Fellowship One with Another
1 John 1:7
A. How are we doing?
1. The Lighthouse and Jesus’ commandment to “love one another.”
2. We will be examining what the Bible has to say about Christian fellowship.
a) There are many of the “one another” statements and most were given in the form of commands.
b) You can study these statements in order to know how to “love one another”!
3. The first statement we will study is found in 1 John 1:7: “We have fellowship one with another.”
a) Can that be said of us?
b) Do we have authentic, Christian fellowship with one another?
c) Do we touch each other’s lives in deep, significant ways?
4. Unfortunately, this fellowship is often missing from our churches.
a) Chuck Swindoll writes: “The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his Church. It is an imitation dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality. But it is … an accepting … inclusive fellowship. You can tell people secrets. Many of the people are alcoholics, but God has put into their heart the desire to know and be known, (the desire) to love and be loved. So many seek the counterfeit (of God’s fellowship) at the price of a few beers.”
b) Sad, isn’t it?
5. The genius of the church is the unique fellowship it can have in Jesus Christ.
a) People want and need this fellowship.
b) But in so many instances the church simply doesn’t offer it.
B. What is Christian Fellowship?
1. To many people friendliness and fellowship are equal.
a) But Christian fellowship is a lot more than saying hello, the sharing of a joke or two, a brief comment about the morning lesson, and a short prayer for the sick and lost.
2. The basic meaning of the Greek word koinōnia (fellowship) is “communion” or “partnership” or “sharing.”
a) When you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you become partners with Him and with all other believers.
(1) 1 John 1:3 “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
b) That fellowship is permanent, because our shared eternal life is forever.
c) The joy associated with it, however, may be lost through sinful neglect of its duties.
3. For a Christian to fail to participate in the life of a local church is inexcusable.
a) In fact, those who choose to isolate themselves are disobedient to the direct command of Scripture.
b) Hebrews 10:24-25 tells believers to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”
c) The Bible does not show the Christian life as one lived apart from other believers.
d) All members of the body of Christ, are to be actively and intimately involved in local assemblies.
4. Fellowship = koinonia = communion or the sharing of a common experience.
a) Christian fellowship is communion or the sharing of a common experience
b) There are three components of this communion or sharing:
(1) Fellowship must be the sharing of our inner lives;
(2) Fellowship must be in the context of God’s Word; and
(3) Fellowship must be in the energy of the Holy Spirit.
I. Fellowship Must Be the Sharing of Inner Life (John 17:21)
A. The Example of Jesus and The Father
1. When a person is about to die, they speak only of those things which are most important.
a) Shortly before Jesus died, he spoke words which are absolutely astounding in their implications.
(1) Jesus prayed “that they (you and I) all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:21).
(2) Jesus said that we can enjoy the same fellowship with each other that he enjoyed with the Father.
(3) Who would think that we are capable of such oneness?
b) Notice that Jesus said I in thee, not I with thee.
(1) This is the closest kind of intimacy.
(2) How does this kind of intimacy come about?
(3) It comes about in the same way Jesus achieved it with the Father:
(a) by opening up,
(b) by sharing our inner lives,
(c) by risking a transparency of soul.
2. Jesus’ earthly life cannot be understood apart from his oneness with the Father.
a) Many times, Jesus left everybody and everything in order to be alone.
b) For long periods of time (out in the wilderness, in the middle of the night), Jesus opened his heart to the Father and the two fellowshipped with one another.
c) The power of Jesus’ earthly life was determined by that fellowship with the Father!
3. In his high priestly prayer, Jesus said that we believers can enjoy this same kind of fellowship if we open up to each other, seek communion, and share our inner lives.
a) This sharing of the inner life with fellow believers was so important to Jesus that he gave it top priority in his ministry.
b) The Scriptures tell us that Jesus chose the twelve to be “with him.”
c) Day in and day out, week after week, month after month, these men became a close knit fellowship.
(1) Jesus taught, trained, and encouraged the twelve.
(2) He reproved, rebuked, and admonished them.
