Summary: Few understand the biblical teaching on fellowship seeing it as a social time. We need to understand what it means to have fellowship with Christ and with His church.
The Call to Fellowship
One of the most troubled churches in apostolic times was the Corinthian Church. They were plagued with a myriad of problems in the church including: divisions, arrogance, sexual immorality, incest, litigation, doctrinal error, abuse of the Lord’s table, quarreling, and a lack of church discipline. Dr. Jack Arnold writes, “The reason for all the problems in the Corinthian church was that they did not understand the implications of their calling and their relationship with Christ, nor were they submitted to the Lordship of Christ in their experience.” The Corinthian’s calling and relationship with Christ are laid out in the first chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church. In the opening verses we see that both they and we are called to salvation by the grace of God. Salvation is all of God and not of anything of ourselves. Having responded positively to that call, we are then called to live out our salvation with holy lives that glorify God. Now in verses 9 and 10 we see that the church is called into fellowship with Christ and His saints.
In verse nine, we read “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” God’s desire and call to us is that we would enter into fellowship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Lord. Prior to coming to Christ, we were alienated from God and without God in the world. But according to Ephesians 2:13, in Christ, we have been brought near by the blood of Christ and have been reconciled with God (verse 16) and are to walk in fellowship with Him. But this reconciliation is not just with God it is a calling for reconciliation and fellowship with “all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” Fellowship with each other is the effect and result of the fellowship of each with God in Christ. God’s Word tells us “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” (1 John 1:7) We are told that fellowship was an integral part of the early church in Jerusalem. In Acts 2:41-42 we read, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Fellowship was one of the four things to which the early church devoted itself.
Few understand what the Bible means when it uses the term fellowship. Dictionary definitions for fellowship include friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests; family, companionship; or a society; a company. The biblical word for fellowship, “koinonia”, is a bit more profound. It speaks of becoming a part of an active partnership and a sharer of one’s life with another. Fellowship with Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is his task to take the things of Christ and make them known unto us, to make the person of Jesus real in our daily experience. It is Christ in me and I in Christ. Paul declares, “"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20)
Every day of our lives as believers we are partners with Christ in everything we do. Remember our sanctification is synergistic: Christ working in me and I yielding my life to His Holy Spirit in the pursuit of holiness and service for Christ. Martyn-Lloyd Jones said, “Fellowship with God” is probably the most glorious and wonderful truth in all of Scripture. Life outside God is not life, it is merely existence...” (copied)
True fellowship with Christ necessitates fellowship with other born-again brothers and sisters in Christ. Fellowship with the saints is not simply attending a church service or having coffee and donuts during the break between Sunday School and the morning service. Fellowship is not something that can be done yourself. Just like there are no Lone Ranger Christians, there is no fellowship with the saints if no other Christians are participating with you. Fellowship with the saints means entering a partnership with other believers to glorify God, edifying or building up others in Christ, and being on mission together for God. This cannot be done by simply showing up one hour a week on Sunday mornings or doing “church”. It is doing life together as the family of God.
What are the requirements to meet God’s call for fellowship with God and with the saints? First of all, for you to have fellowship with a Holy God, you must first know Him. Simply put, you cannot fellowship with, partner with, or live for God without knowing Him as your Lord and Savior. Many make feeble attempts by being religious or doing good. But Christ says in Matthew 7:21 that not everyone who says to Him, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Merely being religious, getting baptized, or joining a church will not cut it. It does not establish a relationship with Him. We must know Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, having repented of our sin and surrendering to His lordship. When we have done this, under the leading of God’s Spirit, we now have something in common with God; we have a special relationship; we are His children and have become partakers of His divine nature.