TL-16 - Christian Fellowship

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The Bible says in 1 John 1:7 that ‘if we walk in the light as He is in the

light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of His Son Jesus

Christ cleanses us from all sin.’

The word of God clearly teaches that in Christ, Christians have

fellowship. But what is fellowship? That's a word we hear a lot, but are we

familiar with the biblical idea of fellowship?

What exactly is the word fellowship all about? What does it mean?

What do we mean when Christians say ‘we have fellowship’? What exactly

are we talking about?

The word fellowship carries these ideas with it. It carries with it the

idea of a partnership- that we are partners together in a joint venture and

that we're striving for a common goal. It carries with it the idea of

participation. To be in fellowship, I've got to participate in something. I've

got to be an active part in that. It carries of the idea of a joint effort- some

two people, somebody working together with you in an effort that you both

believe strongly in. You know the word fellowship, especially as you look at

the meaning in the New Testament, carries the idea of sharing. Fellowship

means that we share together, that we get along, and that we work toward




that common goal. Another word that's often used is the word communion.

In fact the Greek word for fellowship is the word koinonia which means in

itself communion or sharing in common. From the word, it comes from the

Greek word koinos which means common. When we talk about fellowship,

we've got communion. We've got something in common that we're striving

for and that we're trying every day to reach as our goal ultimately to glorify

God and to get to heaven itself.

We're going to think about what the Bible says on the subject of

fellowship. What can Christians know about their joint venture together

about their fellowship with God and about the things we must not fellowship

in this life?

Let's begin by noticing some things that we shouldn't fellowship. In

the Bible we are told not to have something in common with these things.

First God himself cannot fellowship evil. The God, who I serve, the God

who you serve, cannot be in a joint venture or a joint effort with evil. He has

nothing in common with evil. Listen to what the psalmist said in Psalm

94:20 the word of God records, “Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises

evil by law, have fellowship with you?” Well of course the answer is no.

That throne which promotes sin, promotes ungodliness, can have no

fellowship with the God who is right and holy and true. It reminds us of the

words of Habakkuk 1:13. Listen to this passage. It is said of God “You are

of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on wickedness. Why do

you look on those who deal treacherously and hold your tongue when the

wicked devours a person more righteous than he?” God himself can't even

look at it's repulsive to; it's abhorrent to His character.

As we think about that which God himself can't fellowship, we also

need to realize that Christians can't have fellowship with evil. If something

is contrary to God's character, to the word and will of God, and if it is

immoral practice an action something that God clearly teaches in Scripture

is wrong- whatever that may be- Christians need to make sure if God


doesn't fellowship with it, if He doesn't have anything in common with it-

neither should we.


One of the things that we clearly learn that is so unique to our

fellowship is the basis on which that occurs. Christians have fellowship

based on the principles of New Testament fellowship. What do we mean by





I want to direct your attention to a passage in the book of Acts. I'd like

for you to look with me in Acts 2:42 as we see the basis for our fellowship

now and Christians fellowship in the first century. The Bible says these

words, “And they,” that is first century Christians, “they continued

steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship in the breaking of bread

and in prayers.” Where what is it that we have in common as Christians?

The teaching of Christ! We have the life of Christ in common- that that life

was the most stellar, amazing life anyone's ever lived. ‘He was tempted in

all points as we are yet without sin.’ We have the teaching of Christ about

the love of God. ‘God so loved the world He gave...’ We have His teaching

about salvation from sin. ‘That whoever obeys the gospel has been freed

from sin,’ Acts 2:38. We now live with a purpose in life to glorify God,

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Part of what we have in common is the doctrine, the

teaching, the word of God-which is that common bond of the spirit,

Ephesians 3:4.

As we think about the basis and what we have in common with first

century Christians in our fellowship, not only do we have in common the

apostle's doctrine- we also have in common the breaking of bread and

prayer representative of Christians coming together on the first day the

week. What is it we have in common with other Christians? We gather

together every first day the week, Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, to

worship God, to remember the Lord's sacrifice, and to honor Almighty God

by our lips, by our actions, and with the things God has commanded in the

Bible. When we pray, we have fellowship. We pray in unison. We pray in

the spirit and understanding, 1 Corinthians 14:50. We bow together in

prayer. We have fellowship one with another as we approach the throne of

Almighty God. Christians have as the basis of fellowship, the doctrine, the

worship, and the actions that we see a first century Christians in the New


Now we mention a couple of other items that relate directly to

Christian fellowship. One of the ways that we fellowship with one another is

through giving. As we give ourselves and as we give financially, we are

fellowshipping God and other Christians. Notice these passages with me.

