July 12, 2013
ii. Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
Having firmly grounded our communion as saints in our union with Christ--and having introduced our calling to bless one another both spiritually and materially--the Confession mentions some ways that we can put our communion into practice.
One is by maintaining fellowship in the worship of God. Here the Confession echoes the exhortation of Hebrews "to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another" (Heb. 10:24-25). While regular participation in public worship is a blessing to us, it is every bit as much a blessing to others.
Another way to practice the communion of the saints is by "performing such other spiritual services as tend to mutual edification." Examples here would include meeting with other Christians for prayer and Bible study, sharing Christian literature, and sending notes or messages of spiritual encouragement.
Next, the Confession encourages the saints to "relieve each other in outward things." This somewhat archaic expression refers to physical needs. "Outward things" are life's material necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter. When we take a hot meal to a family in distress, or welcome a brother or sister who needs a place to stay for a while, or perform a home repair for a widow from our church, we are practicing the communion of the saints.
None of us can perform all the spiritual services or meet all the outward needs that our fellow saints may require. But as we have the ability and opportunity, we should do what we can.
Dr. Philip G. Ryken is the president of Wheaton College and author of Loving the Way Jesus Loves (Crossway 2012).