Christian Fellowship

Jesus is currently building His Church

Matthew 16:18 “On this rock (revelation) I will build My Church…”

He is doing this through planting new expressions of the Gospel in every nation

A major move in most nations towards house churches

He is also revamping any existing church – regardless of their size, shape, or tradition – through shaking it so that only the essentials remain

Hebrews 12:25-27 (The Message Version) “So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words… One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern. The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.”

A few churches are responding – most are not

Nonetheless, Jesus is hard at work “building His Church”

Of course, as we know, the Church is simply the assembly of God’s people

Those who have called on the Name of the Lord and are born again

A central idea in this Church that He is building…

A central foundation to this Church that Jesus is building

Central and foundational to everything in this Church that He is building

FELLOWSHIP

When I was first born again:

Fellowship was defined as “three fellows in a ship together”
Fellowship was seen as a “coffee with Christians”
Fellowship was simply getting together with others for whatever reason

Often these “fellowship” times were missing a key element – Jesus

Yes, in a real sense Jesus is everywhere believers are so He shared in all of these times of “fellowship”

But, He was missing in the sense that He was not the focus of the fellowship time

The focus was the believers – our joys, our shame, our victories, our pain, our …

But that is far, far short of the Bible’s idea of fellowship
And, far from what Jesus meant when He referred to fellowship
Seriously different than what the early church experienced and labeled fellowship

When I was born again:

3 John 2 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

So, as a new believer I dug into the letters of John starting at 1 John

As a born again believer … the first words I read and that the Holy Spirit spoke to me through…

1 John 1:1-4 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life (Jesus) — the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 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. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

I immediately recognized that for “fellowship” to be real and biblical it must be focused on God, our Heavenly Father and Jesus, His Son, our Lord and Saviour

God must be central to the conversation and the time together for it to be true “fellowship”

Biblical fellowship
Christian fellowship
Spiritual fellowship

So, what is “fellowship”?

Definition / Understanding:

Fellowship is much more than our focus … important as that is

Fellowship is…

A personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus, His Son

See – hear – touch

A communion with / common – union with God … joining of hearts / purpose

A social interaction with the Father and His Son through the Holy Spirit in us

A partnering with God – His will is our will, His plan is our plan

A participating in what God is doing – generally and then daily (specific)

But, listen to John’s words again…

1 John 1:3-4a “ 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.

Fellowship involves others who share the same belief …

We share fellowship with God – and we also share fellowship with each other

A personal relationship
A common union – joining of hearts
Social interaction
Partnering in a purpose together that is mutually beneficial to all involved
Participating in the life of the Church and in Kingdom adventures

The partnering / fellowship is for OUR mutual benefit

Never one sided
Not for your interests or benefit only
It is you – me – God

Fellowship cannot happen (by definition) with those outside the faith

Fellowship is broken when a believer is in sin

1 John 1:6-7 “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

So, fellowship – basic meaning – is a real and practical sharing in eternal life (relationship) with the Father and Son and one another lived out in a faith community who share Kingdom values, morals, and perspective.

We can have, must have, relationships with unbelievers

But, true fellowship can only occur within the Body of Christ, the Church where we share a common set of beliefs and values, and are working together to fulfill a God- given common purpose and goal

Having fellowship with God and with each other is not an option

You cannot be a Christian on your own

Having fellowship is a calling / command

1 Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

And, in the Bible there are 6 main types of fellowship mentioned…

The word in English is not always “fellowship” but in the Greek it is

1> Fellowship of the Gospel

Philippians 1:5 “…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
KJV: “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now “

So the meaning here in context is partnering with others to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom to places in spiritual darkness

In this case, partnering with Paul the apostle and his team to plant churches

2> Fellowship of the Spirit

Philippians 2:1 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy…”

KJV: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit…”

The meaning here in context is to share a common lifestyle based in the life and the character (nature) of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures

To partner with each other in a common life of evangelism and discipling

To become involved in whatever the Spirit is doing in the world / neighbourhood today

2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

3> Fellowship of the Son

1 Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The context indicates that just as the Father and the Son have fellowship and are one … so we must maintain the unity of the Spirit