In 2 Corinthians 8:4 Paul is going to discuss the idea of giving and how that

is critical to our fellowship. Notice what he says in this text. 2 Corinthians




8:4 the Bible records these words. Paul says that ‘the Macedonians were

imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the

fellowship of the ministering of the saints there.’ They're giving to that

cause. They're helping the apostle Paul to spread the gospel. The gift they

gave was a fellowship. What does that mean? They had a common

interest. They had a joint venture. As we give to spread the gospel, aren't

we in fellowship with one another in the greatest cause ever?

Listen to 2 Corinthians 9:13 on this subject. The Bible says these

words ‘While through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the

obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ,’ now listen, ‘and for

your liberal sharing with them and with all that word.’ Sharing there carries

the idea of fellowship. Their liberal giving to the spreading of the gospel to

help others souls hear the message- that was a fellowship they had. Here's

how that relates to us today. Do we not believe that the gospel is what

saves people's souls today? Don't do we not all have that common idea

that men and women across the globe who've never heard of Jesus need

to hear the message? Aren't we willing to give financially and of ourselves

to see that venture take place? Then if so, we have fellowship in that.

We're tied together, uniquely tied together, that we believe soul saving is so

powerful that we want to support the spread of the gospel around the world.

One of the ways we're in fellowship is when we give to spread to spread

the preaching of God's word around the world.

Another way that Christians are in fellowship is with God and His Son

and in the relationship that we have. Listen to 1 Corinthians 1:9. The

apostle Paul says, ‘God is faithful by whom you were called into the

fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.’ We have that closeness. We

have that common bond. We have that relationship with God through Jesus

Christ- and anyone who has obeyed the gospel Christians have that in

common. We are all sons and daughters of God and because of that there

is that bond. There is that sharing. We share. We have in common the

same Father. We have in common the same Savior. We have in common

the same plan of salvation that saved us all, and we have in common the

forgiveness of sins and the fact that we're a part of the family of God. One

Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and Father of all- who's above all

and through you all and in you all, Paul would say in Ephesians 4:4-6. We

share that together. What a wonderful fellowship we have with one another

through those beautiful ideas in and of themselves! We want to promote




that closeness. We want to grow closer to each other and closer to God as

we study, as we pray, and as we strive to do the things that God himself

wants us to do.

Now let's think about another aspect related to Christians and

fellowship. One of the things the Bible clearly teaches in that is that

Christians should not fellowship anything in the realm of sin. 1 Corinthians

10:20, we're not to fellowship Satan or sin or ungodliness. God says in 2

Corinthians 6:14 ‘don't be unequally yoked together.’ ‘Come out from

among them,’ 2 Corinthians 6:17. Listen to the clear words of Ephesians

5:11. Here's the idea of fellowship, ‘have no fellowship with the unfruitful

works of darkness, rather expose them.’ What else do Christians have in

common? We have in common the fact that we strive to avoid sin and that

we strive not to have fellowship with it. Now I understand that all of us

make mistakes. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.

As a general rule, we're striving to live a life free of sin. We're striving to

separate ourselves from sin. Anybody who striving together in that venture

to avoid sin and keep our lives out of the realm of sin, ought to encourage

and help and pick one another up. If we have that in common, friend we

need to have fellowship. In the fact that we want to avoid sin in our life,

‘have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness rather we want to

expose those,’ we want to let known by our lifestyle that which is contrary

to the word and will of our God. What an important aspect in our fellowship

that we have together.

Another unique area that Christians have fellowship is with the Holy

Spirit. The Bible in two passages makes it clear that we are in fellowship

with the spirit of God as well.

Notice what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13:14. The Scripture

says, ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the

communion,’ that's the word for fellowship, ‘and the communion of the Holy

Spirit be with you all.’ We have communion or fellowship with the Holy

Spirit. Notice another passage. Philippians 2:1, ‘Therefore if there is any

consolation in Christ, any comfort of love, any fellowship of the spirit, if any

affection and mercy,’ Paul will say, ‘strive to be close and be one with one

another.’ You know as we think about these two passages, communion of

the Holy Spirit and fellowship with the spirit, there's no denying that we

have that closeness- that we have something in common- a joint sharing




together. Well what is it? We're not saying that this is something mystical,

this is something magical, that this is something miraculous in that sense.

