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 difficullties and errors. Fellowship is a word frequently used by evangelicals today. Sometimes it is more or less used simply to describe Christians being in one another’s company for whatever reason. 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.