Summary: Part of sermon series regarding our purpose statement; this one about the church as a fellowship.
“…A Home for Fellowship…”
(August 5, 2001)
Several years ago studies were conducted among former American prisoners of war to determine what methods used by the enemy had been most effective in breaking their spirit.
The findings revealed that they did not break down from physical deprivation and torture as quickly as they did from solitary confinement or from disrupted friendships caused by frequent changing of personnel. Attempts to get the prisoners divided in their attitudes toward one another proved to be the most successful method of discouraging them.
It was further learned that the soldiers were not sustained primarily by faith in their country or by the rightness of the cause for which they fought. They drew their greatest strength from the close attachments they had formed to the small military units to which they belonged.
These observations help us understand why Christians need the group experience of fellowship with other believers to help them sustain the new life in Christ.
We continue in our series of messages based on the purpose statement of Aberdeen Wesleyan Church.
These messages are designed not only to help us become familiar with the statement, but also to give it some teeth. We want to be doers, not just sayers.
As we have been doing the last few weeks, I want us to read aloud the purpose statement, and it is found on the front of your bulletin. Please read along:
Our purpose is to bring unchurched people into God’s family, and to offer worship that lifts up God, ministry that heals hurts, a home for fellowship, and instruction in Christian living.
Today we focus on “a home for fellowship,” and my purpose today is to show the “whys” of fellowship and offer some practical “hows.”
What do we mean by fellowship? We could spend weeks going into all the definitions and Greek words for fellowship, but I want to just go to the bottom line.
Fellowship basically means the gathering of Christians for worship or mutual benefit.
We will flesh that out a bit as we get through the message. I want to give you three aspects of fellowship, and some application, in the hopes that as we leave here today we will be excited about this wonderful part of the Christian life, and not just excited, but eager to make it a dynamic part of our church life as well.
Let’s move quickly to the first aspect of fellowship, and that is…
I. Identification - Acts 2:42-47 (p. 772)
Please turn with me to Acts 2:42-47, which can be found on page 772 in the Bibles in the seats.
This was a picture of how the early church operated, and it is quite instructive. Please follow along as I read.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
We could spend all our time this morning on just this passage, and probably learn all we need about fellowship, but I want to emphasize the fact that the fellowship of these early Christians gave them a sense of identity.
If you were to bump into one of the early Christians on the way to worship, you may have asked something like, “So, where are you off to today?” And the answer would have been something like, “Oh, I’m headed over to the temple, at Solomon’s Colonnade.”
Immediately you would have understood that this person was one of those people who believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the dead and risen Messiah, because that’s where they met.
And along that line of identification, I want to raise two questions. I think answering these two questions will go a long way to helping us grasp this concept of fellowship.
A. What set these people apart?
It was immediately noticeable that this bunch of people were different, and it wasn’t only because they followed the teachings of Jesus.
The working of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to Christ and changing lives was impossible to hide.
And I think this bunch of people exhibited two things in particular that set them apart.
The first is…
They gathered for worship and to share in the Lord’s Supper. It was nothing for them to break into worship when they gathered together.