(3) But, best of all, he loved them!
4. Jesus staked everything on these twelve.
a) If you compare Jesus’ two ministries his public with his private you will quickly see that it was his private ministry, his ministry with the twelve, that really paid off.
b) His public ministry became less and less successful.
c) But his ministry with the twelve provided the nucleus for God’s great church.
d) The church was where people accepted one another, cared for one another, comforted one another, and served one another.
e) It was in fellowship (koinonia) where the people really got to know one another, rough edges and all.
f) It was in fellowship that they jointly submitted their lives to the authority of Jesus’ teachings.
B. The Fellowship of the Mystery (Ephesians 3:9, 18)
1. Ephesians calls this “the fellowship of the mystery” (Eph. 3:9).
a) And it is a mystery!
b) Somehow the gospel of Jesus can break down the barriers which separate and divide people from one another.
c) The hurts and hostilities melt away once we stand in the warmth of God’s grace.
2. It seems strange, though, that many people resist what they so desperately need.
3. Psychologists say that 70 percent of people today suffer from chronic loneliness.
a) Many people feel that no one really knows them well and they don’t feel like they really know anyone else.
4. “Be able to comprehend with all saints … the love of Christ” (Eph, 3:18).
a) We can never know the love of Christ by ourselves; it is best experienced in fellowship with the saints.
b) That’s why Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
c) Jesus will not fully manifest himself to us unless we are in a sincere and open fellowship with other believers.
d) You can pray, study, serve, and give individually, but your experience with God will be incomplete unless you experience His Son in the lives of fellow believers.
5. The best place to do this is in a house church! Then it carries over into our fellowship at The Lighthouse.
C. Pretending to Have No Problems (2 Corinthians 3:13)
1. The chief hindrance to Christian fellowship is when Christians pretend not to have any problems.
a) Christians, putting on their everything is all right masks, deliberately participate in a conspiracy of silence.
b) We are intent on conveying to the world that we have no problems of any real consequence.
c) This super saint image everything is under control, everything is just fine is nothing new.
2. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he didn’t know why the people were shielding their faces.
a) But it didn’t take him long to figure it out.
b) Moses’ face was glowing.
c) Moses decided to cover his face with a veil to shield the people from the glory reflected in his face.
d) But, in time, Moses came to know something that the children of Israel didn’t know.
e) As time passed, the brightness faded to nothing more than a dim glow; but Moses wore his veil anyway.
f) Why? Because he was afraid afraid that the people would see the glory fading from his face! (2 Cor. 3:13).
3. We hide behind veils today.
a) We don’t want anyone to see our fading glory, so we project an everything is fine image to the world.
4. When the Bible says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (Jas. 5:16), it is assuming that we have faults, that we need prayer, and that we need healing.
a) Sometimes our veils of pride communicate to others that we think we have no faults, that we need no prayers, and that we need no healing.
b) The Bible instructs church members to encourage, to forgive, to bear one another’s burdens, and to be tenderhearted.
c) When we act as if we have no problems, we cannot experience the loving care fellow church members can give.
d) If we would just risk being vulnerable, we would see that other Christians are also struggling.
e) If we share our burdens, we’ll find believers who identify with us people who are our kind of people.
5. In addition to finding people in the church with problems like ours, we can find help.
a) The gospel has answers to our problems.
b) Believers who have successfully applied God’s Word to their problems would like to help others do the same (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
c) Just to know that other believers love us, care for us, pray for us, and extend themselves to us is a marvelous blessing.
d) It is unique to Christian fellowship.
6. Christian fellowship involves sharing our inner lives our thoughts and feelings, our strengths, and weaknesses. However, that’s not all of it.
II. Fellowship Must Be in the Context of God’s Word
A. The Basis of True Fellowship (1 John 1:3)
1. Non Christians can get together and share their innermost thoughts.
a) There’s nothing distinctively Christian about that.
b) But once the non Christian shares his innermost thought what next?
c) Where does he go from there?
d) How does he put his life back together?
