If someone exhibited little or no fellowship with Yahweh or Christ did this cause them to lose their relationship?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published February 25, 2023
  • Word count 5,078

PART 4 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE

IF SOMEONE HAS LITTLE OR NO FELLOWSHIP DOES THIS INDICATE LOSS OF RELATIONSHIP WITH YAHWEH OR CHRIST?

If there’s little or no evidence of fellowship, could this result in the loss of an Old Testament believer’s relationship with Yahweh or Christ, which initially came about by believing in Him or in what He’d said?

What we’ll do in our attempt to comment on this is try to answer the following two questions.

Is there an example of a believer in the Old Testament who exhibited no fellowship at all and yet was addressed as being righteous (just)?

Is there an example of a believer who was clearly identified as having a relationship with God but with little or no evidence of fellowship with Him, and yet was signified as someone who, after physical death, went to a place where only the Old Testament saints would reside, which would support the conjecture that his/her relationship with Yahweh or Christ was not affected?

If there are examples that their relationship with God was still intact, then this would provide clear evidence that, in all likelihood, the same effect would probably hold true for a New Testament believer unless Scriptures from the Church Age indicated that there was a drastic change in protocol in this regard.

So, the first person we’ll take a look at lived during the Age of the Gentiles. I’ll give you a hint as to who he is. He was given the first choice by his uncle to pick the best land for his flocks. Another clue is his wife turned back and looked at the destruction of a particular city and became a pillar of salt. I think you know who he is now.

Lot

2 Peter 2:7

And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

The first thing that stands out to me is that Lot was called just. This word means righteous. Could we conclude that this word means that he had a relationship (accepted as righteous) with God, or does this mean that he was in fellowship (righteous in conduct) with God? Well, here’s your test. What do you think the answer is? Does the word just refer to relationship or fellowship?

How can we best go about determining the answer? What might help us is, if we were to look at his life and find out that he didn’t exhibit any righteous behavior, then maybe we could conclude that this word means that he had only a relationship with God. With this in mind, let’s take a look at his life. 

Genesis 13:11-12 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

When Abram, Lot’s uncle, was called by God to leave the Ur of the Chaldees to go to a particular geographical place, He promised him and his ancestors a land inheritance. As we know, his nephew Lot, along with others, accompanied him on the journey. Over time, the population of both of their families and livestock grew to the point where they had to consider splitting up as the land could not support all of them.

So, Abram allowed Lot to choose first whatever place he wanted to go. He chose for his family to dwell in the plain of Jordan that contained five cities. The one in which he decided to eventually settle down was called Sodom. Abram, on the other hand, chose for his family to dwell in the land of Canaan. So, here’s the question to consider. Have you ever asked yourself, I wonder what kind of a place did just (righteous) Lot actually choose to reside in? Let’s find out.

Genesis 18:20-21 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

These verses tell us that the Lord became aware that the cry (the outrage; the conduct or behavior [that’s] extremely violent and bad38) of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah was great (was multiplied; was everywhere). And their sin was very grievous (heinous - totally reprehensible39). We can’t blame Lot for moving there as how would he have known the state of wickedness among its inhabitants. The good news was that while he resided there, he had time to preach the gospel of Yahweh to his children and to the inhabitants. Right? Are there any examples of this? I’m sure we’ll find some.

Genesis 18:22-23 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

Unbeknownst to Lot, the Lord appeared (refers to a theophany – a manifestation or appearance of God or a god to a person40) to his uncle, Abraham (at this time his name was no longer Abram), about the idea of destroying all of the five cities of the plain with Sodom being one of them. Conversely, two angels were sent to Lot to warn him of the upcoming judgment.  

Abraham tried to avert this disaster by interceding on their behalf. He asked the Lord, “Will You still destroy these cities if there reside in them so many righteous?” And God would answer no. Abraham would ask the same question over and over again and again, with the number of righteous being found less than the number mentioned before. He stopped after asking, “What if there are ten righteous?” Why? Maybe he thought that if there were a total of less than ten righteous in all of the five cities of the plain that they were too far gone in their wickedness to respond to the gospel of Yahweh.

Genesis 19:1-2 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

The two angels arrived at the gates of Sodom and found just Lot being a gracious host bowing himself with his face toward the ground. Following that, he invited them to lodge at his house. Surely these actions are evidence of fellowship with Yahweh. Right?

According to the customs of the time, the gate of a city was an arched entrance where the inhabitants assembled either for social intercourse or to transact public business.41 The bowing was a sign to show respect to superiors and to demonstrate peaceful intentions.42 And what else is interesting is that strangers frequently decline the first offer of an invitation in the same way as the angels did, until hospitality is pressed upon them.43 What we could conclude was that these responses were cultural and weren’t necessarily evidence of Lot operating by faith. Are there any other examples of his behavior that might evidence fellowship?