What is will, the communion, or the fellowship we have with the spirit of

God? Friend the spirit has inspired the word of God. The Holy Spirit

inspired this. 2 Peter 1:19-21, ‘Holy men of God spoke as they were moved

by the spirit.’ John 16:13, Jesus made the promise to first century disciples,

“When He, the spirit of truth, has come He'll guide you into all truth.” These

words are the words of the Holy Spirit of God who inspired the book. As I

read the Bible, as I study the word of God, as I put its principles into

practice in my life, as I walk in the light 1 John 1:7, as I strive to live

according to the teaching of Christ-I'm in direct communion with the spirit of

God through the message He inspired. All Scripture is given by inspiration

of God, 2 Timothy 3:16. And so, please don't think we're saying that this is

something miraculous or mystical or magical in that sense- but isn't it

wonderful to know we have fellowship with the Holy Spirit of God as we

study the spirit inspired word, as we strive try to live a life that is guided by

the spirit's teaching, as we try to produce the fruit of the spirit in our life

every day- we have that in common with the Holy Spirit, who inspired that

word, who put that principle into practice, or who put that principle in

Revelation and gave us the knowledge of God's revealed will.

Now as we think about this idea of fellowship, let's also realize

another principle that is so important to Christian fellowship. This is

sometimes one that we have to work on. Here's what we learn from

Scripture- regardless of the past, whatever has happened in the past,

regardless of that- Christians must extend fellowship to the faithful

regardless of what that person's done, regardless of how they've lived their

life, regardless of the things that they may have done before coming into

Christ. I've got the obligation to extend fellowship to them if they're faithful

in the Lord.

Listen to Galatians 2:9. The Bible says, ‘And when James, Cephas,

and John who seem to be pillars perceived the grace that been given to

me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship that we should

go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.’ Now for James, Cephas,

and John do you think that was easy for them to extend that hand of

fellowship to Paul? They probably wondered what it would cost them at one

point. They knew it cost them at one point for sure Paul, who had formerly

been Saul, was a murderer of Christians. He was holding the coats of those




who stoned Stephen. He was wreaking havoc on the church, Acts 8:1. He

was dragging men and women into prison. He was sent with official

documents from the high priest to find any who are of the way- some of

those might even lose their lives. Paul was the persecutor. You talk about a

man it might of been hard to extend fellowship to! But regardless of the

past, ‘Forgetting those things which are behind,’ Paul would say, ‘Reaching

forward to those things which are ahead,’ Philippians 3:12-14. Paul said, ‘I

press on.’ If Paul was a faithful child of God, then Cephas and Peter,

James, and John were under obligation by God to fellowship him- and

friend the same is true for us.

Don't we all have a past? Haven't you and haven't I done things that

are bad-probably in our past life that are at least sinful? We've probably

said things, we've probably been involved in things, things that we're now

ashamed of- and yet aren't you thankful that someone extended fellowship

in Christ to you? Regardless of that person's life- that person could have

been a prostitute before, that person could've been a murderer before, that

person may have been a drunk or a thief or whatever- but if by their life you

can see they've obeyed the gospel, they're living for Christ, and they have

put the past behind them- then friend our obligation is to fellowship them.

Our obligation is to try to encourage them. Does that mean I'm going to go

into life with blinders on? That's not what we're saying friend. We sure

ought to do everything we can to be in fellowship with those who are faithful

in Christ and those who are trying to live according to the will of Almighty


Now as we think about fellowship there is up a key to making

fellowship happen, and friend that is this: Fellowship is based on obedience

to Christ and His plan of salvation.

I want you listen to Ephesians 3:9. Paul says, ‘And to make all see

what is the fellowship of the mystery, what is it which from the beginning of

the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus

Christ.’ What is this fellowship that's been hidden from the ages, the

mystery of the fellowship? Well as you study the word mystery in the book

of Ephesians, you find it's not something you really can't know, but

something that one point was hidden and now has been revealed. ‘That in

Christ both Jew and Gentile now can be one,’ Ephesians 2:14-16, their

fellowship in the first century was obeys was based on obedience to Christ




and the plan of salvation.