2. The Christian finds his answers in God’s Word
a) The Word of God is divinely inspired and incapable of error.
b) Fellowship, if it is to be Christian, must be conducted in the context of God’s Word
3. Unfortunately, many Christians have attempted to share themselves apart from God’s Word.
a) A meeting begins with a Scripture reading that only serves as a springboard for testimony time.
b) Instead of using God’s Word and making specific application to life today, these Christians meet simply to tell what God has done for them.
c) Now that’s fine for a meeting or two, but it has its limitations.
d) When the focus is on the past instead of the present, on victories instead of failures, on self instead of God, a staleness settles in.
4. The basis of Christian fellowship reinforces this principle of sharing within the context of God’s Word: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3)
5. First, we should notice that the gospel “that which we have seen and heard” is the basis of true Christian fellowship.
a) John’s testimony to non Christians could be stated like this:
(1) We want you to know the same God we know.
(2) We want you to know the same salvation we know.
(3) For only in this way can we have common ground for fellowship.
b) “koinonia”, means communion or the sharing of a common experience.
c) Accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ is absolutely indispensable to Christian fellowship.
d) There must be a common participation in the grace of God, in the salvation of Christ, and in the blessings of the Holy Spirit.
e) If not, there can be no fellowship.
B. The Requirement of Christian Fellowship (1 John 1:7)
1. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7).
2. Walking where God walks, living like Jesus lived is the requirement of Christian fellowship.
a) But if we do not walk in the light, if this new life does not emerge, there’s no fellowship.
b) Christian fellowship requires the gospel and the new life which only the gospel can produce.
(1) Acts 2:42 helps us catch a glimpse of what true fellowship is like.
(2) The church, with more than three thousand members, “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
(3) The apostles’ doctrine was much of what we now call the New Testament.
c) The early church focused on doctrine, that is, on the Bible, the Word of God.
3. There is a linkage between the Word and fellowship.
a) Fellowship must be in the context of God’s Word.
b) In an atmosphere of love and support, we should allow fellow believers to help us apply the principles of God’s Word to our lives.
c) There must be this kind of sharing.
d) You must find those believers with whom you can share and be nurtured in the Word.
4. It’s impossible to relate to everybody in a church of any size.
a) It is God’s plan that we develop those close relationships with a smaller circle of Christians than the entire membership.
b) We need this fellowship because without it we will lack accountability to the truth.
5. We need fellow believers, but that’s not enough.
a) The fellowship of the written Word, the Bible, must be what draws us together.
b) However, there’s a third component to Christian fellowship.
III. Fellowship Must Be in the Power of the Holy Spirit
A. Why Do We Need the Spirit?
1. Because his ministry is critical to biblical fellowship.
a) We need the Holy Spirit to help us select those Christians with whom we’re to become close.
b) We need the Spirit to help us discern who we really are, to learn what the Word is saying, and to structure a specific how to strategy from the Word.
c) We need the Spirit to help us obey what we’ve learned and then to help others to do the same.
d) We also need the know how to share biblical insights in meaningful ways
(1) when to be firm,
(2) when to be gentle,
(3) when to support, and
(4) when to confront.
2. The Spirit gets us out of the “flesh” (our natural way of thinking and doing) and into the “Spirit” (God’s way of thinking and doing).
3. There’s just no way our fellowship can be Christian unless the Spirit himself is empowering the whole process.
B. Holiness and Visible Love (Acts 4:13)
1. In his book, The Church Before the Watching World, Francis Schaeffer contends that the church must exhibit both a visible holiness and a visible love.
2. But, without the Holy Spirit there will either be a holiness without love (legalism) or a love without holiness (sentimentalism).
a) Of course, both legalism and sentimentalism turn off the world.
3. If ever the church, in the power of the Holy Spirit, comes to exhibit love and holiness, the world will really take notice and conclude that Christians have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).
4. Church just isn’t church unless there’s fellowship: the sharing of the inner life, in the context of the Word, and in the power of the Spirit.