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,
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
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?