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Four Dimensions Of Fellowship

Ephesians 4:32

by Pete Macinta

Ephesians 4:32

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

This message was preached to an Assembly of God Church that had existed in the 1980s in Triadelphia West Virginia. I was assigned, not voted in, as pastor there by the Potomac District Council of the A/G for intervention in special situation.

For various reasons, the congregation was somewhat divided at that time, partly because the District had removed the founding pastor, Edison Meekins, and installed me as pastor. For those that are curious, Brother Meekins was not removed by the District for any reason involving immorality. At this point, I do not feel led by the Spirit to explain why the District took that action. Nonetheless, you can see why I preached a message from the above passage. The sermon occurred in the evening service of October 12, 1980. It was for "both sides" in the congregation.

Please keep in mind this is in no way a message that supports ecumenicalism! However, within the TRUE body of Christ, there is to be a medium of fellowship, despite our different stands on non-absolute doctrines.

It's Breadth - "And be ye kind one to another,..."
Considerate and gentle to all, and working with all. Though it may be nice to cherish your ethnic distinctive, we need to keep in mind we are all the same in Christ.

It's Depth - "... tenderhearted,..."
We should be rich towards others as Christ is rich towards us. We should be rich in all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, in sympathy, empathy, emotion, and flexibility. By flexibility, by all means I DO NOT MEAN COMPROMISE! A safe way to conduct ourselves to others is by remembering our own faults.

It's Length - "... forgiving one another,..."
Forgiving from the heart. Forgiving the least offender to the greatest offender, continuously. This does not mean that we are to be gullible though! This also does not mean we should withhold discipline.

It's Height - "...even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
The Father forgives us for the sake of Christ. His atoning work was all sufficient. The punishment He took for our sins has turned away the wrath of God from us when we accept it.

This is why Christ told Peter to keep on forgiving. This is also why God would never permit divorce. There are no verses that permit divorce. When you read the verses that deal with divorce because of adultery, please read them slow and carefully. You will see the point of those passages is not to give permission for divorce, but shows that in every case when one divorces another, they cause that person to commit adultery if they remarry - unless they committed adultery already.

Our sin was placed upon Christ. He took the punishment for that sin. Therefore, if a brother or sister has sinned against us and they have asked Christ to forgive them, then we must forgive them, for the sake of Christ.

If we love God, then we must love those truly in Christ, and forgive.

I realize that it is very difficult to forgive at times. I have to remember how one said to the Lord, "Lord I believe. Help Thou my unbelief." Perhaps there are times we need to say to God, "Lord, I forgive. Help Thou my unforgiveness."

God bless,
Pastor Pete Macinta

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©1980, 2004 Peter Macinta
You may copy, but do not sell.
Used by Cornerstone Assembly Cambridge MD by permission.