What is Spiritual Fellowship?
Matthew Vogan
Matthew Vogan is the General Manager at Reformation Scotland Trust. He has written various books including volumes about Samuel Rutherford and Alexander Shields.
12 Jun, 2015

Spiritual Fellowship by Samuel Rutherford shows how believers can stir each other up in spiritual things by meeting together. He considers and responds to objections from those who thought that meeting privately could lead to difficulties and errors. 

The meetings that Rutherford envisages are highly spiritual in tone. The purpose is not to teach and expound Scripture. Rather it is to nourish spiritual life in each other by prayer and applying Scripture. This might be in relation to our relationship with God or glorifying Him in our daily life. 

Rutherford speaks of duties of comforting, encouraging, counselling and rebuking as necessary. It would be greatly refreshing to see such evidence of spiritual life amongst God’s people once again. 

What does the Word of God say about this duty? Hear the Word of God. It is clear.

  • To rebuke one another (Leviticus 19:17).
  • To teach and exhort (Colossians 3:16).
  • To speak often to one another (Malachi 3:16).
  • To exhort one another daily, while it is called today (Hebrews 3:13).

The latter is recommended as a special means for preventing hardness of heart. Surely no one will not acknowledge that whatever is recommended as a means to prevent hardness of heart is a duty commanded and ordained by God. This duty of exhorting one another is recommended as a means for preventing hardness of heart. So it is a duty commanded by God and thus, lawful and necessary.

Christians are also commanded: “comfort yourselves together, and edify one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We must “warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

These texts authorise all Christians to do these things as well as the head of a family. They should do this as they have dealings with others and join with them in this way. Thus the more the coals are together the hotter will be the fire.

Spiritual Fellowship

Fellowship is a word frequently used by evangelicals today but often it just means little more than being in one another’s company.  Samuel Rutherford shows how believers can stir each other up in spiritual things when they meet together, by prayer and applying Scripture. He makes a compelling case for comforting, encouraging, counselling and even, if necessary, rebuking each other. We are to speak often to one another (Malachi 3:16) and exhort one another daily (Hebrews 3:13) as a means of preventing hardness of heart.

The more the coals are together, the hotter the fire will be.


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