Sixteen people were in attendance and participation was encouraging, insightful, and brotherly.

[1] Freedom and Faithfulness without License or Legalism: NT commands and disputable matters.

Legalism was defined as such: Salvation based upon law keeping, imposing convictions/rules on others, requiring of the brethren something that God does not.
The issue of love will resolve all questions of legalism and license.  Love will govern the exercise of personal freedom so that others will not be caused to stumble.  Encouraging and bearing one another’s’ burdens prevents both.
When we fix our eyes on Jesus we will be focused on what best contributes to spiritual progress.  Christ likeness resolves the tension between legalism and license.
Obedience to NT commands is never legalism.  Those who do not obey are not free; they are still slaves to sin. But if we abide in Christ’s Word, we will know the truth that shall set us free.
Among Jesus’ disciples were those who ceremonially washed their hands and those who did not.  Christ did not insist on compliance to non issues that the Scriptures were silent on, while maintaining fellowship with those of both persuasions.

[2] What significant cultural influences affect our Christian thinking and practice?

Americanism’s core value of “Rights” is a contrary principle to that of Christian love.  Rights are obligatory by law based on what is perceived as owed.  Love arises from the heart without compulsion irrespective of the merit of the object.
Compassion is a legacy of American culture.  The concepts of mandated tolerance, materialism, liberty, that of a “just war,” and the media decidedly affect our thinking.

[3] What is the basis of fellowship in the church: doctrine, practice, membership, love?

Two or more gathered together in love and submission to Christ and each other is the basis of fellowship.  Fellowship is based upon a change of life from Christ that issues in love of the brethren and walking in the light.
The model of fellowship is I Cor.14:26 and truth from the Scriptures is the foundation.
Sound doctrine leads to godly character, not to minutia of theology and disputes about words.
Fellowship occurs by and large geographically where there exist joint participation, shared goals, and working for the honor of Christ in harmony through the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

[4] The Pattern of Christ and authoritative leadership as they relate to being a local assembly of Christians.

The kings of the nations act as beneficent lords, but it is not to be so in the church. Christ’s leaders are servants who lead by godly example and the persuasive power of truth.
The world which does not have Christ and His Spirit, needs authority to keep order/unity as they have no internal compulsion to guide/govern them.  The world’s solution to the deeds of the flesh is to legislate and punish. In the church, submission to the Holy Spirit in obedience to the truth of the Word of God is what is to prevail.
A true example/leader will have followers due to character, not by title, position, or force.
NT leaders are not to lord it over the church, and the church is to “be persuaded by your leaders” based on spiritual reasonableness rather than an appeal to an authoritative position of rank.
Leaders are to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict, but not because of a hierarchical structure of authority over subordinates.

[5] How do forgiveness and reconciliation relate to remembering, bitterness, and revenge?

God says He will remember our sins against us no more; David says that his sin is ever before him.  We may not be able to erase the memory of misdeeds from our minds though we are forgiven.
Sin causes grief, tension, and pain between ourselves and God which must be confessed for fellowship to be restored, but this does not cancel our imputed righteousness of God in Christ.
We know that we have forgiven others when we can pray and ask God to bless them.  Trusting that same person or having an intimate relationship with him is another matter.

Summary submitted by Steve Phillips