Genesis 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

As the story goes, the two angels of the Lord came into Lot’s house and were ready to settle in for the night, but all of a sudden, the men of the city surrounded the house and called unto Lot to send these men (angels) outside so that they may know them (have homosexual relations with them). I’m sure Lot responded to their request with godly integrity.

Genesis 19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

He basically said to them that instead of taking these men, take his two daughters and do whatever they wanted to them. Lot didn’t pray to Yahweh for guidance or rely on a godly perspective but decided to use human reason to address the situation. It’s pretty obvious that he was not operating in fellowship. Are there any other examples of his behavior that we can look at that would convince us that he had fellowship with God?

Lot was told by the two angels to tell any friends, relatives, sons, and daughters of the upcoming judgment so that they might join him in the escape. Scriptures seem to indicate that he had at least four daughters, two of whom were living at home, while the remaining two were married and living elsewhere. Unfortunately, when the time came to leave Sodom, only Lot, his wife, and the two daughters that were living at home were ready to go. As they were leaving, all of them were instructed not to look back on the city during their departure. However, his wife didn’t heed the instruction. She looked back and was subsequently turned into a pillar of salt. Thus, the cities of the plain and all the inhabitants were destroyed as foretold.

Genesis 19:30-36 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

Eventually, Lot and his two daughters found safety in a mountain. Lot had an opportunity to resume what hopefully was going on with him and his family while they lived in Sodom, which was to teach his two daughters the ways of Yahweh. Is this what really transpired? His two daughters connived to get their father drunk so that unaware to him, he would have sexual relations with each, thus resulting in their pregnancy.

I’m sure that Lot wouldn’t allow this drinking binge to take place but rather would drink in moderation always keeping in mind how important it was to preserve his testimony before Yahweh and before them. Well, I say, what testimony? They got him drunk on two separate consecutive occasions with the result that he had sexual relations with each of them, resulting in their pregnancy. So much for just Lot!

2 Peter 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

This verse that we started with tells us a lot more about him in that he was vexed (continually tormented) with the shameless manner of life of the wicked (those who are morally corrupt). His actions revealed his heart. He didn’t follow Yahweh but followed his own desires. Did the fact that there was no evidence of fellowship annul his relationship with Yahweh? No. He was still called just. His relationship with Yahweh was kept intact, even though there was no evidence of fellowship with Him.

The next person we’ll look at is one of the kings of Israel who presided over all twelve tribes at the same time. There were only three kings who presided over all of them: King Saul, King David, and King Solomon. All three transgressed the Mosaic Law. However, only one of them, for the most part, evidenced little or no fellowship with God throughout his life. Do you know which one I’m talking about?

King Saul

Before the Jews were ruled by kings, they were under the rule of judges. These were men or women whom God raised up when they cried unto Him for deliverance or protection from their enemies. The Jews no longer wanted to remain under the rule of judges, as those who were appointed to be their future rulers were found to be corrupt. So, they desired a king to rule over them as was done in other nations. God reluctantly granted them their request when He anointed a man named Saul to be their first king.

Before this took place, Saul had been sent by his father along with one of the servants to find some donkeys that had strayed. After looking for a while and not finding them, he was ready to return home. However, having reached the land of Zuph on his travels, his servant told him of a prophet of God, who if asked, might provide the answer as to where the animals had gone.

When they arrived in the city, the prophet Samuel was told by God the name of the man who would be Israel’s next king. As they met at the gate of the city, Samuel said to him these words, “And on whom is all the desire of Israel?” (1 Samuel 9:20). It appears that after hearing this, he realized he was chosen to be the next leader of Israel. After dining with Samuel and thirty others, Saul was instructed by him in the Word of God on the following morning. Following this, Samuel anointed him to be king. Thus, it turns out at this time that Saul entered into a relationship with Yahweh.

1 Samuel 10:5-7 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.

Saul was then instructed by Samuel to go to a certain city and meet up with a company of prophets, at which time the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him (on-resting Spirit), and he would be turned into another man. Subsequently, Samuel called the twelve tribes of Israel to gather together, and Saul was brought before them as their new king. Israel had its king, albeit one who had the Spirit of God. All appeared good. What could go wrong?

1 Samuel 11:5-6 And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh. And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.

Initially, Saul gave evidence of fellowship with Yahweh soon after his proclamation as king. The Ammonites were threatening to destroy a Jewish city called Jabesh-Gilead. When Saul heard about it, the Spirit of God came upon him, and he sent word throughout all the land for help. Over three hundred thousand Jews responded. And when the day of the battle took place, the Ammonites were soundly defeated. All began well, but it would soon to crumble.