Friend the same is true for children of God today. Our fellowship is

predicated upon obedience to Christ. Can I be in fellowship with someone

in a spiritual sense who's never obeyed the gospel? Do I have something in

common with someone spiritually who's never put on the Lord Jesus

Christ? Not spiritually-if they're not in Christ, they've not made that their

goal. They've not made that their priority. They're not living the way God

wants them to live. It's impossible to be in fellowship with someone who's

yet to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Obedience is essential.

Jesus said, “If you love Me keep my commandments,” John 14:15.

Jesus said, “It's not everybody that looks up in heaven is says ‘Lord, Lord’

that's going there but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Jesus

clearly taught He is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. If

someone has not obeyed Christ, if they're not in Christ, if they have not

submitted to the Lordship of Jesus- then I'm not in fellowship with them.

Our spiritual fellowship is predicated upon obedience to Christ and His will.

Now friend another principle is directly related to that and it's this- if

someone has obeyed the gospel and then gone into a life of sin, has fallen

away from the truth, and is living a life of sin and immorality- then I can't be

in fellowship with that either. How do we know that? What do I have in

common spiritually with a person who has denied the Lord and is now living

in sin? We can't have fellowship with evil-the Bible clearly teaches that

Psalm 94 and Habakkuk 1:13. I have nothing in common spiritually with

someone who is living a life that has apostatized from the truth. Even if I

wanted to, I can't be for in fellowship with that because we're not sharing

the same goals. We don't have in common the same ideals. We're no

longer both submitting to the Lordship of our Savior Jesus Christ.

And so, our fellowship is based on obedience to Christ in the teaching

of the gospel. Listen to Philippians 1:5. Paul says this “For your fellowship,”

Paul said, “I thankful to God for you for your fellowship in the gospel from

the first day until now.” Where did Paul say their fellowship was? In the

gospel. Someone who's in Christ living according to the gospel and

remaining faithful that's where fellowship is located for the Lord's people.

But you know, Christians also fellowship Christ and His suffering. We




have that in common with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that were it not

for His suffering there would be no salvation. Listen to Philippians 3:10.

Paul said of Christ, ‘that I may know Him and the power of His

resurrection,’ listen to this, ‘and the fellowship of His sufferings being

conformed to His death.’ How we fellowship the suffering of Christ because

if we obey the gospel, we can't deny the fact that came by His suffering and

all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution, 2 Timothy


We also fellowship with other Christians who may suffer. The Bible

says in Philippians 4:14 Paul said, ‘Nevertheless you have done well that

you shared in my distress.’ The things Paul suffered and the things other

Christians suffer, we can have a common bond there because we believe

what they're doing is worth suffering for and that Christ is more important

than all other things that we may do in this life.

Now as we think about the subject of fellowship and as we try to drive

this idea home, the key to Christian fellowship is always based on Christ

and His plan of salvation.

Listen again to 1 John 1:3 that which Paul said, ‘That which we have

seen and heard we declare to you that you also may have fellowship with

us,’ and listen this, ‘and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His

Son Jesus Christ.’


How do we have fellowship this way? By having fellowship this way-

my fellowship cannot be with other Christians, unless I first have fellowship


with God and they're in fellowship with God. Our fellowship truly, John said,

our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

What do we have in common with God? That we have submitted to

His will, that we believe the Bible is His word, and that His plan of salvation

is the way to save that makes people children of God and puts us in His



Friend are you in fellowship with God? Have you heard the word of

God? Romans 10:17. Do you believe Jesus is the Savior of the world?

John 8:24. Would you repent of things in your life that are not right, make




the good confession before men, and do what Jesus said? “He that

believes and is baptized will be saved,” Mark 16:16.

If you will do those things, you can be in fellowship with God and with

other Christians.




Study Questions for: “Topical Lesson 16: Fellowship”


1. According to 1 John 1:7, what do Christians have with one another?


2. What cleanses us according to 1 John 1:7?


3. What does Habakkuk 1:13 say of God and evil things?


4. According to 2 Corinthians 8:4, what does Paul say about fellowship and



5. What is the example of fellowship in 2 Corinthians 9:13?


6. According to 1 Corinthians 1:9, as Christians we fellowship and have

closeness with who?


7. According to 1 Corinthians 10:20, what should we not have fellowship



8. What does it tell us to not be unequally yoked with in 2 Corinthians 6:17?


9. According to Ephesians 5:11 what should we have no fellowship with?


10. What does 2 Timothy 3:16 tell us about the scripture?

TGOCTopical Lessons