For those of you who play golf, do you like to play alone, or is it better when you have others with you to make fun of you or awe at your great shot? The game is more fun when playing it with others.
I think women understand the concept of doing things together; they make a trip to the bathroom a group social event.
Today as we continue looking at the subject of “When God Builds a Church”, we are going to look at the importance of the principle of fellowship.
When a church is lacking in fellowship, the church’s growth will be stunted. We will all miss out on the joy of growing in Christ together. We will cheat ourselves and others out of great joy.
Is fellowship basket dinners at church, it is just doing things together or is it something more?
Fellowship does not happen on its own; it takes time and effort to happen. I want us to examine what fellowship is, why we need it and how we can encourage it in our church.
I. WHAT IS FELLOWSHIP?
1. Fellowship defined- Participation, a joint-sharing, to have in common. (See Acts 2:41-47 for an example.
READ ACTS 2:41-47
The early church was devoted to fellowship (42). Verse 44 says that all those who believed were together and had all things in common.
Verse 45 tells us they began selling their possessions and sharing with any other believers who had need.
Verse 46 says they were also of one mind in the temple (place of worship), they were going from house, taking their meals together with gladness.
Verse 47 says they were praising God together and the Lord added to their number DAILY!
These people were not just eating together; they were sharing, learning, and growing together. Later they would also suffer together.
Fellowship happens when we have something that ties us together as one. Jesus is the source of the fellowship for the Christian.
There should be a bond that takes place when we are with other Christians!
Bob Russell states on page 196 of his book, “When God Builds A Church”; “Despite the diversity among God’s people, they enjoy the richest fellowship imaginable because it is based on a common commitment to Jesus Christ.”
For true fellowship to happen there must be something that ties us together with others. Going to the mall and being around a lot of people does not mean we have fellowship with them. We may all be doing the same activity, shopping, but that may be all we share in common with the other shoppers.
Does having a basket dinner mean we have fellowship? It can if we share some common things we will look at. If we do not share these things in common, we are just eating together.
Jesus is what ties one Christian to another in Christian Fellowship. John writes about the strength of our bond of fellowship in Christ in
2. What MUST we have in common to have real fellowship? I John 1:1-7
If we are going to have a real connection to one another, if we are going to experience true fellowship, we must have these items in common. In 1 John 1:1-7 we find some things we must have in common in order to experience real fellowship.
• SLIDE #4
A common SAVIOR. (1) (Concerning the Word of Life)
• 1 John 1:1 (NASB) 1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—
A common Savior is the first thing we must share in common to have true fellowship. This means I cannot have true fellowship with a Muslim because we do not share a common Savior.
I cannot have fellowship with someone who is not a Christian because of this same thing.
2CO 6:14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
What would happen if two of us want to go into business together? I want to run a computer company and you want to run a clothing store? Those two things will not work to well together.
A common MESSAGE. (3-5)
What John had seen and heard was being proclaimed to us so that we could have fellowship with them and with Jesus!
We will not always agree on every point of doctrine, but we need to be of one mind when it comes to who God is, who Jesus is, what has been done for us so that we can have salvation among other things.
A common LIFESTYLE. (6-7)
READ VERSES 6-7
Truth properly held will exhibits itself in obedience!
We need to be heading in the same direction together!
Common GOALS. (2)
Our common goals should be to glorify Jesus and to spend eternity with Him someday!
Common BLESSINGS. (7)
When we walk in the light, we have the blessing of fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins
The word for cleanse is a word that denotes a continuous action. As we are constantly walking in the light, we are constantly being cleansed from our sins! We are also in constant fellowship with the Father allowing the constant cleansing to take place.
II. WHY DO WE NEED FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER? 1 JOHN 1:1-7
This is something that is important for us to do, why is it important?
1. So we can fulfill our command to LOVE one another. (John 13:34)
JOHN 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
How can we show our love for one another if we do not have fellowship with one another?
I did a rough count of the phrase “one another” in the New Testament. There are over 46 verses that command us to do thing like love one another (14 times) encourage one another, be of the same mind toward one another, serve one another, submit to one another, teach one another, and the list goes on.
How can we accomplish these things unless we are in fellowship with one another? How can we do these things if we are not spending time together?
We are not called to come the building once per week, leave and then have nothing to do with one another until the next Sunday.
We must take the time to develop relationships with one another. We are called to be a family!
Remember when Elijah was despondent when Queen Jezebel was after him? Part of his discouragement was thinking he was the only faithful one left. When Elijah found out from God there was over 7,000 others who were faithful, his spirits were lifted.
It helped my relationship with Jesus when I found other Christians in the factory I could have fellowship with. I spent 9-12 hours per day in the factory. It was refreshing to have other brothers and sisters in Christ to spend time with.
Many people think they can be a Christian without being involved in the church. That is not the way God wants it and except under extreme circumstances, it will not work.
2. So we can encourage one another to GROW together. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We are called to grow together, look at Hebrews 10:24-25
HEB 10:24-25 and let us 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.
We need to encouragement of others. Sometimes we need to be admonished by others. I cannot tell you how many times God has used other people in my life to help get a message to me about something I needed to change or do in order to grow.
One of the things I love about marriage that I really did not expect or understand when I got married was the issue of growing together.
I have had a blast being married to Robyn because she has helped me to grow so much. There are times she has said things I did not like to hear, but needed to hear.
I hope I have been the same blessing to her. It has been fun seeing her grow as a person, doing things she never dreamed of doing before we got married.
3. So we can more effectively REACH a dying world.
Do you find many people living a lonely life void of purpose? I see a lot of that. People want to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose in their lives.
People want to be a part of something larger than life.
If the world sees the fellowship we have with one another, the love we have, the care we give, they will want it.
A strong sense of fellowship will help us to carry out the mission we have to reach lost people.
When I was going to church with Robyn, one of the things that impacted me as much as anything else was being around her Christian friends. These people were so loving, so caring toward one another.
They had something I felt I never had with too many people. I always felt like an outsider with most people. Robyn’s friends showed me what Jesus was all about, it made a lasting impact on me.
III. HOW CAN WE ENCOURAGE TRUE FELLOWSHIP AT FCC?
We are going to look at 5 things we can do
1. By WORSHIPPING together.
We grow closer in part by worshipping together.
There is nothing quiet like gathering together with a large group of other like-minded people gather for an agreed-upon cause. (SPORTS EVENT EXAMPLE)
When we gather for worship, we can be spurred on encouraged and inspired to soar to greater heights in our relationship with Jesus.
2, By being in CLASS together.
During class, we can get to know one another better, we can share and encourage on a more personal level. Sunday School is a great way to encourage fellowship with one another.
3. By providing opportunities OUTSIDE the CHURCH to be together.
The Lunch bunch. Other thins to promote fellowship.
Working together on projects helps to develop the bond of fellowship.
4. By MINISTERING together. (Serve together, grow together)
5. By making TIME for each other. (You have to make time for what is important)
As a church, we need to work hard at making sure we do not foster an environment in which we just come together Sunday morning and then detach ourselves from one another until the next Sunday.
Let us show we care enough about each other to spend time with one another and to take advantage of the opportunities our church offers to help foster a true sense of fellowship.
The world is a lonely place, we need to be a place where the world wants to come and learn about Jesus, a place where we can develop lasting relationships.
The closest relationships I have ever had with people have come through the church. Jesus is the tie that binds us together!