of communion is impossible to have unless you are in the physical presence of other believers. That’s why going to a church service in person is always so much better than worshiping online. Believers were created to fellowship with God in the presence of other believers. This was the expectation of the early church and should be the expectation of every generation of believers.

This is important to grasp because it gives believers justification to never settle for virtual fellowship. There may be a time or a season when someone needs to use technology to hear the word of God preached or to be encouraged over the phone by other believers, but these experiences should always create a desire in the heart. of the believer for a physical and biblical communion with other Christians.

This is why the author of Hebrews gave such clarity when he called believers to “excite one another to love and good works.” A believer can encourage someone to use technology, but he cannot have full biblical fellowship of incarnation with believers unless it is face to face, as God intended.