Summary: The foundation, function and fruit of Biblical fellowship.
“Facts about Fellowship”
1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
What does the term fellowship mean? Mel Lawrenz gives this definition of the Greek word “koinonia” that is often translated fellowship. In numerous English translations it means participation, sharing, partnership and communion. So fellowship is more than just coffee and doughnuts. It’s much more than that! Now don’t get me wrong, coffee and doughnuts can lead to fellowship but they are not in and off themselves equivalent to fellowship.
I. The Foundation of Fellowship
a. An embracing of the truth vs. 1-3
The apostles had seen the truth, seen the truth, handled the truth (the Word of Life) themselves and now they were declaring the truth.
b. An experience of the truth
They had experienced a personal relationship with the (life) which was (manifested) to them. It was more than assent to the truth, they accepted Jesus who is the (…truth, the life and the way.”)
c. An enrichment of the truth
It was life changing. It brought them into fellowship with other believers and fellowship with the Father and the Son. It produced (…joy unspeakable and full of glory.” V. 4
II. The Function of Fellowship
ILL - There were very few of these episodes that you could consider emotionally touching. But I do remember one. Gilligan had gotten his feelings hurt and decided to move away to the other side of the Island to live alone in a cave. Immediately, this became a miserable existence for Gilligan—he was all alone. But also miserable for everyone else on the island—one of their own was no longer among them, in fellowship with them...and there was a terrible void. They missed him at the dinner table. They missed his jokes, his laughter, his gentleness. They even missed his clumsy screw-ups. I think at one point in the episode they were sitting around the dinner table taking turns talking about the specific things they missed about him. So what did they do? I think it began with Skipper. He decided to leave the rest and go live with Gilligan so he wouldn’t be alone. Then another person did the same, then another. Until finally, all seven people were together again on the other side of the island in Gilligan’s cave. In true spiritual community, we either make it together, or we don’t make it...at least not in a healthy way.
Here’s a fun exercise for you to do when you have time. Use your concordance and find all of the scriptures from Acts to Revelation in which you find the word “together” and see what early Christians did “together.” Here’s a sampling: Meeting together. Praying together, sharing material things with together. Eating together. Consulting with and advising one another. Planning and strategizing together. Working together, standing together when under attack. Jesus Christ never intended for any of his followers to follow him in isolation from other believers. Wherever it’s possible, Christ intends for all of us to be in this together; not just for one hour on Sunday mornings—not just during “official” church meetings, but through the day to day course of life.
a. Fraternity – This word means feelings of friendship and mutual support between people.
ILL - Two friends were walking in the forest one day when suddenly they stumbled upon a large grizzly bear who decided that they looked like a good snack. The two started running away when all of the sudden one of them stopped. The other said, "What are you stopping for? Don’t you know the grizzly bear is right behind us?" His friend replied, "I am tying my shoe so I can run faster." At this he couldn’t help but laugh, "What you think you’ll outrun the grizzly?" The friend replied, "I don’t have to outrun the grizzly, I only have to outrun you." In our selfish society, how often do we act like this "friend." As we try to exist in community, it is essential that we eliminate the self-centered nature that is all too prevalent in our churches today.