Two years later, another battle was about to take place. This time it was to be between Israel and the Philistines. The prophet Samuel told Saul not to act but to wait for seven days for him to arrive. Upon his arrival, he would sacrifice to the Lord. On the seventh day, with still no sign of Samuel and feeling the pressure of the Philistine forces that could attack at any moment, Saul took it upon himself to offer sacrifice. Soon after that, Samuel arrived and scolded him for what he'd done. He told Saul that because of this transgression, God had His sight set on someone else to become the next king. This appears to be the beginning of Saul’s downward spiral.

What I’d like to do next is illustrate from this point on, how he no longer communed with the Lord. Let’s take a look at the many examples of his carnal behavior.

Saul didn’t utterly destroy the Amalekites, their king, and livestock per command of the prophet Samuel. 1 Samuel 14:3, 9

The on-resting Spirit departed from him, and he was given from the Lord an evil spirit. 1 Samuel 16:14

Saul didn’t seek the Lord nor respond to the challenge made by the champion of the Philistines named Goliath to send someone out from the army to fight him mano a mano before the battle. 1 Samuel 17:10-11

Saul became jealous of a young man named David who volunteered to fight and kill Goliath and, because of such, received more accolades than he did in respect to his military conquests.

1 Samuel 17:7-9

Saul attempted to kill David with a spear in the palace while David was providing comfort for him by playing the harp. 1 Samuel 18:10-11

Saul set David as commander over a thousand of his army and promised his daughter Merab in marriage. However, the true intention of this arrangement was that David might be killed in battle. When the time came for the marriage to be consummated, Saul gave his daughter in marriage to someone else. 1 Samuel 18:13, 17-19

Saul, being made aware that one of his other daughters, named Michal, loved David, offered her to him in marriage on the condition that he would go out and slay one hundred Philistines. He hoped that during this engagement that David would be slain. 1 Samuel 18:20-27

Saul put a bounty on David and asked his son Jonathon and his servants to kill him. 1 Samuel 19:1

Saul’s son Jonathon seems to have made peace between his father and David. However, when David returned to the palace and played the harp, Saul attempted to kill him again. 1 Samuel 19:7, 9-10

Saul devised to kill David while he was at home with his wife, Michal. She somehow found out about this plot and told him to flee a.s.a.p. 1 Samuel 19:11-12

Saul set out on a campaign with his army to find out wherever it was that David had decided to reside and hunt him down and kill him. 1 Samuel 19:18-20

I could continue on and on, but it’s pretty evident that Saul was no longer in fellowship with the Lord. His behavior was so ungodly that one could assume that if anyone lost their relationship with Yahweh, it would be him. Is there any indication that he lost his relationship with Yahweh?

Before I attempt to answer this, we need to know where the Old Testament saints went after death. Did they go to heaven? To answer this, I believe it’s best served for us to look at a parable. What is a parable? A parable is "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning."44 It may ordinarily signify an imaginary story, yet one that in its details could have actually transpired. The purpose of the story is to illustrate and inculcate some higher spiritual truth, the argumentative or doctrinal value of parables is found in this, that they may, in accordance with the analogy of Scripture, illustrate truth already clearly expressed elsewhere.45    

Let’s go to the book of Luke 16:19-31. You might have read about this parable before. This is about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The main thing that I wanted us to focus on was the place where each one of them went following physical death.

22-23 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

We’re clearly told that the spirits of both of these men went to hell, albeit in two different compartments. The rich man went to a place that I’ll call Torments. The beggar went to a different place called Abraham’s bosom. The rich man, suffering from intense heat, asked Abraham if he could send Lazarus to him with some water so that his tongue might be cooled. Abraham said this was impossible, for there was no way to get from one place to the other as there was a great gulf between the two places.

Then the rich man asked if Lazarus could be sent back to the land of the living and warn his five brothers of this God-forsaken place. Abraham responded that they had Moses and the prophets, so let them hear them. In other words, the gospel of Yahweh would be presented to them, and his brothers, like himself, would have an opportunity to respond to it and thus avoid going to the place of Torments in which he was residing.

You might ask, why were the spirits of the deceased Old Testament saints sent there? They were sent there because heaven wasn’t open to receiving them. Why not? Because the penalty for sin and its cancellation hadn’t been achieved by Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection.

And by the way, we’re also told that when Jesus died on the cross, his spirit went to hell, where he not only preached to the spirits (fallen angels) that were residing in prison being referred to as hell (Tartaroosas) or Tartarus in 2 Peter 2:4 but also raised with him the spirits of the righteous dead when he ascended into heaven.

