Intro: In Paul’s and Peter’s letters we are called living stones and a Holy Tabernacle where the Holy Spirit lives. If you remember from last week the proper and stable construction of that place for the Holy Spirit to live doesn’t happen by accident.
Jesus desired then and now that the body and bride would be healthy. The three pillars that rest on the stable and secure corner stone of Jesus Christ are truth, faith, and love. If either the cornerstone or the pillars are missing the house cannot stand.
Also remember that a healthy church is intensely devoted to God’s Word. As a New Testament church we are devoted to God’s word because we are devoted to Jesus who is the living Word of God. If we are devoted to God’s word we will practically live out its principles and precepts. Why? When God says thou shalt not, He is saying hold up that will hurt you. When He says thou shalt not, He is saying that will help you to be healthy and holy.
If we love God and live according to His word then we find that He wants us to connect through Christian fellowship. I love the way that the message translation of 1 Corinthians 1:10 says it,
“I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.”
Why did Paul say you must learn to be considerate and cultivate? Because as human beings being considerate of others needs does not come naturally!! What a beautiful picture we have to learn to be like Jesus. Like a young boy learns from his father how to cultivate fertile ground, breaks the ground, fertilizes, plants, and finally reaps a harvest based on learning to cultivate the ground. We also as Christians must learn to cultivate life around Jesus Christ. Here in Acts 2 the Greek word Kononia means to share all things in common!!
Is it possible to really have this type of community? Yes it is. We know this because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have this type of unity between them.
2) A Healthy church is devoted to fellowship (Acts 2:42) (connecting in real loving relationships)
Philippians 1:3-5 “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, 4 always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
a) We partner together for edification (Acts 9:31, 1 Corinthian 14.5, Ephesians 4:12, 4:29)
Jesus Himself said in Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.
Our character is developed and built by closeness to Jesus and closeness to others that are walking close to Jesus. We are built up into the image of Jesus. This does not happen alone or by accident. It happens as we fellowship with believers around God’s word!
1) Our connection with Jesus is strengthened
2) Our comprehension of spiritual gifts is enlarged
1 Peter 2:9 makes very clear that all of us are priests of God. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Why do we partner together? So that we can partner together to proclaim the praises of Jesus!! We were chosen not merely to miss hell and make heaven. We were chosen to tell others how Marvelous Jesus is!!!
b) We partner together for encouragement (Acts 14:22, Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25, 1 Thess 5:11)
I don’t know about you but there are many things in our life and this world that are not encouraging. Our country is on the edge of financial collapse; the family in America is being attacked and undermined by the homosexual and abortion agenda. You can turn on the TV and see national, religious and other leaders constantly falling morally. We are living in a very discouraging time. That is why we gather together and encourage each other to think on and live out heavenly things.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”
Philippians 2.1-4 “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (If you are connected to Christ)
Paul is saying, "If the fact that you are in Christ has any power to influence you" (Barclay)
We encourage each other by sharing and partnering toward the same goal. We should desire unity. We have one goal to love and lift up Jesus Christ. To love each other and make disciples of all peoples
1) We bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”)
Physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, relational, financial etc
2) We share each other’s victories
c) We partner together for enrichment (Proverbs 27:17)
Our fellowship together should improve us. It should improve our walk with God and witness in the world. Notice though that he process may call for some pain. Iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another. To get a sharp edge some of the blade must be removed. What does it take?
1) Intentional --
2) Relational –
God said it is not good for man to be alone. This doesn’t apply to marriage alone. We were designed by God to live in close connection to other believers. If you want to sharpen your prayer life, devotional life, service or your spiritual gift. Get involved in a small goup. Find an accountability partner or partners.
d) We partner together for enhancement
Ecclesiastes 4.9-12 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
We can do more together than we can alone. What we do is enlarged and enhanced as we partner together with the Spirit to accomplish His mission.
Importance of small groups, Sunday School classes, bible study groups.
Conclusion: Christians were never meant to go it alone. What are the consequences of not connecting in authentic Spirit led fellowship with other believers?
1) Spiritual Stagnation
2) Relational isolation