That we are not to allow anything or anyone cause division and strife and thus damage the fellowship we share with Him and with each other

That we guard carefully this “fellowship” so that we will have the same mind and the same judgment (opinion) regarding what is happening in the world around us and in the church

4> Fellowship of the mystery

Ephesians 3:9 “…to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things…”

KJV: “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ”

Fellowship = plan of God, administration of that plan, execution (how to) fulfill the plan

Mystery = God’s plan of salvation only through Jesus Christ
Mystery = by grace through faith and not of works

5> Fellowship of His suffering

Philippians 3:10 “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”

KJV: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death…”

Here the Scripture is referring to the fact that:

As Jesus was persecuted and suffered for us

We can expect to encounter the same type of persecution and suffering as we share the Gospel of the Kingdom and His love for all people with others

And the persecution draws us together as we share similar experiences = fellowship

6> Fellowship of the believers (Church)

Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

This is what we usually think of when we think of fellowship

Coming together to worship Him together
Coming together to hear the Word shared
Coming together to pray
Coming together to minister to each other
Coming together to build relationships (family)
Because God wants a people and not a person
Because we need each other
Because “iron sharpens iron”
Because no one can be a Christian without being part of the Body

1 Corinthians 12:18 “God places each member in the Body of His choice”

Conclusion:

There is a real need in the Church today to learn how to “fellowship with the Holy Spirit” (#2)

I would suggest the following seven basic steps… to release the Holy Spirit (Comforter, Helper, Counsellor) to be more active in your life

We must be thirsty and hungering for Him, knowing that only He “satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9)

Unfortunately, we often try to fill that longing with substitutes.

Accept that only God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—can satisfy your hunger and thirst. He created each of us with this longing, and He is the only answer for that desire. We are to love Him with our whole heart and total being (Matthew 22:37)

Believe that the Holy Spirit Himself desires to fellowship with you. God loved you so much that He gave His Son, then sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with you as another Comforter and Helper! (John 14:16-17)

Avoid putting barriers between you and the Holy Spirit. We are told, “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We are also warned to “grieve not the holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30)
Quench = This happens when we allow known sin in our lives to go unconfessed
Grieve = He is grieved when we do not allow Him to control our lives / when we are not yielded to Him

Ask, seek, and knock. Jesus tells us to ask for the Holy Spirit and that, when we ask, our good Heavenly Father will give us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:9-10, 13)

Experience the Lord’s goodness. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). And, as begin to experience the Holy Spirit’s presence and His guidance you will hunger for more and more of Him. You will develop a “taste” for the Holy Spirit. He will truly become your Comforter” (John 14:16, 26). He will speak to you and lead you (John 16:13).

Release the Holy Spirit in your life daily. This goes beyond simply asking. He promises to go where He is specifically invited. He lives in you (Romans 5:1). He is upon you empowering and enabling you (Acts 1:8) . And, we need to invite Him to be active in our lives in very evident and specific ways every day.

Pursue the Holy Spirit. This requires a conscious and ongoing decision to “yield yourselves unto God” (Romans 6:13).

Do you hunger and thirst for more of the Holy Spirit? – – – Desiring deeper fellowship with Him?

Do you sincerely desire to be controlled and empowered by Him? Yielded!

Then invite Him to be more active / release Him to be more active in your regular, daily life and pursue Him with your whole heart.

Extra material:

Fellowship with God consisting in:
The knowledge of His will (Job 22:21, Romans 12:1-2)
Agreement with His plans / will (Amos 3:3)
Mutual affection (Romans 8:38-39)
Enjoyment of His presence (Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:28)
Being conformed to His image (1 John 1:6; 2:6)
Participation in His joy (1 John 1:4)

Fellowship with other believers with one another:
In the work we share for Jesus (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:1)
In the commands we obey together (Hebrews 10:25; Acts 2:46)
In grace, love, joy (Malachi 3:16; 2 Corinthians 8:4)
In mutual spiritual and temporal interests (Romans 12:4, 13; 13:16)
In suffering (Romans 15:1-2; Galatians 6:1-2)
In His glory (Revelation 7:9)