1 Peter 3:18-19 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

Ephesians 4:8-10 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

With that said, how does this parable relate to King Saul? Let’s go to 1 Samuel, chapter 28. Saul and his army were set to meet the Philistines in battle, and while he was observant of their much larger force, he was very concerned that this could result not only in defeat but also in his own death.

1 Samuel 28:6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

Saul realized that he needed divine counsel that would provide for him an answer as to how the outcome of the battle would go. He couldn’t go to the prophet Samuel because he’d since died. So, he tried to obtain divine counsel through three different means:

Dreams – by praying to God that He would answer him in this manner.

Urim – by going to the high priest, asking him counsel, and seeking an answer from the response by one of the two stones that were placed over the garment he was wearing, called an Ephod.

Prophets – by asking one of them to consult the Lord on behalf of the disclosed situation.

However, no answer was forthcoming from any of these avenues. So, he decided to seek counsel from a forbidden source, a witch. How the mighty have fallen! Saul’s servants were sent to seek a woman who could provide counsel. Eventually, they finally found one at a place called Endor. Saul asked her to get in touch with someone whom he believed would provide for him the counsel he needed, this person being the deceased prophet Samuel.

1 Samuel 28:15-17 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? And the Lord hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:

The witch did her thing, and to her amazement, the prophet Samuel appeared, and Saul proceeded to ask him about the outcome of the battle with the Philistines. Samuel told him that not only would Israel lose the battle, but both he and his sons would perish. And then Samuel made this astounding statement to the king, whom God had rejected.

1 Samuel 28:19 Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.

He conveyed to him that following their demise, both he and his sons would be with him where he was residing. And where is it that Samuel and the Old Testament saints went when they died? To Abraham’s bosom. This is clear evidence that both Saul and each of his sons had a relationship with Yahweh and that irrespective of Saul’s daily decisions to not be in fellowship with the Lord, his relationship with Him was not forfeited.

Before we go on and look at the next dispensation, called the Church Age, let’s summarize what we’ve learned concerning the answers to the following questions in each dispensation.

 

The Age of the Gentiles

What caused an unbeliever to have a relationship with Yahweh?

An unbeliever entered into a relationship with Yahweh by believing in His blessings or what He’d promised would come to pass, and because of such, he/she would be righteous (declared righteous; would have righteousness credited to his/her account; admitted to God’s favor and friendship; be regarded as a righteous person; be accepted as righteous; be given a seal of righteousness). Romans 4:3

 

What caused a believer to have fellowship with Yahweh?

A believer had fellowship (became righteous in conduct; experiential righteousness) with Yahweh by faith (his will acted on what God told him46). Hebrews 11:7

The Age of Israel

What caused an unbeliever to have a relationship with Yahweh?

An unbeliever had a relationship with Yahweh by believing in Him or in what He’d said, and as such, He would impute righteousness to him/her (credited righteousness to him/her; treated him/her as a righteous man/woman; admitted him/her to his favor). Romans 4:6

What caused a believer to have fellowship with Yahweh?

A believer evidenced fellowship (being righteous in conduct) with Yahweh by being faithful (of doing reliably the tasks associated with an office or title47). Hebrews 3:5

 

The Incarnation of Christ

What caused someone to have a relationship with Jesus during His incarnation?

An unbeliever had a relationship with Jesus if he/she believed in Him as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

What caused someone to have fellowship with Jesus during his incarnation?

They had fellowship with Him if they were obedient to His commands (i.e., preach the Kingdom of Heaven, heal the sick, cast out demons, etc.).

 

Did little or no evidence of fellowship in any of these dispensations cause a believer to lose their relationship with Yahweh or Jesus?

No. As evidenced by Lot and King Saul, a believer’s spiritual standing in time and their eternal destiny was not affected by little or no fellowship.

We have one more dispensation to look at which is called the Church Age. This is the age in which we, Christians, currently live. The same questions we’ve been attempting to answer in each dispensation concerning relationship, fellowship, and salvation, we’ll now attempt to answer in this dispensation.

However, what we’ll find out is there are at least four different views or avenues concerning what constitutes salvation, i.e., someone finding God or becoming a child of God and going to a better place at death. Will each of these avenues, or only one of them, have the answer? Let’s find out.

 

Endnotes

38UBS Old Testament.

39Dictionary.com.

40Dictionary.

41Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 30 November 2018

˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

42IVP Bible Background Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 30 November 2018

˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

43Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown.

44Easton.

45International Standard Bible Dictionary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 30 November 2018

 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

46The Bible Exposition Commentary.

47UBS New Testament.

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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